1:10pm PT by Kimberly Nordyke
Wayne Knight, 'Family Ties' Actor Brian Bonsall Joke About Death Hoaxes on Twitter
The Internet was abuzz Sunday morning with news of the deaths of former Seinfeld star Wayne Knight and Family Ties actor Brian Bonsall. Turns out, both were hoaxes.
In the case of Knight, best known as Newman from Seinfeld, pranksters launched a parody TMZ site, TMZ.today, where it was "reported" that he had been killed and two passengers injured "after their vehicle slammed into a disabled semi-tractor-trailer late Saturday night along Route 446 near the Pennsylvania-New York state border in Eldred Township."
A fake Us Weekly parody article also was set up claiming the same. But Knight hit Twitter on Sunday to dispute the rumor.
Some of you will be glad to hear this, others strangely disappointed, but….I am alive and well!— Wayne Knight (@iWayneKnight) March 16, 2014
Meanwhile, Bonsall -- who played the Keatons' youngest son, Andrew, as a child actor on NBC's 1980s comedy Family Ties -- also was the target of a fake Us Weekly article.
"According to police in Torrance, the former child actor was found dead in his Cabrillo Hotel room around 11 a.m.," the article states. "Bosnall was discovered by housekeeping staff after he failed to return his hotel key card after his check-out time."
The article claimed that the cause of death an "apparent drug overdose."
For his part, Bonsall also quipped about the hoax on Twitter on Sunday.
Well apparently i'm dead, lol but I'll have you know I'm doing well and enjoying a cup of coffee at home.— Brian Eric Bonsall (@mrbrianbonsall) March 16, 2014
A handful of other articles are posted on the fake TMZ and Us Weekly sites. TMZ.today also has a story, posted Thursday, about Selena Gomez pregnant and expecting twins with Justin Bieber.
The fake Us Weekly site also posted a story Sunday about Chris Brown facing jail time that was a word-for-word reprint of an actual TMZ report.
It's unclear if the two sites originate from the same person or people, but the fake Us site also links back to headlines on the fake TMZ site as well as another site, Ebuzzd.com, that also has reported in recent days the "deaths" of Betty White and Pawn Stars' Austin "Chumlee" Russell (both untrue), Gomez's "pregnancy" (again, with twins) and the "amputation" of Phil Collins' left arm following a "tragic accident" (complete with what appears to be a Photoshopped picture of a smiling Collins in a sling).
Clicking the "contact us" link from the TMZ.today homepage also links to the Ebuzzd website.
According to WhoIs.com, the registration names for TMZ.today and Ebuzzd.com are listed as private, but Usmagazine.us is registered to someone named Ryan Wiseman in San Antonio.