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It's not easy living in Taradise

Tara Reid says we just don't know the real her; would she care to share?

Busy times indeed in the Celebriverse — TomKat offspring, Jessica Simpson reportedly back on the market — which has made it easy to overlook the doings of our favorite B-list misfit. But at last, after casting our wagers in the Cruise bundle-o'-joy name pool, we again have a moment to set our gaze upon Tara Reid.

In the interval since we , Tara's offered up a virtual emperor's buffet of nuttiness. We'll dive in momentarily, but first we have an admission.

It's our fault.  All of it. Kick us. Please.

Tara said so herself.  She told Steppin' Out magazine: "How many more years are [the media] going to pick on me? There's other new young bad girls. Move on to someone else!"

That . “I think there must be a journalist school where students are taught how to kill Tara Reid,” she also said.

Our favorite 29-year-old cultural ambassador continued: "I wish they would just tell the truth. I'm not a drunk ... I don't have a drinking problem. I don't have a drug problem, for sure."

Now, we're not ones to keep a tally of Tara's tippling or indulge in Reid-inspired drinking games, so if the girl says she can handle her liquor, there's no reason (aside from an interpretive review of hours of television footage, paparazzi shots and glossy drink-in-hand photo spreads) not to believe her. 

Just like there's no reason to believe that E! would have chosen her for "Taradise" duties for any reason besides her impeccable acting credentials in gems like "Van Wilder" and "Josie and the Pussycats."

Hooters gone wildYet the partying, the Tarantics, the laments about the media's inherent rancor all pale in comparison to Tara's repeated fascination with ... her breasts.

A "Tara Reid's breasts" item can pep up even the most humdrum of Tuesdays, but several of them in rapid-fire succession, in less than a month, demand special attention.

First she 'fessed up to confirm the long-assumed detail that she's had her breasts enhanced, saying, "I mean, everyone does it. I don't know why I'm the one who gets so much attention?"

FILE Tara Reid attends the Sean P. Diddy Combs 35th Birthday Party, held at Cipriani 55 Wall Street, in this Nov. 4, 2004, file photo in New York. Reid's dress fell from her shoulder as photographers captured the wardrobe malfunction before her publicist was able to redress the unsuspecting actress. (AP Photo/Jennifer Graylock)Jennifer Graylock / AP

We'll answer that shortly, but not before we note Tara's inability to leave the mammary issue alone. Revisiting her now-defining moment of infamy, the nipple slip at Diddy's birthday party, she ranted to FHM that she couldn't believe the ruckus her implant-enhanced unveiling had caused: "You would think my boob had popped out and shot Gandhi!"

While we tried to conjure up that particular image, Tara continued, hoping to assure us that she had wrangled the errant "hooters ... under control": "I'm taped up now, totally. I'm using double tape. Double, double tape. My boobs are going nowhere again."

But wait, there's more. She told Steppin' Out she had "no idea" her dress slipped off; blamed the whole episode on having taken off her jacket ("the dress came off with the jacket because the jacket was so heavy"); and rejected, with a word I can't reprint here, the premise that it helped her career.

"I was seen as a retard," she said.

It's like watching one of those home videos where a cat falls off a fence, climbs back up, then falls off again (and repeat).

Tara wants to know why we ink-stained types have it out for her. (We told you it's our fault, right?)

Drawing on all those 10th-grade algebra skills, I think I've worked out an approximate equation:

[Gratuitous reports of public drunkenness * getting a basic-cable show with the sole purpose of highlighting your partying ways] + inadvertent (we assume) revealing of private body parts in a very public forum + [on-the-record comments using "hooters" and "tape" in the same sentence ^ Z-grade movie career] = guarantee for great copy.

In other words, it's not that anyone has it out for Tara. It's that she keeps throwing more coal into the firebox of the locomotive that pulls her gossip train.

The Tara comment that really caught our eye was: "Listen, if I could get good movies, you would never see me going out. But when there's nothing to do, what am I supposed to do, just sit in my house and go crazy?"

A few humble suggestions: charity work; casting calls for better TV shows than "Taradise"; the occasional Pilates class; a modest shopping trip to your brother's store; a nice long hike (we mean that literally); the occasional quiet dinner, sans table dancing; sailing, sans the beer cooler; road trips (also sans beer cooler); shooting your own digital-video documentary (and no, an existential consideration of body-shot techniques across the nation is not an acceptable topic).

Not sure we understand the insistence that one's partying ways can be chalked up to a lack of screen-gem roles. Do really great roles consume so much more free time than lousy ones?  Does Robert Altman keep you on set so many hours longer than "American Pie's" Paul Weitz?

We don't want to sound too bold here, or to underestimate Hollywood cruelty, but is it possible that Tara's lack of A-list roles is attributable to perhaps, say, her dramatic range being overshadowed by a perennial reputation as a good-time girl?

Stupid is as stupid doesBecause if there's any lesson to draw from Paris Hilton, it's that Americans can forgive one episode of abject humiliation — an intimate video being downloaded around the globe, say — if you prove to be a good sport and retrofit your image.  Paris is no model of restraint, but when her long-fading engagement, she did it with tact.

Tara shows little interest in emulating this mold. She talks about love and marriage in one breath, then angrily defends her partying ways in the next. Only the Brits seem willing to honestly embrace Tara's two-faced approach, perhaps as some sort of revenge for our obsession with Diana.

To make it worse, Tara felt the need to poke a fork at Paris, saying she'd never be "stupid enough" to make a sex tape. We can't deny that exposing oneself in front of a barrage of red-carpet photographers does indeed have far more impact than a boyfriend's piddling camcorder. But we wouldn't be so quick to pin the "stupid" tail.

Reid says she thought "Taradise" would benefit her image: "I wanted to show the whole world the truth — I'm fun."  Instead, she blamed the show's editing for making her look like "a total party-girl drug retard." (Always with the retards.)

While it's quite possible we were denied stellar footage of Tara exploring the ruins at Kition or visiting the Musée National de Monaco, the more likely explanation is that cameras accurately portrayed Reid's European vacation: beaches, clubs, gut-busting dinners, more clubs, attempted scamming on Eurohunks, more clubs and a helicopter ride.

In the interest of détente, we've compiled few suggestions that might help elevate our opinion of Tara:

(1) Hooray, responsibility! If we're to believe the party-girl image is just a fabrication, then prove it. Engage in some fun daytime activities without looking hungover. Let us catch you drinking bottled water with lunch. Stay out of the clubs for a while.

(2) Modesty is such a lonely word. It wasn't just the nipple slip that caused a ruckus, it was Tara's reported state of stupor when it happened. (It took a friendly flack to finally right Reid's dress.)  Assume that the world is watching when you're on the carpet, because it is.  You don't have to act like an automaton (Katie Holmes seems to have cornered that market) but it's a small hop from vibrant and quirky to loudmouthed crackpot.

(3) Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. You can't do a reality show designed to profile celebrities getting crazy and then blame bad editing for how it made you look.  If "Wild on Tara" — sorry, "Taradise" — was intended as an image overhaul, you need to fire your agent.  (VH1's "Surreal Life" won't help either, unless you're Peter Brady.)  If you really hate where your career is headed, do some voiceovers. Try summer stock. Find a life coach. Adopt an African orphan. (Wait, don't do that.)

Because really, it's not our fault. Not entirely, anyway. lifestyle editor Jon Bonné wonders what Robert Altman makes of all this.