ET’s Non-Delivery

I’m sure the folks at “Access Hollywood” were crowing when their arch rival “Entertainment Tonight” appeared to have prematurely delivered Brangelina’s twins on Friday.

The AP, on the other hand, was less buoyant after learning that the ET-sourced story it moved may be dubious. It’s not nice to misinform the world’s largest news organization. Or was it?

During its broadcast on Friday night, “Entertainment Tonight” said that “a source who says she was inside the delivery room tells us yes, the babies were born and yes, mother and babies are doing fine.” The newsmagazine also quoted another Web site in giving the babies’ alleged names.

Now, I could care less whether ET got it right or wrong when it reported the celebrity birth on its website Friday morning. After all, some celebs have been known to intentionally deceive the gaggle of media gossipists on whose coattails their fame rides.

My beef lies with the fact that ET went AWOL when it came time to cough up a mea culpa or a line of communication once its scoop of the year seemed to lose its legs. There’s still not a mention of this befuddling boffo story on the home page of the show’s website. Aarrgh.

A representative from the show, who refused to speak on the record, said Monday that the story not been retracted. The representative would not comment on whether the show had checked back with the original source after Pitt’s manager denied the births. The show’s veteran executive producer, Linda Bell Blue, did not return a call seeking comment on Monday.

It’s hard to know the facts as an outsider looking in, but you’d think by now, the strong denials from Brad and Angelina’s agents, publicists and managers would warrant a re-thinking of the silent treatment.

The executive producer for “Entertainment Tonight” said Monday that she wanted to “see how this story plays out” before retracting a report that the twins had been born, despite a denial from Pitt’s manager and a claim that someone might be posing as Jolie’s personal assistant to fool reporters.

AP managing editor Lou Ferrara, who oversees the wire service’s entertainment coverage, took a page from the PR handbook with this observation:

“If you have the story, stand up and shout it from the mountaintops,” he said. “If you’ve got it wrong, you’ve got to shout it from the mountaintops that you’ve got it wrong.”

You got that right, Lou. But then again, maybe Angelina did give birth and the two cooked up the ruse…for the paltry sum of $15 million? Stay tuned.