New Howard Hoax: Artie Lange Not Dead
That's the word from reps at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, who scurried to shoot down a local TV report Tuesday that claimed Lange was found dead in his hotel room.
KLAS-TV's Eyewitness News posted the report on its Web site – but then promptly removed the news bulletin as word circulated on that this was apparently just a hoax.
"Lange was in Las Vegas for the taping of Howard Stern's show. The hotel has confirmed his death, but offered no other details," the CBS affiliate reported. But Hard Rock Hotel president Kevin Kelley later told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper: "Artie Lange is alive. He may be dead tired from partying, but he is not dead."
There was no comment from KLAS, nor from the Stern camp. The police department, however, found the hoax "not very funny," Mike Blasko, a public information officer for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, tells PEOPLE.
"We called the coroner, no report from the coroner of them going to the Hard Rock. And then we checked on our computer-assisted dispatch and we hadn't been on a call to the Hard Rock for two days. Put in a call to homicide, general assignment detectives, nobody had heard of anything," said Blasko, adding that police eventually called Channel 8 back and were told it was a hoax.
Wherever the deception originated, the prank follows Stern's April Fool's joke this year, when listeners to his program were told that his show had been pulled off the air and replaced by wholesome deejays Cross and Lopez, whose new slogan was to be, "Fun without the filth."
Stern pulled that stunt after the broadcasting giant Clear Channel was fined $500,000 by the FCC for carrying the sexually explicit content from the shock jock's shows. Clear Channel subsequently – and permanently – dropped Stern, 50, from its airwaves the first week in April.
Stern and his radio cast of characters – including Lange, cohost Robin Quivers, Fred Norris and Gary Dell'Abate – are in the Nevada gaming capital to broadcast their show and to preside over such stunts as the "Miss Buttaface 2004" contest and "Hollyweird Squares."
Lange had been calling in to Stern's New York studios to give updates on the trip to Las Vegas, before the show hits the air Wednesday morning.
He also was in charge of "Artie Baseball," a charity event in which the 36-year-old was attempting to get a hit off a female pitcher, and "Freaky Bowling," featuring a Stern staple: strippers.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, celebrity guests including Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman would be participating in some of the fun and games, though it was not clear whether the politico would participate in "Bango" – in which the winner would land a date with porn star Taylor Rain.