Tammy Faye Messner has shed 30 pounds thanks to a liposuction make-over, and she's moved across the country in a bid to rejoin disgraced ex-hubby Jim Bakker on national TV. But despite a rave reception for her new documentary film at the Sundance Film Festival, their comeback trails may diverge for good.

Friends were stunned when a newly slimmed down Tammy Faye showed up at a Christmas party last year and disclosed she had undergone liposuction, according to a story in the National Enquirer.

"She secretly had liposuction twice during the 1980s, and each time she whined afterward that the procedure had nearly killed her," an insider told the Enquirer. "The only reason she'd risk it again is to get in shape for Jim so he'll take her back when his TV ministry gets started again. There's nothing Tammy wants more."

But sadly for Tammy Faye, Jim may be having second thoughts about having her back as his singing sidekick when he's restored to his old ministry at Heritage USA.

Last July a group of wealthy Christian businessmen--led by former Green Bay Packers star defensive end Reggie White--planned to put Jim back in the pulpit at the Heritage USA biblical theme park Bakker lost when he was charged with bilking his PTL followers out of $158 million in 1986. They also wanted Tammy Faye to share the spotlight with Jim again. "I visualize it being huge," White said when the plan was formulated last year.

Bakker disclosed the theme park plan in a letter to still-loyal PTL (Praise the Lord) supporters last May.

"The great Christian football player Reggie White asked me to be part of his team to restore Heritage USA," he wrote.

Late last spring, Bakker and his new bride Lori moved into a log cabin in Charlotte, N.C., just north of Fort Mill, S.C., home of the former theme park where he and Tammy Faye preached and sang to millions every day.

Then in June, Jim and Tammy Faye were reunited at the wedding of their son Jamie, 23. The occasion was a bittersweet reunion for Jim and former bestfriend, church builder Roe Messner--the man Tammy Faye married while Jim was in prison, and who only recently got out of prison himself for bankruptcy fraud.

Just a week before Christmas, 57-year-old Tammy Faye and Messner packed up their home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and prepared to move to Charlotte, N.C., where Bakker and his new wife now live.

On Dec.16, they attended a farewell party thrown for them at Victory Christian church.

"It seemed like the lipo had made her thinner all over," an anonymous friend told the Enquirer. "She looked sensational. Everyone who saw her started speculating that she'd been getting herself ready for the TV cameras."

The insider added: "But there's tremendous opposition to her from the PTL partners. Jim has been forgiven for his sexual encounter with Jessica Hahn, and many PTL faithful still don't believe he stole a dime. But they've never forgotten how Tammy turned her back on Jim when he was sent to prison in 1989.

"And Jim is also being influenced by his new wife, who doesn't have a great opinion of his ex-wife!

"Tammy Faye doesn't realize it, but Jim's now under pressure to bring in their daughter Tammy Sue as his TV partner.

"If he agrees, it will be devastating to Tammy Faye."

But she'll always have her new movie career.

In a story Jan. 31, The Boston Globe said the documentary about her, called "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," was "campy" and flattering to the big hair poster girl.

The Globe said she seemed to be appreciating her newfound fan base in the gay community, and attended the Sundance ''Queer Brunch.'' Roz Music, the film's makeup artist, had wanted to give Tammy Faye a fresh new look but was hampered by her permanent lipliner and eyeliner. (That's right, permanent.)

When the producers--Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato--asked her if she would cooperate in making the film, Tammy Faye admitted she ''didn't even know what a documentary is.'' To promote the film's premiere, the movie handlers distributed hundreds of Tammy Faye Survival Kits, which included Purr Lip Gloss, Chicory Pencil, Pink Glow Blush, White Frost Eye Shadow, and Black Cream Eyeliner. Co-producer Cinemax, a cable channel, will air the documentary in its spring Reel Life series. According to those who saw the premiere, the documentary couldn't have been more flattering if the old PTL Club had produced it. It may be the first of a new genre--a nonfiction soap opera.

See below for links to previous Scandalwatch articles.

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