What happened
Entertainment Tonight has chosen not to air footage of the late actor Heath Ledger at a Hollywood party where drugs were apparently being used. ET’s sister show, The Insider, showed a preview of the video on Wednesday that featured an unidentified man apparently snorting cocaine. “Out of respect for Heath Ledger’s family, Entertainment Tonight and The Insider have decided not to run the Heath Ledger video that has been circulating in the world media,” said a posting on the websites Thursday. (AP)

What the commentators said
“Once again, the ever increasing appetite for celebrity worship and gossip has caused horrible table manners,” said Monica Corcoran in her blog All the Rage in the Los Angeles Times. Sure, the tape won’t air now, but “it’s not as if the ‘news’ outlets bowed out for moral reasons”—“Ledger’s publicist and others pressured” them. And “I pity whomever sold the videotape to ET for huge bags of cash.” What does someone “do with blood money like that? Go to Maui for a week? Buy a Bentley?”

“Is it too late to try and regain the respect of Ledger’s family and friends?” said the blog eGossip. “It should be made very clear that Heath is not seen taking drugs in the video, nor was it ever confirmed that he was doing drugs during the taping of the video.” But then again, in the promo for the footage they decided not to air, The Insider “had shown enough of the video” to “skew the way people felt about Heath when he was alive.”

But “the footage was riveting for providing an intimate glimpse of a star whose demise stunned the world,” said Hal Boedeker in his blog the TV Guy in the OrlandoSentinel.com, and “ET suggested that the tape could carry a strong anti-drug message.” On top of that, a lot of money was forfeited by deciding not to air the tape. “ET and sibling program The Insider had paid more than $200,000 for the footage,” and it was “supposed to air Thursday, the first day of the February sweeps rating period”—it could have brought them “a big return.”