And, lest we forget, former Playboy Playmate of the Year, billionaire's widow and Supreme Court plaintiff, Anna Nicole Smith was found dead in her Florida hotel room of as yet unknown causes at the age of 39. "All the major cable news networks switched over to non-stop live coverage this afternoon," announced NBC's Williams.
She was a celebrity--but a minor one. So NBC made a faulty news judgment in making her death the story. Mark Potter was in Hollywood Fla to detail its trivia: her hotel's name, the room number, the 911 call, the futile first aid attempts, the body's arrival at the hospital ER. CBS' Kelly Cobiella filed from Miami that "a private nurse found her in her room unconscious…in the past year her life seemed to be unraveling."
By contrast, ABC concentrated on Anna Nicole's life. John Donvan (subscription required) speculated on the question of what made her famous. Maybe it was inevitable that the last act in her life story would be "dramatic and media-frenzied and brightly lit…although the mystery really is Why?" She embodied a "peculiarly American kind of fame without obvious achievement…a kind of public and tabloid fascination out of all proportion to anything she had done." She figured out "how to get her 15 minutes and make it last a lifetime."
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