The biggest TV celebrity in Detroit is missing in action.
His last news report on Fox 2 aired December 17. His "Off the Chain" column, once prominent, is difficult to find on his station's website. One of his favorite targets, Wayne County Executive Robert (Bob) Ficano, has not been ambushed in the new year.
How would Charlie LeDuff handle this story?
He happens to be the story this time.
LeDuff is conspicuous by his absence. He went silent shortly after the publication of the December issue of GQ magazine, which named him "Madman of the Year," a major compliment.
"Charlie got famous by basically reinventing local news reporting," wrote GQ's Devin Friedman, who described such LeDuff classics as canoeing the Rouge, golfing across Detroit and taking a bath and going for carry-out burgers while waiting with a woman for Detroit police to investigate the burglary of her home.
If LeDuff were on the story of the disappearance of a TV news star, perhaps he would pass out missing-person posters, like he did in Harlem in September when searching for Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh, who walked away from city hall in June.
LeDuff isn't talking. He did not return emails or a phone message.
On Monday, via Twitter, on which LeDuff has 17,569 followers but follows no one, he hinted something is up.
Ok here we go. Big week. Love you my darlings.— Charlie LeDuff (@Charlieleduff) January 20, 2014
Turns out Charlie appears to going national.
Detroit will remain his base of operations, according to people familiar with the plan, but Fox is going to take advantage of his talents to enliven reports on some of the networks' other stations.
It's unclear how that arrangement will work, or how it will affect LeDuff's reporting in Detroit. In other words, how much scrutiny will LeDuff be able to give Ficano, the new mayor or the fire commissioner? Who on TV news in Detroit is going to walk down Woodward in his underwear, flapping his arms and sitting on a statue in search of pigeons? That all remains to be seen.
When will Fox 2 announce the change?
Maybe it will just happen.
In any case, Fox viewers from Los Angeles to New York could be in for a surprise.