Reality bites

Can Anna Nicole Smith set a new low in reality television?

Say what you will about Anna Nicole Smith; you can’t call her an underachiever. She wanted a lot of money, so she found herself an insanely wealthy old coot with a weak ticker and a weak spot for Mae West wannabes. She wanted fame, so she got herself a train wreck of a TV show that is so astonishingly awful that millions find themselves powerless not to watch (a programming philosophy that will probably lead to some truly astonishing swill before it burns out).

Sure enough, she’s now rich and famous. Well, she will be rich if her late hubby’s son ever surrenders his battle with Her Bovinity over that $88 million that pop bestowed upon her in the will. I saw the Anna TV show last week and was struck by the carefree, happy-go-lucky, let’s-get-this-thing-over-with vibe that fairly rages through every scene. I was also struck by the possibility that Anna might just go ahead and take herself out with a pill overdose by Episode 7. I’m not sure what goofy little caps she’s strung out on, but they appear to be slightly stronger than the stuff that Ozzy’s been sprinkling on his morning grapefruit.

Anna’s show does have a positive message for the youth of America, and it’s a strong and simple one: Being a pill addict is bad. You really do not, confused youths, want to aspire to becoming a pill addict. It leads to a blithering kind of dazedness, a frightening strain of slothfulness, obnoxious political and social philosophies, monstrously frustrating sexual and excretory difficulties and extremely poor elocution. It’s the critical step to terminal Elvis-ness.

As for the future of reality programming on the boob tube, well, where can you go now that Anna’s out of the barn? One possibility would be to head straight for the operating room. Why not? Let’s get “Celebrity Surgery” on the air. You wouldn’t want to be too darn gross, at least not at the beginning. You’d want to start out real tasteful-like, maybe show a dermatologist carving a few carcinomas out of George Hamilton’s hide. Then, you could work up to the harder stuff, such as stomach staples, quadruple bypasses and the removal of tennis ball-sized tumors.

But … maybe you couldn’t. Artery clamps and chest saws could be a bit much for the nice folks out there in Oaf Hollow. You might just have to gear down a notch and focus instead on “Celebrity Cosmetic Surgery.” That way, you could avoid the real heavy action, and keep things light, even fun. Think of the dazzling array of relatively low-risk yet educational procedures available for the producer of C.C.S.: nose jobs, boob jobs, lip jobs, face jobs, tummy jobs, butt jobs, pec jobs and, now, botox jobs.

Then again, the old saw about laws and sausage might apply here to movie and TV stars: We may like the finished products, but we don’t especially care to see how they’re made.