NEW YORK – If The Osbournes was responsible for the spectacular birth of the reality sitcom, then Anna Nicole Smith just killed it.
Her new show, which premiered Sunday night, is an historic disaster.
There's nothing particularly new about a bad TV show, but seldom has a bad show been so uncomfortable to watch that you actually felt sorry for the people whose job it was to put it together.
In the case of The Anna Nicole Show, my deepest sympathies go out to the camera crews who were assigned to move in with Anna and videotape her every move.
For a viewer watching in the safety of his own home, spending a half-hour with Anna Nicole was torture enough.
Actually spending several weeks with her -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- is simply unimaginable.
And then there are the people who were faced with the task of sifting through all the footage and editing it down into a TV show.
Judging by the premiere episode, the pickings were slim indeed. The finished product contained no comedy, sentiment or real human emotion of any kind.
Episode 1 concerned Anna Nicole's search for a new home.
Accompanied by her assistant, Kim, an attorney named Howard K. Stern, and several real estate brokers, Anna Nicole baby-talked her way through about a half-dozen homes for rent.
Her behavior -- which included helping herself to a snack and leaping on the beds in one of the homes that was still occupied by residents who weren't home just then -- was so bizarre that you couldn't help but think she was on something.
Among other things, she slurred her speech, conversed in non sequiturs, and occasionally nodded off in mid-sentence.
The folks at E! had such high hopes for The Anna Nicole Show that they put on a full-court press to introduce it -- including airing a two-hour True Hollywood Story on Anna Nicole leading into the 10 p.m. debut of The Anna Nicole Show.
Then, the network cruelly repeated the first episode immediately at 10:30.
The Osbournes became a hit because viewers recognized a little bit of their own lives and families in Ozzy's clan. In addition, the Osbournes live well in their Beverly Hills mansion because Ozzy, for better or worse, earned it by working his butt off for 30 years.
I'm not sure what Anna Nicole has done to earn our attention, but on Sunday night the contrast was made clear when MTV aired an episode of The Osbournes opposite the 10:30 repeat of Anna Nicole.
Even with all the cursing, it was plain to see that the Osbourne home was a far warmer place to visit than Anna Nicole's empty rental.