LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The former boyfriend of Anna Nicole Smith on Thursday denounced a London opera about the dead Playboy model as trashy, and said her estate was considering legal options against the makers.
Larry Birkhead, the father of Smith’s only surviving child Dannielynn, told Reuters that the Royal Opera House had never tried to contact the Anna Nicole estate about the show.
“Anna Nicole”, described by the Royal Opera House as a “celebrity story of our times that includes extreme language, drug abuse and sexual content,” opened in London on Thursday.
Smith, who died of a prescription drug overdose in 2007 at the age of 39, is played by Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek.
Photos of the production show Westbroek flaunting massive breasts and a blonde wig. One scene is said to depict Smith performing a sex act on a character in a wheelchair.
“That lady is no Anna Nicole,” Birkhead said of the soprano. “We are looking at our legal options to see if they misused Anna’s image and likeness. We are going to have the estate attorneys look at what can be done about it.”
The estate of the former model and reality TV star controls the commercial use of her image. It is administered on behalf of her four-year-old daughter Dannielynn, who Birkhead is raising in Los Angeles
Birkhead said he had not seen the opera. But pictures and reports he had seen were upsetting.
“No one ever gave us a chance to respond. They didn’t even ask to check whether history is correct. They could have picked up the phone and called...It is like someone took a bunch of tabloids and threw it at the producers and said, see what you can do with this.”
“They said it was going to be something that was tastefully done. But then they put a trailer out on YouTube that was really kind of trashy and tabloidy,” he added.
Birkhead said he was particularly concerned about the effect of such material on Dannielynn, who he described as the “spitting image” of Anna Nicole and who was beginning to ask questions about her mother.
“One day my daughter is going to see this trash. These aren’t the images you want to relate to your child,” he said.
The opera runs in London for just six performances and the Royal Opera House said earlier this week that it had already sold out.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte