Wolfgang Van Halen and his mother Valerie Bertinelli are pushing back against an upcoming TV special that examines the demise of late Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen.
The special is part of the Reelz docuseries “Autopsy: The Last Hours Of…” which seeks to reveal “the truth behind the controversial deaths of global icons” by reconstructing the famous person’s “final hours using crucial medical evidence” from their autopsy, according to Reelz’s official website.
The episode on Van Halen’s father Eddie, set to air Sunday, will feature commentary from Dr. Michael Hunter, a forensic pathologist who will analyze “every detail of Eddie Van Halen’s life in order to piece together what else may have been going on in his body, ultimately leading to his untimely death,” a description of the episode reads.
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Eddie Van Halen died of cancer at 65 in October 2020, after struggling with the disease on and off for two decades.
Van Halen took to Twitter Wednesday morning to slam Reelz for the episode, saying it’s “disgusting,” as well as “pathetic and heartless,” to attempt to “glamorize someone’s death from cancer.”
Bertinelli chimed in on her son’s outrage on Twitter, adding, “this is disgusting.”
In a statement to USA TODAY, Reelz defended the episode and series. “‘Autopsy: The Last Hours of…’ responsibly explores the circumstances of the passing of well-known and genuinely loved celebrities who the public cares about immensely,” the network said.
“The REELZ series generates much feedback from our viewers, ranging from medical professionals who praise its scientific accuracy, fans who tell us it provides closure or that they have become more proactive for the benefit of their health, and many who gain helpful perspective of health issues that might not otherwise receive attention.”
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At the time of his death, Van Halen said Eddie was the “best father I could ever ask for” and that “every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.”
“My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from his loss,” Van Halen added. “I love you so much, Pop.”
In her book “Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today,” Bertinelli referred to Eddie as a “soulmate,” despite divorcing in 2007.
“I think we meet up with souls that we’re meant to work through things together,” Bertinelli told USA TODAY at the time, explaining that she believes part of the pair’s purpose was to bring into the world their only child, musician Wolfgang Van Halen, 31.
“I can’t make people understand this, because it’s so personal, but I’ve never felt love like that,” Bertinelli continued. “Even through all of the horrible stuff that we did to each other, there were so many more good things. I just don’t feel like I’ve ever been loved like that, in that way, from anybody else. I just feel a connection with Ed that I’ve never really felt with anyone else.”
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Contributing: Erin Jensen, Patrick Ryan