SUMMER PRESS TOUR: Posh Beckham, Chelsea Handler

Monday, July 16, 2007

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Victoria Beckham gets advice on what to do in an earthquake.  

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- I haven't been paying much attention to the tabloid hype surrounding the move of British media titans David and Victoria Beckham to Los Angeles (where David will play pro soccer), so I'm not well-versed in what the general impression is of Victoria, the former Posh Spice. But in "Victoria Beckham: Coming to America" (8 tonight, NBC), she comes across as both completely charming and totally calculating. The whole show seems designed to introduce the Beckham brand to America and put a smiley face on it, even though Victoria is evidently known for a trademark pout.

At first, she comes off like a spoiled brat who deigns to open the front door of her Los Angeles home for her new assistant, saying, "Now, I wouldn't normally open the door, would I?"

While getting a driver's license at the DMV, she asks, "Do I get [photo] approval?" and "You don't do re-touching?"

But after a while, it's clear she's just kidding. She actually has a fairly robust sense of humor about herself, which is clear when she mocks her own pout and meets with gossip guru Perez Hilton after he mocks her on his Web site.

"I don't want to be seen smiling, having fun or eating, perish the thought," she tells him.

Of course, meeting with him is a smart move to try to woo him and perhaps prevent him from spreading gossip about her in the future. And I meeting with the Beverly Hills Socialites, Beckham attempts to prove she's not as tacky as some ultra-rich people, most notably a wealthy woman who offers up a dolphin imitation.

"Coming to America" was originally designed to be a series, but ended up getting trimmed to a special. There's certainly no reason to give Beckham a free platform to push the Beckham brand on America, but as celebreality shows go, viewers have seen worse.

Chelsea Handler hosts the new irreverent E! chat show "Chelsea Lately," premiering at 11:30 tonight. She promises not to have celebrities on just to pitch their latest projects -- we've heard that promise before, but I'm not sure anyone has ever followed through -- and she intends to mock celebrities and America's obsession with celeb culture.

"I want to make fun of all the celebrities that are out there, the Nicole Richies of the world, the people who are getting pregnant," Handler said at a press conference Friday. "I think pregnancy is a huge responsibility. I think it's a five-year commitment, and I think you need to take it more seriously."

She's reminiscent of a younger Kathy Griffin.

"I'm actually a big fan of Kathy Griffin because I think she's really funny. I think she's really self-deprecating, which is something I like to see in a comedian. I think those are really the best comedians, people who can make fun of themselves. ... We kind of make fun of her a lot on the show. So she probably won't be a guest for a couple of weeks."

Handler hosted the first episode of Fox's low-rated "On the Lot" and disappeared after that.

"I actually quit that show," she said. "I wasn't replaced. I quit because I smelled the disaster happening before it did."


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