The remarkable life and tragic death of Marilyn Monroe has fascinated film fans for decades, but this two-part TV miniseries, based on a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, takes an unusual approach, using dramatic license (the film announces itself as a work of fiction using the names of real people) to look inside the minds of Monroe and those around her to ponder the circumstances of her rise and fall. Young Norma Jeane Baker (Skye McCole Bartusiak) is raised by single mother Gladys (Patricia Richardson), who is unstable, uncaring, and poorly equipped to deal with the responsibilities of parenthood. As Norma Jeane grows up without a father and with little affection from her mother, she suffers from a poor self-image and craves attention; when she grows into a beautiful young woman who is unusually attractive to men, she falls into a number of romances and a short-lived marriage in search of the approval she needs so desperately. When Norma Jeane (now played by Poppy Montgomery) turns 20, she meets a photographer, Otto (Eric Bogosian), who sees star potential in her beauty. Otto's cheesecake pictures catch the eye of I.E. Shinn (Wallace Shawn), an agent who in turned introduces her to Mr. R (Richard Roxburgh), the head of a movie studio, who offers to make Norma Jeane a star -- if she would be willing to have sex with him. Norma Jeane unenthusiastically agrees, and Mr. R proves good to his word; renamed Marilyn, she becomes an major film star and an international sex symbol. But the adulation proves to be a poor substitute for the love she craves, and as she falls into relationships with any man who treats her with a modicum of respect -- including a famous baseball player (Titus Welliver) and an acclaimed author (Griffin Dunne) -- her life begins to spiral out of control. Blonde also stars Ann-Margret, Kirstie Alley, and Patrick Dempsey; the series first aired May 13 and May 16, 2001, on the CBS television network.