It is surely a sign of the apocalypse that people would be hiring lawyers to fight over who thought up South Beach, the last drama to have premiered on the late and unlamented UPN network. Here's what I wrote when the show started its run in 2006:
Maybe the best way to explain UPN's new drama South Beach is to tell you that when Vanessa
Williams warns a young model that "South Beach will eat you alive, " I fully expected the next scene to be a horde of zombie parking attendants chewing the entrails of half-naked girls in the lobby of the Delano. Cannibalism is about the only thing missing from this delirious new trashfest of hard bodies and soft brains.
Like a misanthropic video postcard to the world, South Beach shimmers with civic depravity and dysfunction. Boobs. Cocaine ("the real South Beach diet"). Santeria. Boobs. Rollerblades. Cuban gangsters. Oily pecs. Exhibitionist bimbos. Dolce & Gabbana suits (fitted by mincing and very hands-on tailors). Crazed old people squawking about erectile dysfunction. Really, what more could you want to know about South Florida? Wait, did I mention the boobs?
Not that South Beach makes us look bad -- heavens, no. It presents South Florida as a profoundly democratic land of opportunity, where a dumb kid from Brooklyn can show up and a single day later have a job spritzing the butts of poolside models. And a day after that, he's a Mafia capo, because, hey, South Beach is not just about the sex. Though I should mention the boobs.
In short, it was hardly the sort of thing anybody wanted to take credit for. UPN was so mortified by what it had done that it went out of business a couple of weeks after South Beach went on the air. And you'd think that Jennifer Lopez would admit that her butt swallowed a Volkswagen before she'd confess that she was executive producer of the thing.
But you'd be wrong. A writer named Jack Bunick has been wrangling with Lopez and CBS (which owned UPN) in federal court in New York for two years, claiming they swiped the idea from him. On Wednesday, a judge ruled against him, saying that Chernobyl-sized boobs and gluttonous consumption of cocaine are to South Beach what sand is to the Sahara -- purely generic. Now, if we could just get to the bottom of who was responsible for Kid Nation...