The eerie elements surrounding Heath Ledger’s terrible death last week have a new twist.
It turns out that Ledger made a video last year for a song by Nick Drake, the legendary British rocker who died of an antidepressant overdose in 1974.
The video, as it’s been described to me, is bleak. Ledger plays the main character in the song “Black Eyed Dog.” At the end of the video, Ledger directed himself dead in a bathtub from drowning. Drake titled the song after a description Winston Churchill coined about depression.
Ledger can be seen in a video from a 2007 Venice Film Festival press conference talking about his obsession with Drake, who died “in 1975 at age 25.” Ledger pauses, takes a deep breath and then adds: “Suicide.”
"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.” He said he gave up the idea for fear of “taking too many liberties” with Drake’s story. Of course, that’s what will happen to Ledger’s story now.
Where is the video? Good question. Although several dozen blogs have picked up on the story, no one has a copy of it. It was shown exactly twice. Last fall, it was included in an anthology of short films about Drake titled "Their Place: Reflections On Nick Drake," which received its world premiere at the Mods & Rockers Film Festival held at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 5, 2007. It was also shown on a small screen in a video festival in Seattle.
Mods & Rockers director Martin Lewis tells me, “We were delighted to have the film. It was excellent.”
But how strange is all this? More importantly: it stokes the fires of Hollywood lore. Already, fans have been making their own Nick Drake/Heath Ledger videos and putting them on YouTube.
In other Ledger news: Kudos to Daniel Day-Lewis, who dedicated his SAG Award for Best Actor in "There Will Be Blood" to Ledger. DDL didn’t even know the "Brokeback Mountain" star, but was moved by his work. That’s class.
My favorite headline 20 years ago in The New York Post was “The Tragic Jinx of 'Hart to Hart.'"
That came after famed and beloved actor William Holden, the lover of Stefanie Powers, died. A little earlier, Natalie Wood, wife of Robert Wagner, met her watery fate. I’m not sure but I bet it was Vinnie Musetto, the great bard of Post headline writing, who came up with that.
So now, I give you in tribute: “The Tragic Jinx of 'Dawson’s Creek.'” Heath Ledger, former fiancé of Michelle Williams, is dead. At the same time, Katie Holmes has been swallowed up into Tom Cruise’s bizarre world of Scientology and control. Her promising movie career is almost over. The one movie she made in two years, "Mad Money," is a bust.
And to think: Katie nearly co-starred with Ledger in "The Dark Knight." But the conventional wisdom is that Cruise nixed that plan, sending Katie into acting oblivion. Maggie Gyllenhaal, whose brother Jake co-starred with Heath in "Brokeback Mountain," took her place.
That leaves, of course, the two male leads from "Dawson’s Creek." James Van Der Beek, from his credits, looks like he’s headed into TV oblivion. Joshua Jackson hasn’t shown all his cards, and it’s still within the realm of possibility that he’ll make a go of his career on a bigger scale. If they don’t make it, "The Tragic Jinx of 'Dawson’s Creek'" will be all the more relevant.
More than the idiotic Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards are the real indicators of the Academy Awards.
Sunday night’s biggest surprise? Veteran actress Ruby Dee over both Cate Blanchett and Amy Ryan for Best Supporting Actress. Ruby Dee made a lovely speech and recalled her beloved husband, Ossie Davis. But I still think the Oscar will go to Blanchett. Interesting, isn’t it?
The three other winners were easy to predict: Daniel Day-Lewis, Javier Bardem and the amazing Julie Christie. The ensemble award for acting went to “No Country for Old Men.” I also think that the Academy will somehow negate “No Country” with “There Will Be Blood.” The winner should be “Juno,” although “Michael Clayton” has a chance.
But what do these prognostications really mean? I recently read a two-week-old issue of Entertainment Weekly that used the predictions of a half dozen of those professional Oscar bloggers. No one got anything right! It was very funny. If all that energy was used to solve the Earth’s real problems …
I’m very happy to report that the 50th annual Grammy Awards are on for Feb. 10. There was a question of the Writers Guild picketing the Grammys. I wrote in this space on Jan. 17: “Really, the Grammys have nothing to do with the WGA; Patrick Verrone et al would be wise to issue a waiver and let the show go on without pickets. Music artists and writers have a lot in common on the issue of the Internet. The writers should appreciate that, and let what’s left of the music biz proceed unimpeded …”
Indeed, this argument seems to have worked. It’s very true, too. The writers and the musicians, as well as the directors and actors in Hollywood, all have the same issues with the Internet. If they don’t figure out a way to get paid from it now, they never will.
Meantime, Grammy week is shaping up as one of the best in many years. Included in actual Grammy night are a NARAS tribute to Berry Gordy and a party for L.A. Reid. Each is connected to Universal Music Group, the last of the two successful music/record congloms.
BMG-Sony is the other, and they get their hit from Clive Davis' pre-Grammy gala at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday night the 9th. Once Davis is finished trotting out Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood and maybe even Whitney Houston, what else will be left? Oh yeah, he’s also got the Foo Fighters on RCA. Niiice.
You have to give Tom Cruise credit. You may not agree with his religion or lifestyle or anything else, but he’s not going away.
Most people who had the double attack of a nasty biography on the best-seller lists and a slew of videos showing them in not the best light might just retreat.
Not Cruise. He appeared on Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards TV show, presenting the final award and looking every bit confident of his stature in Hollywood. It couldn’t have been easy, no matter how much positive thinking or science fiction went into that decision.