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When Lifetime isn’t busy spinning adaptations out of unexpected books, they’re busy trying to corner the market on the “dead celebrity biopic.” For their next trip into the celeb-macabre, the network is turning to actress Brittany Murphy, who passed away in 2009. She’s the subject of the TV movie The Brittany Murphy Story, the first scripted project looking back at the performer’s life, and it’s already set to make its debut on Saturday, September 6.
Taking on the title role is Last Man Standing star Amanda Fuller, who doesn’t really look like Murphy at all, but that’s not always the point with these things. The movie will head back into Murphy’s past to chronicle her younger years, as her mother Sharon Murphy tried to turn her into a star back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, resulting in a role on the TV show Drexell’s Class and her breakout role in 1995’s Clueless. (Sharon will be played by Twin Peaks star Sherilyn Fenn.) From there, Murphy’s career took her to new heights in films like Girl, Interrupted, 8 Mile and Sin City, and she voiced daughter Luanne on Fox’s long-running animated series King of the Hill.
To be expected, the subject matter will indeed move forward up to her pneumonia-related death in December 2009, and even beyond, as it will touch upon the later days when rumors were floating around that Murphy’s death wasn’t just accidental. Five months after Murphy died, her widower Simon Monjack also died of pneumonia and anemia-related symptoms, causing reports to fly that mold and possibly poisoning were involved in the couple’s deaths. No criminal or negligent behavior was ever officially recognized, so there’s not much controversy there now.
For the record, THR reports that Lifetime has not divulged their sources for the movie’s script. A spokesperson for Sharon Murphy said the production happened without her consultation and she played no part in the proceedings. Always a good sign of well-rounded Lifetime journalism.
Fuller, meanwhile, has been all over TV in her 30-odd years of life, with appearances on everything from Malcolm in the Middle to the Dragnet reboot to Grey’s Anatomy. Her film career leans toward the shadowy side, with recent roles in the high-stakes dark comedy thriller Cheap Thrills and the Hollywood horror Starry Eyes. She’ll soon be seen in Jon Mayfield’s angels-on-Earth horror Stalker.
The Brittany Murphy Story, which somehow is hitting airwaves just five months after Murphy’s last movie Something Wicked was finally released, is the latest in a line of deceased celebrity movies. It’s actually airing before both I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story and its Aaliyah biopic, both of which were in development for a while.
Find The Brittany Murphy Story on Lifetime on Saturday, September 6.