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TELEVISION REVIEW

'Anchorwoman' is shallow -- film at 11!

A reality show asks whether a model and wrestling spokeswoman can anchor a newscast.

August 22, 2007|Mary McNamara | Times Staff Writer

If you hate women, men, Texas, Los Angeles, television news and any of the social progress made by Americans in the 20th century, then "Anchorwoman" is the show for you.

On the new Fox reality series, Phil Hurley, owner of the struggling KYTX in Tyler, Texas, has hired Lauren Jones, L.A. model, WWE spokeswoman and general bombshell, to anchor the news, despite the fact (or because of it) that she has no previous news experience. Let the catfighting and dumb blond jokes begin!

Tricked out in pole-dancer heels and porn-star eyebrows, Jones is to models what Pamela Anderson was to lifeguards -- the product of the hack's guide to Los Angeles, where every waiter is an actor and women with large breasts are, by definition, sexually accessible (see also "Californication"). She blows into Tyler looking like an X-rated inflatable doll, having, presumably, never seen a television newscast (or else she would realize no one wears tank tops while delivering the news) or given thought to what the job entails. "I always wanted to be an anchor," she confided earlier to her friends at the gym with the requisite breathless giggle. All she knows is that Tyler, Texas, seems pretty darn dull compared with L.A. "You have bars here?" she asks at one point.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, August 23, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part Page Metro Desk 1 inches; 24 words Type of Material: Correction
"Anchorwoman": A review in Wednesday's Calendar section of the new Fox show "Anchorwoman" misspelled the last name of news anchor Annalisa Petralia as Petraglia.

The other members of the KYTX news team are, of course, horrified. The current anchor, Annalisa Petraglia, can barely be civil to Jones, as she coldly tells Hurley how the blond's presence on the news undermines the station's credibility and her own personal reputation. The news director, Dan Delgado, is just as incensed. Hurley remains doggedly determined, patronizing to one and all like some minor character in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." "Why don't you go get your jacket?" he asks Jones when she arrives, décolletage firmly on display.

Jones doesn't help matters; though she figures out a more appropriate dress code and "practices" whenever she has the chance, she never seems to understand either the nature of the storm clouds around her or the definition of journalism.

"Anchorwoman" was created and produced by Brian Gadinsky ("American Idol," "America's Most Wanted"), and I'm sure he thought this would be a very funny way of exploring the nature of television news, of how thin the line between journalism and entertainment can be, of how desperate so many news outlets have become, using outrageousness to sell all sorts of things these days. "Sex sells," says one potential viewer when asked if she will watch Jones, "I guess now it sells the news."

But the dumb blond who maybe ain't so dumb was cliché when Judy Holliday did it back in the 1940s, and Jones ain't no Judy Holliday. Jones is not part of the joke, she is the joke, because she is blond, busty and wears short skirts. Which is somehow supposed to be funny. If Gadinsky had any courage at all, he would have simply made her a drag queen -- that at least would have been interesting -- because that is what she is: a female drag queen, her femininity exaggerated, her intelligence diminished. Who, when thrust into a high-pressure occupation with no training, would not look stupid?

For the women surrounding her, Petraglia and the other reporters, there is no winning -- either they must smile and surrender to watching an unqualified hire waste valuable time and resources being "trained" or risk being seen as somehow jealous, or worse, unsisterly. Presumably, we are all supposed to be rooting for simple-minded Jones to emerge, à la Marilyn Monroe, as the brains behind her scattered character. I just wanted everyone, including Jones, to rise up as one and throw the cameras and the whole "Anchorwoman" concept out of the newsroom and back to whatever airport strip bar provided its genesis.

That's what Judy Holliday would have done.

mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

--

'Anchorwoman'

Where: Fox

When: 8 to 9 p.m. Wednesday

Rating: TV-PG-L (may be unsuitable for young children, with an advisory for coarse language)

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