Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Anna Nicole Show

You work so hard at constructing a story; give it a solid foundation of inner logic, track the motivations, ensure characters act and speak in a believable and consistent way, avoid “Deus Ex Machina” (I know, “if it was good enough for Euripides…”) and coincidence (I know, I know, “if they didn’t happen there wouldn’t be a word for them…”) and else wise bang your head against the keyboard until you’re certain no Development Exec in the latest from Fred Siegel or Barney’s can find a loose thread to pull the script apart.

You work; you slave -- and along comes Anna Nicole Smith.

We all know “Truth is Stranger than Fiction”. Long ago somebody augmented that with “Only because fiction has to make sense”. But can you imagine scripting this story (as someone inevitably will) and trying to have it make sense?

An old Hollywood writer I know calls dramatic lapses in logic, “Refrigerator moments” meaning you watch the final credits and get all the way to pulling a beer from the fridge before you say, “Hey, wait a minute…”

Another writer buddy insists you’re not good at your craft until you can turn these into “Jacuzzi moments”, meaning you’ve written the movie, cashed the check, made an appearance at the premiere and plopped into the Jacuzzi with a bottle of Bollinger before anybody says, “Hey, wait a minute…”

He claims such professional expertise explains Steven Spielberg’s entire career.

Which still leaves us with Anna Nicole Smith – now in a refrigerator while a bunch of guys in Jacuzzis plot to claim the paternity of her baby and perhaps the tens of millions the little dickens might be due to inherit.

How do you possibly build a believable story of how or why any of these people were in Anna Nicole’s life to begin with, let alone became happy hangers on to the train wreck? How do you make any figure of authority who even considers their applications for paternity seem rational and worthy of their position? How does anybody in this tragic cartoon come off looking good?

I swore I’d never, ever ask another writer this question, but – who do you root for?

I got stuck in a long commute on the weekend and ended up hearing sound bites from the two guys who’ve been claiming they’re the father for months. I don’t remember their names and can’t tell them apart anyway, so for the purposes of what follows, I’ll call them Quagmire I & II after the “Family Guy” character they’ve so obviously patterned their lives. Quagmire III arrived on Saturday, Prince Frederick von Ahnhalt, husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor, who at 90 is 30 years his senior. Among other bizarre quips, the Prince commented that Ms. Smith was “A little girl and all men like to be with little girls” (speak for yourself your highness) and my fave, “I wouldn’t kick her out of bed – but now she’s dead, so….” (So…? At least he’s not a necrophile?).

Between this guy and Prince Charles, it’s understandable why the Prince who sings wanted to be known as a symbol instead. I’d say it goes a long way to explaining the French Revolution too, except Frederick isn’t a real prince. He apparently bought the title from one who needed money.

This triple threat to identifying humans as intelligent life forms was followed by Ms. Smith’s sister, claiming that her niece was conceived with frozen sperm previously (I should hope so) extracted from the 212 year old Texas oil guy who died and left her a couple gazillion bucks. She was also quoted as saying she knew “That evil bitch” (her sister) would get the last laugh.

Meanwhile an LA Judge overseeing the paternity trial ordered Miss Smith’s body to remain on ice until the court received a DNA sample because he didn’t want anybody pulling a “bait & switch” with the baby.

There are people who “bait & switch” babies? This is common knowledge?

I’m given to understand that the little one’s share of the inheritance is somewhere between $447 Million and zero depending on how all the current trials and appeals shake out. Making all this even more bizarre, since the winner of the baby stakes will probably then have to spend millions in legal fees to maybe get – nothing…

All day long, the thing I couldn’t get out of my mind was this – what goes through the heads of these fricken people – and why is their insanity allowed to intrude on my own?

I’m sure you do the same thing as me on occasion – you drive down some street, look at the houses and wonder what really goes on behind those doors. But this scenario is even beyond my overactive imagination.

I’m as into hot blondes as the next guy. Okay probably more than the next guy but this isn’t about me. My point is – just how desperate or delusional are you to believe you have any semblance of a relationship with someone as out of control as Anna Nicole Smith? Even Quagmire I & II must know you don’t get to be Playmate of the Year by shaking Mr. Hefner’s hand, for God’s sake!

And yes, “Love is Blind” and “The Heart Knows” and any lyrics you want to quote from a Dan Hill song. But watching footage of Anna Nicole stumbling along on the arms of these bozos convinces me they weren’t as much into her as the spotlight she weaved around in or the cheques she was looking to cash.

I mean, how many face plants does the mother of your supposed child have to do before you take some time off from filing legal briefs and look after either her or your kid?

And yes I know that addictions are terrible things and it’s tough to get help for somebody that doesn’t want it. But please – nobody was even trying here. Maybe least of all the people in our own business who kept handing her reality shows and award presentation appearances so they could carve off some of the money the rubes paid for the sideshow.

How come we outlawed circus geeks and dog fights, but we still license this kind of freak show?

According to the hordes of “fans” who spent the last hours of her life taking camera phone pix they’re now flogging to the media as she did double shots at the Hard Rock Seminole Casino 24 hour bar, "she was a happy drunk". Bob the bartender claimed this scene had been going on for weeks, describing the recently deceased as “plastered pretty much all the time”.

Here’s a tip for all your Florida State Troopers a little shy on this month’s quota. Hang around the Hard Rock. They don’t cut off anybody, no matter how many times they have to be hauled out of the pool and given mouth to mouth. And if I ran the Hard Rock, I'd be thanking "Bob" for how much the liability insurance kicks up next week.

Meanwhile, the Prince explains that she so much wanted to be a Princess that he tried to adopt her. But Zsa Zsa wouldn’t sign the papers. Can you even begin to imagine that conversation? “Honey, I know you think I’m banging her, but I just want her to be our little girl. You know how much I like little girls!”

Whoever would have cast Zsa Zsa Gabor in the role of the voice of reason?

According to Prince Fred, he loves his wife and didn’t want to further upset her, so he dropped the adoption idea and carried on a secret ten year affair instead.

Don’t you wish sometimes there really was a God, so he’d come down and smote these monkeys instead of letting them dominate our airwaves and take even more time away from stories that actually make sense – or at least entertain?

I recently saw a film entitled “Idiocracy” about a future world where the dumbing down of our society has led to people becoming – uh, really dumb. Luckily it was released before Ms. Smith took her final nap, so it can still claim to be Science fiction.

There’s a great editorial in today’s LA Times, explaining how the mainstream media ended up all over this story. You can find it here. I accept the reasoning, but not the justification.

This circus is going to go on for weeks and the same network people who keep asking me to make characters believable will be all over it.


wcdixon said...

I root for the judge.


But I don't think I ever heard you use 'I mean' more in my life, seriously!

jimhenshaw said...

You mean I'm supposed to edit these things! I mean, really!!!

Bill Cunningham said...

And let's not forget that these "circus people" are breeding...