The Anna Nicole Show Fan Site

Episode Guide

Episode 16:
“All the World's a Stage”

To act, or not to act — that is the question: whether 'tis nobler in Anna Nicole's mind to suffer the Cedrics and Bonaduces of outrageous casting, or to take arms against a sea of showbiz dreams, and by wussing out end them?
(Aired March 16, 2003)

The Anna Nicole Show

As much as I adore Anna Nicole Smith, I believe she has no business trying to be an actress. In the face of all the evidence to the contrary, she just doesn't want to give up on the notion that a beautiful woman like herself should automatically be able to succeed as a movie star. But if she must persist in this ill-advised ambition, the one dramatic field where she stands any chance is comedy. We know she has a knack for making 'em laugh -- the question is, can she learn how to do it from a script?

"I've been acting for about ten years, doing movies and commercials, but the last couple of years have been pretty slow," Anna Nicole admits. So she's excited to get an invitation to appear on Cedric the Entertainer's Fox sketch comedy series. The producers have written a part especially for her, in which she plays herself, or a psychological representation of herself.

In the sketch, which aired on the Cedric show in February, a single woman gets hit on by a series of men at a bar. Her judgment of the would-be suitors is aided by two voices inside her head: her "inner mama," who encourages her to marry the first man that comes along. and her "inner positive sister," who warns her that all these men are dogs and she deserves better. After the dueling consciences fail to reach any agreement, a third voice joins the debate: the woman's "inner Anna Nicole." This lusty blonde aspect of her psyche just wants her to grab a guy and hump him.

Anna Nicole visits the Cedric studio on the day before the taping and practices her lines with Howard. She adopts an exaggerated little-girl voice that's all wrong for the sketch. Fortunately, Kimmie emerges from her customary meekness to give Anna Nicole some good direction, getting her to tone it down and use her natural speaking voice, which conveys sufficient horny desperation as is.

In voiceover, Anna Nicole explains that she has been trying really hard to be a better actress. "I even found me an acting coach, and the first thing he gave me was homework," she says. "He sent me over some play about a shrew."

And here we get to the real meat of this very hilarious episode: Anna Nicole does Shakespeare. It may seem completely absurd to task her with the blank verse of the Bard, when she has a hard enough time contending with a script about knocking a guy's boots. But on closer reflection, acting teacher Howard Fine actually made a canny choice in assigning Anna Nicole with The Taming of the Shrew.

First, it is a comedy, so it's not like she's being expected to pull off Lady Macbeth. The Taming of the Shrew is all about the battle of the sexes, and a strong-willed woman who is pissed off at men. Consider the vocabulary the play uses to describe the character of Kate: rough, sullen, headstrong, intolerable curst, stark mad, impatient, angry, envious, revengeful, proud-minded, bent on pleasing herself, a wildcat, a railer, an irksome brawling scold, a devil, a fiend of hell, and a hilding of a devilish spirit. But underneath the harsh exterior lies a beautiful spirit and a heart of gold. In all of drama, what role is there better suited to the temperament of Anna Nicole Smith?

The Anna Nicole Show At her house she rehearses her scene from Act II, with Howard reading as Petruchio. "I don't even understand a work of this s**t," she groans, but gamely keeps at it regardless of comprehension. The scene calls for Kate to strike Petruchio, so the rehearsal devolves into the familiar circumstance of Anna Nicole slapping Howard around.

After he tires of getting beaten up, she enlists her makeup artist Angie as a new practice partner. Anna Nicole warns her about the assault and battery in the stage directions, and Angie is cool with it. "We should get her to sign a release before you do it," Howard says, but his jest turns out to be a premonition. Angie struggles with the dialogue in her Middle Eastern accent, and when Anna Nicole reaches out to slap her, her fingernails accidentally scratch Angie's face. Angie reacts with surprise, half laughing but half upset. Anna Nicole apologizes for hurting her, until Angie says, "You bitch!"

Then Anna Nicole blows up. One thing we've learned is that she will not tolerate disrespect and insubordination from her personal entourage. Angie escalates the crisis by facetiously asking if she wants to take it outside. "You want to take it f***in' outside, I will!" Anna Nicole blusters. "Don't call me a bitch!" She storms out and Angie gets dismissed for the day. I really like Angie, and following her fracas with Shelly in the Holiday Special, it's a shame to see her embroiled in another violent outburst. But this fight does serve two purposes. It shows that Anna Nicole must really love Angie, if she's willing to give her the same level of anger she dishes out to Howard and Kim. And second, this episode needed at least one good scene of Anna Nicole being a real shrew.

Next up is a rather inconsequential vignette of Anna Nicole trying to improve her acting through the power of hypnosis. She gets a house call from Dr. Amazing and his wife/assistant Gemini. If you were seriously looking for scientifically-sound hypnotherapy, I think you could find much better than this sideshow act. Okay, his web site claims he's a medical doctor and a renowned memory expert, so let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

The Anna Nicole Show Dr. Amazing puts Anna Nicole in a trance and plants suggestions aimed at improving her memory and recitation of dialogue. He tells her to envision doing a great job on a movie set and pleasing her directors with her acting skills and all that. Sharp-eyed viewers will note Daniel hanging out in the background, even after being granted his requested reprieve from the show in the previous episode.

The only funny part during the hypnosis session comes at the end, with Anna Nicole asking Howard and Kim, "Did I act like a chicken?" The real story would have been much more interesting: in an interview with Us magazine, Anna Nicole revealed that her encounter with hypnotism was less than fulfilling.

"I'm thinking, Oh my God!" she said. "He's gonna hypnotize me and know every secret about me. He's like, "Your eyelids feel really heavy..." It's a hoax. It didn't work. He just did all this stuff I'm like just like, 'Whatever!'"

Then we get back to the Shakespeare, as Anna Nicole takes a lesson at the Howard Fine Acting Studio. Her appointed acting partner is none other than Danny Bonaduce. I've never thought very highly of him before, but here he comes off as surprisingly funny and charming. Danny offers a fairly respectable delivery as Petruchio, as well. Let's just say he acquits himself a damn sight more admirably on The Anna Nicole Show than he did on Celebrity Boxing.

Howard Fine is the consummate stereotypical acting instructor: loud, excitable and effeminate. But he seems like a smart guy who knows his stuff, and not just some frustrated thespian who turned to teaching to pay the bills. Fine coaches Anna Nicole on the parts of her personality she needs to draw on as Kate, proving that he didn't choose this role for her arbitrarily. He says he wants to see the Anna Nicole "who doesn't want to take any crap from anybody, who's willing to stand up for herself, who's ambitious, who doesn't want to be talked down to."

As Anna Nicole and Danny read their lines, Fine compels them to note how explicit Shakespeare's language is when Petruchio asks, "What, with my tongue in your tail?" Anna Nicole chuckles and says, "That means up the ass, right?" The instructor and Danny both assure her this interpretation is valid.

The Anna Nicole Show Fine puts Anna Nicole and Danny through a number of acting exercises meant to help them get more deeply into the scene, but nothing quite works to his satisfaction. Then he must have noticed how well Anna Nicole performed the slapping part. Fine determines that she is "very physical" and responds most strongly when bodily contact is involved. (See, all that practice at home paid off.) So he gets her and Danny to smack each other after every exchange in Kate and Petruchio's trading of wits. This gets them going at it like Punch and Judy.

Fine is delighted. "You're doing the scene for the first time!" he enthuses.

"Dude, she's beating the crap outta me!" Danny says with a grin. Yeah, she makes a far more formidable sparring partner than Greg Brady, huh, Mr. Bonaduce?

After a break, Fine brings in a group of students to observe his celebrity novices in action. Anna Nicole is not happy about having a live audience, but Fine brings them in anyway. She and Danny repeat their performance while slapping each other on the knee, to a warm reception from the class.

This entire time, Anna Nicole and Danny have been reading from their scripts. Fine asks if they think they can put down the pages and do a segment of the scene in their own words. Anna Nicole wants no part of this plan. She doesn't throw a tantrum, because she's not comfortable starting confrontations with strangers. Instead she tries to charm her way out of doing improv, laughing and saying, "Okay, I don't want to."

"Good, use it in the scene!" Fine says. Man, this guy is good. Years of teaching have clearly taught him how to handle an uncooperative prima donna. They're going to try the scene from memory, and he's not taking any crap about it.

Without the lines in front of her, Anna Nicole blanks and flounders through the dialogue. When Danny says, "I will not burden thee, for I know you to be young and light," Kate's response is supposed to be, in part, "And yet as heavy as my weight should be." Anna Nicole's extemporaneous rendering: "Well, thank you for telling me I'm young and light, but I'm heavy!" It's halfway accurate to the Shakespeare text, and halfway a commentary on her own weight, and a completely brilliant Anna Nicole moment. The audience cracks up and gives her a big hand.

With their scripts returned to them, Anna Nicole and Danny run through the scene one last time, and it's their best performance yet. Anna Nicole is getting to the point where she's not entirely bad. If she practiced really, really hard, and maybe had some cue cards, she might actually be able to pull off a dinner theatre production of Taming of the Shrew. But she would have to want it bad enough. As Fine and his students applaud, Anna Nicole curtsies and bows while the camera pans in for a closeup, whereupon she sticks out her tongue. This gives us a good indication of her interior monologue.

The Anna Nicole Show "Wrapping my mouth around all them words wasn't easy," Anna Nicole says, "but it was definitely worth it." The closing segment covers the taping of her guest spot on Cedric the Entertainer Presents, which goes off nice and smooth. It's just like Howard Fine told her: once you've tackled Shakespeare, what is going to scare you? Playing herself in a fit of horniness looks like a cake walk in comparison.

Cedric stops by to greet Anna Nicole, and Angie is on hand as part of her posse, so we know they're friends again. After a tantalizing glimpse of her trying on outfits in the wardrobe room (yum!), Anna Nicole gets situated in front of a green screen, where she and her fellow "inner voices" will be transformed into psychological apparitions. Anna Nicole finds herself co-starring with yet another former child actor from television history, as Kim Fields of The Facts of Life portrays the soulful inner sister.

Her part in the sketch is brief, but Anna Nicole does a fine job. She's cute and very funny. Some might say she's making fun of herself in this bit, but I relish any opportunity she gets to portray herself as a larger-than-life icon -- in this case, as the personification of indiscriminate sexual hunger residing in the feminine id. I'd like to think that every woman has an inner Anna Nicole. I also get a kick out of seeing her intimate quirks, such as her reliance on Howard and her craving for pickles, being articulated outside the sphere of her show, because this demonstrates that people really do watch it. (And dare I say, maybe even like it?)

The moral of the story is that if Anna Nicole truly wants to succeed as an actress, it's going to require hard work. It's not just about the Tinseltown glamor and the red carpet premieres. It is a craft that calls for discipline, commitment, and selfless submission to the will of others, instead of having everything your own way. In those respects, I don't know if this shrew can ever be tamed.

Anna Nicole Says...
"This ought to be fun, if I can remember any of my lines."
"I really want to f***. I'd love to f***. Let's f***!"
To Howard: "It was in the script, see? 'She strikes him.' You know that, right?"
"A woman would slap someone in the face, not in the ass."
To Angie: "Sorry, f***, I'm a bitch, then! Call me a f***in' bitch... you bitch back!"
On Shakespeare: "I think I would like him. He's kinky."
"I really wouldn't mind being slapped around, either."
"They like me, they really like me!"
On the sexual applications of pickle juice: "You know, when you f*** for so long you get dehydrated and you're so tired, but you want to f*** some more so bad, but you're hungry too?"

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