Season Premiere Recap: The Crying Game
Welcome to “The Starlet”, the WB’s American Idol-esque competition for aspiring actresses. Ten young women were selected from thousands who auditioned for a spot to compete for a talent deal with the WB, a one-year management contract with 3 Arts Entertainment, and a “career-launching” role on the network’s One Tree Hill. The ladies will travel to Hollywood, where they will perform in front of a panel comprised of casting director Joseph Middleton, actress Vivica A. Fox, and last, but certainly not least, the Academy Award-winning actress, Faye Dunaway. The starlets will have a number of screen tests and be judged on their talent, attitude, and star quality.
Let’s meet the lucky ladies:
Katie – 23, Chicago, IL
Katie has always wanted to be an actress since she was a little girl. She hopes to become famous and to be known for being really nice and down-to-earth. She says she is willing to work her tail off to make her dream come true.
Cecile – 20, Pretoria, South Africa
Cecile’s father is a diplomat and she has lived all over the world, appearing on television for the first time as a five-year old in London. She has always thought of herself as “larger than life” and knows that she will become a legend.
Andie – 19, Havila, CA
Andie is a comedienne and we see a clip of her telling a joke about being the only virgin in Hollywood. She says that although she is a comedienne, she is very serious about her acting. She knows she is no supermodel, but when it comes to acting ability, she knows she has it.
Donna – 20, New York, NY
Donna is a professional model, and there has never been a doubt in her mind that she would become famous. She wants to prove that she really can act, and is more than just a model trying to become an actress.
Mercedes – 24, Los Angeles CA
Mercedes believes that acting is a craft and she takes it very seriously. She says that ideally, she would love to be considered in the same league as Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett, but realizes she is not there yet.
Lauren – 22, Phoenix, AZ
Lauren hasn’t had much acting training, but says there is more to being a starlet than just acting. One has to have a persona that gets attention and gets noticed. She likes being sexy and feels it comes naturally to her.
Courtney – 20, Perrysburg, OH
Courtney is a working stage actress. She describes her personality as loud, unexpected, and all over the place. She can hardly express how badly she wants to be the Starlet, darn tootin’. Yes, she actually used that expression – I’m not making it up.
Neva – 21, Rincon, Puerto Rico
Neva believes she will be the Starlet because she is smart, beautiful, talented, and always gets what she wants. (Hmm, I think I already hate her). She is here to win and not to make friends. If that makes her a bitch – well, too bad. Hey, those are her words, not mine.
Andria – 24, Waco, TX
Andria says that because she has been involved in beauty pageants since she was a child, is blond, and a Texan, that people have wrongly believe that she isn’t very bright. She’d like to show that she is not a Barbie doll that can’t act, and to become the Starlet would be a dream come true.
Michelynne – 18, Minneapolis, MN
Michelynne came to LA with very little money and had nowhere to stay except for a hostel. She is very grateful to her mother, who refinanced their home and gave up everything to help her try to become an actress. She says that being a part of this competition is the best thing that has ever happened to her.
Hello, Norma Jean
The <strike>Ryan Seacrest</strike> host of this show is Katie Wagner, entertainment reporter and daughter of Robert Wagner. She greets the group of starlets-in-training and gives them the lowdown on the competition. They will study with well-known Hollywood acting coaches in preparation for their screen tests, which will be the basis for the judges to decide who goes home and who stays in the competition. As she describes the talent contracts and acting gig that lay ahead for the ultimate winner, the girls excitedly exchange glances and grins. When she informs them that the house they’ll be living in once belonged to the legendary Marilyn Monroe, the already excited girls become even giddier, ooh-ing and ah-ing as they make their way into the house. Upon reaching the sleeping quarters they flop down on the various beds and discuss who will sleep where. One of the girls makes the observation that there are ten of them there, yet there are only nine beds. Everyone assumes this must mean that one of the ladies will be going home on the first day - let the paranoia begin.
When they gather again outside the house, Host Katie (not to be confused with Non-Host Katie, the contestant) brings up the number of beds in the house. Does the fact that there seem to be only nine beds for ten girls mean that one girl is going home right away? No. Does it mean that two girls will be forced to share a bed, resulting in some girl-on-girl action? No. Not yet, anyway. Host Katie explains that there is indeed a tenth bed in the house...in…drumroll, please…the Diva Suite! The ladies will compete in front of the judges and the winner will get to stay in the suite until the next screen test elimination, enjoying her large bed, private bath, and most importantly – her own private space to rehearse and prepare for the screen test. And what better time for this competition than – right now!
Will the Real Diva Please Stand Up?
The girls are given their scripts and Host Katie explains the rules. They will have fifteen minutes to learn and rehearse a few lines from that classic piece of film history known as The Bodyguard. They will be reading the role of Rachel Marin that was played by Whitney Houston in the film. Hey, how can you have a talent competition without including Whitney Houston in some shape or form? Somebody please shoot me.
The ladies arrive at Sound Stage 1 and are introduced to the judges. Several of them visibly shake with nerves/excitement when they realize they are going to be performing for Faye Dunaway. When it is time to perform, each girl steps forward and delivers her lines. The performances range from “eh, so what?” to “hey, not bad at all”. The girls leave the room and the judges deliberate. They begin with Andria, who chose to ad-lib several lines. This is a no-no and they agree that it makes her look like an amateur. Donna, they felt was very gutsy and well prepared. Mercedes has a look that Faye felt suited the character. Joseph holds up Katie’s headshot and says he likes her. Vivica says that Michelynne has a very sweet face, and Faye comments that she saw a great appetite in her eyes. The judges narrow the group down to the top three best divas, and we see that the headshots they have set in front of them belong to Mercedes, Michelynne, and Donna. After some deliberation, the judges call the girls back in and announce that the winner of the first Diva Suite competition is…Mercedes. They present her with a small statuette and Mercedes is thrilled as she receives a round of applause from her fellow contestants.
Blood, Sweat, and Tears
The next morning, the girls wake up and learn that their first acting lesson will be about emotion, which will be the basis on which they are judged for their first screen test. Their acting coach for the day is Bobbie Shaw Chance. Bobbie is quick to name-drop and point out that Brad Pitt sat in one of those very chairs at one point. I am thinking, whoop-de-doo (I mean, its not like he’s sitting there now – that, I could get excited about), but the girls seem impressed. Bobbie explains that she will be leading the girls in a number of exercises to get them back in touch with who they are.
What happens next is…bizarre, to say the least. Their assignment is to get up and move to some jungle music and allow the music to take them to a physical, animalistic place. The actresses jump around, flail their limbs, and roll around on the floor as they scream, grunt, and growl, giving in to their primal nature and dancing around wildly. Basically, they look like a bunch of freaks. But hey, whoever said actors were normal? I have to hand it to the girls, most of them really give in to the task, with the exception of Andria, who holds back and appears to consider herself above this level of silliness.
Tears for Fears
The next exercise involves the girls tapping into their own hurtful experiences to conjure up an emotional response. Lauren taps into her anger at her ex-boyfriend and ends up yelling and crying as she role-plays with Bobbie standing in as the object of her hatred. Katie taps into her feelings of rejection by her father and is also brought to tears. Michelynne, after some prompting from Bobbie, opens up about her sadness over having grown up in such poverty and over her mother’s daily struggles. A few of the other girls are unable to articulate their feelings and Bobbie encourages them to be honest with themselves so that they can be successful in their acting.
Before they leave the studio, Host Katie explains that their first screen test will be that afternoon, and it will be an emotional scene from Smallville. The actor reading with them will be Adam LeVornga from Seventh Heaven. They will be judged on their ability to get in touch with their emotions, and the two girls who give the weakest performances will be sent home. She gives them their scripts and sends them on their way to rehearse.
Cry Me a River – Oh, Make it an Ocean
It is time for the screen test and the ladies arrive at the set. We see bits and pieces of the girls’ performances as they all try to conjure up the tears they believe are required for the scene. Michelynne forgets her lines, but seems to get it together on the next take. Lauren gets very flustered because she feels all cried out after their emotional afternoon and has no tears left. Katie cries so hard that she has trouble stopping after the director yells “Cut!”, while Andie gets into full-on bawling mode and tells the other girls that she knows she nailed it. Hmm.
It is time for the judges to see the tapes of the screen tests, and each girl comes in to watch her tape along with the judges for the first time and receive their brutally honest critique. The judges’ feedback is…
Vivica – You need to use different colors in the scene.
Faye – If you don’t care about the scene, I don’t care.
Joseph – Your look is good, the acting needs work.
Joseph – You didn’t give it your all.
Faye – You know I like you, but I was disappointed. You didn’t seem comfortable. This is not the Paris Hilton School of Acting, I want more for you.
Vivica – There is something about you that I think works, but you need to study.
Joseph – Do you sing? No? Because Jessica Simpson can sing, and that is how she got an acting part. You need talent to get through this business, looks aren’t enough.
Joseph – I don’t know what to say. You were better than anyone else today.
Faye – From the moment you came on, you were doing something. That’s acting.
Vivica – You cried the whole scene. That is great that you can cry, but you can’t do the whole scene crying.
Joseph – You pushed it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I think you have the potential to be the Starlet.
Faye – I don’t agree with Joseph; I’m not sure that you have the potential to be the Starlet. I’m not sure you have talent.
Joseph – It felt so big, it felt like community theater. Those moments bothered me a lot.
Vivica – You have to build the scene.
Faye – It was one of the worst scenes I’ve ever seen.
Joseph – You are my favorite, but I didn’t believe a word of that. I’m going to forget I saw this one.
Vivica – You look excellent, beautiful.
Joseph – I look at you and I already know five roles you could play.
Faye – You have a great dignity.
Joseph – You started out great, ended great, but I lost you in the middle.
Faye – Crying is not enough. Don’t let me catch you crying and crying, you have to think about the other actor. But I think you have talent.
At this point, Courtney snaps back, “I know I do”. She makes a few other comments that could be construed as “talking back”, and the judges reprimand her for her attitude. Vivica tells her that she is so arrogant that it is a turn-off. Courtney leaves, quite dejected, and the judges begin to deliberate as to who will be sent home.
Don’t Cry for Me, Miss Texas
The judges call the girls back in to announce their decision. The first girl to be eliminated, they say, has the look of a starlet, but not the game. Faye Dunaway calls out her name before dramatically delivering what I gather is the catchphrase of this series, “Andria – don’t call us, we’ll call you”. Boy, that is going to get old - fast. Andria steps up and stands apart from the group.
The Tears of a Clown
The second girl, the judges say, is a character actor, not a starlet. She needs to be a better listener and not forget how difficult this profession is. The camera focuses on Courtney, and she nods sadly as she seems to believe that they are talking about her. However, when the ax falls, it isn’t Courtney– “Andie, don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Ugh, I hate that phrase already. I know I’m not the only one.
Next time on “The Starlet”, two more girls will be sent home…after filming a lesbian scene in a hot tub. Whoa, Nelly!
There’s a tear in my beer. firstname.lastname@example.org