Next Action Star 6/30/04 Recap: Nothing Wrong with a Little Bump & Grind?
Welcome back to Next Action Star, everyone! It seems so long ago since we last watched this show, huh? By the way, don’t be put off by the title. This recap will most assuredly not be filled with R. Kelly jokes. Actually, I’m so tragically un-hip, I don’t even know any R. Kelly jokes, and I’m certainly not wasting any time making one up. No, I promise you a tasteful, family-friendly recap. I merely want to fill you up. I mean, IN! Fill you IN! *Ahem* So, let’s see what our favorite aspiring stars are up to this episode. . . .
The show opens to a shot of this week’s screen test set. The scene is entitled “Leap of Faith,” and it is a bizarre amalgam of passionate lurvin’ and jumping from high places. Hey, actors need to be versatile, you know. The debriefing from our unknown deep-voiced color commentator is as follows: “Twelve contestants go undercover in a witness protection program that heats up their first love scene. When an intruder interrupts, the lovers are forced to make a daring escape, where the only way out is down. Will they be able to take the Leap of Faith?”
Seventy-two hours before the screen test, the contestants are chillin’, and many are seen working out. The mansion is oddly quiet and peaceful. A sense of euphoric harmony seems to radiate from the very house. I wonder why this is? We learn that the contestants are pretty much a big, happy family right now, but are still scoping out the competition.
High-fall training is their first assignment of the week, so they meet with resident stunt expert Kurt Bryant to learn the ropes from the pros. The contestants make their way up to a second story rooftop, and Kurt calls for his sidekick Brett Jones to demonstrate to the contestants how to jump. “Hey, Brett!” Well, Brett arrives, all right. From overhead, via three stories of thin air. The contestant’s jaws collectively drop, and Harold (aka “House”) grins, “Why’d they bring me here?” John, who we learn has a great fear of heights, looks totally petrified and dangerously queasy.
The contestants start small, sort of “hopping” a few feet down and landing on a Lilliputian mattress on their back. By the end of the day, the Brobdingnagian air cushion for the big-time jumps has been inflated, and the contestants begin to get a little nervous. Kurt informs them that it’s time for none other than the NetZero challenge, which is pretty simple this week. He will walk the contestants to the ledge and give them 15 seconds to decide whether they will jump or not. Somere explains that if the contestants are not comfortable with jumping, they absolutely do not have to do so. She adds that after all the training, if they aren’t comfortable by now, it’s psychological.
First up is Mélisande, who shows little hesitation, leaps, and lands with a *poof* on the cushion. Jeanne follows suit, but House, Somere, and Greg all politely decline, with Greg happily chicken-dancing his way off-screen. Sean, Corinne, and Linda all take the plummet, and John is up next. Everyone wonders if their intensely acrophobic friend can do it as he crouches, contemplating whether he’d like to possibly turn into an accordion today. Finally, he steps up, frees his mind (because it’s all psychological, you know), and, yes!--executes a brilliant jump . . . in slow motion, even! The other contestants go wild in support, and he’s showered with hugs from everybody. John describes the experience as “indescribable.” What . . . the jump, or getting hugged and adored by all the girls?
We Need Some Fast Fashion
A crackly-voiced “Helloooooooo!” greets the gang’s return to the mansion. It’s <s>Morticia</s> Brenda Cooper, the show’s resident fashion maven. The contestants have previously <s>suffered through</s> enjoyed a makeover, and now it’s time to pick out their action-packed clothing. Pay close attention, now. We’re going to find out what “action-packed clothing” really entails. The ladies and guys head to separate rooms and begin trying on their clothes. Pay closer attention, now. Corinne is not comfortable with exposing herself on national TV. Linda has no such qualms and rather enjoys displaying her ‘wears. Corinne can’t seem to find any clothes that she likes. As Linda bluntly puts it, Corinne thinks of herself as having a big butt. Brenda says that Corinne was “a challenge.” Polite way of saying, not only does she have a big butt, but she was a big pain in the butt. Who knows if any clothes actually got picked out?
So That’s What the Kids Call it These Days. “Improv.”
So, after jumping out of buildings on one day, we return to the mansion only to discover the living room has been turned into a boudoir! Yeah, I know . . . the natural progression of things, right? It’s decked out, too. We have the flame-red pillows, candles, some weird pink lights, and, on an ironic note, the Calla Lilies that, yesterday, made their stunning show debut in the kitchen.
Acting coach Howard Fine has dropped by for a house call, and today the contestants will be exploring another intimacy exercise . . . this time with a playing field, if you will. The groping we saw the other day was nothing . . . we now have *R-rated* training! Shield thine eyes, children!
Corinne, who wouldn’t be seen in lingerie on camera while they were trying on clothes, is horrified when she sees the set-up. She’d rather be falling out of buildings, shooting assault rifles, and generally kicking @$$. The weird “heartbeat-esque” music comes on, and Mr. Fine is ready to begin. I’m not saying anything, but Mr. Fine seems to really dig this whole “intimacy” thing. House jokes that Howard probably got his start directing X-rated videos, or something. He assures the contestants that it’s ok if they feel nervous, and they are going to be very careful to make sure everyone is comfortable and no one is forced to do anything they’re not comfortable with. He stresses that they are acting, and this is not the time to try to realize your fantasies.
The contestants are paired up randomly, and off they go. I, personally, have a dilemma here while watching the show. Should I keep taking notes for the recap or simply sit back and take note? Linda and Greg are up first, and they do not make a very good couple. Neither one really even wants to kiss the other. Corinne cringes, watching, and covers her face. Somere and John are next. Corinne buries her head into her arms. Mae enjoys House a little too much, I think. Corinne rocks nervously back and forth. Jared and Jeanne work up a sweat (yeah, I wish I were exaggerating) and were very good at acting. Now, it’s time for Sean and Corinne to do their thang. Poor Corinne is shaking and hurls herself from the bed, looking as though she is going to hurl, and bolts to the bathroom. After she has a little comforting from Mélisande, Mr. Fine comes and talks with her, reassuring her that nothing will happen that she isn’t comfortable with. After all, they aren’t really going to have sex on national TV. After the pep talk, she participates in the exercise despite her extreme nervousness. Sean, meanwhile, says he’s sure that Corinne’s reservations have nothing to do with him. Whatever, big stud.
When the exercise is finished, Mr. Fine awards this week’s casting cards. The first goes to Jared, for his “incredible improv skills.” Jared looks more surprised than everyone else when this was announced. He was probably insulted because he wasn’t really trying to “improv” and was totally in his comfort zone. The other he gives to Corinne, for going well past her comfort zone.
A Night Like This
Our favorite host-lady, Tina Malave, arrives to announce the screen test partners. The two holders of the casting cards pick their partners first, with Jared choosing Mélisande and Corinne choosing House. The other pairings, chosen by Mr. Fine, are: Sean/ Linda, Greg/ Somere, John/Mae, and Mark/Jeanne. He explains that he believes the duos will show good compatibility and balance. Unfortunately, Mark and Jeanne do not work together well, and they are not too pleased to be paired up again.
To relax a bit, the contestants now get to enjoy a romantic, vespertine dinner together, with the ladies choosing which man they would like to accompany them. Most simply enjoy one another’s company, but Sean insists that he and Linda work on their lines again. What a hot date! Jared and Mélisande are being very friendly, and everyone in the mansion suspects there may be an attraction, with a little action, there. Jared admits that he really likes Mélisande and would probably pursue a relationship with her, if not for clichéd “girlfriend back home that he’s not thinking about too much.” At 10:37, the contestants learn of an unexpected twist . . . there has been a last-minute script change for tomorrow’s screen test! Jared and Mélisande rush off immediately to practice. *nudge nudge, wink wink*
Reach Out, Touch Faith
The next morning, the contestants rise early and head off for the big screen test day. Everyone is extremely nervous and slightly uncomfortable about filming the love scenes, except perhaps Linda, the expert of all things sexual. Greg, on the other hand, is uncomfortable about having to wear a pair of very skimpy underwear. I don’t blame him one bit. Director Gerry Lively, back again for this scene, waxes poetic and recommends that “while fear is normally the destroyer of all creative process,” the contestants should let fear work in their favor for this scene. That’s very philosophical, but the fear I have for Greg’s underwear is so paralyzing, I don’t think anything artistic could ever come out of it.
After getting their hair and make-up done, they are ready to go, starting with Corinne and House. They don’t do a bad job at all, surprisingly. Corinne seems to have found her “zone.” (No, not that way, you freaks!) Greg and Somere do a pretty good job, as well. Jared and Mélisande, well practiced at this sort of thing, do a great job. John and Mae also turn in a great performance. We even get to see their high jump segment, so I don’t feel quite as perverted evaluating their “performance.” Finally, we come to Mark and Jeanne. Will they be able to overcome their differences and tear the roof off the mutha, sucka? Why, no. The lighter/detonator device which blows up the apartment at the end of the scene somehow finds its way from Mark’s hand to the floor at one terribly obvious point. Jeanne claims that he dropped it, while Mark says she knocked it out of his hand. He said she said I said we said. Whom are you going to believe?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . . er . . . house, Mark, Sean, and John are sipping a few cold ones and talking about the day. They are disappointed that they didn’t get a run-through before the shoot, and felt stressed with so much pressure on them. Mark says that acting shouldn’t have to be a competition, but in this case, it is. Uh . . . news flash, buddy. Acting is ALWAYS going to be a competition, even if it’s unspoken. Think about it. Without such expectations and wheat-from-chaff deliberation, we could have ended up with Paulie Shore in “Lord of the Rings.” As Gandalf. Thank you, Victoria Burrows!
No Distance Left to Run
We come back to the ominous, very Illuminati-looking twin buildings, where our three judges apparently are waiting and ready to evaluate the screen test performances. We get to see another spliced-together video of all the screen tests, which is kind of interesting to watch. It’s interesting when things happen such as Jared suddenly turning into John, or--even better--John turning into Jeanne. The scene is not quite as cool as last week’s, and the special effects are not very good at all—there is a very fake-looking CGI explosion at the end. Nevertheless, we’re here to evaluate the actors, so I should just shut my mouth. Once again, the judges never really agree on anything, except for John and Mae, who are a rare, unanimous “good!”
Under the eldritch light of the quarter-moon, the contestants gather for the call-backs. Twelve will become ten, and the two to go are . . . Greg and Somere! That’s right, Mark and Jeanne survived their second scene by the skins of their respective teeth. There are a few minutes to say good-bye, and that is that. Greg and Somere are disappointed, yet optimistic for their futures and grateful for their experience on the show. That’s a wrap for this week, folks! Be sure to tune in next time, now airing on Wednesdays, as the potential action stars practice the fine art of the “high speed chase,” tempers flare, and a special guest drops by the mansion. Hint: It’s someone they say is “hot.” But she’s not.
You may contact the author of this recap at email@example.com, but don’t bug him while he’s practicing improv.