Beat In Our Backyard

The Anna Nicole Smith death coverage wasn't spectacular this morning. The front-page Sun-Sentinel article, which involved nine reporters, led this way:

"Anna Nicole Smith's media-hyped journey of celebrity, marked by dubious successes and all-too-human tragedies, ended Thursday ..."

So far, so good. In fact, I would say it's a damn near perfect start. Then we get to the back end of the sentence:

"... at a venue as colorful as her life when she collapsed at the Seminole Hard Rock & Casino and died at a Hollywood hospital."

Okay, too much. What started as a succinct and well-written lede ended in a what appears to be an editor-hyped clunk-fest marked by dubious clauses and all-too-human writing decisions. Somebody obviously felt that the first sentence had to be packed with local flavor and wound up drowning it with salt.

But the Sentinel, like most everybody else, was floundering around without much information (leading to the lame headline: "Mystery surrounds celebrity's death"). The Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post failed to break big news on the case unfolding in its backyard, too. The scoop of the day was that "illegal narcotics" and prescription drugs were found in the room and that was broken by

WCBS-2 in New York (which is cited in the Herald story leading the web site right now). Which brings us to the real mystery: How the hell did some reporter dude in NY named Scott Weinberger get this scoop while the local boys and girls fell flat?

Weinberger's tiny online report on the CBS-2 website doesn't make it too clear. We just know it was sources in Florida. Did Medical Examiner Joshua "I'm No Prophet" Perper spill? BSOSeminole Tribe Police? That just seems too weird. Maybe she got the private nurse to talk.

I'll be interested to hear Post gossip columnist Jose Lambiet talk about it on Barry Epstein's radio show at 10 a.m. this morning on 1470-AM. He's been buzzing around the story since it broke and filed this front-page report on it last night. The great Arlo Guthrie is also going to be on the show, as will I, if Arlo doesn't bump me (listen live here).

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