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Joan Allen to star in TV movie 'Georgia O'Keeffe'

November 6, 2008 |  3:53 pm

Georgia O'Keeffe in undated photo After presenting a TV movie about famed fashion designer Coco Chanel in September, Lifetime Television said today that it was embarking on another biographical film: "Georgia O'Keeffe."

The drama will chronicle "the turbulent, 20-year love affair between celebrated artist Georgia O'Keeffe and photographer Alfred Steiglitz," the cable channel said.

The movie, intended for telecast next fall, will star Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons. Bob Balaban will direct from a script by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Michael Cristofer ("The Shadow Box").

Despite the prestigious creative team, don't set your hopes too high about seeing a penetrating portrait of the artist at work. This is Lifetime, after all, a channel that targets female viewers the same way Procter & Gamble does: with soap.

In her review of "Coco Chanel" (which starred Shirley MacLaine), Times television critic Mary McNamara fumed, "A little whitewashing is forgivable in a biopic, but to make a movie about the most influential figure in fashion history in which she spends more time moping around about her boyfriends than she does designing clothes is infuriating. The contestants on 'Project Runway' are taken more seriously as artists than Chanel is here."

And the warning signs are right here in Lifetime's press release about the O'Keeffe-Steiglitz plot: "Their working relationship evolves as they fall deeply in love and Alfred eventually leaves his wife for Georgia. She soon becomes a rising star who is poised to eclipse Alfred's light. As their relationship suffers, Alfred finds twisted ways to emotionally wound her, including taking a younger lover."

Still, with Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons, we can hope, can't we?

--Lee Margulies

Photo: Georgia O'Keeffe. Credit: Associated Press