By Alex Constantine (Revised)
About the Painkillers Found in Heath Ledger's Blood ...
Bottles for prescription drugs were found on the premises - problem is, these didn't kill him. There were no bottles found in his possession for the drugs that DID kill him, and no prescriptions, either. The press has confused the issue. Yes, "Prescription drugs killed Ledger," but no one has bothered to explain how the deadly unprescribed prescription drugs got into his system, unless we assume that they were obtained illegally, and anyone who argues that the death was "accidental" does assume this - but it has been hotly disputed (see Michelle Williams' press conference below), no evidence of an illegal drug buy has ever been proffered, and it remains unproven (status quo ignoramuses operate on faith in the "mainstream" press, though, and proof isn't necessary so long as media stenographers are in agreement on official explanations).
So how did they get in Ledger's bloodstream? Was he joy-riding on illegally obtained narcotics, as the police left us to assume? ... OR were they slipped into the bottles that were found on the premises - the ones that fail to explain his death?
The explanation was lethal interaction of (the unprescribed) prescription drugs, the origin of which remain a mystery - and this worries me because I know this is a tried-and-true means that the government has used for decades to dispose of people. Always be particularly suspicious of the drug "cocktail" explanation - certain agencies of government in this well-groomed democracy have thoroughly studied the interactions of drugs and know how to make them lethal. When a "cocktail" is reported as the cause of death, always scratch deeper for information before dismissing it as an accident. This approach to murder appears to be accidental, and is a favored means of killing and getting away with it. " ... the source did not say whether any wrongdoing is involved ... 'We don't know yet.'" And neither does anyone else, especially the press. There were two potent painkillers in Ledger's system - and these happened to be deadly when taken together. Don't settle too soon into a fixed opinion based on appearances and media "expert" opinion formation. Keep an open mind on this one and be receptive to information contradicting the initial media reports.
Ulitmately, the DEA cleared Ledger's doctors (investigated in the article below), but the "Source of Actor's Oxycontin and Vicodin Still Unknown."
"According to the Post, the DEA has concluded that, although the doctors met with the Dark Knight" star, they were not the source of either medication." If these painkillers weren't prescribed by Ledger's physicians, how did they get into his bloodstream?
New York Daily News: "At issue is whether or not the powerful painkiller were prescribed legally," says the newspaper. Is this still at issue, or has the matter been dropped?
On March 3rd, the press reported: "The investigation over the Australian actor's death continues." ...
Police investigators still do not know how Heath Ledger managed to obtain Oxycontin and Vicodin
"Bottles for sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs were found in the Australian actor's New York apartment but none for the extra-strong painkillers."
No bottles for the painkillers were found. Those words are clear enough. Compare this report with: "Heath Ledger, the 28-year-old actor was found dead on January 22nd in his downtown Manhattan apartment surrounded by bottles of Oxycontin and Vicodin."
No bottles for these drugs turned up in Heath Ledger's possession, according to most press reports filed in early March. ... Did he store them in his pocket and take them all at once? ... They weren't prescribed, and this reinforces the statement that no bottles were found. Where did the painkillers come from, how were they dispensed?
There has been no answer to these questions since they were posed a few weeks ago by the DEA. This case is still wide open.
Reporters generally speak with certainty of Heath's "accidental" drug interaction, but it was reported on March 3rd: "Heath Ledger’s Death Still a Mystery for Feds."
"After an in depth investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) by reviewing their records and questioning [the doctors], it was [found] that their prescription didn’t endanger Ledger’s life."
So the painkillers are isolated as the cause of death - and there were no prescriptions to account for them. The prescriptions that he did have in his possession responded to known physical symptoms, but the painkillers appear to have been extraneous.
More to come.
Heath Ledger's Doctors Under Scrutiny
FEBRUARY 29, 2008
THE US Drug Enforcement Agency has begun investigating a doctor in California and another in Texas in the matter of Heath Ledger's death, People.com has confirmed.
The Australian actor, 28, was found dead in his downtown New York apartment on January 22.
An autopsy - whose results were announced earlier this month - blamed an accidental mixture of prescription drugs, said New York City's Chief Medical Examiner.
"We are investigating doctors in Los Angeles and Texas with regard to Ledger's prescriptions," the source tells People.com
However, the source did not say whether any wrongdoing is involved, saying, "We don't know yet.
"The agents were there this week, and we are waiting to hear from them."
The doctors in question are thought to have supplied Ledger with Oxycontin and Vicodin, law enforcement sources tell New York's Daily News.
"At issue is whether or not the powerful painkiller were prescribed legally," says the newspaper.
The subpoenaing of Ledger's autopsy results by the Drug Enforcement Administration was reported shortly after the findings of the report were announced.
On February 6, it was said that the DEA would look into the source of the actor's prescriptions.
Besides Oxycodone and Vicodin (also known as Hydrocodone), autopsy results also showed that Ledger's system contained Diazepam (commonly called Valium), as well as Temazepam, which treats anxiety or sleeplessness; Alprazolam (also known as Xanax); and Doxylamine, a sedating antihistamine often used as a sleeping aid. ...
Investigation goes across two US states.
"Creepy, Just Creepy"
" ... the way his death was handled by the person who found him made clear that something was fishy ... " - Huffington Post, 3-7-08
"Mainstream" news outlets on the Internet have reported facts concerning the death of Heath Ledger that have, as usual, slipped through the cracks of collective awareness.
While the search is on by his family for Ledger's missing millions, we turn to the press and find, creepily enough ...
1) A mass of misinformation: The Huffington Post has accused Salon of running a fake, "data-free" story, written by Stanford University's Larry Zaroff, MD, on Ledger that "cites CDC statistics which make it look as though medical overdoses are rising dramatically." Those statistics are misinformation that happen to provide a false pretext for the actor's death.
Salon also claimed that "Ledger's death was due to medical error." Not so. The public has been led to believe it, though. The painkillers that killed Ledger were not prescribed by his physicians, and he had no condition that necessitated those prescriptions. (No bottles for the painkillers were found by detectives in the apartment, I reported elsewhere. He was felled by low dosages of painkillers that interacted lethally.)
Quoth the Huffington Post, evermore: "While Ledger was known to have severe insomnia ... opioids are not prescribed for insomnia and there is no evidence that he had any condition for which they could legitimately be used." (I repeat, they were not prescribed. No bottles for them were found - Question: Were the legally-obtained prescriptions checked to determine if the painkillers had been slipped to Ledger?)
2) Press reports still claim that the actor "died of a prescription drug overdose [sic] in January."
3) "Michelle Williams Slams Heath Ledger Rehab Reports!" Ledger was NOT headed for rehab, and drugs had nothing to do with the dissolution of their relationship, according to Williams. She is very insistent about this, and describes media reports to the contrary as "false" and "inaccurate" and "fabricated." Without reservation.
4) Ledger's van was stolen at the time he died, or thereabouts. The Australian Age reported on March 3, 2008: "The green-coloured 1975 model Volkswagen van was reportedly stolen from outside a Bondi home about the time of the actor's death ... "
5) Masseuse Diane Lee Wolozin phoned Mary Kate Olsen, Heath's girlfriend, "four times using the ... star’s cellphone - three before she even considered calling 911." She wanted to "call security people in New York" first, though.
What security people? Why?
Query: Why did a masseuse have the phone number of "security people in New York," and what use are security people in New York anyways when the client you are there to massage is comatose, with prescription bottles scattered around him?
Query: Why was the masseuse hesitant to call paramedics first? It wasn't a security issue, it was a medical one - Ledger was out of it, unresponsive, possibly dying or dead. Anyone would call 9/11, paramedics to administer CPR or ambulate the unresponsive patient to a hospital ... then you might call police - unless you hesitate too long and the patient dies ... not "security people in New York."
6) Olsen was not questioned by police, although they initially stated that they wanted to talk to her.
7) NO GRIEVING?: Olsen went out dancing and romancing two days after Heath died, partied with abandon. Other articles posted below cast suspicion on her, and many Ledger fans blame her for his death.
8) MICHAEL BADEN - who fabricated evidence in John Kennedy's murder to make it seem Oswald killed Kennedy - was involved in the Heath Ledger autopsy and briefed the press. Baden is a cover-up artist. Recall that the initial reports on cause of death were weird. It was announced that the cause could not be determined - about 10 days before the examination was even completed.
Baden covers up CIA/Mafia/fascist-complex murders, and you expect unusual statements from an establishment medical bimbo in the act of concealing and inventing facts, his professional forté.
10) Ledger fan's blog entry: "As I write, Heath Ledger has JUST been found dead in New York. Now Fox News is delivering nonstop breaking news coverage. Yet the other channels are mentioning nothing about it? What does this mean?"
I leave it to the "gentle," Fox-wise reader to answer that question.
Heath Ledger sat for a portrait by Australian artist Vincent Fantauzzo, unfinished at the time of his death. It has been donated to his mother. In it, Heath is portrayed as hearing voices. Why did he want and sit for a painting in which he heard voices? Why was this so important to him?
More Misinformation on Ledger Death, Prescription Drug Misuse
Posted March 7, 2008
Salon has just published a virtually data-free article which blames Heath Ledger's overdose death on patients' misunderstanding of pharmacology, busy doctors and pharmacists, and drug company advertising. But the research on similar cases suggests that it's writer and doctor Larry Zaroff [Larry Zaroff, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University Consulting Professor, School of Medicine & Program in Human Biology] who is misinformed-- both in describing the problem and in suggesting a solution.
To start, Zaroff cites CDC statistics which make it look as though medical overdoses are rising dramatically. Problem is, those numbers don't distinguish between addicts' overdoses and those caused by doctor or patient error: the studies which do look more closely find that the overwhelming majority of these deaths occur amongst people with a history of drug problems.
This leads into the article's next false assumption: that Ledger's death was due to medical error. You'd never know it from reading Salon's story, but the medical examiner determined that the actor's death was caused by drug abuse.
If Ledger had been an elderly woman with a history of chronic pain and no history of addiction, it would be entirely reasonable to suspect medical or patient error.
But statistically, young men are the highest risk group for addiction. Ledger himself admitted heavy drug use -- it is believed to be the reason why the mother of his child left him. And the way his death was handled by the person who found him made clear that something was fishy: if you find someone unresponsive and you think they have taken too much prescribed medication, you don't call friends and private security before you call an ambulance.
Further, in a climate where many doctors fear prescribing any pain medications to people with documented injuries and disorders, it would be extraordinary for a legitimate physician to prescribe one strong opioid-- let alone two-- to a man of his age without serious evidence of severe pain.
While Ledger was known to have severe insomnia and could have appropriately been prescribed a benzodiazepine for it (three were found in his body, along with the opioids), opioids are not prescribed for insomnia and there is no evidence that he had any condition for which they could legitimately be used. The fact that no charges have been filed against any doctor so far suggests, too, that the medications were not legally obtained.
Zaroff goes on to describe a hypothetical situation in which someone "doctor shops" because she has become tolerant to drugs and sees multiple doctors for this "medical" problem. But this, again, does not fit what we know about prescription drug abuse.
You don't start seeing multiple doctors to get controlled substances-- which can be a crime-- if you find your painkillers and sleeping pills have stopped working. If you have nothing to hide, you see your regular doctor and ask for either higher doses, different treatment, referral to a specialist or help quitting.
Studies of people who abuse prescription pain medications find that the vast majority have prior histories of drug abuse and that pain patients do not turn into criminal addicts simply because they receive certain medications.
So, a young man in his twenties with a history of illegal drug use dies with five prescription drugs in his system: sorry, Dr. Zaroff, Occam's razor suggests that this is not a case of medical error, but of addiction.
And articles like this make matters worse. By trying to pretend otherwise, they scare doctors away from helping pain patients, stigmatize addicts because we can't bear to see an actor we like as "one of them," and obscure the best way to help prevent overdoses by giving a false picture of the way they most commonly occur.
Zaroff claims that the solution is a national database containing our most private medical information to allow doctors, pharmacists and police to check up on patients. But do we really want physicians, pharmacy staff and police pawing through our pain prescriptions, our anxiety diagnoses, our Viagra scripts?
And since addicts-- not patients-- are the problem, sacrificing everyone's privacy for this false form of security isn't going to solve it. Most prescription drug abusers obtain their medications from friends and family: not from doctor shopping. Most use multiple drugs: so cutting off the prescription opioids just leaves more room for heroin.
When will we start to use what we actually know about drugs to create sane policies?
Michelle Williams Slams Heath Ledger Rehab Reports!
Jan 31 2008
Heath Ledger's former fiancée Michelle Williams has stayed relatively quit since hearing the news of Heath's tragic death but the grieving 27-year-old mom is speaking out about the tabloid lies.
Over the past week, there have been several stories surrounding Heath Ledger's past and how his partying lifestyle may provide insight to his untimely death. Reports surfaced that Michelle and Heath fought over Heath's constant drug use and even went as far as to claim that Williams drove Ledger to Promises Rehab facility in Malibu to get help.
But Michelle (who is the mother of Heath Ledger's 2-year-old daughter, Matilda) is slamming these rumors, claiming they are completely false.
In Williams' first public statement since the death of her former fiancée, she states that the story about her bringing Heath to rehab is totally fabricated.
Michelle's publicist, Mara Buxbaum (who was also Ledger's rep) released this statement:
"Much of the tabloid reporting is inaccurate. This fabricated story of Michelle Williams attempting to bring Heath Ledger to rehab is just one lie among many. The speculation is heinous. Let this family grieve privately."
We give Michelle credit for speaking out. It must have been hard, especially considering she's been trying to stay out of the public eye since the incident.
We hope Michelle, their daughter and all of Heath's family and friends find the peace they need.
Heath Ledger's Kombi van stolen
March 03, 2008
A KOMBI van owned by the late Australian actor Heath Ledger, which he left for safekeeping with a Sydney-based mate, has been stolen.
The green-coloured 1975 model Volkswagen van was reportedly stolen from outside a Bondi home about the time of the actor's death last month.
The vehicle is valued at $70,000 due to Ledger's fame and also its extensive modifications, according to News Limited reports.
Ledger is believed to have given the van to his long-time friend Trevor DiCarlo when he sold his $7 million Bronte home in 2006, and returned to the US to live.
It was last seen in the driveway of DiCarlo's Bondi home around January 20.
Ledger's grieving father Kim, who is sorting out his son's estate, reported the van stolen to Waverley police a week ago, News Ltd said.
Mary Kate Olsen ... Mary Kate Olsen has reportedly beefed up her security detail after receiving bags of hate mail and death-threat phone calls from fans of Heath Ledger who blame Olsen for his death.
Ledger, who was separated from the Michelle Williams, mother of his daughter Matilda, at the time, died of a prescription drug overdose [sic] in January.
PopCrunch.com writes that a tabloid report will soon outline the details of the relationship between Mary Kate and Ledger, and the disturbing response from fans:
“A lot of people who knew Heath and Mary-Kate in his last months know that they were partying together constantly, it wasn’t hard to connect the dots and run a line between Heath hooking up with Mary-Kate and his sad decline,” a celebrity mole reveals in a new tabloid report.
“One crazed fan sent her threatening letters. Another made menacing phone calls,” according to a friend of the actress. “Mary-Kate’s gotten more reclusive, paranoid and afraid to walk the streets than ever.”
Creepy. Just, creepy. On all counts.
Cops Are Planning To Grill Mary-Kate Olsen!
" ... It also emerged yesterday that the masseuse, Diane Lee Wolozin, had phoned Olsen four times using the “Brokeback Mountain” star’s cellphone - three before she even considered calling 911, police said. ... "
NYPD has no plans to interview Mary-Kate
Jan 28th, 2008
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says Mary-Kate Olsen will not be questioned by detectives about Heath Ledger's death. "There's absolutely no indication investigators were going to speak to Mary-Kate Olsen," Kelly said at a news conference. "They determined that they had all the info needed from witnesses who were on scene: That's the cleaning woman, the masseuse."
Mary-Kate Olsen continues to party after 'friend' Heath Ledger is Found Dead
As Hollywood struggles to emerge from actor Heath Ledger’s death, Mary-Kate Olsen seems not much affected by the tragedy, for the actress was spotted partying out with friends, just two days after the sad news. Mary-Kate, who was the first to be called upon the discovery of Ledger’s body, was spotted dancing with her male friend with his hands around her waist. Onlookers say that she kept looking over her shoulder and pulling her friend for long kisses at downtown hipster enclave Sweet Paradise recently, reports the Daily Express.
Olsen Feels Intense "Guilt" over Ledger's Death
Excerpt: Mary-Kate Olsen Still Mourning Loss of Heath Ledger
May 8th, 2008
... Publicity for the upcoming release of the ”The Dark Knight” and Heath Ledger’s last major film role is increasing the levels of pain and depression for Mary-Kate Olsen.
Seeing Heath’s face everywhere as the movie approaches it’s premiere reminds MK of the tragic loss of her friend early this year, due to a drug overdose.
One of MK’s close friends said,
‘It’s tough because Mary-Kate had strong feelings for Heath. Plus, there was so much confusion with all those calls back and forth between Mary-Kate and that masseuse [who, along with Ledger's housekeeper, discovered the unconscious actor]. Everyone involved feels guilty — because so much time was wasted before the paramedics were called.’
Although there were plenty of rumors that they were dating, one source close to MK says the friendship was “totally platonic” while another associate of the actress claims, ”Mary-Kate wanted it to be much more.”
Heath Ledger's Olsen connection
January 24 2008 -
by BANG Showbiz
© Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com
Heath Ledger's masseuse called Mary-Kate Olsen twice [or four, depending on which newspaper one believes] on discovering his body before contacting emergency services.
Police sources have confirmed Diana Wolozin used the speed dial on Ledger's mobile phone to call Olsen in California after finding the 'Brokeback Mountain' star unconscious at his New York apartment at 2.45pm on Tuesday (22.01.08).
A source told America's People magazine: "Wolozin arrived at the apartment and when Ledger did not come out of his bedroom she called his cell and got no answer. She went into the room and found him lying on the bed. She shook him but he did not respond. So she used his speed dial to call Olsen.
"Olsen told the masseuse she would call security people in New York for help. The masseuse then called Olsen back to say she would call 911 herself.
"Emergency services arrived at the apartment at almost the exact same time as Olsen's security people."
When news first broke of the 28-year-old actor's death, it was reported he had died at 21-year-old Olsen's apartment.
The couple had previously been romantically linked.
Meanwhile, Ledger's former fiancée Michelle Williams arrived home in Brooklyn yesterday (23.01.08) with the couple's two-year-old daughter Matilda. The 27-year-old actress - who split from Ledger in September - was on a film set in Sweden when she was told of his death.
The Australian actor is to be buried in his home town of Perth. His body was taken from the New York medical examiner's office to the Frank E. Campbell funeral chapel after yesterday's autopsy.
A source at the funeral chapel revealed they are preparing to ship Ledger's body to Australia as soon as possible.
Michelle Lee, a representative for the Australian consulate, said: "Our consulate has been in contact with his family and has offered assistance to help fly Heath's body back to Australia."
" ... Will we always wonder what Mary Kate knew? And why she wanted immunity? ... "
Also see: "The Collected Heath Ledger Updates"
August 7, 2008
Posted by ESNEAD
Mary Kate Olsen will not have talk to the nasty DEA about where her close friend Heath Ledger may have gotten the drugs that killed him in January.
His body was found In his New York apartment by Olsen's masseuse, who then called Mary-Kate, who promptly sent over her bodyguards instead of an ambulance. According to a story from the Associated Press, a law enforcement official said Wednesday that federal prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan have decided not to pursue a criminal case into Ledger's drug-related death.
This followed the reports earlier this week that Mary-Kate had refused to talk to the Drug Enforcement Administration without immunity. The DEA had obtained a subpoena that could have forced Olsen to talk. She denied any knowledge of Ledger drug connections.
But the subpoena, which was issued in April, is now toothless and useless because the prosecutors will not continue to pursue the case, according to the official.
With the prosecutors out of the picture, the DEA is off the case. And Mary-Kate is off the hook.
What do you think? Is this for the best? Should the DEA leave that poor l'il Olsen twin alone?
Or will we always wonder what Mary Kate knew? And why she wanted immunity...
Heath Ledger drug inquiry dropped
The investigation into Heath Ledger's death has been closed after prosecutors decided not to pursue a criminal case.
By Chris Irvine
07 Aug 2008
Prosecutors in the US Attorney's Office in New York had been overseeing a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation into whether the painkillers found in Ledger's body - oxycodone and hydrocodone - were obtained illegally.
But the prosecutors have dropped the case as they "don't believe there's a viable target". The decision comes after recent reports actress Mary-Kate Olsen was demanding immunity before answering questions about the death of her close friend and his drug use.
Reports claim she was the first person called by a masseuse who found the 28-year-old Dark Knight actor dead in his Manhatten apartment. The DEA had obtained a subpoena that would have forced Olsen to talk, but it is no longer valid because it depended on prosecutors pursuing the case - although it could still be revived if evidence of a crime emerges.
Other drugs in his system, included anti-anxiety medication and sleeping pills, which were prescribed legally by doctors in California and Texas - it would appear a combination of the drugs, and not an excess of any one drug in particular killed the star.
Ledger's body was discovered on January 22 by the masseuse who police say spent nine minutes making three calls to Olsen before dialling 911 for help, then called her again after paramedics arrived.
At some point, Olsen, who was in California, summoned her personal security guards to the apartment to help.
Ledger was nominated for an Oscar for his role as a gay cowboy in 2005's Brokeback Mountain. His portrayal of The Joker in Batman sequel The Dark Knight has been earning rave reviews.
Heath Ledger autopsy inconclusive
January 24 2008 -
by BANG Showbiz
© Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com
Heath Ledger's initial autopsy results are inconclusive.
The 28-year-old Australian actor was found dead in his New York apartment on Tuesday afternoon (22.01.08) with sleeping pills scattered his naked body, but the New York City Medical Examiner's Office have been unable to confirm whether his death was drug related.
Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the office, said: "It will take about 10 days to complete the investigation."
Michael Baden, a prominent forensic pathologist, added: "It's important to determine if this is a natural death or if it was a drug overdose. There are other natural things that cause death in young people in their 20s, like the rupture of an aneurysm around the brain or heart disease or pneumonia.
"If there's no natural cause of death then it becomes more likely that it's a drug overdose. That will depend on toxicology and that may take a few days to a few weeks."
Baden maintains a private forensic pathology consulting practice and is the co-director of the New York State Police Medicolegal Investigation Unit.
Baden was the Chief Medical Examiner for the City of New York from 1978 to 1979.
Eerie Postscript To Heath Ledger's Death (and the Music Company He Founded)/Saint or Sinner?
Heath Ledger's Video For Nick Drake Song: Eerie Postscript To Actor's Death
Actor said he was 'obsessed' with long-dead singer.
By Jim Fraenkel, with additional reporting by Rodrigo Perez
Appearing at a news conference at the Venice Film Festival in September to promote the Bob Dylan biopic "I'm Not There," Heath Ledger, who died on Tuesday, spoke of his "obsession with an artist by the name of Nick Drake," an English-born singer/songwriter whom he characterized as a "very mysterious figure."
"I was obsessed with his story and his music and I pursued it for a while and still have hopes to kind of tell his story one day," a soft-spoken and fidgety Ledger told the assembled media, though he also said that any such aspirations had "faded away."
But in an eerie postscript to the actor's own death on Tuesday, MTV News has learned that Ledger recently shot and edited a music video for a Drake song called "Black Eyed Dog," so titled because of a Winston Churchill quote describing depression as such. It is also reportedly the last song Drake recorded before overdosing on antidepression medication in 1974 at the age of 26.
A representative for Drake's estate described the "gorgeous" and "extremely moving" clip as a stark black-and-white composition, consisting mainly of the director turning the camera on himself. In the end, Ledger is seen drowning himself in a bathtub.
The video, which has not been released commercially and has apparently not yet leaked to the Web, has been screened just twice, once last Labor Day weekend at the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle and a second time in October at "A Place to Be," an event honoring Drake held in Los Angeles.
Ledger also directed Ben Harper's video for "Morning Yearning" and announced plans to start a label with the singer called Masses Music Co. last year. The label's first signing was a singer from Ledger's hometown of Perth, Australia, named Grace Woodroofe; Ledger also directed a video for her cover of David Bowie's "Quicksand."
While Drake garnered just a cult following during his life, his music has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. In 2000, Volkswagen scored a ubiquitous television ad with the title track from his 1972 album, Pink Moon, after which Drake's albums reportedly sold more in one month than they had in the previous 30 years. This past November, fans were treated to a limited-edition box set that included not only the three albums Drake recorded in his short career, but also a book and a DVD documentary about his life.
Leading and Contradictory Media Coverage of Ledger's Death
Excerpt: (Untitled Heath Ledger Project)
New York Magazine
In which the protagonist dies mysteriously, and the audience analyzes his final days for clues to his real character.
By Chris Norris
Feb 18, 2008
By Tuesday afternoon, we knew all about Heath Ledger. He’d been found in Mary-Kate Olsen’s apartment, naked on the floor, wreathed in pills, dead of apparent suicide. By Tuesday evening, he’d been found under the covers, in his own home, with the pills prescribed and in bottles. By Wednesday, he’d been alive until at least noon, when the maid heard him snoring. The masseuse who found him called Olsen once—no, three times—before dialing 911. Olsen’s bodyguards arrived before the EMTs. No, they arrived before the cops. A rolled-up $20 with drugs on it was by the bed. No, the bill was clean.
The sad, surreal story of Heath Ledger’s death was being written in real time, on a 24-hour news cycle, with digital cameras and RSS feeds. Television-news crews, online videographers, and cell-phone “citizen journalists” were participating in a dreamlike spectacle that was in its way more grotesque than the Hollywood Babylon tableau in Ledger’s apartment: Nearly 300 strangers on Broome Street, filming the removal of a body bag. One hundred more outside an Upper East Side funeral home, a scrum of cameras around a wooden box—all looking straight at each other.
According to Google News, there were 24,267 stories about Heath Ledger in the three weeks following his death. But for all the intensive coverage, there was no cohesive narrative. Two diverging accounts of his last months in New York were vying against each other—Ledger the saint and Ledger the sinner. An inconclusive autopsy allowed the conflicting reports to fester for weeks, with members of each contingent trotting out their theories and prophesying the results of the coming toxicology report that would surely prove them right.
“Don’t write one of these disgusting stories,” a Hollywood agent had warned me, after attesting to Ledger’s kindness, beauty, sensitivity, humility, and sobriety. A non-disgusting story would presumably reflect the innumerable accounts I heard of Ledger’s sweet nature, his immense talent, his love of Matilda—and make frequent mentions of Pellegrino water and Diet Coke.
A disgusting story would be like the one published by the U.K. tabloid the Sun the day after Ledger’s death, quoting Rebecca White, a 33-year-old former assistant to Naomi Campbell who claimed to have seen Ledger doing drugs. “The first time I met him, at Puff Daddy’s house in Los Angeles, Heath asked Naomi for cocaine,” she said. “At another party in Paris, Heath took at least six Ecstasy pills, popped them in his mouth all at once, and swigged them with a bottle of Champagne.”
As it happens, White, who was also a key witness to Kate Moss’s drug use when a video of the model snorting cocaine surfaced in 2005, seems to be the source for many accounts of Ledger’s Bunyanesque consumption. Her interview with the Sun was picked up by the Australian Daily Telegraph and Courier Mail and other papers. Then, in an interview with England’s Daily Mail, White elaborated, claiming that Ledger’s drug use had recently spiraled out of control because he was afraid of losing custody of his daughter and adding this striking comment about Ledger’s former fiancée, Michelle Williams: “Heath was an Adonis and she was dowdy and not in his league—career-wise or looks-wise—and no one could understand why they got together.” That version of the story was picked up by dozens of other publications, not to mention those to which she spoke anonymously as a “member of Ledger’s entourage.” She also offered to provide information to New York for a stipulated fee of $1,500 (an offer that was declined).
Whatever the sources—“friends,” “clubgoers,” “insiders”—such stories were spreading as fast as Ledger’s publicist Mara Buxbaum could deny them. By the last week in January, it seemed that there had been two Heath Ledgers living in New York. One, a chaste, sober, unkempt choirboy who bought his daughter organic breakfast sausages at the Gourmet Garage. The other, a womanizing, drug-hoovering rake last seen by, yes, “a clubgoer,” dancing at the Beatrice Inn “in a ski mask with holes cut out at the eyes and mouth and a hood over his head.” The debate over his last few months was about his legacy, about which kind of fallen star he would be: tragic hero (James Dean) or self-destructive burnout (River Phoenix). More than that, it was about what kind of person he was—loving or noncommittal, open or secretive, good father or careless lout, true or false. His cause of death, it seemed, would somehow define the meaning of his life. ...
Lawsuit accuses paparazzi of luring Ledger to drugs party
14/04/2008 - 2:39:25 PM
A new lawsuit claims Heath Ledger was set up by two photographers who secretly filmed the late actor taking cocaine in a Los Angeles hotel room.
In legal documents filed by an unnamed woman in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, two Splash News paparazzi stand accused of luring Ledger to her room at the Chateau Marmont hotel in January 2006.
Eric Munn and Darren Banks allegedly then gave cocaine to the actor while secretly videotaping him. Ledger, who had no idea they were photographers, also had some cocaine of his own, according to the lawsuit.
Ledger eventually spotted he was being filmed and allegedly became angry, at which point he was promised the tape would be destroyed.
It wasn't, and a segment of it was screened on US TV show Entertainment Tonight shortly after his death from an accidental prescription drugs overdose in January. The full tape was never aired after numerous celebrities pressured producers to drop the video.
The woman, listed as Jane Doe, refuses to reveal her identity for "fear of consequences and repercussions". The legal papers do, however, state she was working as a freelance reporter for People magazine and that she was "occasionally dating" Dunn at the time.
The woman, who People state has not worked for the magazine since last year, claims the videotape makes it appear as if she was taking cocaine.
Munn, Banks and Splash News managing partner Gary Morgan are being sued for fraud, negligence, trespassing and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Question for the LAPD: Who was really in possession of illicit drugs, Ledger or the paparazzi who set him up?
Ledger is accused by the media of indulging in illegal drugs ... okay, he was known to have done this, and the court papers claim that he had some on him ... but we've seen that "Eric Munn and Darren Banks allegedly then gave cocaine to the actor while secretly videotaping him."
The paparazzi who set him up supplied the cocaine ...
The photographers who shot the Ledger video claimed that it was happenstance they found Ledger at the Chateau Marmont.
So if the coke in their room was not intended to set up Ledger for a photo sting ... what was it doing there? Is Ledger the focus of this scandal or the paparazzi who shoved drugs under his nose:
From Perth Now: "The Daily Telegraph understands Ledger had not been a specific target for the agency, with the two men assigned by management to hire a room at the Chateau Marmont and watch several celebrities who were staying there after the Screen Actors Guild Awards that night.
"The pair are believed to have been in a public area of the hotel when they spotted Ledger and befriended him - without disclosing they were journalists - and later invited him back to their room. ... "
The drugs turn up in the story here, along with acknowledgment that Splash News knew there were legal complications in releasing the Ledger video:
" ... Lawyers for the agency are understood to have advised that Ledger would have a strong case to sue - and would likely win a settlement worth millions - on the grounds of entrapment, as the reporter and photographer had invited him into their drug-filled hotel room. ... "
Ledger was victim of drugs sting
February 02, 2008
THE scandalous video of Heath Ledger talking about his drug habits was filmed as part of a controversial sting by paparazzi, who cashed in on the actor's tragic death.
The grainy video footage – in which a guilt-ridden Ledger confessed that he was a regular drug user – was allegedly recorded by a reporter and a photographer from LA-based, British-owned paparazzi agency Splash News.
Several independent sources told The Courier-Mail that the company's bosses had initially decided, on legal advice, in early 2006 against selling the footage.
Splash News is a division of SplashData
"... Splash News, a British owned US celeb news agency ... "
333 Washngton Blvd Ste 508
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Splash News broke the Michael Jackson pedophile story:
" ... It was shortly after I arrived that company founder Kevin Smith and news editor Paul Tetley took me out for a quiet lunch and explained the importance of Jackson. Worldwide, he was still the biggest star in the world. It was Splash which had broken the allegations against the star back in 1993 and had led the way on the story ever since. It was important, for the agency's reputation, to continue that solid coverage. And to cover the trial properly the agency needed a single-point man. Reporter Martin Fricker used to be that expert ... Covering the celebrity trial of the century wasn't always a thriller, says Graeme Massie of Splash News, but it was an intriguing challenge for journalists - and a nice little earner for residentsew York office. ... "
Founded in 2000, SplashData is privately held and based in Silicon Valley, California.
Splash News CEO Morgan Slain
"Prior to joining SplashData, Morgan was General Manager of Mobile Digital Media (MDM), a spin off of Palm, Inc. focused on retail sales of reference and entertainment software for mobile devices. At MDM, Morgan licensed content from software leaders such as Microsoft, Electronic Arts and Atari, developed versions for mobile platforms, and then distributed these titles through leading consumer electronics and office chains as well as online distributors like Handango and Motricity. Prior to MDM, Morgan worked as a business development executive at Palm, Inc., where he managed strategic partnerships with companies like AOL, Yahoo, and NTT DoCoMo. Before Palm, Morgan spent eight years at The Walt Disney Company in a series of roles of increasing responsibility. Morgan’s last position at Disney was Vice President of New Media and Business Development. Morgan holds both an MA degree and BA degree with Honors from Stanford University."
The Missing Millions Mystery/Michelle Williams' Father is a Fugitive from Justice
Mar 23rd 2008
by TMZ Staff
Could it be that one of the hottest actors in Hollywood barely had a pot to piss in when he died? If reports out of Australian papers are to be believed, Heath Ledger was only worth $145,000 at the time of his death.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the total value of Heath's estate is "$145,000, with furniture and fixtures worth $20,000, a Toyota Prius worth $25,000 and $100,000 in miscellaneous bank accounts." It also names Heath's father, mother and sisters as the only beneficiaries, but acknowledges his two-year-old daughter Matilda Rose as an interested party.
What this doesn't jibe with is family sources are telling TMZ that Matilda will be "well taken care of." So, where's the money?
Broker Than a Joker?
‘Brokeback’ Heath not exactly worth a fortune
By Boston Herald wire services
March 24, 2008
... The Australian co-executors nominated by Heath’s will are Mark Dyson and Rob Collins, a Perth accountant who has been a close financial adviser of Kim Ledger’s for many years.
However, scrutiny of Kim’s ability to manage his son’s will was sparked this month by a public warning from Kim’s estranged brothers.
Kim’s brothers questioned his ability to handle the financial affairs after his mismanagment in the ’80s of the $2 million estate of their late grandfather Sir Frank Ledger.
Kim’s brother said Kim borrowed heavily against Sir Frank Ledger’s assets, leaving the estate in debt by the time the WA Supreme Court removed him as administrator of Sir Frank’s will in 1994.
Heath’s father failed to return repeated attempts for comment by the Telegraph.
Michelle Williams' Father Challenges Heath Ledger's Father to Disclose Fortune
Monday, March 24, 2008
The father of Heath Ledger's ex-girlfriend Michelle Williams has challenged the late actor's family to publicly state the value of their son's fortune.
Larry Williams, who is one of the world's best known stock market traders, said he was perplexed that documents filed in a New York court listed Ledger's assets at just $145,000.
Michelle Williams and Ledger have a daughter, 2-year-old Matilda. Larry Williams, the toddler's grandfather, issued the challenge to Ledger's father Kim Ledger through The Sunday Telegraph.
"It's real simple: just come clean with everything,'' he said. "It's so easy to resolve this. He just has to say where the income went and where the assets are.
"I'm certain that there is grieving in the Ledger family but (lawyers for) Kim have already filed papers in New York, so it seems like it's time to be transparent about it. I have no idea what Heath Ledger was worth (but) they certainly haven't stated all of the assets to the court.''
Williams conceded that he did not have a close relationship with his daughter and that he was not in constant contact with her.
Cloudy forecast for futures trader
Share guru Larry Williams denies he is a tax evader
David Nason in New York and Nick Leys
June 03, 2006
STICK to the rules; keep a cool head. It's the Larry Williams mantra. Believe in the system, don't panic when the price starts to fall; in the end it will come good. And if it doesn't? Then tomorrow is another day, another trade.
The futures trader has lived this way for 40 years, but nowhere has it meant as much as the past fortnight in Sydney. Jail will no doubt do that to you, make you introspective and question the things you have always believed.
And the thought of a longer stretch in a cell - a much longer stretch if the US Internal Revenue Service successfully extradites Williams, then prosecutes him for tax evasion - may lead to more introspection still.
Williams, Heath Ledger's father-in-law, loves anecdotes and jokes, and his brief spell in an "exclusive Sydney hotel", as he calls it, affords him both.
"The guy who was in my cell with me said: 'You're that futures guy, I've heard of you. What sort of returns do you get?'," Williams told a seminar on Wednesday night. "I said to him, well, if I buy some stock at $20, then I might sell it for $40 or $60. He looked at me like I was mad and said, 'That's nothing. I can go to Iran and buy a pound of heroin for $200, come back and sell it for $260,000."
The audience, about 50 people who have come to a function room at the Marriott Hotel, Sydney, to hear Williams speak, lap it up. They laugh hard at the Martha Stewart jokes, the exclusive hotel and the bail conditions that have kept the marathon runner from jogging on Bondi beach. Williams is less Gordon Gekko, more the high school maths teacher who is liked by students and parents. He's charismatic in a folksy way, neat but not pretentious.
His audience includes many who have seen him before, who have paid to hear him and own all his books and DVDs. Others are people who know nothing about trading but are interested in making a buck. Mums and dads, university students, suits and tracksuits.
"Jail changed my view of a lot of things," he tells them. "I learned a lot and I saw parts of Sydney most tourists don't see. I don't know what's going on with my life right now, it's in the hands of lawyers. I could be in Sydney for a few months. I don't know how long I'll be here."
Williams has some involvement with law enforcement agencies, most notably in the US Virgin Islands where the 64-year-old trader has lived since mid-2003 and where he is a respected citizen.
Take the sunny Caribbean day last year when the local police commissioner paid tribute. "It is a day filled with pride to have corporate citizens extend a helpful hand to the motoring public and citizens of the Virgin Islands," commissioner Elton Lewis said.
Williams must have struggled to suppress a chuckle. The price of praise from the island's top cop was no more than one of those little machines that can laminate a driver's licence.
Williams stringently denies any involvement in tax avoidance schemes of any sort and assistant US attorney John Owens, who countersigned the indictment that led to Williams's arrest at Sydney airport on May 20 on three counts of tax evasion, doesn't reject this claim. "I can't comment on any link with the Virgin Islands," Owens says.
"All I can say is that certain foreign entities can assert they don't owe any taxes here in the US. We certainly disagree with the basis he [Williams] asserted."
Williams's home is a luxury villa in StCroix's hillside suburb of Green Cay, where most residents have servants, swimming pools and fine views of the marina and its expensive yachts. For a while at least he was an active participant in local activities, finishing third in a seniors' half marathon.
Williams's fiancee Louise Stapleton told Sydney Central Local Court last week she would sell their island home to help pay his bail. He also lists residences in South Africa, but for the time being will have to live in Sydney and report to police twice a day.
Williams gained prominence as a sharemarket oracle in 1982 with a best-selling book titled How to Prosper in the Coming Good Years. It accurately forecast the largest bull market in US history when many pundits were tipping a slowdown in economic growth.
It followed his successful debut book, How I Made a Million Dollars Trading Commodities, and a book on seasonality in commodities, an area he has made his specialty.
But Williams achieved guru status in 1987 when he turned $US10,000 of his own money into more than $US1.1 million during the Robbins World Cup Trading Championship, an international sharemarket gambling game played through 12 months. The 11,376 per cent return on investment remains a result 10 times better than any other winner in the history of the competition, although just as revealing is that Williams was ahead more than $US2million before a losing streak shaved nearly $US1million from his winnings.
Williams's trading methods gained a further boost 10 years later when his daughter Michelle, then just 16, used his strategies to win the same competition, earning a 1000 per cent return on her $US10,000 bank.
He is best known for his seasonal trading strategies in commodities and for using 10-year price patterns to determine the best times to enter and leave the market. But his trading methods are many and varied and have been reported in numerous trading and investment magazines as well as mainstream business media such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Fortune.
Controversy, however, has never been far away. Between 1986 and 1988 Williams managed a large investment fund and was caught in the October 1987 crash. Many investors lost money and some sued, most notably Susan B. Kringle, who alleged Williams owed her $US63 million.
"I lost money for investors, no doubt about that," Williams later admitted. "People were not blown out, though. As I recall, the worst damage done was about a 40 per cent decline in a few of the individual trading accounts."
At about the same time the National Futures Association investigated Williams for, among other things, deceptive disclosure documents and deceptive and unbalanced promotional material. Williams said the charges were politically motivated, arising after he had beaten a "hand-picked boy" for election to the NFA board. In the end, Williams agreed to pay a $US12,000 fine while not admitting any guilt.
"In light of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the NFA has fined other people, notably brokers and trading advisers, this was not even a slap on the wrist," he said.
There were further claims, never substantiated, that Williams had somehow rorted the Robbins competition by running two accounts. Williams claims he gives investment seminars and writes books because it's profitable. "I never know as a trader when I will make money," he once said. "It may be this month or maybe a few months from now, it's an unknown. Seminars and such amount to steady income."
May 23, 2006. 5:19pm (AEST)
Market guru Williams granted $1m bail
A Sydney court has granted bail on $1 million surety to a stock market expert who is facing tax evasion charges in the United States.
Larry Williams was arrested on a extradition warrant at Sydney airport on Saturday, as he arrived for a speaking tour.
The father of actress Michelle Williams has been in custody since then, but was granted strict conditional bail in Sydney's Central Local Court today.
The 64-year-old has been ordered to stay in the Sydney CBD, to report to police three times a day and to surrender his passport.
Williams' lawyer, Chris Watson, says the $1 million in cash and security, which is also required, is being gathered.
"Well I'm very happy that my client has been granted bail and I'll be very happy if he can make the bail," he said.
"It's a very difficult bail, but hopefully he's got a lot of support and a lot of people who believe in him, so I think we'll probably get him bail by tomorrow."
US stock market trader loses Australian court battle against extradition
The Associated Press
Thursday, August 2, 2007
SYDNEY, Australia: Hollywood actress Michelle Williams' father, a prominent stock market trader, lost a court appeal Friday against a second U.S. attempt to extradite him on tax evasion charges.
Three Federal Court judges dismissed the attempt by 64-year-old Larry Williams to stop the United States and New South Wales state courts from taking steps to extradite him.
A Sydney magistrate is now free to consider the U.S. extradition request. A hearing date is not yet set.
Williams, a resident of the Virgin Islands, had a victory in March when the Federal Court dismissed the initial U.S. extradition application because it did not provide Australia with enough detail of what offenses had been committed.
Australian police, responding to a request from U.S. authorities, arrested Williams in May last year after he flew into Sydney to begin a monthlong speaking tour in Australia and New Zealand. He has been free in Sydney on 1 million Australian dollars (US$857,000; 626,000) bail.
He is wanted by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service on charges of willfully attempting to evade $US1.5 million (1.2 million) in taxes from 1990 to 2001.
His 26-year-old daughter received an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress for her performance in the 2005 film "Brokeback Mountain," playing the wife of Heath Ledger's character.
Ledger is her real life partner and father of her daughter, Matilda.
Extradition hearing for Williams
April 23, 2008
THE father of Hollywood actor Michelle Williams and an accused Nazi war criminal living in Perth will face extradition hearings after their joint High Court bid to block legal moves against them failed.
Larry Williams, whose daughter was once engaged to the late Australian actor Heath Ledger, is wanted in the US on tax fraud charges.
He joined with Charles Zentai, an elderly Hungarian man wanted in Hungary for alleged Nazi war crimes, to mount a constitutional challenge against the power of magistrates to rule on extradition matters.
But the High Court today dismissed their appeal.
"Commonwealth laws conferring jurisdiction on state magistrates in relation to extradition applications were valid," the High Court of Australia said.