A scene from "Addicted to Fame." (Handout )
The well-crafted documentary "Addicted to Fame" covers several turbulent years around the making of 2007's "Illegal Aliens," a low-budget, B-movie flop that starred the late Anna Nicole Smith.
"Addicted," written, directed and edited by David Giancola, who was also the ill-fated director and an executive producer (along with former "Dynasty" actor John James) of "Illegal Aliens," charts how the notoriously flighty Smith's involvement both unexpectedly propelled and severely burdened the sci-fi spoof.
Soon after "Aliens" wrapped, an increasingly dark media frenzy exploded over a succession of Smith-related incidents: the federal court case surrounding her late billionaire husband's estate, the who's-her-daddy birth of daughter Dannielynn, the mysterious death of son Daniel and, finally, Smith's own untimely demise from a prescription drug overdose.
It all became a P.R. nightmare for the campy movie, whose best shot at distribution largely hinged on Smith's appearance in it.
Despite a Cannes Film Festival premiere, "Aliens," which one Internet reviewer pithily called "craptastic," ultimately bypassed theaters for an underwhelming DVD release. The previously prolific--and seemingly resourceful--Giancola now manages a car rental agency.
Featuring scads of behind-the-scenes footage of "Aliens'" fraught production exposing Smith at her loopiest, candid bits with Giancola, James and the film's cast (which included ex-pro wrestler Joanie "Chyna" Laurer) and a barrage of lurid media clips, "Addicted" proves a strangely sad yet wildly compelling cautionary tale.
"Addicted to Fame." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.