Obviously there’s a reason why Andrew Breitbart, the youngish, often steamed-up conservative commentator-blogger with three websites and four kids, died just after midnight this morning at age 43. Guys his age just don’t keel over, and so “natural causes” — the explanation given — doesn’t cut it. Update: Probably a heart attack.
I immediately wrote longtime investigative journo Mark Ebner, who co-wrote “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon — the Case Against Celebrity.”” (2004) with Brietbart, and asked what the hell happened.
“Andrew left four beautiful children, a beautiful wife and extended family,” Ebner replied. “He didn’t smoke or do drugs, if that’s what you’re thinking. He was generous with his family, his friends and, of course, the media. Was he not? He had a big heart, and I guess his heart was just too big for this world.”
“C’mon, Mark…what happened?”
“That’s my statement Jeff,” Ebner replied. “Use it or not. ”
The Guardian‘s Karen McVeigh has reported that Breitbart “was walking near his house in the Brentwood neighborhood shortly after midnight Thursday when he collapsed, his father-in-law Orson Bean said. Someone saw him fall and called paramedics, who tried to revive him. They rushed him to the emergency room at UCLA Medical Center, Bean said.
“Breitbart had suffered heart problems a year earlier, but Bean said he could not pinpoint what happened.”
A loather of all things leftie, a rabid despiser of the Occupy movement and a Tea Party cheerleader, Breitbart was irksome — okay, infuriating — but never boring. He had a hearty laugh and a beaming smile, and he had one of those swaggering, life-gulping attitudes or personalities that you sometimes run into or read about in novels.
I knew of Brietbart for years as Matt Drudge‘s guy, my relationship with Drudge reaching back to ’97 (or was it ’96?). I first ran into him at an LA party for “Hollywood Interrupted.” I next spoke with him at a Laurel Canyon party around the time that the Huffington Post was being assembled. Breitbart helped in the launching of that site. (Arianna Huffington was at that party also.)
Breitbart launched Breitbart.com in 2005, and then three “subsites,” including BigHollywood.com and BigGovernment.com.
The following statement was posted on Breitbart’s website today: “With a terrible feeling of pain and loss we announce the passing of Andrew Breitbart. We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior. Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love. ”
Breitbart stepped into it two years ago when Shirley Sherrod filed a defamation suit against him, alleging that a hair-trigger assessment had caused her firing from the Agriculture Department by the Obama administration.
According to a 2010 L.A. Times profile by Robin Abcarian, Breitbart “lived in Westwood with his wife, Susie, and their four young children. He was adopted by moderately conservative Jewish parents and attended two of L.A.’s most exclusive private schools — Carlthorp and Brentwood. He had a n office on Sawtelle Blvd.
“His father, Gerald, owned Fox and Hounds, a landmark Tudor-style Santa Monica restaurant that later became the punk rock club Madame Wong’s West. His mother, Arlene, was an executive for Bank of America in Beverly Hills and downtown L.A.”
43 year-old guys with a wife, four kids and a thriving business don’t just collapse and die. Not even ones with heart conditions, in my experience. 43 is way too young, doesn’t add up.
Joss Wheedon‘s The Avengers opens in less than four months and Disney marketing chose to limit their Super Bowl spot…oh, I get it. This is a ten-second tease for a trailer that will debut during the game. I still maintain that Wheedon is a lightweight (i.e., moderately talented) clock-puncher and journeyman, and nowhere near the realm of James Cameron or Bryan Singer even. Here’s the most recent trailer.
Last Sunday I wrote that facial stubble was mandatory for lead actors in Sundance 2012 films, and that “every single actor in every single film I saw in Park City complied.” The mandate also includes mainstream cinema, as this still from Skyfall, the latest 007 installment, makes clear. Daniel Craig‘s James Bond was absolutely clean-shaven in Casino Royale, but I can’t recall if he wore GQ stubble in Quantum of Solace.