Greed, sex, power: wedded bliss

Special to The Times

Real kitsch might not be a thing of beauty, but it surely can be a thing of comedy. Enter the CBS film “Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives: The New Generation.” Starring Farrah Fawcett, Melissa Gilbert and Robin Givens, “Wives” is a marriage made in camp heaven. Here love means never having to say I’m serious -- at least not in credible dramatic terms.

Indeed, this Collins product, based on her bestselling story of Tinseltown Sturm und Drang, unreels the surreal soap opera antics of a group of glamorous but woeful women suffering from the malaise of more amour problems than you can hurl a box of Kleenex at. Here, heartbreak happens with the clockwork certainty of an atomic timepiece; “New Generation” ticktocking to the beat of anguish, misery and despair as it advances between commercial breaks. Other elements entering this video picture include avarice and lust; qualities no self-respecting new gen Hollywood femme could live without.

And just what is it these women actually do, besides traipsing around most of the time looking like the sort of actress hired to star in TV movies such as this? Suffice it to say the life of a with-it Hollywood wife is a cocktail of champagne and pain. Meet Lissa Roman (Fawcett), your run-of-the-mill blond film/music superstar. We first encounter Lissa primping and staring deep into a mirror as she asks an assistant, “You’re sure I look as good as it gets?” Then it’s off to cavort at a fabulous photo shoot for a Vanity Fair cover to hype Lissa’s new big-budget flick. But wait, there’s more! Lissa, who must be important since her name bears two Ss, has had it with her pouty, unfaithful slacker of a hubby, who’s taken to hitting her and calling her “my property.” So Lissa wants him gone. And as a means of ensuring that he does no further harm, she winds up employing a private investigator (Jack Scalia), who acquires a second job as her new love interest.

Moving on, say hello to Taylor Singer (Gilbert), actress-turned-wannabe movie producer. She is wed to a super-successful Hollywood guy who is not keen on her working. In fact, when we first encounter Taylor, she is kvetching to her girlfriends, “I am married to one of the most powerful men in Hollywood and I can’t get a freakin’ low-budget film off the ground!” By the way, did I mention that Taylor has been cheating on her husband, spending sack time with a young, studly screenwriter who is reportedly working with her on a script?


Then there is the woman who goes by one name, Kyndra (Givens). When she’s not being a high-profile soul singer and less-than-model mom to her daughter (Kandyse McClure), she’s playing best friend/confidante to Lissa and Taylor. But Oscar Levant she’s not, offering somewhat cruder bon mots about certain sex acts.

And so these three gal pals hang together; trapped in a TV movie rife with strife and riddled by such rotten emotional lives that they make even the fate of Lot’s wife look nice. For instance, bothersome events intruding on hair tossing and cleavage-enhancing frock wearing include Lissa’s kid (Pascale Hutton) getting kidnapped and held for a $5-million ransom. Then again, into each life a little plot must fall.

“Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives: The New Generation” can be kicky fun if taken in the right spirit. Though this teleflick cannot wait to breathlessly embrace every cliche or schmaltzy scenario that so much as strays into its purview, its wretched excess exacts more than a few laughs. So let the excrescent passions play themselves out. Let the tears flow from mascara lids heavy with unspeakable hurt. Let the lipstick lips curl and twitch in unfathomable misery. Like the anguished color-saturated hoydens of Roy Lichtenstein’s lithographs, the ladies of “Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives: The New Generation” radiate a colossal cartoon presence. One day it’s a broken heart, the next a broken nail. Like, wow!!! Like, oh, the humanity, ya know!!!


‘Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives: The New Generation’

Where: CBS

When: Sunday, 9-11 p.m.

Rating: The network has rated the movie TV14-D,L,S,V (may not be suitable for children under 14, with advisories for suggestive dialogue, coarse language, sexual situations and violence).


Farrah Fawcett...Lissa Roman

Melissa Gilbert...Taylor Singer

Robin Givens...Kyndra

Jack Scalia...Michael Scorsinni


Dorian Harewood...Claude St. Clair

Executive producers Renee Valente, Jackie Collins, Tom Patricia. Director Joyce Chopra. Writer Nicole Avril, from Collins’ book.