NEW YORK – In the world of celebrity news, prematurely declaring the birth of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie‘s twins is like calling an election before enough votes are counted.

That was the problem facing the TV show “Entertainment Tonight,” which on Monday would not discuss its report that Jolie had given birth, even though Pitt’s manager and other news organizations had declared it untrue.

“This is an absolutely huge, huge story for us,” said Sarah Ivens, editor in chief of OK! magazine. “Essentially you have two of the most beautiful, famous people in the world. We’ve all seen they’ve had one baby, Shiloh, and it is the coolest, most adorable baby on the planet. And this time they’re having two? It can’t get any better.”

It was “pandemonium” at the offices of Us Weekly when the “Entertainment Tonight” report was posted Friday morning, said Dina Stansing, the magazine’s editorial director.

People magazine was first to report that the story was not true. Us Weekly checked its own sources and concluded the same, Stansing said.

During its broadcast on Friday night, “Entertainment Tonight” said that “a source who says she was inside the delivery room tells us yes, the babies were born and yes, mother and babies are doing fine.” The newsmagazine also quoted another Web site in giving the babies’ alleged names.

Later, however, the story was removed from the “Entertainment Tonight” Web site. A representative from the show, who refused to speak on the record, said Monday that the story had not been retracted. The representative would not comment on whether the show had checked back with the original source after Pitt’s manager denied the births.

The show’s veteran executive producer, Linda Bell Blue, did not return a call seeking comment on Monday.

The report of the babies’ birth was magnified when The Associated Press reported that “Entertainment Tonight” had said the twins had arrived. Although The AP could not immediately confirm or debunk the report, its editors talked with an “Entertainment Tonight” spokeswoman about the source and “we felt confident that they had the story nailed down,” said Lou Ferrara, AP managing editor who supervises entertainment coverage.

The AP also felt that “Entertainment Tonight” had a solid reputation in the world of celebrity news, he said.

The story shifted as the day went on Friday, with other celebrity publicatianonymousng anonymous denials, and then AP quoting Pitt’s manager, Cynthia Pett-Dante, saying it was not true.

The incident has damaged the AP’s relationship with “Entertainment Tonight,” Ferrara said.

“If you have the story, stand up and shout it from the mountaintops,” he said. “If you’ve got it wrong, you’ve got to shout it from the mountaintops that you’ve got it wrong.”

A competing newsmagazine, “Access Hollywood,” specifically told viewers that its rival had blown it.

“As news and information move at a lightning pace, it’s all the more reason to be right first than first wrong,” said Rob Silverstein, “Access Hollywood” executive producer.

Jolie has said the babies are due in August. Ivens said OK! grew more comfortable over the weekend that the “Entertainment Tonight” story was wrong because of other clues. There were no reports of flowers being delivered to hospitals, or grandparents flying in, she said, and Pitt was seen attending a sporting event over the weekend — an unlikely spot for a new father of premature twins.

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