TLC does the showbiz underclass no favors with this six-hour series casting three particularly undistinguished 20-somethings as interns. Kevin Spacey, producer Robert Evans and hip-hop star Method Man lend sizzle to the marquee, but aside from passing along occasional platitudes, they're about as evident as Blofeld in the early Bond films.

Thinly veiled contempt toward Hollywood wannabes has characterized “Project Greenlight” and its ilk, and TLC does the showbiz underclass no favors with this six-hour series casting three particularly undistinguished 20-somethings as interns. Kevin Spacey, producer Robert Evans and hip-hop star Method Man lend sizzle to the marquee, but aside from passing along occasional platitudes, they’re about as evident as Blofeld in the early Bond films. What’s left, then, is another “This stuff is harder than it looks” cautionary tale, as told through the wide eyes of star-struck patsies likely destined to be going nowhere.

Two aspiring filmmakers and a not-exactly-budding standup comic are flown in to work for their famous “mentors,” of whom they speak in such hushed reverence one could easily assume this is the Magi. Like most internships, though, they actually have minimal contact with the big guys, who are mostly relegated to on-camera testimonials while the kids are shepherded through the paces by the less recognizable execs actually running the companies.

Casting, however, is key to this kind of endeavor, and Tara Flynn (Evans’ charge), Ian Campbell (a married man with a young child, assigned to Spacey) and Dario Konjicija (Method’s man, whose comedy stylings bring to mind any painful open-mic night) are so ill-equipped that the show feels more sadistic than educational.

“It’s going to be a rough ride,” Evans warns Tara, who, based on just that fleeting introduction to the producer, flits around as if she’s won the lottery. At least there’s some high camp in the fifth episode, when she has a chance to meet with him privately (excluding the camera crew, of course) on Evans’ bed, where he conducts most of his business.

Missing from the two episodes previewed, alas, is any greater understanding of why brewing coffee (Tara must call her mom to ask how) and lining up front-row tickets for Method Man in Vegas prepares somebody for a showbiz career, other than the observation from Dana Brunetti, who runs Spacey’s company, that “shit rolls downhill.” And while any of these audition-type shows should be driven by uncertainty as to whether the candidate is going to “make it,” that seems so unlikely here the only real suspense hinges in little mini-dramas, like whether Spacey is going to satisfy his pizza craving in Cannes.

The most intriguing moment, in fact, occurs in the later episode. Dario’s standup act bombs, and his immediate boss, Shauna Garr, debates whether to tell him how bad it was — and potentially crush his confidence — or allow him to perpetuate his dreams, however unrealistic they appear. Instead of delivering the much-needed wake-up call, she opts for the latter.

Then again, “Going Hollywood” (which will be exhausted over three weeks, running back-to-back episodes) is less about career guidance than an attention-getting device for TLC, which dumped the Learning Channel designation those initials represented ages ago, the better to pursue younger demos.

Doubtless there are valuable and sobering lessons such a series can convey to those with Hollywood ambitions, but for the most part, this show kind of rolls downhill.

Going Hollywood

TLC, Wed. Dec. 7, 9 p.m.

Production

Produced by 3-Ball Prods. Executive producers, J.D. Roth, John Foy, Todd A. Nelson, Michael Klein; co-executive producers, Troy Searer, Dan Partland; supervising producer, Derrick Speight; line producer, Wally Parks.

Crew

Editors, Mike Degl'innocenti, Jeff Frey, Wil Hernandez, Jane McCord, Chris McKerney, Barry Murphy, Scott Zabielski; music, Tree Adams; casting, Allison Kaz, Keri Kulikowsky. Running Time: 60 MIN.
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