Building on the precedent established by The Anna Nicole Story, (and following the announcements of similar movies for Whitney Houston and Aaliyah), Lifetime will air a biopic based on the short, sad life of actress Brittany Murphy, who died five years ago this December at the age of 32. Titled The Brittany Murphy Story, the TV movie will premiere on Saturday, September 6, then be played once every six hours after that. Last Man Standing’s Amanda Fuller plays the doomed starlet, with Sherilyn Fenn as her pushy stage mother Sharon.
When a life tragically cut short like Murphy’s is mined for something so vulgar as a TV movie, everyone’s first concern is that the protagonist will be exploited and their legacy ruined for the sake of ratings. But what’s most likely to happen is that, like The Anna Nicole Story, the movie will be carefully calculated to be a sympathetic portrait rather than a muckracking tell-all, rendering it dramatically lifeless. Because if the director of American Psycho couldn’t turn Anna Nicole Smith’s crazy tabloid life into compelling television, what hope do the rest of us have?