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The battle for Anna Nicole’s body

Rulings flew back and forth as Howard K. Stern and Anna's mom battled for control of Anna Nicole's body.
/ Source: Access Hollywood

The Anna Nicole Smith case is starting to sound like something out of the WWE: The Battle For The Body.

At issue today, the six-day dead body of the former Playmate, supersize model, and face and figure of TrimSpa.

Rulings were flying coast-to-coast today. First, a Florida judge ruled the body couldn’t be taken out of the morgue until after a Feb. 20 hearing in Los Angeles. The judge also ruled that, yes, it can at least be embalmed. Then a couple of hours later a judge in Los Angeles ruled that there’s DNA evidence aplenty and said Florida could let the body go, if they wanted. Then back to Florida where a judge late in the day ruled the body isn’t going anywhere, at least not until tomorrow. A hearing in Florida is set for 9:30 on Thursday morning and the judge is promising a decision.

That’s a lot of billable hours.

In Broward County, lawyers for Stern showed up bearing documents that said Anna Nicole, known at the time as Vickie Lynn Marshall, wanted Howard K. Stern to decide what should be done with her body, should she die. It’s hard to see how the court could rule against Stern, especially given Anna Nicole’s public hatred of her mother, the other significant player in this part of the case. And on top of that the medical examiner, Joshua Perper, said the body should be released. Think about this — how bad does it look for PR conscious South Florida to be holding onto the decomposing body of a celebrity.

We’ve made repeated calls for comment to Stern’s lawyer today.

Still to be answered is the key question: What will be her final resting place? She really should lie next to her dead son, Daniel, in the Bahamas.

Meanwhile, you meet the oddest people on a plane. As our Tony Potts was dashing from the Bahamas to Miami today, he found that he was en route with Anna’s Mom, Virgie Arthur. During an interview in the baggage claim area, Virgie spilled this little tidbit: She hears that Howard is peddling rights to the funeral for a cool million.

She said it, not us.

Given all the big-money bids that have been swirling around Howard Stern and Anna since Daniel’s death, a million sounds almost reasonable.

And the spin goes on. Stern today thrust both his sister and his brother out into the media mix to fight his battle by sibling proxy. After an appearance on the TODAY show this morning, we tried to interview Gary Stern. He was nice, he was nervous. He said he was a private person and didn’t want to do the TODAY show but felt he had to defend his brother. He told us: Thanks but no thanks. Then a few hours later he turned up on the tabloid show, “The Insider,” the same show that reportedly bought so much access to his brother, the lawyer and Anna Nicole.

So, look who’s lying low, granting no interviews: Larry Birkhead, the presumed DNA donor. With a cheerful press release this morning, his attorney Debra Opri crowed over the “Battle for the Body” saying “this is not our fight.”  She added that she is content to fight for possession of little Danielynn. Because, and we hate to say it, the kid is the key to the money.

On the back page today a little story we’re looking into — Howard and the yacht. Why was he out buying a boat when Anna Nicole was in such bad shape? Who made the call from the hotel room? When did he receive it? How long did it take before the 911 call was made? Good questions, and we have the guy who sold the boat and has a few answers.

Meanwhile, try calling the Seminole Police if you want to have an interesting conversation. They told us today that they will never release the first 911 call, the one that came from the room —the one that would answer the above question about the time. And why won’t they? Because the hotel is on the Seminole Reservation which is a sovereign entity and is not subject to certain Florida laws.

Our buddy at WTVJ in Miami, Liz Roldan, has an interesting theory. She notes that Howard Stern is a lawyer and that, whenever anything with ANS was involved, he always somehow ended up at the Hard Rock Casino, in Sovereign Territory. Away from the rule of certain laws. “The ultimate protection,” Rolden calls it.

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