You've heard of Michael Jackson and Neverland? Well welcome to Anna Nicole and Never-ending.
I am still in the Bahamas, since anchoring last week's show from outside the Broward County medical examiner’s office. I'll definitely be reporting this story during this weekend's show (Sat.- Sun. 2 p.m. EST). There is, of course, much other news to cover, but this story is far from over.
Today a Florida judge asked a single question: who has the right to Anna Nicole’s body for burial? Her companion Howard K. Stern, with whom she shared a commitment ceremony, but no legal marriage? Or her mother who, other than her 5-month-old baby, is her only existing legal next of kin? But, before the judge ever reaches the only issue he has absolute jurisdiction over, there is a splash of other issues he allows to be argued. Paternity, DNA sampling and the safety and security of Dannielynn, whose name the judge curiously did not yet know.
Anna Nicole Smith, a.k.a Vickie Lynn Marshall, left a will, which I have confirmed with her Bahamian estate attorney, someone she hired before she died. A Florida attorney representing Howard K. Stern says she has the will, but can't probate it without a death certificate.
When it comes to her body and burial, will Anna Nicole’s wishes be considered in all this? I've seen the cemetery where she bought four burial sites back in October, when her son Daniel died here in the Bahamas. Should that not answer the question for the judge of where her body should go? Anna had expressed a desire to be buried alongside her son, who died from a drug overdose just days after her baby girl was born.
A paternity lawsuit filed by Smith's ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, is underway in a California court — the appropriate forum for that matter. Yet, even with my years of experience as an attorney in both Florida and California, I was surprised when this Florida judge allowed extraneous issues to be argued, including paternity, when our judges are supposed to stick to the facts before them.
Did this judge exceed his authority by asking questions and allowing arguments beyond the body battle? Was he enjoying the camera time? Was his interest or curiosity, like so many around the world, in the details of Anna Nicole’s life appropriate? For example, he asked Dr. Perper, the medical examiner in court today, to be descriptive. Perper gave grisly details that some would find tough to take, even after the medical examiner had already filed an affidavit with the court, stating the body is badly decomposing and needs to be released soon. Has this story spiraled out of control?
Many of you have emailed me (firstname.lastname@example.org) that you have already heard enough. You've asked us to stop reporting all of these details. Today FOX news did move on. While other networks carried every inflammatory detail from this hearing, we covered other news you need to know. Yet the worldwide attention on this story is only growing. Pictures of methadone bottles, purported to have been in Smith's refrigerator were released and affidavits have surfaced from claims from Dannielynn’s nanny, who alleges that Smith wanted her baby underfed to stay "sexy.” Meanwhile, a firestorm in the Bahamas continues over an immigration minister that locals say gave Anna "special treatment." This is all just the beginning of allegations that will sort themselves out eventually, but that in which well be exposed to for some time to come.
What should we report, so you can decide?
It's a tough call for a reporter and a network. The story represents a tragedy with a beautiful baby girl right in the center of it all. And it's unclear at this point who really has the jurisdiction to protect her, and in whose hands she belongs.
Who do you think should determine what is in the best interest of this child?
Let me know what you think as coverage of "Anna Neverending" continues — Email me at email@example.com. I read each of your emails and appreciate them. I'll try to read some of them on the show, FOX News Live Sat.- Sun. 2 p.m. ET.
Your Responses To Reporting Dilemmas:
"In my opinion (as a mother of three daughters), the wishes of Anna Nicole should take precedence over anyone. If she had not wanted to be buried next to her son, she wouldn't have purchased four burial plots. Too bad she didn't chose cremation, then they could all have small portion!" — T.M.
"The news media does go overboard with all the scandals that seem to be occurring day after day. As a consumer of news, it does put me in a state of overload. But in the Anna Nicole case, I am so afraid for the baby daughter." — Starr
"Please! Enough is Enough! I think the public would be better served if less attention was paid to all celebrities, and more attention was paid to the people who are trying to make a difference in our society, both here and abroad." — Ron
"Anna Nicole obviously despised her mother and family since she has not had contact with any of them in 10 years. They should do the DNA test, and let Danielynn be with the father. Then this story should disappear from the limelight and give the child a half chance at a normal life. Anna Nicole should be buried next to Daniel." — Marci
"Dannielynn should be the main concern in this circus of events! The biological grandmother should have temporary custody until the results of the paternity test are complete. As for Howard K. Stern, his interests are not in Dannielynn's favor, he's all about the money." — Shani
"Yes, please keep coverage of the legal matters and issues that arise from the death of Anna Nicole. While some people may be sick of it, I know a lot of people are interested. I am a law graduate studying for the bar and am fascinated by the legal issues, so I'm reading the coverage on my study breaks. Please stay on the story!" — Priscilla
"I would be absolutely thrilled to never hear a word about Anna Nicole Smith again. Please!" — Mike
"I want to hear it all. Since it has all been reported to date, I especially would like to hear how everything ends. There is nothing I hate more than to get a good news story about someone or something, and never know how it ends." — Roberta
"Anna Nicole and Howard Stern wouldn't have hid in the Bahamas if they didn't have something to hide. If she knew the baby was Howard's, she would allowed the paternity test. " — Cindy
"The paternity test should determine what is best for the child. That child may have bonded with Anna but at that age, but within a month she will bond with anyone. Find out who the father is, and give the baby to him." — Phyllis
"I have been following this story since I got the news alert about Anna 'collapsing' in Florida. Even before the news broke that she died, I was reading everything I could get my hands on, and refreshing my page every few seconds. Since her death, I have been glued to the television non stop, and have been watching the coverage every day. I was starting to think I might need a 12-step program to break myself of this addiction." — Becky
"The body of Anna Nicole should be laid to rest next to her son. She had not lived in Texas for well over 20 years — her mother and her were not close, and she loved the Bahamas. Let her rest at the place she loved." — Ellen
"The coverage of this story represents North America's avoidance of what is 'real,' while ignoring what is happening in our country, and in countries throughout the world. This story represents our obsession with escapism and the most superficial form of the human experience." — Elaine
"Why is everybody assuming that the Slim Fast in the refrigerator was Anna Nicole's? She had a nurse and Howard Stern with her!" — Sandra
"My opinion is that this story has a life of its own, and therefore is newsworthy." — Rena
"I am one of those who is glued to all Anna coverage, due to the tragedy of the death of her son two days after giving birth to her daughter. I have never heard of something so devastating ever happening before." — Linda
"Any time someone we know passes, we almost become glued to the story. I think you should keep reporting on her." — Kristiana
Jamie Colby joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in July 2003 and currently serves as a news correspondent and anchor of "FOX News Live," Sat.- Sun 2 -3 p.m. ET. She anchored coverage of the passing of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI from Rome. You can read her complete bio here.