Tag Archives: Anna Nicole Smith

Agnes Bruckner Talks Becoming Anna Nicole

agnes bruckner, martin landau“I was definitely intimidated, nervous and insecure,” admits Agnes Bruckner of taking on the title role in Lifetime’s “Anna Nicole Story,” debuting Saturday, June 29.  “She was so huge and so iconic.  It really freaked me out when I read the script.”

The Hollywood-born actress, best-known up ‘til now for her work in “Private Practice” and films such as the chillers “The Woods,” “Blood and Chocolate” and “The Craigslist Killer,” is used to tomboyish, girl-next-door roles.  Playing the late, larger-than-life sex bomb was a whole different world.  As the doomed centerfold, she is stunning on several levels – particularly appearance.  Becoming Anna Nicole involved as much as four hours in makeup a day.   She had Double D breast prosthetics that were designed by three-time Oscar-winner Greg Cannon of “Mrs. Doubtfire” fame — and took three hours to attach.  Bruckner admits that experience was “freaky.”

Her looks include Anna in her pre-stripper, natural state as Vickie Lynn; Anna the bombshell;  Anna in her Marilyn Monroe-esque mode; and Anna the hot mess.

“My ‘Team Anna’ – they were unbelievable,” Bruckner says.  “The makeup and hair gave me so much more confidence.  They did such an amazing job.  Looking at myself that first day, I could feel myself start to act like her.  I definitely felt a sense of letting go through the shoot.  The biggest challenge for me was letting go and throwing myself into Anna Nicole 100 per cent.  She was so girlie and sexy and had out-of-this-world charisma and energy. There was something about her – you couldn’t take your eyes off her.”

The team had iPads full of images of Anna Nicole at the ready throughout the production.  “We would say, ‘What year was this?  What decade was this?  Was she sober or not?  There was such a visual record, we could keep track of exactly how she looked at a given time.”

Also helpful to Bruckner, “So much of her life is on the internet.  You can find all kinds of interviews and clips.”

According to her, the production team did not get in touch with people who’d been in Anna Nicole’s life for the film.  However, she stresses that the movie, directed by Canadian filmmaker Mary Harron (screenwriter of “American Psycho” and “The Notorious Bettie Page”), does delve into “the very vulnerable side of [Anna] that people don’t know.  People will see how she grew up, her relationship with her mom.  It’s defensive of her,” she believes.

There is a sweetness about Anna Nicole’s relationship with her 89-year-old billionaire oil tycoon husband, J. Howard Marshall (Martin Landau) as depicted in the film.  However, it starts with a sort of teeth-grittingly hilarious sequence that includes the old boy getting his first look at Anna’s outsized breasts in all their unbounded glory and reacting with a joyous awe worthy of walking through Heaven’s Gate.

“Working with Martin Landau was one of the best experiences of my career.  He’s a true gentleman,” notes Bruckner.  “Every time on the set, he would tell stories of the work he’s done.  He’s so amazing.  He brought out the sensitive, loving side of J. Howard.”

For all the brilliant work that went into her look, it’s interesting – but expected – that Bruckner never looks as bad as the real Anna Nicole looked in her worst phases, as she down-spiraled into the horrific pill dependency that would eventually cost her her life.   The inexorable trip toward her disastrous final days is hard to watch.  Bruckner does pull a compelling characterization out of what could have been a complete caricature, something that could easy be overlooked in the media race to utilize every boob pun possible in reference to this movie.

Now Bruckner awaits response to the movie and to her work in it.  She already has another project on the way – her “The Citizen” independent feature has been picked up for distribution.  Carey Elwes, who in “Anna Nicole” plays Marshall’s son, E. Pierce Marshall – the one memorably hell-bent on preventing Anna Nicole from getting a dime of his father’s fortune – also costars in “The Citizen.”  It involves an Arab immigrant who arrives in New York City on September 10, 2001 – “and starts this crazy journey.”  It couldn’t be much crazier than “Anna Nicole’s.”

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Conrad Murray a Scapegoat for Over-Prescribing Doctors, the Face of a Drug Industry Run Amok

Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson

What will be the after-effects of Dr. Conrad Murray being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter this week?  It’s easy to assume that his precipitous fall, from being the King of Pop’s private physician to being a convict, will serve as a warning to other doctors-to-the-stars – but the impact should be broader than that. 

You might believe that Michael Jackson, as extremely troubled as he was indulged, was so many light years away from average citizens that he and his personal Dr. Feelgood have nothing to do with us.  But regular Joes and Janes do have parallels to Jackson:  We live in a culture where pharmaceuticals seem to be offered as solutions to every problem, where they’re widely accepted as Answer No. 1 to whatever ails us. 

Conrad Murray is guilty, true, but he’s a scapegoat for all over-prescribing medicos, too – and the face of a prescription drug industry that’s run rampant for decades, especially since the Food and Drug Administration decided to allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise directly to the public in 1998.   Just two years later, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that every dollar that the pharmaceutical industry spent on advertising yielded $4.20 in drug sales.  The result: drugs hyped to the skies!  Nowhere is the absurdity of it all clearer than in the ongoing assault of hideous drug warnings foisted on the television viewing public day and night.  We’ll turn yellow, constipated and have thoughts of suicide?  Lord have mercy.

As with everything in the U.S.A., celebrities lead the way.  If they can sell handbags and cars by virtue of their glamour and panache, goodness knows they can sell drugs.  Even ones we might not need or that might not be good for us.

 It’s sickening to read the list of drugs to which Jackson was addicted and think about how they affected his body in his last months — and that this isn’t a case of speedballs or other illicit drugs such as killed stars like John Belushi and River Phoenix.  Jackson’s drugs were all legal. 

So were the drugs that took the life of Heath Ledger in 2008.  The 28-year-old died after ingesting a lethal cocktail consisting of: OxyContin; Hydrocodone (an ingredient in Vicodin); Diazepam or Valium;  Alprazolan or Xanax; Temazepam or Restoril (prescribed for  insomnia); and Doxylamine, an antihistamine over-the-counter sleep aid sold in the U.S. as Unisom.

In 2007, a combination of prescription and over-the-counter drugs killed Anna Nicole Smith.  Those included three antidepressant or anti-anxiety drugs, plus a sleep medication.

Dorothy Dandridge, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Keith Moon – they all died from overdoses of legal drugs as well.  (Clint Eastwood’s new “J. Edgar” film starring Leonardo DiCaprio shows that even the iconic FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover had some help from a Dr. Feelgood.  It’s the American way.)

In September 1979, Elvis Presley’s private physician, Dr. George Nichopoulos, was charged by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners with “indiscriminately prescribing 5,300 pills and vials for Elvis in the seven months before his death.” He was later acquitted. 

But not Conrad Murray.

Why might this case make more of an impact on society than other similar cases? 

Because it comes at a time when Americans may be reaching a tipping point of annoyance with the overselling of drugs – drugs many can’t afford.  It’s not the array of life-saving modern miracle medications that has people complaining, let’s be clear.  It’s the obvious excesses.  Restless legs and four-hour erections and other problems the public didn’t seem to have a decade ago tell the tale.  Doctors have volunteered that these days, they find themselves talking patients out of medications they’ve seen on TV that aren’t appropriate for them.   A public clamor for change could force advertisers to reach out to consumers in a more conscientious way – less offensive, ridiculous and manipulative.  Prescription medication shouldn’t be treated like magic candy that can make it all better. 

Which brings us back to Michael Jackson.  Sadly, he seems to have thought exactly that.