Anna Nicole: on TV Again

annaNicoleAny tabloid tale is fair game for a Lifetime movie. If they’ve done Jodi Arias and Amanda Knox, then why not Anna Nicole Smith, except that her death came so long ago — 2006 — and she’s been out of the news for a while compared to those other cases.

The other problem is finding someone to play Smith. There was something about her so different that made her a star that also makes her hard to replicate. A classical beauty at her best, of course, that emulated Marilyn for a few seconds at least, that also gave a sensuousness to bigger framed women that was in contrast with the stick thin models even in Playboy. but she also was blowsy, a ditz, dense in a way she thought was cute, sloppy on the edges and kind of a mess for most of the end of her short life.

The problem with Agnes Bruckner of “Private Practice” and “The Craigslist Killer” playing her in the “Anna Nicole”  is that she’s to sharply pretty in the standard (and rather generic) Hollywood sense. Nothing out of control or bigger than life or dangerous. She’s pretty and prim and, aside from the apparent prosthetic enhancements that come late in the movie, too subtle for the bigger than life Anna Nicole, at least until the end, when she gets her famous reality show.

The film that starts as a straight bio, with the mousy brunette little girl seeking a fantasy life exemplified by Marilyn, finding her way to strip clubs to earn a paycheck that could help raise her son. There she’s found by a billionaire who marries her.

That the billionaire is played by Martin Landau suddenly makes the movie worth watching (though her mother was played by Virginia Madsen, and her lawyer by Adam Goldberg). As played by the Oscar winner Landau, the octogenarian is realistic and knows what to expect from their odd relationship. She sort of does too, though it seems she takes to him as part of a yearning for family too.

But what does it matter; she’s hated by the family, the public and unknown others and she hunkers up in a network-paid mansion where she lets in only reality show cameras. That’s where the fat suits begin in earnest.

That drugs are the inevitable route to an early end makes the final Marilyn parallel – one she should have known as a child.

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