Behold the sudden rise of the power blonde. On TV, in movies, and even in music, the fair-haired set is leading the way in 2003, says Ken Tucker

By Ken Tucker
Updated January 14, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Trista Rehn: Bob D'Amico/ABC

Behold the sudden rise of the power blonde

In entertainment, we are in the midst of what we might call The Moment of the Power-Blonde. Here’s what I mean:

On TV, “Bachelorette” Trista Rehn proved from the opening moments of last week’s premiere that she is so much more honest, open, smart, and alert to the behavior and personalities of the 25 hitchin’-hopefuls than her male predecessors in the “Bachelor” editions, that she instantly became a TV personality to be reckoned with.

I despised the treacly nature of ”The Bachelor”’s, and thought both Alex and Aaron came across as male-model Lotharios with hearts of stone, so why root for them or their female picks? (Contempt for the first, pity for the second — not my idea of entertainment.) By contrast, Trista proceeds with the delightful assurance of someone who’s survived exploitation (by Alex; by the ”Bachelor” producers) to exact sweet revenge.

Unless she folds under the pressure of such power, this’ll be one series to follow to its logical conclusion — which I like to fantasize as this: She winnows down the pond of testosteroned jellyfish to one guy, lets the sap propose, turns him down, and then goes on to marry Josh Malina’s brainy speechwriter on the time-period competition, “West Wing.”

In movies, Renée Zellweger commences “Chicago” as a meek, tremulous Roxie Hart, and then her performance mirrors her character’s development into a tabloid star. Zellweger, who’s had trouble finding decent roles since faking adoration of Tom Cruise so superlatively in “Jerry Maguire,” finally gets to assert her power as actress, dancer, and pleasantly thin-voiced singer.

No moment is more spectacular than the number in which she plays a ventriloquist’s dummy sitting on Richard Gere’s lap. The groaning visual pun of woman-as-puppet-to-man is slyly reversed: Zellweger’s mimickry of Gere’s sung lyrics is flawless — she dominates the scene utterly, turning Gere’s character into a stunned-looking dummy.

In music, the power-blond of the moment is, of course, Eminem, the year’s biggest record-seller… or is it?

Who’s the one person who can make this tough-guy tender, who’s got Em wrapped around her little finger? His adorably tow-headed daughter, Hailie, for whom the tuneless rapper even attempts to croon on his smash CD.

Eminem certainly has a woman-problem — even beyond his much-analyzed fantasies of killing his wife in hiphop song, one of his first resorts, when threatened by a man even so passive as Moby, is to call a guy a “little girl.” But his adoration of Haley seems genuine enough; let’s just hope it doesn’t mean that Em can only respond to women he can control, or he’s not going to enjoy Haley’s inevitable adolescent-rebelliousness phase. Everyone knows the power teen daughters can exert over their dads.