Put her in a cascading wig of long blonde hair, get her to lower her voice to sound like an Italian-accented bassoon, and you have Donatella Versace.
Gershon plays the fashion legend, who survived the murder of her brother, Gianni, and a visit to rehab, in the Lifetime movie House of Versace, premiering Saturday, Oct. 5, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
It's a very silly little movie, but Gershon is wonderfully flamboyant as she stalks and totters around Milan in high shoes. And the script ladles out (practically into her lap) one pleasurable campy scene after another.
By the end, we have seen every possible facet of Donatella. Maybe even too many.
Wisdom! Selecting a pair of shoes from her enormous closet before going out for the evening, Donatella tells daughter Allegra: "The right attitude and dress can make any woman feel beautiful. Think – Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Josephine Bonaparte, all of them had such confidence in their style. They understood their power. Always lead, darling, never follow!"
Wit! At the end of a fashion shoot, during which she is enthusiastic and carefree – "You're having nice sex," she shouts to the models in encouragement. "Hah!" – she offers the photographer cocaine. "Ladies first," he says, deferring to her. Donatella: "You could always call me first, but 'lady's' overrated, huh?"
Command! In the showroom, she instructs her head seamstress about what she wants in a new design: "It's got to have a split up the thigh, hmm? And I want it in black and persimmon and canary yellow." The seamstress asks, "Are you sure?" Donatella's only answer is a deadpan, dead-eyed "Did I stutter?"
Nostalgia and regret! Watching a news clip of the late Princess Diana, a drunken Donatella blames the paparazzi for her death: "They're lying stupid filthy lying PIGS!" But then she spots Diana in a Versace dress. "Oh, look," she coos. "Oh, it's the blue gowwwwwwn. Oh, remember that gown? We sent her that gown after her divorce. Oh, she loved it. Oh, she said she danced all night in it. La la da da –" Then Donatella accidentally shatters her champagne glass. "Oy!" At which point she goes all hysterical.
Fire! Early in the movie, she and brother Gianni (Enrico Colantoni, Veronica Mars's dad) argue over whether she's trying to steal his spotlight. "If I hadn't quit school to come to help you," she tells him, "you would be Gianni Versace, the best-dressed costumer at the opera house in Reggio Calabria!"
I'm going to use that one.
Defiance! When creditors threaten to take over and tell Donatella that she'll henceforth be kept on a "very, very short leash," she counters that she still controls more than half the company. Then she snarls: "So if you're going to put me on a leash, it better be diamond-studded or you can kiss my ass!"
But you'll have your own favorites.