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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

World Mourns Heath Ledger; Autopsy Results on Heath Ledger Are Inconclusive

Aired January 23, 2008 - 23:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: Heath Ledger`s family speaks after a shocking and mysterious death at 28 years old. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CO-HOST: And I speak to the stars at the Sundance Film Festival as they try to deal with the loss of one of Hollywood`s most talented young actors. I`m Brooke Anderson in Park City, Utah. TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the shocking death of Heath Ledger. Tonight, the mysterious and disturbing questions pile up about the death of the 28-year-old star. How did this happen? How did he die alone in his New York City apartment? Tonight, the latest news following Heath`s autopsy, and Heath`s family in unspeakable grief.

KIM LEDGER, HEATH LEDGER`S FATHER: Heath just touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life.

HAMMER: Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT goes around the world, from New York to Hollywood, from Sundance to Australia, as the emotional heartbreaking reaction to his death pours in from the stars.

MORGAN SPURLOCK, DIRECTOR: It`s awful. Your heart goes out to his family.

PATRICIA CLARKSON, ACTOR: It`s just sad and incredibly tragic.

STANLEY TUCCI, ACTOR: Well, it`s just sad that he`s gone, too young, too young.

HAMMER: Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the stunned reaction to the unbelievable death to one of Hollywood`s brightest young stars.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Hello, I`m A.J. Hammer, broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City, where the mystery deepens over what killed Heath Ledger.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson. Coming to you tonight from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, where Hollywood`s biggest stars are speaking to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT about the absolute shock they`re feeling over Heath Ledger`s death. We will have that for you in just a minute.

HAMMER: But first tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the very latest developments as investigators try to determine what killed the 28-year-old movie star. And we begin our coverage with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Kareen Wynter in Hollywood -- Kareen.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: A.J., I`ve got to tell you, I`ve been talking about this story all day and what a story it is. It`s so tough to report, it doesn`t get any easier. But let`s start with what we do know now. The initial autopsy results, they were just released today, and guess what, they are inconclusive.

The New York City medical examiner says it will take a few weeks, 10 to 14 days perhaps, A.J., before we know exactly what killed Heath Ledger. And they there are going to be more tests performed. They are talking about toxicology tests. They want to find out what kind of chemicals, if any, were in Ledger`s body.

And Ledger was found dead in his apartment in Manhattan Tuesday afternoon. Police initially said it was being looked at as a possible drug overdose. And today, well, they said they found bottles of prescription sleeping pills and valium in his bedroom and the bathroom.

They also tell us that there was no note, so no indication this was a suicide and there were no signs, A.J., of foul play. I just want to put that out there because there are so many reports, so many rumors circulating. But as I said, it could be up to two weeks until they get a confirmation in terms of the cause of death. So, A.J., just a tragic, tragic story all around with many questions, by the way. And we`ll have to wait to see if those additional tests, once they`re done, we`ll be getting some answers.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Kareen Wynter, thanks so much for bringing us to speed. We`re all obviously trying to make sense of this tragedy, trying to understand how Heath`s life could have ended so suddenly and so tragically. And that includes not only those in Hollywood, of course, who knew him so well, but obviously his parents who held an emotional news conference today in Heath`s native Australia.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT at work around the world with the devastating reaction to Heath Ledger`s death.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALICIA QUARLES, ASSOCIATED PRESS: This is a huge loss for Hollywood.

HAMMER (voice-over): It`s no exaggeration. The shocking death of actor Heath Ledger is being felt around the world. From New York...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t believe it. He was so young and so vibrant.

HAMMER: ... to the Hollywood elite Heath worked with and all the way to Australia where Ledger`s devastated parents reacted to the news of their son`s death.

K. LEDGER: He was a down-to-earth, generous, kind-hearted, life- loving, unselfish individual, who was extremely inspirational to me.

HAMMER: The news is said to be especially devastating to his ex- fiancee, actress Michelle Williams, his co-star in "Brokeback Mountain." The ex-couple has a 2-year-old daughter together, Matilda. The little girl is now with Michelle who reportedly is heartbroken by Ledger`s death.

QUARLES: Michelle Williams was allegedly abroad when she was told about the death of Heath Ledger. She was filming a movie. She immediately jumped on a plane bound for New York with her young daughter Matilda.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you another of Heath`s famous exes, actress Naomi Watts, abruptly canceled all of her appearances at the Sundance Film Festival after she got the news. Another example of the impact Ledger`s loss is having on the stars who knew him.

QUARLES: Heath was a great talent in Hollywood. He was an actor`s actor.

HAMMER: And in a sad irony on the day Ledger died, actress Cate Blanchett was nominated for an Oscar for a movie she starred in with Ledger, the Bob Dylan biopic "I`m Not There." In a statement published by News Limited newspapers, Blanchett says: "I deeply respect Heath`s work and always admired his continuing development as an artist. My thoughts are with his family and close friends."

Mel Gibson played Ledger`s father in the Revolutionary War drama, "The Patriot." Gibson tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: "I had such great hope for him. He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."

And fellow Australian Nicole Kidman tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: "What a tragedy. My heart goes out to his family."

QUARLES: Heath Ledger`s career was just beginning. He`s going to be like a James Dean now. He`s going to be an iconic legend because he did die so young.

HAMMER: Before their breakup this past summer, Ledger and Williams lived a low-key, intensely private life with their daughter in Brooklyn, in this building, far from the glitz and glamour of Manhattan and Hollywood.

QUARLES: He lived in Brooklyn in a part that`s kind of bohemian, hippie-dippy. But was living a very low-key life. He was seen throughout Brooklyn and throughout New York City with Matilda, his daughter, on his shoulders, just walking around being a normal dad.

HAMMER: Ledger was a regular in neighborhood video stores and coffee shops, and the locals remembered him as just a normal guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just seemed like a really sweet, neighborhood-y kind of guy, very down-to-earth.

HAMMER: But even if Ledger was down-to-earth, his career was skyrocketing.

HEATH LEDGER, ACTOR: I don`t ever really want to feel like I`m peaking.

HAMMER: Right around the time "Brokeback Mountain" opened, Ledger told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT his plans for the future.

H. LEDGER: I`ve got a lot more I want to do. And I`m always learning, my performance, as I, as a person is evolving and maturing, and I just want to continue to do that.

HAMMER: And the tragedy of it all is that Ledger died just months before what may have been his biggest movie role yet. He plays the homicidal villain the Joker in the upcoming Batman sequel "The Dark Knight." But Ledger reportedly had a tough time playing the psychotic villain.

QUARLES: This role definitely had an impact on Heath. He said that basically he was playing a homicidal maniac and obviously it was draining to him. He told The New York Times that he couldn`t sleep.

HAMMER: The mystery of what exactly led to Ledger`s death is still unfolding. But it`s clear, his short life affected his fans and his loved ones, whether they were famous or not.

K. LEDGER: Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Joining us tonight, one of the people whose life was touched by Heath Ledger, from Hollywood, Howard Bragman, founder of Fifteen Minutes Public Relations. He worked with Heath on the movie "Brokeback Mountain." Also with tonight from the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, Leah Rozen, film critic for People magazine.

Howard, Leah, I appreciate you being with us on this day when the shock of what has happened is really turning into great sadness. Heath`s death obviously hitting Hollywood very hard. Another young actor with so much promise gone way too soon. Leah Rozen, what kind of void does his death leave?

LEAH ROZEN, FILM CRITIC, PEOPLE: Well, it leaves a big gap. When you`re looking for a leading man who is both attractive, physically scrapping, and could play a real range of roles. I mean, the thing about Heath Ledger was this mix of brawn and sensitivity that is sort of hard to find, but he had it.

HAMMER: Yes, Howard, I`m curious to get your take on that. Because there are not a lot of guys out there who did what Heath did the way that Heath did it.

HOWARD BRAGMAN, FOUNDER, FIFTEEN MINUTES PUBLIC RELATIONS: You know, Heath was one of a kind. There are plenty of talented young actors in Hollywood, but Heath was on par with, say, a Marlon Brando in his acting abilities. And he has a wonderful body of work he leaves behind. But I just keep imagining the body of work that would have been in future years for him because he always was courageous.

If there was an easy way or a hard way, Heath took the hard way. And we can see that in roles like "Brokeback Mountain" and just the range of things he was able to do, A.J.

HAMMER: And you have referred to him, as we have talked about him over the past 24 hours, as being James Dean-like, presumably in that there was just so much potential there and so much left for him to do.

BRAGMAN: He was so young, so beautiful, had so much going on and just taken away in the prime of his life. And I`ve been here a long time, A.J. I`ve been here a couple decades in Hollywood. I`ve never seen a reaction like this. I think it`s a collective gasp. And even when you look at the Oscar nominations, were totally overshadowed by his death, that tells you the gravitas that this death has on this town and the feelings that he has imparted on people.

HAMMER: Well, I was down there in SoHo, at the site of the building where Heath Ledger was living and found dead last night. A makeshift memorial, understandably, has started growing by the hour outside of his apartment building. Very, very powerful scene to behold. Some people just walking by, just strictly awestruck by the fact that this actually could have happened.

Leah, what was it about Heath that connected so much with his fans and even non-fans?

ROZEN: I think a sensitivity and really almost in any role he played, even the ones where he was charming and funny. There was always a sense of sort of this vulnerability, this kind of inner hurt which, you know, may have actually been the case. I mean, you`re looking at a career that really his first Hollywood film, "10 Things I Hate About You," was in 1999. So you`re looking at less than a decade`s worth of work.

But there are some really impressive performances there. I think the one most people are going to remember is, of course, "Brokeback Mountain." And the irony there is he got to play a character in that film that he will never get to play in real life. You know, he got, in that film, to end up a middle-aged man with an adult daughter.

HAMMER: Yes, and one thing that isn`t -- lost on no one, the fact that Heath had this daughter, Matilda, with his former fiancee, the woman he worked with -- the actress he worked with in "Brokeback," Michelle Williams.

Now Michelle Williams raced back to New York from a film shoot she was doing in Europe. Howard, I know you had the opportunity to spend time with them together when they were together. I can`t even imagine how tough this must be on Michelle.

BRAGMAN: You know, it`s tough on Michelle. I mean, I know they were split but they were still close. They still had a child together. Really, you know, I`m in Hollywood, I talked to Heath`s publicist yesterday and again today. I feel so bad for the people on Heath`s team, like his publicist, who is an exquisite woman, has worked really hard and she has to go on and do her job very, very professionally.

And you know, when you`re a publicist and you spend a lot of time with a client, you really get to know the client. You really get to love the client and it`s really a sad situation when that happens.

HAMMER: Yes, really sad, so tough for so many people. Howard Bragman, Leah Rozen, I do appreciate you being with us tonight. It is really so tragic to think what could have been, as I mentioned. In his short life, Heath Ledger made such a mark on Hollywood with the roles that he chose and his talent. And you know, so many stars count themselves among his fans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCCI: Every time you saw that guy on screen, you just wanted to watch him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson has been getting reaction from the stars at the Sundance Film Festival. So coming up next, we`re going to go to Park City, Utah. You are going to want to hear what stunned celebrities are saying about a career and a life cut way too short. You`re watching SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s continuing coverage of the death of Heath Ledger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN")

H. LEDGER: The bottom line is, we`re around each other and this thing grabs a hold of us again in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and we`re dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: You`re watching SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s continuing coverage of the shocking death of Heath Ledger. Talented Oscar-nominated actor, devoted father, dead at 28 years old. Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

Tonight, there are so many questions surrounding the tragic death of actor Heath Ledger. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has been speaking with the stars who knew him from Hollywood and at the Sundance Film Festival. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson is in Park City, Utah, where she has been getting reaction to Ledger`s untimely death.

Hi, Brooke.

ANDERSON: Hi there, A.J. Well, I can tell you that the mood has changed here in Park City at the Sundance Film Festival from festive to somewhat somber. The sun came out today, but it has really been like a dark cloud has been hanging over everybody here in Park City.

And I can tell you this, Heath Ledger`s former girlfriend and co-star Naomi Watts was supposed to be here in Park City promoting her new Sundance film "Funny Games." Well, we got the call last night, A.J., that she was canceling her interview with us and she was canceling all of her interviews in fact and would not be speaking with the press. We did expect that and it`s completely understandable that she wouldn`t be up for chatting about a film.

HAMMER: Yes, not surprising at all. I can`t even imagine what she`s going through because they were a couple for so long prior to him meeting and ultimately having a child with his ex-fiancee Michelle Williams. Brooke, I know you`ve been getting some star reaction there on the ground in Park City, Utah. What have you been hearing?

ANDERSON: We have. Some stars have been reticent to talk about Heath Ledger and his death. It`s a very sensitive topic. But we have been speaking with a number of stars, including Stanley Tucci, who shared his thoughts about Heath.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCCI: I can only say, he was a captivating person. The performance in "Brokeback Mountain" is beautiful. But every time you saw that guy on screen, you just wanted to watch him. And it`s sad -- well, it`s just sad that he`s gone. Too young, too young.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Yes, too young, just 28 years old. And, A.J., you know, everybody has been talking about his upcoming film role in the movie "The Dark Knight," where he plays the demonic Joker, this really horrible character that he really delved into. But he`s actually being shown in theaters right now in the Oscar-nominated film "I`m Not There." And actress Patricia Clarkson saw that film and shared with us her thoughts about the talent she saw in Heath.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARKSON: It`s just sad and incredibly tragic. I just saw him in "I`m Not There" and he was a very, very gifted young man. Incredibly talented.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And, A.J., I think that`s what a lot of people will remember Heath Ledger as a gifted young man, one who will not reach his full potential. And one of the saddest things about all of this to me is that he`s leaving behind a 2-year-old daughter, Matilda Rose. Charlize Theron and Morgan Spurlock are here in Sundance, and they talked about Heath`s death and the family aspect in particular.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIZE THERON, ACTOR: I really hope that his family will get some privacy to mourn, I think, an incredibly sad death. I think it`s sad.

SPURLOCK: To me it`s completely tragic, I mean, this guy is one of the greatest young actors that we have today and, you know, just to have something like this happen, it is awful. Your heart goes out to his family because -- you know, I just had a son and you think about his young child and it`s terrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And you know, Hollywood is reacting to this news as well. We spoke with Jessica Alba just hours ago and her reaction, just as somber as everyone else`s.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA ALBA, ACTOR: So sad for his family and his friends and, you know, his daughter and Michelle. I mean, I couldn`t imagine a loss like that in my life. And it`s the saddest thing in the world, really. Yes, I feel very sorry for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Yes, A.J., I think she sums it up pretty well, you know. And now that the news is beginning to sink in with everyone, we`re kind of all left with just a deep, deep sorrow for 2-year-old Matilda, for Michelle, for the rest of their friends and family.

HAMMER: Yes, I feel like, Brooke, I`m overusing the word "tragic," but it is oh-so fitting.

ANDERSON: Certainly.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson at Sundance in Park City, Utah. Hang out there, we are going to be having you back here a little later on in the show.

So many of our viewers just shocked and saddened by Heath Ledger`s death. A lot of very emotional e-mails have been coming in. I want to read a couple to you.

Rahat from Missouri writes: "Heath Ledger`s death is a tragedy in that his daughter will never enjoy her father while growing up."

And Catalina from Florida says: "Wow, I am completely and utterly shocked as well as saddened by the death of Heath Ledger. He was not only an exceptionally gifted actor, but he was also a caring and quiet individual who didn`t crave the glitz and glamour of Hollywood."

Well, from Sundance to Hollywood to right here in New York City where Heath Ledger made his home in recent years, everyone is just reeling with the sad and shocking news of his death. Coming up next, we`re going to hear from Regis and Kelly and the co-hosts of "The View" for their take on the saddest part of this very, very sad story.

You`re watching SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s continuing coverage of the death of Heath Ledger. We`re coming right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H. LEDGER: It`s an honor to kind of be a part of films that are well- received. On the flip side of that, you know, my personal life completely outweighs any hype that is in my professional life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: You`re watching SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s continuing coverage of the shocking death of Heath Ledger. Talented, Oscar-nominated actor, devoted father, dead at 28 years old.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York, and here in New York, everyone is talking about the death of Heath Ledger. If there is one word to sum up the reaction, it would definitely have to be shock. On "The View" and on "Live with Regis & Kelly" Wednesday morning, they were still trying to process the news as so many of us are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY RIPA, CO-HOST, "LIVE WITH REGIS & KELLY": And you go, oh, my gosh, because he`s just such a brilliant actor, he`s such a talent...

REGIS PHILBIN, CO-HOST, "LIVE WITH REGIS & KELLY": Very strong.

RIPA: ... that it`s just depressing.

PHILBIN: He was on our show once or twice...

RIPA: Yes, and lovely.

PHILBIN: ... and great guy, yes. And had an Oscar nomination for "Brokeback Mountain." He had everything to live for. And it is just a shame.

RIPA: And a beautiful little girl, too.

PHILBIN: Yes.

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": His friends said they wouldn`t think he would commit suicide because he was so devoted to his 2-year-old little girl.

(CROSSTALK)

SHERRI SHEPHERD, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": As a mother, that is the first place that I went to and I`m sure you did too, I kept thinking, his daughter will not have her father anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Obviously, just so sad to think of 2-year-old Matilda. Her mother, Ledger`s former fiancee and "Brokeback Mountain" co-star Michelle Williams, has been filming a movie over in Sweden. Of course, as soon as she got the news, she and Matilda flew to New York. Williams is, of course, said to be devastated.

And while it can`t compare to what his family is going through, Ledger`s death has also taken an emotional toll on his fans all over the world. Coming up next, why Heath had such an impact on people through his acting. We`ll also get the very latest on the investigation, the mystery surrounding the details of his death. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s continuing coverage of the death of Heath Ledger continues in just a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H. LEDGER: And ultimately, you know, acting, for me at least, it`s all about harnessing the power of belief. You know, and once you do that, you can take yourself kind of anywhere. You know, I don`t ever really want to feel like I`m peaking -- or you know, I`ve got a lot more I want to do and I`m always learning my performance, as am I as a person, is evolving and maturing, and I just want to continue to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AJ HAMMER, CNNHN ANCHOR, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the startling death of Heath Ledger. Tonight, family and fans speak out, their emotional words about the devastating loss of one of Hollywood`s most beloved stars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s just touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life, but few had the pleasure of truly showing him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the stunned reaction from around the world. Plus, the latest on the mystery surrounding what killed him. Our continuing coverage of the shocking death of Heath Ledger starts now.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 30 minutes past the hour. I`m AJ Hammer broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNNHN CORRESPONDENT: And I`m Brooke Anderson coming to you tonight from the Sundance film festival in Park City, Utah. This is our continuing coverage of the shocking and tragic death of actor Heath Ledger. Coming up, we`ve got emotional words from Heath Ledger`s dad and from fans all over the world. But first tonight, let`s head out to Hollywood with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Kareen Wynter where she`s got the very latest -- Kareen.

KAREEM WYNTER, CNNHN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Brooke. There have been so much developing on this huge story all day long and I want to get right to what SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you right now. This is all coming from the New York City medical examiner. The initial autopsy results, they`re in on Heath Ledger`s body and guess what? They`re inconclusive. That`s right. It will take about two weeks before more tests reveal exactly what killed him. And wait, there`s more. This is also interesting. Today, police said they found bottles - that`s right - bottles of prescription sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication in Heath`s apartment.

They also say they collected a $20 bill for testing because of the way it was folded they say. And they also added that there`s no indication whatsoever that this was a suicide, which is a little bit of what we`ve been hearing from Heath Ledger`s parents. While it`s not clear that these drugs were involved, well, listen to this, the White House today, they actually delayed the release of a drug abuse TV ad. That`s right, a spokesman said the president didn`t want anyone to think he was being quote, opportunistic and I think that was actually the right move, AJ. And also so many more questions remain in this horrific, horrific story that we`ve been all reporting all day.

HAMMER: So many questions Kareem, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Kareem Wynter joining us from Hollywood tonight. Thanks so much. Here to help us answer some of those questions, joining us tonight once again from the Sundance film festival in Park City Utah, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson and Leah Rozen, film critic for "People" magazine. In Hollywood tonight, back with us founder of Fifteen Minutes PR, somebody who got to know Heath Ledger quite he will, Howard Bragman. And in New York tonight, "Daily News" columnist Ben Widdicombe.

As we keep saying, still so many unanswered questions tonight surrounding just how Ledger died. Now we know as Kareem said, police didn`t find any illegal drugs at Ledger`s house, although they did find sealed bottles of prescription sleeping pills. He had been known and had admitted to having difficulty sleeping in the past. Police say that he could possibly have died from an accidental overdose. Ben Widdicombe, I want to start with you, because you`ve been covering Heath Ledger here in New York for years, fellow Australian. This really just came out of left field, didn`t it?

BEN WIDDICOMBE, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS" COLUMNIST: That`s right. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly went on television today to clarify that no illegal drugs were found in the apartment. And given the fact that the toxicology report was inconclusive, that means there`s no obvious cause of death. If it were a massive overdose, that probably would have been picked up right away. So it was something much more complicated that killed Heath Ledger.

HAMMER: And obviously, there`s been lots of speculation as to exactly how he did die. His family did hold a news conference in his native Australia today. It was basically in the morning in Australia when the news was just breaking there. And they said there was no way this could be anything but accidental. Watch what they said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We, Heath`s family, confirm the very tragic, untimely and accidental passing of our dearly loved son, brother and doting father of Matilda. He was found peacefully asleep in his New York apartment by his house keeper at 3:30 U.S. time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Our hearts, obviously the hearts of so many people all around the world going out to his family. Until the coroner`s report comes back and they`re saying that could take at least 10 days or more, a lot of speculation about what caused his death. Howard Bragman, would it surprise you if the death were not ruled as accidental?

HOWARD BRAGMAN, FIFTEEN MINUTES PUBLIC RELATIONS: It would surprise me. You know, he just was in the middle of a movie. As we talked about often, I saw the way he held his daughter and looked at his daughter. This was not a man planning an untimely accident. It was a horrible tragic accident. And that`s all I can believe now. He was such a life force, AJ, that I wouldn`t want to think it was anything else and I can`t imagine it was. You know, Heath did not run away from his demons. He embraced his demons. That`s why he did the kind of roles he did. So it was an accident, I`m very confident of that.

HAMMER: Here`s a guy who was obviously so full of passion, not only as you said for being a father to his daughter Matilda, but also for his work, quite obviously. And he had a lot going on in his life. He had upcoming productions, the movie he was currently working on with Terry Gilliam and even had a little music production company that he started in Los Angeles. He was even directing videos. So obviously a lot to live for and not only a difficult time for Ledger`s family, as I said, fans around the world just reeling from this tragic, tragic news. When I was down there last night at his apartment building on Broom Street in New York City, I saw what you`re looking at, this impromptu memorial that was set up in front of his apartment. Leah Rozen, you have followed Ledger`s career from the very beginning. What really was it about him as a man and an actor that appealed so much to his fans?

LEAH ROZEN, FILM CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: In some ways he grew up in front of us. I mean when he first became a star, his first big American movie is "Ten Things I Know About You" in which he set the hearts aflutter of teenage girls. But we saw him become a man on screen. Certainly "Brokeback Mountain" is the performance of an adult. I mean that is a heartbreaking performance. I think in "Casanova" that was this sexy Errol Flynn-like grown-up man. So I think you were seeing sort of the beginning of the art of what was promising to be this incredibly promising long career that`s now been cut short. And that`s always sad.

HAMMER: And that is something that is the subject of much discussion out there at the Sundance film festival Leah, where you Brooke Anderson of course also there on the ground. You mentioned earlier in the show, how the tone of the festival really turned somber when this news broke obviously and you`ve been speaking with some of Ledger`s fans. What are they saying?

ANDERSON: Right, well, many of them are grief stricken, AJ, and is has really cast a shadow over this otherwise celebratory event. I did speak with some of the attendees about how they`re feeling right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt terrible. He` was such a talented actor, did so well, had so much going on and it`s just so sad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really think it`s a great loss, really a great loss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a tragedy. I think it`s really too bad. I don`t know if it was an overdose or it was just something else. But he had such a great career. It`s just a real shame.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: AJ, we`ve been hearing nothing but kind words from fans and fellow actors and film makers and I think that is really a true testament to how well liked and well respected Heath Ledger really was.

HAMMER: And there`s some more powerful words Brooke that we were hearing today from model Helena Christianson and a startling revelation that she passed along. She said she was actually on her way over to visit Heath Ledger when she found out he had died and she told "Women`s Wear Daily," quote, I had just left him a message and heard his voice on the machine. He was such a special and genuine person, so extraordinarily talented because he was so raw and honest with his feelings. He was so full of life, so electric. And you really think about his performances, particularly "Brokeback Mountain." I think she just summed up really what made him such a great performer on screen and also drove home the tragedy of this situation, this guy dying at just 28 years old. Howard Bragman, back to you. What kind of legacy do you see Heath Ledger as leaving behind?

BRAGMAN: You know, there`s an irony in Hollywood and we see it in James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. When you die young and beautiful, your legacy is expounded. They don`t get to see you grow old. They don`t get to see you get gray hair and wrinkles. And he has an amazing legacy. If this was the end of a career, if it was 50 years from now and he had died and these were the highlights of his career, we would say he had an exquisite career. And I think it`s just a void and how do you describe a void? How do you define a void? But there`s a true void. There`s talents going through a very, very challenging time now AJ. We`ve had a three- month strike. The economy is really hurting here. There`s a lot of people out of work, even the academy award nominations. There are a lot of dark, dark movies. And this was just punctuation for everything that is going on. His legacy, however, will be one of brightness, one of courage, one of being a great father and a really courageous and enjoyable actor to watch.

HAMMER: Ben Widdicombe, same question to you, particularly given the fact that you`ve covered him not only here in New York City, but have a familiarity with how revered he is back at home in Australia.

WIDDICOMBE: You know, I think the amazing thing is that we would expect this to be a huge story in Australia, but what has struck a lot of people is how it`s really the number one story right now in the states as well and I have to say, one of the most touching things I`ve seen as part of this story is you`re aware of course of the shrine outside his Broom Street apartment. You were there last night. But in Brooklyn, near their Boerum Hill house that he shared with Michelle Williams, they put baby Matilda`s footprint in wet cement in the sidewalk near that house and that has become a little shrine in Brooklyn, too. There are flowers there and notes from fans to him and that is just heartbreaking and a beautiful testament to how people thought of him.

HAMMER: I have seen that and I`m hoping and guessing it will be there hopefully for a long time to come as a memorial to Heath Ledger. Brooke Anderson, Leah Rozen, Howard Bragman, Ben Widdicombe, I do thank you all for being here on this difficult, difficult story tonight. So many people talking about what type of person Heath Ledger was, a really down-to-earth guy, a really friendly, a great actor of course to boot. Coming up, I`ve got a special emotional look at Heath Ledger in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATH LEDGER: It`s an honor to kind of be a part of films that are well received. On the flip side of that, my personal life completely outweighs any hype that`s in my professional life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: It is really, really powerful. You will definitely want to stick around to hear that. Our coverage of Heath Ledger`s tragic and shocking death continues coming up.

And switching gears for a bit, big Britney Spears news. She was scheduled to be back in court today to fight for visitation with her kids which means I got to ask, did she actually even bother to show up? You`re not going to believe what happened this time around. Plus, a surprising twist with Brit`s on again, off again paparazzi boyfriend. That`s next on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

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HAMMER: Thanks Charles. Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m AJ Hammer in New York. Tonight, Britney`s big turn around. Well, it`s not exactly the kind that we were hoping for. Britney did show up today in a LA courthouse in her continuing custody battle. But in a move that we have unfortunately seen before, she showed up, turned around and she split. Some things appear to never change. With us tonight in New York, from the True TV studios, Ashleigh Banfield, host of Tru TV`s "Hollywood Heat." In Hollywood tonight, entertainment journalist Ken Baker. So Ken, Ashleigh -- Britney was reportedly going to argue or her lawyers were going to argue on her behalf that she should be allowed visitation of her two sons in a so-called therapeutic setting, meaning under the supervision of some medical professionals. But she shows up at the court, she never enters the courtroom. Ashleigh, seems to me, she`s once again proved how unstable she is.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, TRU TV`S "HOLLYWOOD HEAT": That`s certainly not lost on the commissioner in this case an almost show AJ is considered a no show. But I think the bigger issue that you just hit is that her instability is proven by the fact that even the loss of seeing her children isn`t enough for her to take those few extra steps to get into the courtroom, let alone getting custody of them. Just seeing them isn`t enough for her to take those steps, which is troublesome.

HAMMER: And to nobody`s surprise, the judge ruled today that things are going to remain the same. She still doesn`t have visitation, can`t go near her kids. Ken Baker, I`m thinking why even bother having these hearings anymore, why waste everybody`s time?

KEN BAKER, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: If we take the long view, maybe she`s eventually going to get to the place where she`s going to act like someone who really does want her kids. Take a look at it. She showed up before K-Fed this morning, which was a good start. She showed up without fanfare, without the whole mess and the whole drama. Obviously something had been worked out. She had an entrance and exit that was very much civil. She actually made it inside the building this time. So it`s like she got it 80 percent right. But you know what? The 20 percent that she got wrong completely erases the 80 percent.

HAMMER: It`s not like this was some kind of dress rehearsal run through. Let`s see if this works out through the secret entrance for next time. I think this was pretty important, yeah, wiped the whole thing out. The judge in the case, the commissioner has said that he wants Britney to undergo a psychological evaluation, but Ashleigh, he can`t force her to do that, can he?

BANFIELD: No, he cannot. But here`s the rub. A lot of people are getting this wrong. If her family or those close to her feel that she truly is a danger to herself or others, they can go to another judge, not this commissioner but another judge who can order an assessment. But the standards are so high, AJ. You really have to prove she`s a danger to herself or others. It`s not easy to do that. And this report that maybe her family was trying to back door that assessment through this medically supervised visit, highly unlikely. To our knowledge, they don`t have power of attorney over her and they have no standing in this courtroom with the commissioner. So it`s not like they could go to that commissioner and have this done.

HAMMER: It seems to me she would have good gain some good ground with the commissioner who is in charge of all of this if she were to voluntarily go and get some (INAUDIBLE) done.

BANFIELD: Absolutely.

HAMMER: I have some bad news to report tonight. I hate that I have to say this, but it seems that Britney is back with her paparazzi boyfriend, the guy named Adnan Ghalib . He had done this interview with another entertainment show and in the interview, he claims that Britney wants to have his baby. And you all remember that video of when she recently went shopping for pregnancy tests. Well Adnan in this interview was saying the pregnancy tests were for them. Britney has said it was for a friend of hers. Ken Baker, just a scary thought as far as I`m concerned.

BAKER: What`s interesting here is that there seems to be a little bit of power play going on with the two men closest in her life, Sam Lufti, her manager/publicist guy and now Adnan Ghalib, who`s her boyfriend. There is a lot of talk, a lot of rumor last week that Sam was trying to push Adnan out of the picture. Well, Adnan`s back, but what`s interesting is that Adnan goes on, he gives this interview and he says, oh you know, Britney`s not crazy and we`re together still and there`s no restraining order filed against me.

And it completely contradicted all the reporting and everything that was coming out and all the rumors. And so it seems like Britney has these two guys in her life that are sort of contradicting each other. But the one thing that`s consistent is that both Sam Litvy and Adnan say she`s not crazy. She`s just fine. So what does that say? That people who want her to get help who don`t think she`s fine are her family. Guess what? She doesn`t talk to her family. So that`s the scary part is that she`s shut out people in her life who are telling her things that she doesn`t want to hear.

HAMMER: And another contradiction, the other day, Britney was asked by a paparazzi where`s Adnan and she says, I don`t even know who that is. Ashleigh, it definitely seems like they`re playing us or somebody is playing us again.

BANFIELD: I would normally say yes, especially when it comes to crazy celebrities, except for the fact that the children are at stake. I keep coming back to it, AJ. Nobody would play the press just for fun when her kids are at stake. And then the idea that she speaks in this British accent and answers strange questions one way and straight the other way, it might just be the fact that there is this truth to the multiple personality rumor.

HAMMER: That`s a good point. Ashleigh Banfield, Ken Baker, again thanks for being here tonight.

BANFIELD: Thanks AJ.

HAMMER: Another ugly custody battle just took a bizarre turn. Here`s some other big Hollywood stories right now. TMZ reports that a Los Angeles judge is actually allowing Denise Richards to go ahead with taping a reality show featuring her two young daughters, Sam, three and Lola, two. Her ex, dad Charlie Sheen, was furious. He didn`t want the kids to be in the show. There is no comment from either of them and while I do not know the specifics here, on the surface,, I got to tell you the show sounds like a bad, bad idea.

Kiefer Sutherland, he is back out on the town just a couple of days after being released from a Los Angeles jail. "People" magazine reports that he had a celebratory dinner with his dad Donald Sutherland. The "24" star served 48 days behind bars for a second DUI conviction.

And Tom Cruise, no, there`s no new Scientology controversy tonight. I`m just letting you know that he`s going to be a presenter at the Screen Actor`s Guild award this Sunday in LA. A bunch of other big names are going to be there too handing out the statues, including Steve Carell, Russell Crowe and Kate Winslet.

Well, I`ve got much more on our continuing coverage of the shocking death of Heath Ledger. Coming up, Heath in his dramatic own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEDGER: It`s an honor to be part of films that are well received. On the flip side of that, my personal life completely outweighs any hype that`s in my professional life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: He was such a fan favorite, not only for his acting but because really he was just a regular guy. Coming up next, we`ve got the emotional words from his family and a revealing look at Heath Ledger by Heath himself. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT coming right back.

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HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m AJ Hammer in New York. As we have covered the stunning news of Heath Ledger`s death, several themes keep coming up about the type of man he was and among those that have stuck out to me, number one, the fact that he would rather have been poor and hungry than compromise his own integrity for a big paycheck, the fact that he was drawn to acting, not to fame. An example I really think so much of young Hollywood should be paying attention to. All this hour, we`ve been bringing you the stunned reactions to Heath Ledger`s tragic death, the stars, family, fans, all speaking out how great a person he was, how great an actor he was. He was so down to earth and just a regular guy. Before we leave you tonight, we wanted to give you a sense of the kind of person Heath Ledger was from Heath himself. And leave you with the dramatic words from his family that left us so emotional.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We, Heath`s family, confirm the very tragic, untimely and accidental passing of our dearly loved son, brother and doting father of Matilda.

LEDGER: I`m very comfortable in the daddy position.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a down-to-earth, generous, kind hearted, life-loving, unselfish individual who was extremely inspirational to me.

LEDGER: It`s an honor to be part of films that are well received. On the flip side of that, my personal life completely outweighs any hype that`s in my professional life.

Acting, for me at least, it`s all about harnessing the power of belief. Once you do that, you can take yourself anywhere.

Generally, I try to look for something that teaches me something and requires me to do more, to give something that I have (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life, that few had the pleasure of truly knowing him.

LEDGER: I don`t ever really want to feel like I`m peaking or -- you know, I`ve got a lot more I want to do. I am always learning, my performance, as I as a person, it`s evolving and maturing and I just want to continue to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK: The only thing that is confusing about economic stimulus is why some people are choosing to ignore the simple solution that is right in front of us. I`m Glenn Beck. I`ll show it to you, next.

RICHELLE CAREY, CNNHN CORRESPONDENT: I`m Richelle Carey. This is your headline prime news break. Two love-struck Michigan teens have been reunited with their parents, the 13-year-old girl and 15-year-old boyfriend were found in Louisiana Monday after nine days on the run.

Chicago`s new police superintendent says he may not let an officer back on the force after he beat a man in a wheelchair. That 60-year old man was shackled at the time. The officer pleaded guilty to battery, was suspended for two years and is scheduled to return to work this April.

And a Canadian paramedic`s struggle to survive after getting trapped beneath his ATV for 96 hours. Ken Hildebrand says he had to eat rotting beaver meat and fend off snarling coyotes when he got pinned against a rock during a trip into the wilderness. Keep it here, I`m Richelle Carey.

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