Show may have a blond spot

E! will broadcast model Smith's life, but is she ready?

Television

August 04, 2002|By Roger Catlin | Roger Catlin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

She's as big and luxurious as an overstuffed angora couch. And just as audacious and intimidating.

But how much of the life of former Playmate Anna Nicole Smith will be of interest to viewers?

Just now emerging from the bad PR of her marriage to an aged billionaire and awaiting millions entangled in a family dispute over her husband's will, the former face of Guess? Jeans will shift to another entity with superfluous punctuation - the E! Entertainment network. There, starting tonight at 10, her private life will parade by in the latest reality comedy show.

The Anna Nicole Show is patterned heavily on the MTV hit The Osbournes.

Like Ozzy, Anna is a bigger-than-life figure, with a cult following dwarfed by an even larger notoriety.

Ozzy bit a bat; she bagged a billionaire. He pads around rock stages; she flounces on big-woman runways. He's got a purple-haired daughter named Kelley; she's got a purple-haired assistant named Kimmie.

His stepdaughter Aimee doesn't want to be part of the show; her son Daniel doesn't either (but gets filmed anyway).

He can barely be understood beneath his accent and cursing; she can barely understand things and talks in a Betty Boop voice.

The success of both shows depends on the millions beyond their fan base tuning in to make fun of them.

Ozzy may be somewhat aware of this, but Anna clearly is not.

Her promos promise: "It's not supposed to be funny, it just is."

And it is funny when she does little dances, coos to her dog or yells down into her massive cleavage: "Hello down there!"

In little promos for the show, it's clear her role is as dopey blond: "Anna Nicole on Spanish Architecture," begins one.

"It's like a Mexican type," she says in a dazed voice. "It's like canabana."

The tag line: "Entertaining? Sure. Educational? No."

So, does she know her whole life is the basis of the humor here?

It's unclear at first how comfortable she is with the camera. "Stop following me!" she complains, mockingly at one point.

The whole thing is dependent on editing, music and a sense of humor.

In a line more akin to the E! Network programming of Wild On and The Howard Stern Show, she rolls on her bed and moans teasingly, "I want to have an orgy. I haven't had sex in two years."

As ripe a premise as it is, especially in the brain-frying heat of summer programming, the show is heavily anticipated because of what a wreck it may well be. Already, the show, which has been shooting since May, has production problems. There was no finished version of the first episode to see days before its premiere.

"We fast-tracked production to get the show on the air quickly, and as things stand right now, they will be editing down to the wire," says E! publicist Elena Girard.

Maybe they're trying to hide the product from its star as well. After all, after she posed for New York magazine in 1994 eating junk food, the cover headline was "White Trash Nation"; Smith sued for $5 million (in a case that was settled out of court).

Roger Catlin is a reporter for The Hartford Courant, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Anna Nicole Show

Where: E! Entertainment Network, tonight at 10

In brief: Will the real Anna Nicole Smith please TV viewers?

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