Last week on The Starlet, Cecile let her dislike for her scene partner interfere with her acting and lost her chance to become the Starlet. Tonight, the three remaining ladies, Katie, Mercedes, and Michelynne will have one last screen test to prove they have what it takes to become the WB’s new sweetheart. Someone’s dream will come true and the others will have their dream trampled and smashed into smithereens. Bummer.
Let’s have a last look at our competitors, shall we?
First, we have Mercedes. At 24, the lovely brunette favors Isabella Rosselini and is the eldest of the remaining girls. Being the eldest, she also has the most training, and shows the most maturity – in her acting. An early favorite of the judges, Mercedes won the first diva competition and seemed at first glance to be miles ahead of her competition. However, one lesbian scene and a bikini snafu later, Mercedes’ insecurity reared its ugly head and put the whammy on her confidence level, transforming Mercedes from the skilled acting diva into a meltdown mama.
Next is Michelynne, the youngest of all the competitors at 18. What the blue-eyed, bubbly beauty is lacking in experience, she makes up in personality. Described time and again as “green” and inexperienced by the judges, Michelynne has a lot riding on this contest and has given it everything she has, becoming the only girl to win the diva competition twice. Much to the judges’ surprise, she proved how funny she is by showing off her comedic skills in last week’s live performance and clearly out-shining the other girls.
Last, but not least, is Katie. At 23, the all-American girl is cute and perky – but fiercely competitive, to the point of having alienated herself from the group. While she is the only girl remaining who never won the diva competition, she excelled in commercial acting, and was able to focus and use her frustration to her acting advantage when ostracized by the rest of the gals. She is incredibly driven and determined to persevere, but Joseph all but told her that he would have gotten rid of her last week if he could have.
Its Now or Never
It is the morning of the screen test and the girls primp and preen to get ready. Michelynne openly laments about how sad and nervous she is. As you may recall, her mother refinanced their home so that Michelynne could have a chance at this, and Michelynne was staying in a hostel before she came to Casa Marilyn. If she doesn’t win, her future doesn’t look so immediately bright. She is incredibly saddened that it is all coming to an end. She starts to get worked up and Mercedes tells her she is putting too much pressure on herself.
Michelynne is first to do her screen test. This final scene is from One Tree Hill, the very show in which the Starlet will receive a role. How large a role will remain to be seen. The girls will read the role of Peyton, in a scene where she goes to church to give a predetermined silly confessional as a prank. As she tries to go through with it, she begins to ponder her own life and express her true thoughts.
Michelynne takes a moment to make herself cry so that she can tap into the emotions of the scene before beginning the monologue. She has a false start and has to start again, but then appears to get through the rest of the scene without any major setbacks. Or the editors would have us think so. I think her performance isn’t too bad, and there is just something about her that draws you in. She keeps her face up and very open to the camera. The one problem I have with her is that she does a lot of sighing in between lines. I’ve noticed it consistently with her scenes, but I think it is something a good director or coach could easily break her of if she was made aware of it.
Mercedes is next and she is very nervous and stressed out as she goes in for the screen test. At one point, she has to take a moment and gets up to walk around and prepare herself emotionally for the scene. She asks to re-shoot a couple of times, and eventually the cameramen ask her if she is satisfied. You can tell she wants to try again and again but knows she has to stop at some point. It has to be difficult to judge your own performance without a director or any outside feedback. Her acting is quite good, but more controlled and reserved than Michelynne’s. Also, her brow seemed be stuck in a crumpled angry look – I would have wanted to see a little more variety with the expressions.
Katie is the last to perform, and as she walks over to the studio, she explains that she is not very nervous. She has been paying close attention to the notes and critique that she has been given, and is going to try to use that advice for this last screen test. As Katie begins her shoot, she gets flustered pretty quickly (or so the editors would have us think) and asks to restart several times. She has been trying to incorporate things that were missing from her other scenes and is having a hard time. She seems to go for the understated approach, which I can appreciate, but she comes across as withdrawn and kind of defensive, in my opinion.
Katie arrives back at the house and flops down on the couch next to the other girls. She says how sad it is that it was the last time. She starts to get choked up, talking about how this has been the most challenging experience of her life, how much she has grown and how proud she is for not giving up. The other girls look on with mild disinterest. Isn’t it amazing how a few little comments along the lines of, “I only want to think of myself” and “I don’t want you guys to win” can cause people to hate you forever?
The Star(let) Treatment
The next morning, the girls pack their bags. As Mercedes sees Michelynne pack her belongings, she comments how hard it must be for her, not knowing if she is going back to the hostel or what she will do after this. As much as she doesn’t want to see Michelynne lose, she didn’t come there to lose either. Michelynne asks Mercedes, “Isn’t it weird, to be so close to someone you are competing against?” Mercedes replies that yes, she is conflicted, because she wants Michelynne to win, but she wants to win, too. Well, this is one problem Katie is not having.
A letter arrives at the house and Michelynne opens it. She reads aloud as Katie and Mercedes read over her shoulder, “Congratulations on completing your final screen test. You all deserve a little staaaaAAAAAHHHH!!!” Uh, I’m not sure what they said as they all begin screaming and thrashing about excitedly. It was probably “star treatment”, as we learn the girls will be getting makeovers and will meet with fashion designer, Pamela Dennis, to get their evening gowns that they will wear to the final elimination that evening. The girls continue to read aloud and squeal over the fact that the letter is signed, “Love, Faye, Vivica, and Joseph”.
The ladies make their way to Pamela Dennis’s studio. Upon meeting her, they gush with excitement, oohing and aahing over the glamorous dresses. They begin furiously trying on and modeling numerous gowns, and the place is completely abuzz with their excitement. What I want to know is- do they get to keep the gowns? Katie’s dress is my favorite, a peachy beige halter-style number with a sparkly brooch and a train. It looks great with her skin tone and shows off her figure. She says that the dress represents to her how hard she has worked. Michelynne and Mercedes both choose black dresses that seem dull next to Katie’s. Michelynne’s is my least favorite, but it is appropriate for her age since it is sort of prom/princess-ish. Mercedes’ is a black halter dress with one of those plunging necklines she seems to be fond of. I swear, for someone who is supposedly self-conscious she certainly has no problem showing us the whole front of her chest.
After picking their dresses, they go to have their hair and makeup done. Upon arriving in the salon, they are tickled to find director’s chairs with their names imprinted on them. Michelynne confesses that she feels like Cinderella getting ready for the ball, wondering if her life is going to completely change in a matter of a few hours. At some point while having her hair done, Michelynne begins to cry, sad that everything will be all over soon. She expresses her fear that when this competition comes to an end, she will have to go back to her old life.
Red Carpet, Here We Come
The girls descend the staircase of the house and enter the limo. As they ride to the theater, we hear their thoughts on the competition. Mercedes has had both good and bad performances and critiques, so she really doesn’t know what her chances are. She says she’ll have to wait and hope for the best. Katie is sure she will be the Starlet. She believes that she has the drive, talent, and determination, and that if by some chance she is not chosen, the judges will one day realize their mistake. Alrighty then. Michelynne feels that is she wins, she will know that everything she has been through will have been worth it. She hopes and she prays and she thinks and she feels and she wishes and dreams to become the Starlet. Yes, but does she want it?
As they pull up at the Orpheum theater, the girls are pleased to see “The Starlet” on the marquee. They enter the theater one at a time to take their place in front of the panel. Once again we hear their thoughts as they make their solo sashay down the red carpet.
Michelynne knows that the panel thinks she is too green, but she feels sure she can do it. She is a diamond in the rough, she says, and hopes that they can see it because she truly wants this.
Katie enters next and is full of her usual self-confidence. She came to the competition to win and to prove that she is a powerful actress, that she has shine and charisma and everything it takes to be the Starlet.
Mercedes says that this is all she has wanted since she was four years old. She takes a cheap shot at one of her fellow finalists by saying that she is not just a girl who got off a bus here expecting to be made famous. She has worked and studied hard to become a good actress and that is why she thinks she should be the Starlet.
Host Katie greets them and welcomes them to the theater, where, she says, a young Judy Garland gave one of her earliest performances, and where one of them will begin their career. She gestures to the stage where a curtain rises and a large screen is revealed, where they will view their final screen tests.
You Must Be My Lucky Star(let)
Michelynne is first to view her footage and hear the judges’ comments. She looks terrified.
Vivica- You look great tonight. You have such desire, and you are very poised. I can see that you really want this. There were colors in the scene. You’ve learned, and I appreciate that. You’ve grown a lot since your first screen test.
Joseph- There was a time I was not your biggest supporter. I wrote you off -too green, won’t get it. Sometime in the middle of the competition, you decided you wanted this, and were going to show up and do your best. There was a line about your mother where it felt very personal and you sucked us in. I thought that was great. Good girl.
Faye - You know you are very green. I feel you still have a lot to learn. You pushed a little too hard for the emotion at times, and that is a no-no. You have to go with what is there because we have to believe it. I’m not sure if they were real tears. I think in many ways, you have what it takes to make it in this profession –talent, attitude, charisma, star quality – but I am also looking for craft, you have a lot to learn.
Katie goes in next. She hopes that they will see that she worked hard and had a good attitude. Vivica compliments her dress and they watch the screen test.
Vivica – This was a difficult scene, but I felt that you were acting. We told you to take moments, but you have to know not to milk it. Maybe you should have practiced more and tried to tighten it up. You don’t want it to drag on and for the audience to feel that you are full of yourself. (Katie is obviously hurt by this and Vivica hastily adds – “not bad, not bad at all”. Way to go, Viv.)
Joseph – Katie, was it fun, acting the role?
Katie replies that yes, it was loads of fun and she could have done it all day.
Faye interjects – Katie, how can you say that was “so much fun”? That wasn’t a “fun” scene. That makes me think you weren’t grappling with the emotional demands of the scene. If we wanted fake emotion, we’d cast Barbie. I didn’t see the emotion you are capable of in that scene.
Joseph – It looked you were acting. But, you’ve done great work in prior competitions, you have a very marketable quality and skills that got you here. I want you to know that we are looking at the whole package, and you’ve grown.
Mercedes is the last to go before the panel. She looks great on the big screen, but I don’t like how she holds her mouth throughout the scene.
Faye – You take my breath away. What a great screen image. I felt the scene was very good. You have a different sort of dignity from the other girls, you built the scene nicely, but I felt you might have been holding back the emotion. You need to think about being more accessible, you are a bit removed.
Vivica – Overall, the scene was very good, but for a few lines you kept your eyes down too long.
Joseph – You are the strongest, smartest player in this. You are my starlet. I think you are unstoppable.
Mercedes blushes and thanks Joseph several times before exiting. She arrives in the lobby smiling and looking very happy. The girls probe her for information, and she says that Joseph said some amazing things, but she doesn’t want to tell them for fear of jinxing herself by getting too excited, only to be let down. The other girls look a little crestfallen, thinking that Mercedes has it in the bag. I, on the other hand, have watched enough reality television to immediately feel 99% sure that that his admission is a an indication Mercedes will not win. Its like the first season of The Bachelor when Alex Michel told Trista that he’d pick her and then didn’t. Oh come on, you know you watched it.
We All Shine On
The moment of truth has finally arrived and the three finalists make their way back to the panel for the final elimination. The judges have been deliberating over the three totally different types of girls they have to choose from. They weigh the pros and cons of the different girls’ qualities.
Who will be first to day goodbye? The judges begin their comments…
We’ve seen moments of greatness in you, but they just haven’t been consistent. We know this has been a bumpy road, but we appreciate the growth you’ve shown. You have so much potential, and a good chance at a career ahead, but for this moment, you are not the Starlet. Katie…don’t call us, we’ll call you.
It is down to Mercedes and Michelynne. They smile at each other nervously.
Michelynne, we think you are captivating, we root for you. We have all told you that you have shine, but you are a little inexperienced.
Mercedes, you are stunning, you are talented, but you are a little aloof.
Faye says it is very difficult to choose between the two remaining since they are both so wonderful and talented and have shine. The judges believe that both girls will make their mark, but there can only be one “Starlet”. Michelynne…you are…the Starlet! Yay!
Shine On, You Crazy Diamond in the Rough, You
Michelynne gasps and clutches her chest before asking the judges if she can hug them. She joyfully hugs each of them and thanks them several times, then receives warm hugs from both Mercedes and Katie before she heads out to the limo and sees her name has been added to the marquee. She squeals with happiness and pokes her head out of the roof of the limo. The other two follow her out and hold her hands, gracefully trying to be happy and supportive for her even though it is obvious that they are both crushed over their own loss. Both Katie and Mercedes swear that they will not give up their dreams of becoming a starlet in their own way, when their time is right. They wave to a departing Michelynne who rides off into the night saying that if you want something bad enough, it can happen, and dreams can come true.
Well, that’s it, folks. Thanks for joining me for this first season of The Starlet, and look for Michelynne’s acting debut on next week’s episode of One Tree Hill.
Send champagne wishes and caviar dreams to firstname.lastname@example.org.