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Does a Pre-Penned AP Obit Increase Lifespan?

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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UNTREATED Ledger The Associated Press came under fire last week when Us Weekly discovered that the newswire service had penned an obit in anticipation of risky pop wreck Britney Spears' untimely death. But according to AP spokesman Jack Stokes, Heath Ledger received no such treatment: "Judging from our wire, nothing had been prepared in advance," he tells RadarOnline.com.

In a statement defending the decision to move forward with the Spears obit, AP entertainment editor Jesse Washington said, "We are not wishing it, but if Britney passed away, it's easily one of the biggest stories in a long time," adding that "if something were to happen, we would have to be prepared."

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Though the AP has more than 1,000 prepared obituaries—most of which are for people over 70—they did not have one for either Anna Nicole Smith or Brad Renfro, both of whom, most would say, ran at least the same risk of an early death as Spears. Granted, Ledger's demise came with only faint whispers of illness, either mental or drug-related. But it all begs the question: If the AP obit team has written your death notice, could you possibly live forever?

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