Flirting with Disaster

Chicken-shack waitress. Single mom. Playboy centerfold. Heiress. Walking coma. These are just a few of the terms people have used to describe the enigma that is Anna Nicole Smith. Once a curvy throwback to the days of Monroe, Mansfield and Ekberg, she's now a bloated, slurred, frighteningly gaudy emblem of dubiousness. The onetime Houston resident, onetime Playmate of the Year and full-time Zsa Zsa Gabor impersonator went from posing in slick, erotic ads for Guess? jeans to appearing in beachside snapshots for Lane Bryant. Once having had a memorable cameo in a Coen brothers movie, she's gone on to capture the lead in amazingly awful exploitation junk like To the Limit and Skyscraper. At this point in her career, she's not even considered worthy of a week on Hollywood Squares. It's a story that is nothing short of pathetic, and therefore it's funny. So who better to have her own reality show?

E! Entertainment Television is hoping that The Anna Nicole Show is the breakout hit that'll finally announce the network as more than tacky child star documentaries, Howard Stern giving breast exams, and porn actresses interviewing drunken college kids in Baja, Mexico. One of the few shows on the network that doesn't feature that bodacious flake Brooke Burke, The Anna Nicole Show is the first to capitalize on the celebrity-reality show craze created by MTV's The Osbournes. Like The Osbournes, The Anna Nicole Show stars a drugged-out, barely decipherable has-been who astounds viewers simply by being alive.

Word on the street (if you count those low-rider-jeans-wearing correspondents on E! News Live as "the street") is that the show is "brilliant." Others are going so far as to say this is unusual punishment for both viewer and star. One has to wonder if following Smith -- a woman who probably hasn't been in her right mind since they took Knots Landing off the air -- around with a camera all day in the hopes of catching her doing something remotely interesting will be as successful as the folks at E! hope. (As of press time, review copies had not been made available to critics and journalists -- so they're not too confident.) Then again, could anyone have predicted the day-to-day activities of a heavy-metal star and his foul-mouthed family would become appointment television? But unlike the Osbournes, Smith is more pathetic than likeable.

Whatever happens on the show, chances are it won't be as, shall we say, revealing as Anna Nicole Smith Exposed, a meticulously trashy, soft-core porn tape (which you can still rent at Cactus Music & Video) that captures a day in the life of Smith. After a stint at the plastic surgeon's, the video follows Anna Nicole as she engages in various acts of Cinemax-style coupling with her cook, her chauffeur, her maid and some dude at her office. If things begin to get a little bland on this show, E! should take a lesson and introduce a pool boy. Now that's Entertainment Television!

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Craig D. Lindsey
Contact: Craig D. Lindsey