Entertainment behind the scenes
Maya Angelou well — despite TMZ, Twitter reports
Octogenarian poet Maya Angelou was alive and well on Sunday, despite the dire overnight reports of online gossip site TMZ and a panicked army of Twitter followers.
TMZ reported on Saturday night that the prolific writer was hospitalized earlier in the evening ahead of a scheduled appearance at an awards show in Los Angeles. The report spread like wildfire through cyberspace, and Angelou became the top trending topic on Twitter as anguished members of the microblogging site passed around the news. Some morbid scribes added an “R.I.P.” for good measure.
The only problem is that 81-year-old Angelou was not ill, and was nowhere near Los Angeles. She was about 1,800 miles away in her hometown of St. Louis.
TMZ updated its story on Sunday to say that Angelou was never scheduled to appear at the event. It blamed the erroneous report on event organizers, saying that someone had told one of its cameramen that Angelou was a no-show because she had been hospitalized.
The online gossip community has had a mixed track record with recent deaths and mishaps. The emergence of Twitter means that such reports now get amplified. TMZ got the worldwide scoop on the death of Michael Jackson in June, but wrongly reported the following month that former UFC superstar Kimo Leopoldo had died. Last month, gossip columnist Perez Hilton claimed that former Charlie’s Angels star Jaclyn Smith had tried to commit suicide. It appeared to be a case of mistaken identity. Hilton also suggested in 2007 that Fidel Castro had died.