An Associated Press story erroneously quoting Christopher Walken's comments on Natalie Wood's death investigation was published on Friday and remained live for about an hour before The AP realized the error and pulled the article.
As of midday Saturday, Yahoo still had the original AP story on its Web site, which quoted the pseudo-Christopher Walken as saying little about the incident, only that he awoke to learn Woods was dead after a night of drinking and arguing on the yacht. Following is an excerpt of the AP story as it appears on Yahoo!:
Actor 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.
The audio of the radio show, which reportedly aired on Friday afternoon, is not yet available on ESPN980's online Audio Vault, but was more extensively quoted in The AP's follow-up story, AP mistakes impersonator for Christopher Walken.'
According to the AP, Marc Sterne -- impersonating Walken -- told The Sports Fix host Kevin Sheehan that his memory of the night of Nov. 29, 1981 was hazy.
We had a lot to drink that night. There was Sambuca. There was shouting. And then there was tragedy. And that's all I can remember.
Sterne-as-Walken added that he read one of the Hardy Boys novels before going to bed, and awoke to learn that Wood had died.
Chuck Sapienza, ESPN 980's program director, told The AP that the radio show made no attempt to conceal the fact that the comments came from someone acting as Christopher Walken, not Christopher Walken himself. Sterne reportedly makes regular appearances as Walken on ESPN 980 radio programs.
It's not set up as real. It's not like we're trying to fool anybody, Sapienza said. We say it's the person on the air but we never believe that someone actually thinks the person's actually there.
Sapienza expressed resentment toward the The AP for describing the incident as a hoax in a statement to its media clients.
No one [from AP] called us to see if it was real, and then they call it a hoax, Sapienza told The Washington Post. A hoax makes it sound like it's our fault. We've been doing this [impersonation] for two years. They're taking no responsibility for shoddy journalism.
The real Christopher Walken has not frequently discussed the circumstances surrounding Woods' death, but he addressed it in a 1997 Playboy Magazine interview uncovered this week by The Hollywood Reporter.
Anybody there saw the logistics -- of the boat, the night, where we were, that it was raining -- and would know exactly what happened, Walken told Playboy Magazine. You hear about things happening to people -- they slip in the bathtub, fall down the stairs, step off the curb in London because they think that the cars come the other way -- and they die. You feel you want to die making an effort at something; you don't want to die in some unnecessary way.
What happened that night only she knows, because she was alone, Walken continued. She had gone to bed before us, and her room was at the back. A dinghy was bouncing against the side of the boat, and I think she went out to move it. There was a ski ramp that was partially in the water. It was slippery - I had walked on it myself. She had told me she couldn't swim; in fact, they had to cut a swimming scene from [Brainstorm]. She was probably half asleep, and she was wearing a coat.
Marilyn Wayne, who was on another yacht docked about 90 feet away from Splendour at the time, had previously and continues to insist she heard a woman crying for help that Saturday night, saying she was drowning. Wayne says the cries went on for 25 minutes. IBTimes has not found any record of Wayne claiming any attempts to intervene, or explaining why she did not.