'Anna Nicole' revisits life, career of ill-fated starlet

TV film looks at the life of Anna Nicole Smith, who dropped out of high school but became a world-famous icon before dying at age 39.
By John Crook Published: June 26, 2013
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Halloween morning 2012 dawns crystal-clear but unseasonably cold over the suburban estate north of Atlanta where “Anna Nicole” — a Lifetime movie premiering at 7 p.m. Saturday — is in production. Hurricane Sandy swept past the region a couple of days ago, bringing in its wake some frigid gusts.

That hasn't seemed to dim the mood on this outdoor set, however, where burly crew members sport platinum blond wigs and fluffy pink bathrobes over large false bosoms. It's a goofy gesture stemming partly from this costume-friendly holiday but also because of this TV movie's title character: Anna Nicole Smith, the voluptuous starlet who dropped out of high school but became a world-famous camp icon before dying at age 39 from a massive drug overdose.

Today, director Mary Harron and her team are filming one of the happier moments from Smith's rocky life: the day that octogenarian Texas tycoon J. Howard Marshall (Martin Landau) tells Smith (Agnes Bruckner) he is bequeathing one of his beloved horses — and, indeed, his entire ranch — to her as an inducement to spend more time with him. While everyone off camera shivers and gulps coffee, Bruckner, wearing a midriff-baring thin cotton blouse, keeps her sunny smile intact for multiple takes of the scene, as Landau's Marshall tenderly talks to her character as a knight would to a regal lady.