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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anne Nicole Smith: Rest in Peace?

I can't believe how all the cable news channels have lost thier minds over the death of Anna Nicole Smith.
"Anna Nicole Smith Dead!" That's the headline on Nancy Grace tonight on CNN Headline, yes with an exclamation point.
"Fox News Alert" says Fox News.
And Anderson Cooper, in New Orleans for a serious story about the city's high murder rate, has ditched the topic to talk about Anna Nicole Smith.
She's that big a deal? That significant? That newsworthy?

Anna Nicole & Me
Maybe I'm not impressed because I've met her. On the TV critics press tour in the summer of 2002, during the first season of her cable "Anna Nicole Show," she did an incoherent press conference with us. She just wasn't all together that day, and didn't say much we could quote from her seat on a couch on stage. I don't think I wrote much (if anything) about it in a day when I would have attended a dozen interview sessions. Reporters buzzed afterward about her condition. (More memorable that day was Martha Stewart showing TV critics how to decorate cookies during her press conference.)

I had watched the "Anna Nicole Show," and just kind of found her sad and pathetic.... a woman doing whatever she could to stay in the eye of the camera, to remain famous. It all seemed so calculated and fabricated then, and have since viewed her soap opera of a life in that context.

It's always sad when any human live ends. But this 24/7 treatment tonight is way over the top. I hope a Big Breaking News story soon will provide the cable networks a new obsession, and Anna Nicole will fade away. But with an autopsy, funeral, custody battle, etc., the Anne Nicole Smith Dead! story won't go away soon.

Am I wrong? Is Anna Nicole Smith's death Really Big News? What am I missing her?


at 2/09/2007 12:38 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...


I will give you part of your answer in one sentence: Anna died during February Sweeps.

A rags to riches story, high school drop out comes out of poverty, guess jeans model, Playboy bunny and Playmate of the Year, controversy, sex, marriages, lawsuits, drugs, baby girl born. Three days later, death of her son, paternity suit and then death amidst the latter. A creepy lawyer/boyfriend who isolated her from most all people.

What more could ALL the celebrity/news shows want? I am sure she will be on the cover of all the's all bizarre but in a way, I am sure Anna would be happy with the attention she is getting. If only she would've been able to help herself and get the attention she needed years ago. Tragedy.

And to give a long answer...Many are comparing her to Marilyn Monroe?! Well, considering Marilyn posed for Playboy..and had instability problems, drug/alcohol problems...I see that connection slightly...and Marilyn had weight issues.

But Marilyn Monroe was classier, and more sultry, and we could see her vulnerability..And I thought she made some great movies "Some Like it Hot" For One. Anna could be crude, lewd, and in your face with vulgarity (her trainwreck "reality show" blew me away and made me feel sorry for her..she was so trashed on that show) I sat through two episodes and it was enough for me. The promos that kept running for it were outrageous enough...and there was her young son... witnessing such behavior from his mom....tough for him and he was harassed by school mates. Didn't the producers on that show see the girl was blitzed out of her mind? It's criminal how they exploited somebody so mentally off.

Marilyn Monroe's biggest fear was ending up in a psychiatric institution like her biological mother..and struggled her whole life. She wanted the world to love her but was lonely in her personal life. Anna was clueless about her mental problems but admitted she was lonely in an interview on Fox News with Greta some years back. Marilyn struggled for years with depression.

It's so OBVIOUS this was the case with Anna but her outrageousness and crudeness, made it harder to see the lonely girl inside. But hell, I saw it!? The media can document media sound bites on her award show behaviors, stints on Larry King, Howard Stern the RADIO show.

Howard K. Stern attorney, rang high on my creep meter and I heard Geraldo said the same thing on Fox News.
Say what you will about Rivera but I think he is right.
I remember Regis commenting on Anna's reality show at the time "can't somebody see that girl is not well?" or some such comment. He found her sad as well.

The fact Anna was estranged from her family for decades makes you wonder what childhood abuse may have transpired...and now her sister has a tell all book called "TRAINWRECK" coming out soon. They had not spoken in 10 years and she said she did NOT want to alter the book at this time, on Larry King. Anna hadn't spoken to her mom in 10 years. But I also remember, after the death of Anna's son, Anna's mother plea for her daughter to get away from Howard k. Stern. That is curious.

But you can't write tragic fiction like this.

I only hope the troubled soul has found peace. She sure didn't get it in this life.

It'll be great for Sweeps but I find it all very sad.

Sophia in Fairfield

at 2/09/2007 8:23 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it got so much coverage because it was somewhat of a surprise - compounded by all the other things surrounding her - a quicky fake marriage, her son's death, a custody battle, trying to get her 2nd husbands's billions $$.

I'm hoping it will go away too - but I don't think it will. Our society has become celebrity obsessed to the point where Anna Nicole's death and Lindsey Lohan going to rehab are big news. I'm not sure why that is? Is it an escape from reality? Why are people so interested in celebrity lifestyles?

at 2/09/2007 8:25 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiese, I TOTALLY agree with you! While this is a mildly interesting story, it does not warrant the 24/7 coverage it's getting (it's still the lead story on mean, is this the most newsworthy thing happening in the world? c'mon). I think this is a case of everyone jumping on the bandwagon and not wanting to be 'left behind'. blech.

at 2/09/2007 8:38 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you, mr. kiesewetter, for exactly expressing my thoughts.

perhaps, if no one googles her or calls into talk shows, she may rest in peace.

at 2/09/2007 9:07 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work at a local station, and we didn't think it was a big deal. But people started calling...a lot of people, all of them wanting to know what happened, so we had to move it up in the newscasts.

Never underestimate the public's ability to grab something seemingly insignificant and make it important, I guess.

at 2/09/2007 9:38 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that last sentence might have been a Freudian slip... both asking and answering your question.

at 2/09/2007 9:55 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just another example of how sensationalized news coverage has become. I actually saw a report from outside the restaurant where Anna Nicole worked when she was younger...pathetic really. Yes, sad that someone has lost their life but let's wake up here; we have a continuing mess in Iraq and loads of other issues that need and deserve hard-hitting and in deapth reporting.

at 2/09/2007 10:03 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two words John: train wreck
That's what her life has been for a long time, and the train just plunged over the tressel. Pity things turned out the way they did but, you reap what you sow, and that it so evident with her life. And another prime example of the babble that is today's media. Enough siad...let's move on.

at 2/09/2007 10:25 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

my thoughts also...and i do not agree with you often ...

at 2/09/2007 11:26 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as a news story, it's a typical "Dateline/PrimeTime Live" type story regarding custody and testate/intestate questions.

As for the wall to wall coverage, Lou Dobbs said it best, teasing his show on CNN: "...And over the course of the next hour... there will be no reporting... beginning at the top of the hour... on the passing of Anna Nicole Smith. We hope you'll join us... Wolf, back to you."


There is that happy medium....just like announcing the snow has left us (and it's been gone for several hours)

at 2/09/2007 12:05 PM Blogger Rick said...

Yet another consequence of the 24/7 news cycle. Too much time-not enough news. Sad...

at 2/09/2007 12:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinda shocking, kind of not. I have a feeling her death was drug related. I know they said that she had been feeling ill, but then tonight, they were interviewing the producer of her last film on Larry King Live. He said that he talked to her within the last week and she was very depressed and said everyone else went out while she was stuck in the hotel room. He said that he could see it coming. So, that makes me think it was a suicide, possibly by ODing on purpose. I feel bad for her baby girl. Will grow up without a mom, and still don't know who her daddy is.

Now I just heard that 20/20 will be doing a 2 hour special tonight about Smith.

In my opinion, I think that Howard K. Stern was no help to Smith or her son. I know there are reports from the other guy claiming to be the father that Anna too methadone during her pregnancy and due to that, the baby is having some trouble. I think Stern was a bad influence and prescription drug supplier to Smith and her son. I just heard where all of the prescription drugs found in her room were in his name. She may have had the flu, but if you were misusing prescription or illegal drugs on top of flu medicine, I bet her heart gave out.

at 2/09/2007 1:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

did anyone see rosies remarks about anna nicole smith yesterday just hours before anna died. Rosie needs to get fired now, I know she brings the ratings in for the view, but come on. Get that slob off tv

at 2/09/2007 1:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

first on 5 eric green's biography was just added to
He will be taking over breakfast blogs soon as well.

at 2/09/2007 4:13 PM Anonymous SpongeBob SquarePants said...

I had a feeling this would be a "breaking news" story at the top of the early evening newscasts on WLWT, WCPO, and WKRC-TV.

But why? It's not local, it's not life-threatening, and it's not important!

at 2/09/2007 5:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

While it skirted slander, Rosie said appropriate things. It's not like other broadcasters and comedians hadn't said regarding Ms. Smith.

I am getting a wee bit tired of the overblown coverage.

It's starting to sound like a South Park parody, complete with Zsa Zsa's ex, a Dr. Perper (not to be confused with Dr. Pepper) and an Officer Tiger.

I liked Burbank's program today....could the father indeed be the Truckin' Bozo or Nuxie??? Too funny!

Stay tuned.

at 2/09/2007 5:31 PM Anonymous Michael A. Banks said...

Looks like someone got ahold of a "Create a News Story Out of Nothing" kit.

at 2/09/2007 7:01 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, far be it for me to make fun of somebody in death, but when I heard Willie bring up the comment that the baby's father could be Zsa Zsa's husband, I thought he was just making that up. Then, I found the story online.

Burbank was funny noting the names of the doc at the press conference and the caller that said Nuxie could be the dad. Then asking all the men on Sports or Consequences "where were YOU 14 months ago."

Gary. PLEASE don't retire. I can't imagine SOMEBODY to lighten up such news when the drama becomes a dark comedy.

And sadly, Anna's tragic tale of woe is that. Then, I remember the little baby girl born into such chaos.

But honestly, it seems to be wall to wall on cable stations. Nancy Grace must be salivating as this must be up her alley. Don't watch her as a few minutes of her can go a long way.

But the Prince what's his face saying he wanted to ADOPT Anna but Zsa Zsa wouldn't sign the, then he just slept with her instead?!

Wow, it don't get no stranger than that!

Sophia in Fairfield

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