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In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
The story of Heidi Fleiss, known as "The Hollywood Madam", who was the daughter of a prominent Los Angeles doctor and eventually became a prostitute for a well-known Los Angeles madam. She took over her boss' operation and soon was raking in $300,000 a month by hiring only the most beautiful and highest-class hookers and catering to wealthy Hollywood types, European and American corporate executives and Arab sheiks. Her operation was broken up by Los Angeles police in 1993, and she eventually went to prison for income-tax evasion. Written by
Sexy Flash with No Substance and a Poorly Cast Leading Lady
If you've never heard of Heidi Fleiss, the enterprising young woman who went from adolescent party girl to high profile prostitute and became Tinseltown's richest and most famous madame within the span of just a few years, this fast paced made for television drama will fill you in on all the sordid details. What it won't do is help you understand people like Fleiss or care in the least abut her or any of her associates. Norman Snider's script offers few insights into the madame's motivations, though to his credit, he wisely avoids the heavy handed moralizing I expected. Director Charles McDougall's constantly moving camera and slick, quick cuts make the movie look like a 90 minute music video. The combined result is a constantly interesting but rarely emotionally engaging tour through Fleiss's world of seduction and betrayal. The film often seems like little more than an excuse to show sexy babes modeling skimpy lingerie, lounging around the pool in their bikinis, or servicing clients in carefully edited softcore sex scenes. It's all entertaining fluff, but I found myself wishing for a bit more substance underneath all the superficial gloss.
The film's biggest problem can be summed up best in just three words: Jamie-Lynn DiScala. This young actress seems competent enough playing the pampered daughter of a mob boss on THE SOPRANOS, but then I doubt that role would be much of a stretch for a lady who was apparently so obsessed with her own appearance she suffered from a type of bulimia for years. To the best of my knowledge, the Fleiss character is DiScala's first serious adult role and I'm sorry to say she doesn't exactly rise to the challenge. Her idea of portraying a confident, calculating woman is to parade through the film wearing the same vapid smirk on her face in practically every single scene. Her performance is so staggeringly unconvincing it drags down the whole production to the dramatic level of a sixth grade classroom play. In an interview in TV GUIDE, DiScala herself openly admits she wasn't able to relate to the Fleiss character. She goes on to say she discussed the film's sexual content with the director and told him `I don't know how I'm going to be able to do this.' She also divulges that during one of the sex scenes, she broke into tears and had to be replaced by a body double, even though no on-screen nudity was required. These confessions are very sweet and precious, but they do beg the obvious question: why would she accept the leading role in a film about a prostitute if she was so nervous about doing erotic scenes? Did she even bother reading the script before signing the contract?
DiScala claims she trimmed down by 15 pounds for the part, an admittedly serious health risk for a former bulimic. But considering how awkward she looks throughout this movie, her torturous physical preparation for the role only reveals how utterly warped her priorities are as an actress. My advice to Ms. DiScala is skip the dieting in the future and instead concentrate on some acting method classes. Or better yet, stick to playing pouty adolescent princesses and leave the serious adult roles for real actresses.
In a way, though, I suppose DiScala's presence in this film is ultimately appropriate. Both she and the movie as a whole look extremely sexy but fail to display one iota of depth.
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