<EM>Stacked</EM> Stacked

When Fox unveiled Stacked last April, the sitcom was met with a chorus of guffaws and titters. Pneumatic pinup Pamela Anderson as a bookstore employee? The material was practically self-writing. But flash-forward to fall 2005, when Fox is launching the series' second season, having defied the scores of snarky cynics.

"In the beginning, before people had seen the show, there was some skepticism, and I totally understand that," acknowledges Anderson, "because I hadn't, you know, considered myself a real actress or anything."

Undermining any credibility Anderson brought to her prime-time project was her notoriety as girlfriend/fiancée/wife of [insert name of rocker here], as barely clad cover girl for [insert name of lad mag here], as the star of [insert name campy vehicle here]. And the savvy siren recognized that. "I understand what I have done in my career, where I have come from," she says. "And I can see how people would think of me in a certain way. But that's why I'm actually extra-proud that this show is doing so well and getting recognition. I think I made the right choice."

That choice being to lend her name and tremendously telegenic assets to a scripted sitcom, rather than jump on the reality-TV bandwagon (as ex-hubby Tommy Lee currently is doing over on NBC). "I could have done any reality show, but I love this art form. I love that it's a throwback to old television sitcoms. With all these wonderful television writers who are not working because of reality TV, I thought, 'Great. Good for me!'"

Stacked creator/executive producer Steve Levitan cheers his leading lady's decision. "As a comedy writer, I applaud the fact that not only does she not like reality TV and all that it means, but that she chose to do something that is so scary and different, knowing that she would be judged [harshly]," he says. "It's great that she chose to support this old tradition."

In turn, viewers — enough to warrant a second-season pickup from Fox — turned out to support Anderson and Stacked. And you may be surprised to see exactly who is tuning in to watch the bodacious beauty play her persona for laughs. "It's not only prisoners and firemen!" Anderson quips. "When I was on V.I.P., Disney did the demographic research and they said, 'Pamela, it's not just people too drunk to turn the channel who are watching you. It's young women, too.'"

What could it be that draws in the very females you might think would shoot jealous daggers at Anderson? "The one thing that I hear from women is that they admire her honesty," explains Levitan. "So I have tried to take this person who people underestimate, who is surprisingly street-smart and savvy — I have heard her in business dealings, and she is tough as nails — and roll that into a character."

Levitan, who is the first to admit that Stacked's six-episode freshman season was slapped together at a moment's notice, is excited to have more time to firm up his first sitcom foray since Just Shoot Me. "We wrote all those scripts before, in many cases, the roles were cast," he points out. "So now it's a real advantage to be able to react to what I liked and what I didn't like. I think you're really going to see the show gel this season."

And that can only mean better — or at least fairer — reviews for its scrutinized star. "When you have nothing to live up to, you can't disappoint anybody," says Anderson of her perception as a vapid Playmate. "When you form a full sentence, you're a genius."