Natasha Richardson, Jade Goody: Two Sad Tragedies Unfolding

8:11 PM EST UPDATE: Liam Neeson and family have released a statement confirming the passing of Natasha Richardson.

3:31 PM EST UPDATE: TMZ is reporting that Natasha has been pulled off life support. A sad ending to a devastating story.

One woman’s death seems so assured that magazines have already released “In Loving Memory” tributes. The other’s death is less certain, but her predicament may lead her loved ones to make an extremely difficult decision.

One is very young; the other one is a few years older, but still at the prime of her life and her career. One climbed to stardom from nothing, the other is part of British acting royalty.

Both are mothers to two young sons whose lives are likely to be shattered.

And both stories have captured the media’s attention unlike any in recent memory. Despite her pedigree, Natasha Richardson is probably not the first actress on the edge of people’s minds, but news of her possible death yesterday sent me and others scrambling over Google News for details on her condition. It appears a few outlets had jumped the gun, but the prognosis truly looks pretty grave for her. The Daily Mail has photos of Natasha’s mother Vanessa Redgrave, her aunt Lynn Redgrave, and Natasha’s two sons scrambling to the hospital in NYC, reportedly to say their last goodbyes. BBC NEWS quotes a spokesperson who says the family is, quite reasonably, “very distressed.”

The New York Daily News quotes sources saying Natasha has been on life support since Tuesday morning, and People quotes a “family friend” who says, “There is no chance. It is a fact that her heart is beating but she is brain dead.”

Doctors are speculating that Richardson suffered a blood clot, according to The Daily Telegraph. One doctor told FOXNews.com she may have experienced “‘talk and die’ syndrome,” which “implies that someone hits their head and they are seemingly OK initially. But then they get a rapid collection of blood – usually called epidural hemorrhage – and that means bleeding between the skull and the brain.”

Just to show that tragedy doesn’t immunize one to stupidity, The Daily Mail manages to blame Natasha’s accident on the gays, claiming she was “struck down by the eternal curse of the Redgraves” and that “scandal and illness have plagued the family since Sir Michael [Natasha's grandpa] was revealed as bisexual.”

Meanwhile, Jade Goody seems to be holding on after a rather dicey weekend. Britons are voicing their outrage over OK! Magazine’s decision to pre-empt her death with an “In Loving Memory” tribute, but OK! has released a statement claiming the Goody family supports the publication’s decision. However, Jade’s publicist, Max Clifford told The Mirror, “It wasn’t right. It reads like an obituary. They went too far and they got it wrong. But there’s now been an apology from the editor to those close to Jade.”

Jade is said to be “too unwell” to join a rally to change laws for cervical cancer screening in the UK. Also, HarperCollins plans to publish Jade’s “cancer diary” after the 27-year-old passes away.

In other news:

  • Nicholas Hoult‘s new play, New Boy, is selling out – possibly due to Skins fans?(Daily Mail)
  • Sir Alan Sugar, host of The Apprentice UK, says, “To me, making money is better than sex. If you’d asked me: ‘Is making money better than sex?’ 30 years ago, I’d say: ‘It depends.’ Now, definitely, making money is my priority.” (Telegraph)
  • According to TV Week, NBC will adapt the BBC’s panel show, Have I Got News for You. “News features two teams of celebrities and newsmakers humorously trying to answer questions about current events and politics. The show makes heavy use of film and TV clips, as well as tabloid headlines, and features participants riffing on the week’s events.” Naturally, this is partially the brainchild of Paul Telegdy, who once headed up BBC Worldwide’s Content and Production department.
  • Interesting: a TV ad for the Wanted DVD has been banned from UK airwaves because it makes guns look “sexy and glamorous.”(BBC)
  • Liam Gallagher is a fashionista.(NME)
  • George Michael is the $3 million-an-hour man.(Telegraph)
  • James Corden and Mat Horne‘s bromance includes actual tongue kissing, even though Corden has a serious girlfriend.
  • Charlotte Hatherley, guitarist from Northern Irish band Ash, will play with Bat For Lashes at their upcoming 2009 gigs.(NME)
  • Sandi Thom…snubbed again, naturally.(Scotsman)
  • Mick Jones hopes his vast collection of photos and Clash memorabilia will be exhibited permanently in a museum. (Yahoo!)

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

See more posts by Kevin Wicks