Anna Nicole's 15 Minutes?

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If you're not aware of all the gnashing of teeth over The Anna Nicole Show
— the newest of the reality shows, which debuted on E! Entertainment Television — you're either a monk or don't possess one ounce of morbid curiosity.

It's hard to remember a show that ever had an entire gaggle of TV critics and gossip columnists all giving it the universal two-thumbs-down. They call it "horribly unlikeable," "tedious," or a "train wreck with breasts."

Well that type of ink only intrigued me enough to call E! and get both episodes to see what the huzzah was all about. I do possess a shred of morbid curiosity.

So why all the ado? What we have here is really an oversized, aging sex kitten — former Playboy
Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith — trying to get the most out of what God gave her. For now, that's still a mystery to her television audience, but it's the stuff of reality TV.

Face it, most people are pretty boring and have absolutely no place on television. And Smith might just be another example of Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fleeting fame.

Having said all that, the show earned a 4.1 Nielsen rating on its debut, setting a record for E!. It even pulled a 5.5 in major markets like Los Angeles.

But by week two, Smith's show dropped by a rating point. The folks at E! say the episode-two viewer loss came from the 55-plus demo. That's not a surprise. What will be interesting is to see what happens today, when the overnight ratings for the third episode come out.

Unlike most critics who think this show is a goner, I'm not so sure it can't find its legs — or thunder thighs, if you will.

When my tapes of episodes one and two arrived, I was disappointed that they were so short — no kidding. I seemed to have watched both in less than 30 minutes, because of the commercial cuts.

Had I seen it in real time and with commercials, I think it probably would have appeared even more disjointed than it did when I watched. Maybe I'm wrong here, but it seems that each episode has an extra commercial pod.

And that might be the problem. There's no time to let us see who Anna Nicole really is. Is she the scheming, ex-plus-sized model who married a billionaire whom she'd met at a gentlemen's club?

Or is she a very exotic woman with a checkered past — but great skin — who is trying to get her new life together?

We might never find out, and that won't be the end of the world. Viewers might not come back after the strong initial sample because there wasn't enough show to get them hooked.

The premise of this show could be interesting, but its opening animated jingle, "Nicole, you're so outrageous," promises more than it delivers. If E! thinks watching an obese 34-year-old woman struggle to get out of a car is outrageous, then this show is really doomed.

So I hope E! president Mindy Herman and her troops take this little commentary in the spirit in which it is given.

Hold back on the commercials — if you can afford to in this climate — and let the tape roll on Anna Nicole. I hope I've been helpful.

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