In MARILYN, a four-hour miniseries based on J. Randy Taraborrelli’s book, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, Susan Sarandon will portray the blonde bombshell’s mentally ill mother, Gladys Mortenson.
The character is described as a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, who is the product of a mother who committed suicide as a result of her own mental illness, and a father who died of syphilitic insanity. Frequently delusional, sometimes violent, Gladys was sexually adventurous in her youth but taught her daughter that sex should be avoided at all costs. Deeply devoted to Christian Science, she urges Marilyn to reject her reliance on drugs and that her salvation will be achieved by returning to the tenets of the faith. (The role of Monroe has not yet been cast.)
24 and The Kennedys’ Stephen Kronish is on board to pen the mini, with Sherrybaby’s Laurie Collyer attached to direct the Marilyn Monroe entry.
Here’s Lifetime’s official description of the mini: “Marilyn is both the personification of sex, whose first marriage ironically collapses because of her frigidity, and a fragile artist who seeks the approval and protection of men. But after tumultuous marriages with Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, she realizes she has the strength to stand on her own. She becomes the face and voice of an era, yet wants most of all to be someone’s mother and someone’s little girl. She’s the Marilyn you haven’t seen before, the artist who, by masking the truth with an image, gives her greatest performance.
The mini hails from Asylum Entertainment, the production company behind Lifetime’s June Carter Cash biopic Ring of Fire as well as Reelz Channel’s ratings hit The Kennedys.
Asylum’s Jonathan Koch and Steven Michaels will exec produce alongside Kronish and Keri Selig. Selig is attached to exec produce Reelz’s Kennedys follow-up, After Camelot, which, like Marilyn, was based on a book by Taraborrelli.
Taraborrelli’s book is considered the most definitive Monroe biography. Published in 2010, the title explored the actress/pin-up girl’s relationship with her mentally ill mother, her foster mother and her legal guardian as well as Monroe’s own mental illness and her relationships with her family and the Kennedys.
For Sarandon, the casting comes as the Dead Man Walking Oscar winner has been pushing further in to TV. The actress last year teamed with her daughter, Eva Amurri Martino, for a mother-daughter comedy that was set up at NBC. Her recent small-screen credits include arcs on CBS’ Mike & Molly and Showtime’s The Big C. She earned Emmy nominations for her roles in HBO’s TV movie You Don’t Know Jack and mini Bernard and Doris as well as for her guest roles on Malcolm in the Middle and Friends. She’s repped by UTA.
Marilyn will premiere in 2015.