An American television entertainment show has ditched plans to
air a video showing actor Heath Ledger talking about drug use at an
alleged Hollywood drug party.
After promoting the video, saying it would be shown in Friday's episode in the United States, Entertainment Tonight (ET) out of respect for Ledger's family.
ET said Australia's Nine Network had obtained the tape and was preparing to show it in Australia - something that Nine denied on Thursday.
Nine spokeswoman Alex Phillips said the network did not have possession of the tape.
"We are not showing the video because we don't have the tape," Phillips said.
Ledger was found dead from a suspected prescription drug overdose in his New York apartment last Wednesday, aged 28.
His family is now preparing to farewell him at a funeral, expected to be held in Perth in the next few days.
In its promotion for the story, ET showed excerpts of the video, in which Ledger can be heard saying: "I used to smoke five joints a
day for 20 years."
Excerpts from the video were shown widely on Australian TV on Thursday.
The video was allegedly made two years ago at the hotel where actor John Belushi died - the Chateau Marmont, in Hollywood - while
Ledger's girlfriend Michelle Williams and his daughter Matilda Rose were upstairs.
Ledger is not shown taking drugs, although others can be seen in grainy footage apparently snorting a substance off a table.
"I'm going to get serious shit from my girlfriend," Ledger is heard saying.
Asked by someone why, he says: "We had a baby three months ago."
He goes on to tell the person his daughter's name, and then
says: "I shouldn't be here at all".
Entertainment Tonight said the disturbing video would make headlines around the world.
But in a statement on its website on Thursday, ET said it was pulling the story.
"Out of respect for Heath Ledger's family, Entertainment Tonight and The Insider have decided not to run the Heath Ledger video which has been circulating in the world media," the statement said.
Earlier on Thursday, Ledger's US publicist described as heinous and inaccurate a tabloid report that Michelle Williams attempted to
drop Ledger off at a Malibu drug rehab centre in 2006.
The story, in US Weekly magazine and quoting a Ledger confidant, alleged Ledger used cocaine, heroin and a variety of pills.
The magazine alleged that just weeks after Ledger and Williams walked the red carpet as nominees at the 2006 Oscars for Brokeback Mountain, Williams drove Ledger to Promises Treatment Centre in Malibu.
Ledger refused to check in, swaying her instead with a pledge to clean up, according to the report.
New York-based publicist Mara Buxbaum, who represents both Ledger and Williams, hit out at the US Weekly report and other tabloid stories about Ledger's death.
"Much of the tabloid reporting is inaccurate," Buxbaum said in a statement.
"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."