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Morbid and Maternal Curiosity

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I don’t find Paris Hilton, Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan interesting sober, drunk or panty-less. So, although I was an entertainment reporter for E! for years, mainstream celebrity “news” just doesn’t interest me much, anymore. I guess it just amounts to not caring about the caliber of celebrities the shows and magazines are covering these days.


But with the Anna Nicole story, strangely enough, I became interested. In my head, I just couldn’t juxtapose those two, now infamous, events. I couldn’t imagine how a woman could give birth to one child, an insurmountable joy, and then lose another within days. I remember interviewing Anna at a burlesque club for E! the Sunday night of the premiere of her cheesy reality show. Her teenage son was there and I remember he had the hood of his sweatshirt pulled-up over his head. He looked like he didn’t want to be there, and although we didn’t exchange a word, instantly, we bonded. I didn’t want to be there either.


Another thing that got my attention is the fact that she lost a child, a son. As the mother of two sons, one of my greatest fears in life is losing a child. I just kept imaging Anna’s overwhelming sorrow. So, you might say, her story tugged at my heartstrings.


And, then, there was the reporter in me, who, no matter how hard I try, just won’t go away. Who prescribed those drugs to Daniel? Anti-depressants were one thing, but methadone? That potent painkiller was typically given to heroin addicts. I never heard he had a drug problem, so why was he taking it and who was to blame for giving it to him? Why was methadone in Anna Nicole’s refrigerator? Did Daniel take his mother’s methadone and was she feeling responsible for Daniel’s death? And, why did she die? And, finally, who was responsible for giving her all those prescriptions? Aren’t we supposed to have come a long way from the Marilyn Monroe days when sycophant doctors wrote prescriptions to appease famous clients?


I was home sick over the weekend with the flu, so I got to indulge my somewhat freaky Anna Nicole interest. The airwaves were flooded with all the coverage of her funeral. I had to keep rapidly switching channels when my husband passed though, because he kept bellowing, “I can’t believe you are watching that s***!!” But I continued—watching about five hours in all. My conclusions? The coverage was riveting, disgusting, and weird.


Entertainment Tonight, by far, took the lead on the story. They’ve devoted more time and money to this story than any other I’ve ever seen— reportedly paying 1.5 million bucks to cover Anna’s funeral. The syndicated show was the lead horse back in the beginning when, after Daniel’s death, they paid big bucks to get the video of Dannilynn’s C-section birth. They also had the first Anna Nicole interview after Daniel’s death and the first televised shots of the infant. ET had closed a deal to shoot Anna’s February nuptials to Howard Stern, before she died.


So, clearly ET had an “in.” But it was so over the top, from on-location reporter, Mark Steines, saying, “You are watching television history,” to announcing during Friday’s funeral coverage, “On Monday, we’ll have the story of why Larry Birkhead didn’t cry.” And it doesn’t end there. The next night’s installment will be “we’re at the gravesite as Anna Nicole is put into the ground.” Yeech.


Does anyone feel just a little bit dirty? I did, but that didn’t keep me from watching, (can I get any points off being weird cause I have the excuse of being under the weather?).


My husband said he thought it was sickening that Howard Stern sold the rights to cover the funeral and burial to ET. I could not agree more. Stern will walk around with a stink for the rest of his life—the stink of having profited from the death of a woman he purported to love.


However, I don’t believe this woman’s funeral should have been private. Rather, I think all the cameras should have been allowed in—with no money exchanged. Anna Nicole Smith lived her life, willingly, before the media. She invited the cameras in at every possible turn, whether she was at the top of the world or trying to claw her way out of the bottom.


Airwaves across the world airing video of her pink feather-draped casket being lowered into the ground as silky, white doves take flight? She would’ve loved it.


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