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'Anna Nicole' Lifetime biopic breaks ratings records

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The story of Anna Nicole Smith, the Marilyn-Monroe-inspired beauty with a similarly tragic tale roused record ratings for Lifetime’s Saturday night premiere. Though she died in 2007, the former 1993 Playmate of the Year is still captivating crowds.

Anna Nicole averaged averaged 3.3 million total viewers and the Lifetime biopic becomes the year’s number one cable movie premiere among female viewers and adults aged 25-54 and 18-49.

Starring Agnes Bruckner as Smith, Anna Nicole explores the ill-fated star’s trajectory from topless dancer, to millionaire wife, to single mom, and eventual pop cultural fascination. A former 1993 Playmate of the Year, Smith died from an accidental drug overdose in 2007.

The network will re-air Anna Nicole tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

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PopWatch Viewing Party: Lifetime’s ‘Anna Nicole’
‘Anna Nicole’ a ‘new kind’ of Lifetime movie, ‘American Psycho’ director Mary Harron says

'Anna Nicole' a 'new kind' of Lifetime movie, 'American Psycho' director Mary Harron says

It’s no longer shocking when established film directors turn to TV — after all, Martin Scorsese, Jane Campion, and David Fincher have all done it recently to great acclaim.

Still, you may be surprised to learn that Lifetime’s upcoming Anna Nicole Smith biopic was directed by none other than Mary Harron — a filmmaker best known for her wicked work on controversial cult favorites like I Shot Andy Warhol and American Psycho. Thanks in part to Harron’s pedigree, the movie also managed to attract an unusually accomplished cast, including Oscar winner Martin Landau (as Anna Nicole’s wealthy husband J. Howard Marshall), Oscar nominee Virginia Madsen (as Anna’s mother, Virgie), indie stalwart Adam Goldberg (as Anna’s lawyer and companion, Howard K. Stern), and Princess Bride star-turned-character actor Cary Elwes (as J. Howard’s scheming son E. Pierce Marshall).

So how did a movie maverick find herself on the set of a made-for-TV flick about a notorious celebrity train wreck? Easy — the film’s producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Maron, simply called her up and asked if she wanted the job. (Zadan and Maron must have a thing for Marilyn Monroe; their canceled series Smash revolved around a Marilyn musical, while Anna Nicole is peppered with references to Monroe being Smith’s idol.)

“They said they wanted to do a director-driven movie, and that was very interesting,” Harron explained in a phone interview. “And I thought it was interesting to try and do a TV movie that was like a movie-movie, in a way.”

What is it that separates Anna Nicole from a garden-variety Lifetime movie — and why does Harron think we’re still fascinated with Smith’s story, even six years after her death? The answer lies in Anna Nicole‘s unique approach to its subject, according to the director — and the enduring allure of the “beauty queen” story.
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'The Anna Nicole Story' trailer: Pills, booze, and one bummer of a 'Fame' cover -- VIDEO

So, what’s left to say about Anna Nicole Smith? Not a whole lot, according to this new trailer for Lifetime’s upcoming biopic. But if you like seeing a fresh-faced, down-home Texas gal descend into stripping, drug addiction, and dressing up like a Juggalette for some reason, you may as well watch it anyway.

At least the casting’s on point. The movie stars Agnes Bruckner, whom you may remember from Private Practice or Lifetime’s own Craigslist Killer movie, as Anna Nicole (née Vickie Lynn Hogan). Against all odds, its ensemble also includes one Oscar winner (84-year-old Martin Landau as Smith’s tycoon husband J. Howard Marshall), one Oscar nominee (Virginia Madsen as Smith’s mother Virgie), and one Dread Pirate Roberts (Cary Elwes as E. Pierce Marshall, who took Smith to court after his megarich father died). Also, Adam Goldberg’s in it.

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