The Starlet

"Starlet" won't win any awards for originality, but it's a serviceable reality competition with a grounded performance-based component, ample eye candy and an identifiable premise. Add ingenues to the seemingly inexhaustible roster of jobs where the audition process has become grist for the reality mill; at least this entry appears to be more natural TV fodder than most.

With:
Host: Katie Wagner.

“Starlet” won’t win any awards for originality, but it’s a serviceable reality competition with a grounded performance-based component, ample eye candy and an identifiable premise. Add ingenues to the seemingly inexhaustible roster of jobs where the audition process has become grist for the reality mill; at least this entry appears to be more natural TV fodder than most.

Ten wannabe actresses, ages 18 to 24, compete for a “career-launching” role on the WB’s “One Tree Hill,” the only problem from a suspense standpoint being that the favorites are clear after the first hour. Appropriately, the first test involves reading a few lines from “The Bodyguard” — working up slowly, presumably, to “All About Eve.”

Once again, the judges are supposed to lend weight and edge to the process, but Faye Dunaway tries a little too hard to be the next Simon Cowell. “I plan to be quite tough on them,” she pledges, which includes her own signature line, dismissing also-rans with a glib, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Hey, some of us felt the same way about her after “Supergirl.”

Vivica A. Fox and casting director Joseph Middleton (he enjoyed a few minutes of fame on “Project Greenlight”) round out the panel. While the contestants undergo acting exercises that may look silly to an outsider, the judges’ banter provides insight into the qualities being sought as contestants are ousted for failing to deliver the perceived goods, rather than arbitrary reasons like coming up short on the aphid-eating challenge.

In a broader sense, listening to the young women “Oooh” like a pack of chipmunks at the mention of a part on “One Tree Hill” reveals the hunger that exists out there, reminding us these girls are merely surrogates for many others with the same dream.

Indeed, what better reality contestant could there be than someone willing to endure no end of rejection and abuse for a mere glimpse of fame? So send them off into the big cruel world any way you like, Ms. Dunaway, but I have a feeling that whatever you say, they — and thousands like them — will keep calling.

The Starlet

WB, Sun. March 6, 8 p.m.

Production: Filmed in L.A. by Next Entertainment Studios in association with Telepictures Prods. Executive producers, Mike Fleiss, Jamie Kennedy; co-executive producers, Scott Einziger, Ellen Rapoport, Josh Etting; co-producer, Adam Reed; supervising story producer, Christian Huber; based on the book "Wannabe" by Kennedy, Rapoport.

Crew: Camera, Hisham Abed; production design, Jeff Hall; editors, Xina Graff, Sean Hubbert, Deborah Light, Greg Macdonald, Lorraine Salk, Rebecca Short; music, Ben Einziger, Greg O'Conner, Brad Segal, Lee Sanders. Running time: 60 MIN.

Cast: Host: Katie Wagner.Panel: Faye Dunaway, Vivica A. Fox, Joseph Middleton.

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