Synopsis by Hal Erickson
More tabloid filmmaking from the team responsible for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, this 75-minute cable documentary profiles America's favorite model turned-gold digger-turned-TV "star" Anna Nicole Smith. Launching her career as a centerfold model, the Texas-born Smith quickly rises to superstardom as a fashion model, catching the eye of much-older billionaire J. Howard Marshall. Her subsequent marriage to Marshall, who, upon his death, leaves her virtually his entire fortune, enrages the man's family, sparking a lawsuit over Smith's inheritance, although she ultimately emerges triumphant. Unfortunately, our heroine is not so successful in battling her twin demons of alcohol and drugs. To the amazement of everyone in the universe, a blowzy but unbowed Smith parlays her notoriety into one of cable TV's most successful reality series. While the basic visceral attraction of Dark Roots is obvious, the film has its poignant moments, especially when interviewing the people of Mexia, TX, who knew Smith before she was Anna Nicole. (The subject of the film is, perhaps significantly, never interviewed.) The documentary was originally broadcast over the Showtime cable network.