As with all things Anna Nicole Smith, the entertainment (and legit news) media have been all over the story of her 20-year-old son's mysterious death, which took place in her hospital room just a few days after the birth of her daughter (and, honestly, if a TV writer had come up with this one, it would have been considered far-fetched).
On Tuesday night, Smith's longtime lawyer, Howard K. Stern, who played a major role in her late "can't take my eyes off this car crash" E! reality show, appeared on CNN's Larry King Live to talk about the death…and drop a live-TV bombshell that also seemed like it came straight from bad TV-movie land: He and Smith have been in a relationship for years, and he is the father of Smith's daughter (although photojournalist Larry Birkhead claimed the same thing on an exclusive Entertainment Tonight segment).
This "revelation" moment is the kind of thing that live TV is made for, and King was obviously thrilled to be a part of this soap-opera-like minute, announcing well before Stern made his announcement that "here, for the first time ever, he will reveal the identity of the baby's father…" But watching it, the announcement seemed almost canned, rehearsed and manufactured…one could easily imagine the reality show that might spawn from this one (and I don't think it's too cynical to think that E! or VH1 would sign Smith for another show in a heartbeat in light of these made-for-TV new twists).
I'm not discounting the tragedy that occurred (Smith's son, Daniel, always seemed like such a normal force on her scary-bizzare reality show, a smart kid forced into a circus-like existence by accident of birth). I'm just saying that, if in the next year or so, another show doesn't come out of this one (Smith and Stern raise child together following major tragedy, Birkhead remains on the scene, showing up every second or third show to continue to claim paternity while DNA testing is draaaaaawn out), I'll be surprised (and relieved).
By Rebecca Stropoli