French Silk

The whole is less than the sum of its parts in "French Silk." The elements are there for some good, trashy escapism: the murder of a crusading televangelist, scandals, illicit and unwise romances, plot twists aplenty, and finally, New Orleans itself, which has seldom been used to such good effect in either a feature or made-for. But it's all as insubstantial as the flimsy lingerie designed by Claire Laurent (Susan Lucci).

The whole is less than the sum of its parts in “French Silk.” The elements are there for some good, trashy escapism: the murder of a crusading televangelist, scandals, illicit and unwise romances, plot twists aplenty, and finally, New Orleans itself, which has seldom been used to such good effect in either a feature or made-for. But it’s all as insubstantial as the flimsy lingerie designed by Claire Laurent (Susan Lucci).

The Rev. Wilde’s campaign against Laurent’s steamy lingerie catalogs make her the prime suspect when Wilde is shot. Homicide detective Robert Cassidy (Lee Horsley) falls for Claire, despite his apparent belief that she could be the killer.

Meanwhile, top model Martine (Shari Belafonte) is having trouble in her romance with Congressman Alister Petrie (Jim Metzler). Eventually, almost everyone becomes a possible suspect, including Mary Catherine (Sarah Marshall), Claire’s mother.

The moody pic never quite draws one in, largely because the characters from scripter Carol Monpere are off-putting. Horsley lacks conviction; Lucci’s idea of acting mysterious seems to be to act simple-minded. Director Noel Nosseck does a good job giving the pic a very definite look and feel; he just should have drawn more out of the two leads. A lot of credit belongs to Patrick Williams for his evocative music, Frank Byers for his superior camerawork and C. Robert Holloway for his design.

French Silk

(Sun. (23), 9-11 p.m., ABC)

Production: Filmed in New Orleans by the Lee Rich Co. in association with von Zerneck/Sertner Films. Exec producers, Lee Rich, Bruce Sallan, Frank von Zerneck , Robert M. Sertner; producer, Gregory Prange; director, Noel Nosseck; writer, Carol Monpere.

Crew: Camera, Frank Byers; editor, Robert F. Shugrue; production designer, C. Robert Holloway; sound, Jonathan Stein; music, Patrick Williams.

Cast: With: Susan Lucci, Lee Horsley, Shari Belafonte, R. Lee Ermey, Sarah Marshall , Bobby Hosea, Jim Metzler, Joe Warfield, Paul Rosenberg, Taylor Simpson, Monique Viator, Victoria Edwards, Tanya Teague, Michael Bergeron.

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