OH COME ON.
It’s always so easy to star in a Hollywood movie in the teen novel alterna-world. You know, you’re a high school student just walking along to your second-period geometry class, minding your own business, when whoops! You stumble onto a movie set on your school’s front lawn and the jaded professionals realize YOU have what it takes to be their new star! How charming! And after you captivate them all and make their little film a box-office smash, you crush their dreams by telling them you just want to focus on your regular eleventh-grade life! Say it ain’t so!
That isn’t exactly a synopsis of this preposterous plot (note to self: Google “synonyms for preposterous”, you’re going to need them), but it’s close enough. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but it seems a lot more difficult to become a movie star in my world. As some of you know, I’ve had a brush with fame myself, having once been an extra in a Liza Minnelli music video. (No joke. Yes, I will autograph that jean jacket for you.) But shockingly, it didn’t catapult me into a life of late-night parties at the Chateau Marmont.
But of course, this is not my world, it’s theirs. So I hope you’ve been working out those suspension of disbelief muscles, because here we go.
A Hollywood film company decides to shoot a movie on the Canby Hall campus. Like a dimwit instead of a poised professional who should know better, PA tells all the students before it’s final, but insists that daily life must not change and school must come first. Naturally, everyone forgets all about school as Hollywood-mania sweeps the campus. The biggest lunatic is, of course, the increasingly unlikeable Shelley, who as we’ve heard ad nauseum wants nothing more than to be an actress. She’s determined to get a part in this movie. Because she has the long-term memory of a pot roast, she trusts the villainous Pamela to coach her for the open auditions. (We are finally treated/subjected to the presence of Pamela’s famous movie-star mother Yvonne Young, who of course has a role in this movie. She’s just as much of a fake wretch as her daughter is.) Pamela is personal friends with the director and tells Shelley to underplay her performance because that’s what he likes. Stupid Star-Struck Shelley does, but … it turns out this director likes actors to overplay things. Huh. Who would have seen that coming? Shelley loses the part along with her will to live.
Meanwhile, Dana cheats on Randy yet again with some set technician named Peter who’s really hot, and therefore excellent relationship material. She even chases Randy away when he comes to visit the set so he won’t find out about her new dude. In order to see more of each other, Peter suggests that Dana try out for a part. She gets it. Shelley is insane with third-grade jealousy. However, the famous actor who’s the lead and I guess the Ryan Gosling of his day, Troy Adams, actually starts flirting with Shelley, which is impossible to believe. Why do all these guys fall for this loser? He says she has great talent (which he can somehow intuit even though she spent her whole audition with him monotonically underplaying her role. Idiots.) She actually stands her boyfriend up so she can go to dinner with this big star, he feeds her a line about coming to South America and starring in his next film, and she buys this because she has the IQ of a bowling ball. She’s all set to drop out of school and join him until she goes to his trailer on the last day of filming and finds out he’s forgotten all about her.
In the end, Pamela gets a part written into the film for her, Dana wraps up her part, and Peter dumps Dana for Pamela because it turns out he wants to be an actor too, and the Youngs can get him there. Dana and Shelley realize their naivete and go back to their boyfriends, who never knew they were being cheated on in the first place. Nice! Oh, and Faith’s story was that she really wanted to take photographs of all the goings-on, but no one would ever give her permission, so she … just started taking pictures anyway. And they turned out great. Yawn. Don’t they ever give this girl something to do? In all seriousness, I think the reason they don’t is actually because she’s black. Dana and Shelley keep having all these crushes and love affairs that spawn entire books, but because the publishers can’t conceive of anything resembling an interracial relationship, and because their “character of colour” quota is so low, Faith gets her one African-American boyfriend and her boring photography hobby and that’s it. Although that will change in a few books, if I recall correctly, when a new character does come to town, but that’s only relevant because … he’s black too. Sigh. Anyway, at the very end of this dumb book, Alison catches Pamela coming out of Room 407 with Faith’s portfolio, which she was trying to steal because it has unflattering pictures of her mother, so Alison takes it from her for safe-keeping. The whole thing is mentioned and then brushed aside, like that’s all anyone expects from Pamela. But theft from others’ (perpetually unlocked) rooms doesn’t warrant disciplinary action? This girl was supposedly kicked out of multiple boarding schools before this one, but short of, say, homicide, Canby Hall won’t let you go?
– How is it that Dana has every afternoon off for filming but Shelley’s missing math tests to watch? Girls, you must continue to put your studies first, or … absolutely nothing will happen. And why is a Hollywood film crew bending over backwards to accommodate high school bystanders anyway? The auditions are held after classes, the producer leaves schedule changes for Dana in her school mailbox, and the wrap party is held IN A DORM. In real life, the celebrities would want a glass wall between them and their public, lest the latter’s normalcy rub off on them.
– At one point, it is noted that “Shelley had always been supersensitive about the fact that she was a few pounds overweight.” Seriously? I never thought I’d defend this imbecilic character, but that is a totally inaccurate statement. The girl allows her supposed friends to make cracks about her size, as mentioned here, here and here, and she’s still supersensitive? You can’t win with these people!
– In describing just how exciting this turn of events is to the sleepy world of Canby Hall, the girls wonder if Rick Springfield will show up and also note that the Hollywood crowd is so cool, “they all look like they’re on Dallas.” Ah yes, those 1980s bastions of celebrity and fame! I never watched the show, but I do remember that catchy title song.
In the end, Hollywood leaves and life goes back to normal. But not for long, friends. Not for long. In the meantime, I’m off to put to rest the rumour that Dallas is coming back to TV this year. I don’t know how many shoulder pads our high-definition screens can tolerate.
UPDATE: Egads! It’s true!