Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

media and society

-- media and society -- i am STILL not anna nicole smith

Given previous confusion on this issue, I thought it best to make that statement up front. I am a black man, who while very very gay is still not prone to wearing the low-cut sparkly evening gowns that Ms Smith has been known to wear, nor have I ever had a reality show, nor have I ever met Bobby Trendy. (And thank goodness for that.)

Now that we have that out of the way... it does seem remarkable that this case has made it thus far, doesn't it? That we can use the words "Anna Nicole Smith" and "United States Supreme Court" together in an entirely unironic, nonsarcastic way, doesn't it?

Supreme Court Hears Anna Nicole Smith Case
Washington Post
The Associated Press
Tuesday, February 28, 2006; 5:43 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to bless Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith's pursuit of a piece of her late husband's oil fortune. The court waded into an 11-year family feud over the estate of J. Howard Marshall II, who died at age 90 after a brief marriage to Smith. The case is dominated by themes of sex, greed and deception.

"It's quite a story," Justice Stephen Breyer marveled.

Marshall's youngest son, E. Pierce Marshall, claims that he is the sole heir and that Smith's legal fight is dead, because she lost in a Texas probate court. Justices appeared unwilling to buy that.

Smith, a former stripper known for her flashy, cleavage-revealing outfits, watched from near the back of the court, dressed in black. Her lawyers said she was in tears during part of the argument when justices discussed her late husband.

Justices tread delicately on the subject matter. Chief Justice John Roberts said the case involved "a substantial amount of assets," referring to the fortune of Smith's husband of 14 months. The estate was estimated at as much as $1.6 billion. The court's other new member, Samuel Alito, remained silent as did Justice Clarence Thomas. Otherwise, however, it was a lively debate that included many references to Smith and her plight, although justices referred to her by her given name, Vickie Lynn.

Breyer said there was evidence that the will was forged and that the son hired private detectives to keep Smith away from her elderly husband's sick bed. She was a 26-year-old topless dancer, divorced with a son, when she and Marshall were married. One of her husband's nurses testified that Smith bared her breasts to the bedridden man as part of her effort to get an inheritance....

Well ... she was married to the man, after all. Baring her breasts, if she indeed did so, would not seem an intrinsically unreasonable thing to be doing. After all, the most he was ever going to do was maybe touch them occasionally. What's the harm in giving the guy a little happiness? (Aside, of course, from the potential of the "Ohmigawrsh! Titties!" heart attack.) (Purely a sidenote to the side note: you just know that every single justice, regardless of race, creed, age or sex, as soon as the whole "bared her breasts" thing came up, was thinking but one thing: Do not look at her chest. Whatever you do, do NOT LOOK AT HER CHEST! Because someone, somewhere, would then print a snarky reference to the justices checking her out, and who wants that?

It will be fascinating to see what happens to this case. It looks like the Court is going to send it back to the lower courts, and the case will drag on another day and another day and another ... it's going to turn into Bleak House --a modern, tawdrier version -- unless they settle. And you get the impression that, whether or not Anna Nicole is willing to settle, Pierce Marshall most certainly is not -- that he's entirely willing to pursue the "burned estate/razed fortune" strategy, so to speak. One wonders if the estate has been defended against either side, or if it's paying for its own defense, such that by the end, there won't be all that much left.

Posted by iain at 05:05 PM in category media and society