There’s a dark job in journalism that is writing premature obituaries. You never know when a celeb might die, but when they’re getting on in age, or when they are a particularly reckless youth, big news outlets employ writers to draft up a plug-and-play obit where you can swap out their age and most recent project, and boom: you’re ready to publish.
The problem is sometimes people get overeager with that publish button. That’s how Variety erroneously announced that visionary director and Monty Python member Terry Gilliam died at age XXX.
Terry Gilliam dead? Did somebody press the publish button on the wrong post? pic.twitter.com/LyiB3Z64pR— Sean Fitzgerald (@SeanDFitzgerald) September 8, 2015
Within minutes, Variety pulled the piece and apologized:
CORRECTION: Variety incorrectly published an article stating that director Terry Gilliam passed away. We're deeply sorry for the mistake.— Variety (@Variety) September 8, 2015
Nonetheless, the false death report caused Gilliam’s name to trend on Twitter, prompting a response from the living legend himself:
Feel free to use Gilliam’s false death announcement as an excuse to marathon movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Time Bandits, Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, The Brothers Grimm, and The Zero Theorem.