Faded Star Attempts Comeback with Public Plastic Surgery | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 07.07.2008
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Faded Star Attempts Comeback with Public Plastic Surgery

Brigitte Nielsen, best known for a few movies in the 80s and her marriage to Sylvester Stallone, is taking reality TV to new heights, or depths, in Germany. She's undergoing plastic surgery while the cameras are rolling.

Nielsen during liposuction

Lipo in progress - Nielsen gets fat removed for everyone to see

The six-foot, one-inch-tall Danish actress and model made her German reality show premiere on Sunday, June 6, telling her doctor to "make a Barbie doll out of me."

And so Gerhard Sattler started the process, giving viewers of "Turning Old Into New" ("Aus alt mach neu") an up-close-and-personal look at liposuction, extracting liters of fat from Nielsen's hips, thighs and love handles while she was fully awake.

The 44-year-old is undergoing this peculiar personal renovation in a four-part series on German commercial network RTL, during which she will have four surgical procedures. Besides the liposuction, Nielsen will have an operation to reduce her already surgically enhanced breasts and get a thorough facelift.

The surgeries are reported to cost 66,000 euros ($104,000). Some of the fat removed from Nielsen will reportedly be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Nelson and her husband

After the facelift, Nielsen might look closer in age to her current husband, Mattia Dessi

It's the latest comeback attempt, or perhaps cry for attention, from the former sex bomb, who has had little luck recapturing her 1980s celebrity success in numerous B-movies and dance music releases in the 1990s. In the first years of this century, Nielsen has been a semi-regular on the reality television circuit, appearing in various celebrity versions of Big Brother, among others.

Her most recent reality TV outing was her very public fight with alcoholism in "Celebrity Rehab," on VH-1, which appeared earlier this year.

Now she's decided to remake her body -- "I want to look 30 again" -- and perhaps at the same time her career.

"I want to be able to balance two cups of espresso on these, without a bra," said Nielsen about the soon-to-be versions of her breasts during the first episode of her extreme makeover. Smaller perhaps than they are now, but still able to attract the attention Nielsen obviously craves.

Roundly slammed

The show has found itself on the receiving end of harsh criticism from the press and from Parliament. A group of female politicians from the conservative CDU party sent a letter to the (female) head of broadcaster RTL, Anke Schaeferkordt, decrying the show for reducing Nielsen to a "building in need of a retrofit."

Nielsen in Berlin

Nielsen will get a new chest as well, with slightly less amplitude

They called on RTL to broadcast the show at 11 pm instead of 7 pm, but the station refused, saying the Nielsen, after all, was submitting the procedures on her own accord. Child protection laws prohibit the channel from showing too much blood from the surgeries and RTL claims it is taking a critical stance towards plastic surgery over all.

Critics says that was not at all apparent during the first episode, although perhaps the show did inadvertently present the dark underbelly of plastic surgery. Before she arrived in Germany for the first stage of fat removal, the cameras followed her and her much younger husband around in California. They also accompanied her for a visit to her ex-mother-in-law, Jackie Stallone, mother of Sly.

Looking like one part Michael Jackson, two parts mummy, Jackie Stallone is a vision of how attempts to turn back the clock through surgery can go horribly wrong. After a Tarot card session with Nielsen, as soon as the Dane was out of hearing range, Stallone suggested that Nielsen should probably undergo a fifth surgery.

"What she needs most is a brain lifting," she said. "But unfortunately the doctors don't offer that."

Do many care?

Perhaps the cruellest cut, however, will finally be from the public. On Sunday evening, a total of 2.5 million viewers tuned in, a market share of 11.1 percent. Not bad numbers, but not stellar by any means.

The first episode of Nielsen's quest to erase 14 years off her body was beat out by the science program "Galileo." Interest in Nielsen -- both the old and new versions -- could turn out to be low.

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