True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet

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Airdate: 9-11 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9 (Lifetime).

A pithy but entirely lightweight original movie, Lifetime’s “True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet” entertains nonstop and even tosses out a few truths about its subject matter. Although the title suggests something almost pulp-like, this little cream puff of a film, which revolves around the misadventures of a teen superstar, is fit for any teenage viewer.

Recording artist and actress Joanna “JoJo” Levesque stars as Morgan Carter, a Britney Spears-Lindsay Lohan knockoff who finally takes one drink too many, ends up in rehab and is sent to her mom’s good friend in Fort Wayne, Ind., to cool down and act like a normal teen (whatever that is).

It’s one scary moment after another while our heroine tries to make it in the “average” world of teendom. So, about halfway through this smart-talking and very savvy little movie, we almost start to wonder what is worse: the fake Hollywood thing or the “typical” world of Midwest America? It’s a tossup.

Levesque is completely believable as Morgan. Right behind her, as the newly acquired Midwest aunt-mom, Valerie Bertinelli delivers a solid performance and even gets some good lines in Elisa Bell’s knowing and smartly written script.

“Confessions” constantly walks the line between predictable (which eventually wins out) and original (stemming from some delectable repartee between Levesque and Bertinelli). The script knows its Hollywood and its reality television, both of which are major stars in this movie. They represent the reprehensible world our heroine hails from, but neither is treated as shabbily as they might have been. Humorous pokes and jabs take the edge off of what could have been a much more cutthroat view of the shallow landscape of Los Angeles.

Based on the novel by Lola Douglas, the movie’s sense of humor saves the day at almost every turn. The writers also know when to turn off the sentimental stuff that we usually see in this kind of “learn your lesson” television yarn and wish we could escape from more than once or twice. Director Tim Matheson also has a sense of humor throughout most of the story, yet he also knows how to get his actors to play it real when the time comes.

So we forgive the script and almost everyone else for ultimately delivering a “told you so” ending to what is otherwise a little gem of a movie. We’re not exactly hammered over the head with suggestions that the Midwest rules and Hollywood sort of sucks, but it’s pretty close. Just look for the funny dialogue and ignore everything else.

Production: Barbara Lieberman Prods. for Lifetime in association with Starz Media. Cast: Joanna “JoJo” Levesque, Valerie Bertinelli, Ian Nelson, Justin Louis, Lynda Boyd. Executive producers: Barbara Leiberman, Jon Maas. Director: Tim Matheson. Based on the novel by: Lola Douglas. Writer: Elisa Bell. Director of photography: David Herrington. Production designer: Marian Wihak. Editor: Charles Bornstein. Music composer: David Schwartz. Costume designer: Resa McConaghy.
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