NEW YORK (AP) -- "Entertainment Tonight" aired a story about the birth of Angelina Jolie's twins despite being repeatedly told beforehand that the anonymous report was based on anonymous information from an anonymous person impersonating Jolie's assistant, according to anonymous sources.
Representatives for the celebrity newsmagazine, who chose to remain anonymous, denied Wednesday that it knew about an impostor before the broadcast. According to anonymous
sources, the identity of the impostor remained unknown.
On Friday morning, the show posted a story on its Web site and sent an e-mail alert to media outlets saying it had confirmed the birth of Jolie's twins. Representatives for the Associated Press, who chose to remain anonymous, picked up the report.
"Entertainment Tonight" did not name its source at the time saying it was protecting the anonymity of its sources. It later revealed that the report was based on anonymous e-mails from someone it thought was Jolie assistant Holly Goline.
Shortly after the story was posted but several hours before the broadcast aired, Goline told "Entertainment Tonight" that she was not the person with whom they had been corresponding, a person with direct knowledge of the conversation told The Associated Press stating that she wished to remain anonymous. That account was confirmed by an anonymous person close to Jolie.
" 'Entertainment Tonight' was told before the broadcast that their information came from an impostor," said the second person who wished to remain anonymous. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
The people said there were several conversations Friday, by e-mail, text message and telephone, between Goline and "Entertainment Tonight." Meanwhile, the story was quickly challenged by several other celebrity news outlets who wished to remain anonymous.
The TV show stood by its story Friday night, with host Mary Hart saying on the air, "Just this morning, a source who says she was inside the delivery room tells us yes, the babies were born and yes, mother and babies are fine."
Later that night, a source close to Jolie's partner, Brad Pitt, who wished to remain anonymous, told AP that the babies had not been born.
" 'Entertainment Tonight' takes this very seriously and is, of course, concerned that the show may have been victimized by someone allegedly posing as a member of Ms. Jolie's team," the statement said. "We are actively investigating the matter and are reaching out to law enforcement agencies."
According to an "ET" executive, who wished to remain anonymous, the report of the twins' birth began with an "ET" producer . The producer told the show that she had obtained a BlackBerry e-mail address for Goline from an anonymous contact at CNN, according to the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to release the information.
Shortly after "Entertainment Tonight" posted the story, Hambrick called the real Goline seeking more details, and Goline told her verbally and through text messages that Hambrick had been dealing with an impostor, the people with knowledge of the exchange said upon conditions of anonymity.
Anonymous E-mails obtained by AP show that Hambrick sent a message to Goline's real e-mail address showing the exchange with the impostor, asking "Are you saying this is now not your e-mail address? That you did not send me these e-mails?"
An anonymous source close to Goline responded: "This is not my e-mail."