Larry Birkhead: 'Anna Nicole' Opera is 'Trashy and Tabloidy'
Anna Nicole Smith's former boyfriend Larry Birkhead intends to take legal action against Anna Nicole, the London opera based on Smith's troubled life in the spotlight.
"That lady is no Anna Nicole," Birkhead told Reuters in reference to the soprano who plays Smith, Eva-Maria Westbroek. "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 Anna Nicole estate manages the commercial use of the socialite's image on behalf of her only surviving child, four-year-old Dannielynn.
Anna Nicole, which opened at London's Royal Opera House on Thursday, is described by its producers as a "celebrity story of our times that includes extreme language, drug abuse and sexual content." Previews show Westbroak wearing a blonde wig and flashing her breasts, and one scene reportedly shows her performing a sex act on a character in a wheelchair.
Although Birkhead hasn't watched the opera, he called it "trashy and tabloidy" based on what he saw in pictures and reports and accused the show of leaving him out of the loop entirely.
"No one ever gave us a chance to respond," he said. "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.'"
Birkhead has been raising Dannielynn in Los Angeles since Smith died of a prescription drug overdose in 2007. He says his main concern is how the racy content of the opera will affect her.
"One day my daughter is going to see this trash. These aren't the images you want to relate to your child."
The Royal Opera House declined to comment on Birkhead's accusations but addressed the issue indirectly in a statement following the show's opening.
"The opera was inspired by a true story, some characters have been invented, some events imagined or changed," said Elaine Padmore, director of the Royal Opera House. "There are no images of the real Anna Nicole Smith in any aspect of the production or its marketing."