This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert," January 22, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JOHN GIBSON, CO-HOST: Our breaking news today is the big story is the death of movie star Heath Ledger. New details now: TMZ's managing editor, Harvey laving is with us to fill us in on what new information there is about the death of Heath Ledger. Harvey, what have you got?
HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ MANAGING EDITOR: Well, John, here's what we find out. I mean, we broke this story about 40 minutes ago on the Web site and what we said initially seems to be you know, panning out just in terms of where this is all leading. He was found by his housekeeper at 3:35 in the morning — in the afternoon. This was a fresh scene right now. There are cops out there right now, firemen out there right now. We are told now that he was in full cardiac arrest when police arrived. They tried resuscitating him to no avail. The cops told us as far as they could see, there was no crime involved in this, and we were told he was found dead in his bed. There is a report that there were pills all around his bed, but we can't tell you the exact nature you know, of the cause of death, but it would appear not to involve any kind of foul play.
GIBSON: Harvey, what's been going on with this guy? I mean, you keep up with these people. He's hasn't — he's not somebody that runs around for the clubs and carries on. Is there anything wrong in his life that would lead to sort of an accidental overdose?
LEVIN: Well, again, we don't know if this was an accidental overdose, we don't know and I'm not suggesting whether it is accidental, intentional, nobody knows yet. Again, it's too fresh, too early. But I can tell you, you know, obviously a lot of people know he had a child with Michelle Williams and they broke up not to long ago and then she moved out of the apartment that they were in. Also, you know, it wasn't as if he were holed up in his apartment. He was filming a movie as late as last Friday in London, so, you know, he was a functioning actor, you know, until days ago, and we don't know what exactly this is. There are lots of rumors going around, John right now and you also hear these stories you know, when there's a tragedy like this and we're chasing a lot of them down. A couple could be kind of interesting. There's nothing scandalous but kind of interesting if true, and you know, we're updating the Web site you know, every few minutes with things that we're finding out.
NAUERT: Harvey, one of our entertainment correspondents reported to us that he may have recently spent time in rehab. What can you tell us about that?
LEVIN: Well, I can't. He was a really private guy and you know, did not kind of wear his life on his sleeve like some of the actors do. You know, nor did he gallivant around town, you know, and kind of, you know, show — walking out of a bar in a drunken stupor or anything like that. He was very private and didn't like being photographed particularly you know, when he was out in the streets, so, you know, this is a guy who led his life privately.
NAUERT: So, was he really spending most of his time living in New York City? Is this what he considered his home as opposed to Hollywood?
LEVIN: Yes, it was home base for him. But again, he had been traveling. He had been doing work, you know, shooting movies, shooting a recent movie in London, so, you know, the guy moved around, but New York was his home base.
GIBSON: Harvey, has his career been successful? You say shooting a movie, but was there a bump in the career that you might look to for a reason for a guy to be depressed?
LEVIN: I mean, he's a hot actor. You know, is he the hottest actor going? Probably not, but he was considered you know, right up there. I mean, "Brokeback Mountain" was a big, big movie for him. He's an Oscar nominee. So, Heath Ledger on the food chain was high up.
GIBSON: And Harvey, you know, if it is — I mean, it looks pretty bad that he was found and the report is pills strewn around him, how much of a shock is it going to be if it turns out the guy was, you know, sort of quietly really seriously abusing drugs and either nobody knew it or nobody was saying?
LEVIN: Well, that's one scenario, John. Remember, you know, it could be that he was abusing drugs. It could be that he was taking medication, and it could be intentional, so, we don't know. You know, and I'm not saying it is, but there were so many different scenarios here. You could have somebody who is not a drug abuser at all but is so despondent they try to take their own life. So, you could see a lot of pills around but that is not necessary evidence that somebody is a drug abuser. So, there are multiple scenarios here and it's simply too early to know.
GIBSON: Harvey, how is this - I mean, we're paying a lot of attention to it because it isn't that often that a star at this age is you know, just found dead. What's going on in Hollywood over this story right now?
LEVIN: Well, you know, it's a fresh story. I can only judge by what's happened in my newsroom just because you know, we've been extremely busy over the last 45 minutes. But it's stunning. I mean, it is absolutely shocking, you know, partly because you know, this is a big actor. He was not a fringe guy who is teetering on the edge. This is a big, big actor who was extremely young who had a lot of promise, and you know, when you hear something like this, it's one of those things where your jaw drops and you really have trouble computing the whole thing, but you know, this definitely happened and the way we got the tip, I have to tell you, it was very clear to law enforcement how huge this story was going to be, and I don't think we've seen it entirely unfold by any means but no doubt about it, law enforcement knew what they were dealing with.
NAUERT: Yes, Harvey, out of all the people in Hollywood, this is probably the last one that you expected at this point. Harvey Levin, we know we got to go. We'll be checking your Web site. We appreciate you joining us.
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