Greetings and welcome back to the Next Action Star! On the previous episode, we saw the contestants in action for their first screen test, and ten were eliminated. Tonight, the remaining twenty will compete for a spot in the Action Star Mansion, and six more shall be sent packing! *Ominous music* So, let us see what Viviana and the gang are up to tonight. . . .
It's Time to Meet the New You
We are immediately assaulted by images of the top twenty, all telling us in a blur how much they love competition and how this is their big moment. Don't mess with them. That's right--this is the singularly most important, most stressful, and most "everything's-on-the-line" moment of your very lives. Until next week. We gracefully fall out of this sequence and land in a room of the Argyle Hotel, filled with poofy-looking blocks that must be chairs. It is 7:00 A.M., and the contestants are filing in for their next debriefing with host Tina Malave. "Some of you may recognize the lovely lady next to me," she begins. Ooh . . . pick me! Pick me! It's Morticia Adams, right? No? Blast. Actually, this is Brenda Cooper, from E's Fashion Emergency or some such thing. It is her job to turn these potential stars into *stahs.* "Which," Brenda tells them, "might mean some major changes for some of you." Nervous laughter scatters across the room.
Of course, Viviana and Brenda hit it off immediately. Brenda tells Viviana to stop inexplicably . . . um . . . adjusting herself, and they eventually argue about Viv's blue contacts versus her natural brown eyes. Apparently, Viviana is all about dark hair and blue eyes and that she "has them upstairs." Insert your own cheesy joke about keeping a spare set of eyeballs in a jar here. Brenda says that Viviana can't love them more than what she was born with, and that's that. Before the stars head off to become fabulous, however, they get their scene partner assignments:
Sean/Linda, John/Corinne, Jared/Mélisande, Mark/Jeanne, Harold/Viviana, Greg/Michelle, Todd/Laura, Santino/Mae, Young/Krista, Matt M./Somere
In the Lap of the Gods
After a brief round of applause, Brenda (who claps oddly like a seal) rallies the troops, and they head off to the Privé Ona Salon to become absolutely fabulous. What is this? America's Next Top Model? Harold ("House") tells us that they're going to change a lot of peoples' images and give them a sense of Hollywood. This salon looks pretty typical to me . . . but I might not be the best person to ask about salons across America. The owner has a German accent, and decides that John's hair would look better short, and Matt is going to look like "Jems Den."
The owner and other stylists immediately decide to give Linda blonde hair, which is slightly scary to her--she's never had any desire to go blonde. Mae, similarly, is hesitant about getting her hair cut shorter. Viviana seems to hover about, watching everybody else, but someone eventually must snag her and put her in a chair. She tells us that she was not pretty as a kid, so she felt as though she had to make herself pretty. Who's betting that the stylists will have slightly different ideas about the word "pretty"?
The guys, meanwhile, are doing a good job of not running away and screaming at the first sight of a curling iron. Sean slaps on a brave grin and reveals that, as much as he wants to be a manly man, hair and makeup are a part of the business. He then apologizes on camera to his dad, tongue planted firmly in cheek. I'm wondering what kind of makeover House will receive, for what can you really do to a bald guy? As it turns out, he will soon suffer a close encounter with an insidious medieval torture device: eyebrow-pluckers. He doesn't look overly enthused and jokes that his mama's watching this on TV, and they should go look at somebody else for a while. Finally, one of his hairs is plucked, and he lets out a "yeeeeow!" heard 'round the world. Followed by something that sounds like "What the John F. Kennedy!?" Can he ever regain his street cred after this? Stay tuned.
Many of the already beautified contestants take the opportunity to start practicing the scenes with their partners. Viviana sits alone in a hair-dryer chair and over-dramatically whimpers through her lines. What's the point of all this glamorizing if it isn't captured? It's time for a photo shoot. Most of them look very good and begin practicing their best smoldering "looks" at the camera. *I call this one . . . La tigra!* Just about everyone is very pleased with their new look, including Mae and Linda. However, Todd thinks his new blonde hair is a bit much, and Viviana pouts that she's gone from an "exotic bird to a lookalike wannabe Salma Hayek." Ha! Sell-out. It is now 11:00 P.M., (that's a darned long time to be stuck in a salon) and Brenda rounds them all up again. The contestants now get to go have a nice dinner, but, as Brenda reminds them in her rather crackly voice, they have a very early call tomorrow morning.
Nothing too Dry, or too Sweet, or too Dramatic, Please
We segue via flashing images of Hollywood and a suddenly funky, Fishbone-influenced turn in the soundtrack to find the contestants at the Hollywood Canteen. Jared tells us that he and some of the more convivial contestants were just hanging out and relaxing after the long day, while others continued to rehearse their scenes. Viviana has dragged House into a trailer-like thing in the back of the restaurant for additional practice. Now, House is clearly quite tired, and is "reading" his lines in a drunken redneck voice, ad-libbing generously, and just goofing off and being quite funny in general. Well . . . we all know that Viviana isn't one to goof around. House has given Viviana a nickname, he tells us in a confessional. "D.Q.. That's not dairy queen, it's drama queen." Viviana, meanwhile, tells us something about her feeling threatened when people don't respect her. "Please don't disrespect me. If you don't respect me, I'll become your worst nightmare." Um, Viv, I think you're quite possibly everyone's worst nightmare, already.
It's Not Just Groping Anymore
The contestants groggily roll out of bed the next morning around 5:00 A.M. and begin getting ready for the day. Remember, this is boot camp. Many have only had two hours of sleep. Viviana continues practicing, repeating the line, "Oh my God . . . Payton" over and over while she applies mascara that, no doubt, will soon be running down her face.
Today, the contestants are going to Howard Fine Acting Studio, where they will receive coaching on their scenes from . . . Howard Fine, himself! Many of the contestants begin chattering to one another excitedly, but Greg has no clue who Howard Fine is, nor do I. Tina Malave, luckily, explains to both of us that Howard Fine is one of the premier acting coaches in the industry and has worked with the likes of Brad Pitt and Salma Hayek. Greg is now very excited to take in all the help and advice that Mr. Fine can give them, and I am excited to see if he will mistake Viviana for his former student.
Mr. Fine arrives to a standing ovation from the contestants and greets them warmly, joking that he usually doesn't receive a standing ovation from his classes. It's right down to work as Mr. Fine begins discussing the finer acting methods and philosophies behind them. Viviana quickly raises her hand with a question. She begins debating acting schools with him, throwing out names like Lee Strasberg and babbling on about . . . something, I'm sure. Mr. Fine is not fine with the interruption. The other contestants are inwardly groaning, and Mr. Fine probably pleases everyone when he firmly lays the smackdown, saying that she has some very interesting and quite terrible misconceptions, but he'll knock them out of her by the end of the day. He further goes on to silence her every time she tries to interrupt. Exotic bird has had her wings clipped.
After all the discussion, the contestants begin an "intimacy exercise" to help with their scene. Jared explains this to us far better than I possibly could, so I'll just use his words: ". . . it basically involved . . . touching. Which is not just groping, ladies and gentlemen. This is serious acting stuff. *pause* Okay, so it's groping. But it's also serious acting stuff." Everyone seems to rather enjoy this exercise and say they learned a lot to apply to their scene. Except, of course, Viviana, who was unhappy because she didn't get many compliments. She didn't like the response she got from her classmates, either. "It's like they weren't liking me," she says. Hmm. . . .
I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up
Finally, my friends, it is time for the next screen test, entitled "Trapped." The pairs are playing a newlywed couple whose house is hit by an earthquake and must spend a last moment together, as one of them has just been squished by what appears to be a table. It's really quite sad, but I still have House's dying redneck ringing in my ears. Forgive my puerile irreverence. Maybe the contestants can make me feel bad if they act really well.
First up is Greg and Michelle. They do a fairly good job, but the judges aren't jumping up and down for joy. Next is Santino and Mae. They seem to do pretty well to me, and the judges are divided as usual. Mae wonders, however, why Santino resisted her kiss at the end of the scene. Well, duh! Santino knows what "black widows" do to their mates! Next is Jared and Mélisande, who do an exceptional job. Jared looks as though he's truly dying and in great pain, though he's playing next to the girl he says is "really hot." No easy feat, you know!
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, for we now come to Todd and Laura. This pair is simply horrible. Both of them sort of "croak" out their lines, and the judges are definitely unimpressed. Linda and Sean turn things around with another great performance, followed by Young and Krista. This pair really worked well together while they were rehearsing and seemed quite close to one another, but their performance is mediocre. In the Matt/Somere duo, Somere definitely steals the judges' attention, while Matt's dialog seemed forced.
At last, we come to the moment everyone's been waiting for. . . . Not really. It's Viviana and House's turn, and Viviana makes her usual grand entrance, half tripping-half sliding in on her backside. House, being 1. dying and 2. in a scene with Viviana doesn't have to do too much. As the grand finale, Viviana plants a huge kiss on his lips. "He's alive again!" proclaims Greg from the Green Room. The judges, of course, are impressed, just to spite me. Bah. So, who could possibly top this fine penultimate performance? It's up to Mark and Jeanne, who let me down and just do an okay job. Nothing to write home about, though the judges seemed impressed with Jeanne. With that, the curtain falls on "Trapped."
So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday
The contestants file into the room filled with director's chairs to hear the results. Everyone is being pretty humble at this point, with no one really feeling great about their auditions. Except, of course, Viviana, the great exception to everything. She promises that she won't cry tonight, but they will cry if she doesn't get into that chair.
Tonight, six will be sent home, while the remaining fourteen will move into the Next Action Star Mansion and commence living the life of an action star. Swimming pools, movie stars, fast cars, cheap women, and probably even cheaper guys. Now that you've got that lovely image in your head, it's time for Tina to reveal the results. Receiving the requisite scripts are: Sean, Somere, Jared (bafflingly clad in a frilly ruffled shirt), Corinne, House, Linda, Greg, Mélisande, John, Mae, Santino, and . . . Viviana. Sur-prise.
We are at the point where two scripts remain--one going to a man and one to a woman. Once again, you can cut the tension in the room with a knife. The lucky guy is . . . Mark! The lucky gal is . . . Jeanne! Those eliminated are: Young, Krista, Matt M., Michelle, Laura, and Todd. And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the Next Action Star finalists. Everyone gets a few moments to say good-bye, and the closing image of L.A. by night fades to white.
Next week: Still more explosions, weapons training, lifestyles of the rich and almost-famous, and Viviana falls down, yet again--but this time, with a loaded assault rifle in hand. We also encounter our first twist. . . . Someone. Walks. Out!
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