A day after the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office announced plans to reopen the case of actress Natalie Wood's mysterious 1981 death, the Associated Press reported new details that, unfortunately, were totally fabricated by a Christopher Walken impersonator on a local radio station. Walken was one of the last people to see Wood alive before she drowned near a boat off the coast of Catalina Island, where the two had had dinner with Wood's husband Robert Wagner. Though he is not a suspect in the newly reopened case, Walken hired a lawyer on Friday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Walken did not, however, grant any interviews. The AP reported on what they thought was a hell of an exclusive for an AM radio station:
Christopher Walken says he went to bed on a yacht he was on with actress Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner 30 years ago and awoke to learn that she had died. Walken tells Washington, D.C. sports talk radio station ESPN980 on Friday that there was drinking and shouting on the boat and that then "there was tragedy."
Upon realizing they'd been punked, the AP promptly retracted their story and issued a correction. TBD's Ryan Kearney apparently spotted the spoof and reached out to the AP for comment. With the original AP copy still saved in his play-by-play story of what can be described as a prank call reported as news, Kearney explains:
"We do this bit every week," 980's director of programming, Chuck Sapienza, told me. "It's one of my producers, Marc Sterne, and he does this every week, picking fantasy football games.” Except that this week, due to the reopening of the Wood case, Sterne took some extra license with his impersonation.
When I spoke with Associated Press weekend editor Tom Strong at 3:40 p.m., he was unaware that the AP had been fooled. He promised to call me back.