Friday, February 23, 2007

Much Ado About Nothing

I admit it.
I watched.
I got sucked into the media circus surrounding the disposition of Anna Nicole Smith's remains. And I'm ashamed for joining the millions who just couldn't look away from this freak show. Its almost as if this woman and her aura of dysfunction causes a gravitational pull dragging otherwise likely normal people into the abyss of slime and degradation that ruled her life.
Take Circuit Court Judge Larry Seidlin for example. This man has served on the bench for nearly 30 years ruling over the fate of families. His close friends have described him as a caring if garrulous judge who makes rulings from his heart and standard common sense. But what we have witnessed in his courtroom, carried live across television and the Internet, seems to be a that of a man seeking to make himself a pivotal part of an already disturbing and seedy story.
The question before the court was really so simple, "Who has the right to take the remains of Anna Nicole Smith for burial?" Once Seidlin wisely appointed a Guardian Ad Litem for Dannielynn, there should have only been two parties to the dispute- Anna Nicole's true next of kin- her daughter and her mother. Had the proceedings been kept to addressing just that question, there likely would have been a relatively short hearing and a quick decision to do just what will happen- bury Anna Nicole in the plot she purchased for herself in the Bahama's next to her son. It might have been an interesting legal question, but something more suited for a bland law review article than "must-see" t.v.
Instead the voyeuristic public was treated to a non-stop side show that made Anna Nicole's ill-advised and disturbing reality show somehow look tame and tasteful.
We now know far more about the characters in this saga than we probably know about most of our family members. It just shouldn't have been allowed to happen, but its probably what we should have expected from the courts that brought us the hanging chad and made our electoral system the laughing stock of the free-world.
And at the end of the travesty that was called a hearing, we were subjected to a sobbing judge telling the participants his role in the play had ended and the rest of the cast must continue without them. Seidlin did everything in his power to grasp control of this case from courts in the Bahamas and California. He wanted to keep it and continue to bask in the putrid limelight that it cast upon him. (Anyone want to start a pool on how long it will be before his book hits the store shelves or if he hires an agent to be able to portray himself in the movie or miniseries the Hollywood vultures are already planning?)
When the hearing was concluded the cast gathered outside for a press conference which looked far more like a curtain call. These people, who sought to destroy each other's characters for more than 6 days in a courtroom, stood side by side thanking "everyone for coming" and sharing a microphone as they took their final bows. It was disgusting and disturbing. They will take their freak show on an International tour beginning Monday with the court debate over paternity and custody of the poor Dannielynn.
The media played right along but gave us no substantive coverage. There are some things that would actually interest me if a reporter could pull themselves out of the primordial ooze that surrounds the exploitation, drug abuse and sexual acting out that were the hallmarks of Anna Nicole's life.
Here are things I would have liked to have known, but apparently weren't sensational enough for the media to find out and tell us:

  1. How much did this six days of hearing cost the fine taxpayers of the state of Florida?
  2. Will the parties involved be responsible for paying any of those fees?
  3. For that matter, how much have all the never-ending legal hearings on Anna Nicole's affairs cost the fine taxpayers in Texas, California, Florida and even the United States in general since her issues have made it to the US Supreme Court?
  4. Who is paying the attorney fees for Virgie Arthur, Larry Birkhead and Howard Stern? Lawyers do not come cheap and they are on the clock billing hours even if they happen to dream about a case while sleeping. The legal fees in the hearing over the disposition of the body must be staggering and I really want to know who is footing the bill, as none of the participants would likely have that kind of money.
  5. Court dockets are set weeks and even months in advance, so I would like to know who got bumped off Judge Larry's docket when the circus came to town. What were their issues? Given that he rules in a juvenile or probate court, how many other emergency cases with probably important and timely issues were kicked to the curb?
  6. How were attorneys from California, Texas and God knows where else, permitted to work in a Florida court? Usually lawyers must be admitted to the bar in a specific state to practice there. If those rules were not waived, is the hearing even legally binding?
  7. Will the Judiciary discipline committee and the state bar association in Florida be reviewing the proceedings for possible sanctions against Judge Larry? If not, why not?
  8. Does the Bahamas have a child abuse statute that provides protection for the fetus and if so, why hasn't Howard Stern been arrested yet after the airing of the "clown" video where he mocks a clearly stoned and very pregnant Anna Nicole Smith?
  9. If Anna Nicole was truly running a fever of 105 degrees or higher while staying in the hotel in Florida, why didn't Howard or any of her minders take her to the emergency room or call a physician for medical treatment? Since they didn't are they being investigated by the authorities for negligent homicide?
  10. How did Anna Nicole Smith enter the United States from the Bahamas with vials and bottles of drugs prescribed in someone else's name without those drugs being seized by custom's officials?
  11. How did Howard Stern pay for the boat after her death and why didn't he cancel the order? It was delivered to the Bahamas after she died. Who owns that boat?
There are many more things I wonder about, but that's my short list. I don't look for the coverage to end anytime soon nor do I expect answers to my ponderings. The drama's next acts will include :
  • Virgie Arthur's appeal of the Judge Larry's ruling
  • The funeral circus with all the sobbing D-listers and assorted hangers-on when they finally release the now decomposing body. (Do you think Judge Larry will attend?) Don't bother buying a plane ticket, since Howard already said if he is in charge, he will sell the video, but puts the funds in a trust for Dannielynn.
  • The Bahamian paternity hearings
  • The resumption of the case to gain the Marshall estate millions
  • And last, but God willing, the criminal cases against Howard Stern for his contribution to the deaths of Anna Nicole and her son Daniel.

Tune in again for another installment of How Anna's Estate Turns.


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