Maria M. Elmvang's Reviews > Soap Star

Soap Star by Francine Pascal
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Feb 22, 08

bookshelves: sweet-valley, owned-physical-book, 2007, 3-stars
Read in June, 2007

** spoiler alert ** The Plot: The A and B plot are so closely entwined, that it would make no sense at all to record them one by one, so here they are in a glorious mixture.

Jessica's favourite soap opera, The Young and the Beautiful are holding auditions for identical twins as they need a new love-interest tangle for the show's 'stud', Brandon Hunter. Naturally Jessica immediate figures that all she needs to do is to get Liz to agree to show up for the audition and they'll be hired on the spot! Unfortunately it doesn't work out quite that easily, as Liz doesn't want to have anything to do with the soap opera business at all, as it's demeaning to women - just like beauty pagents. For once I'm with Jess. I'm no fan of soap operas either, but I would JUMP at the chance to actually star in one! Seriously, how COOL would that be?! But I digress.

Jess (with the help of Lila) tricks Liz to show up to the audition, but she blows up in very un-Liz-more-like-Jess fashion, rages at Jess for tricking her and storms out. Jess is mortified, but soon regains her composure when she realizes that the casting director mistakes the scene for a well-planned out audition, and casts them as Heather and Tiffany - ironically casting Jess as the demure Heather, and Liz as the firery Tiffany based on their 'audition'. I've yet to hear of ANY show that'd cast actors after just ONE audition, and even without seeing any of the others perform. There's always at least ONE callback, but of course since we all know what the result would be anyway, I guess that'd just be wasted space.

Liz still wants nothing to do with the show, until Jess has the brilliant idea to contact the L.A. Times, pretending to be Liz and offer to write a series of 'Behind the scenes' articles of the show. They immediately call Liz back, to say they're very impressed by her writing, and would love to see her articles. With such a carrot, even Liz can no longer refuse, and the Wakefield-twins' week of stardom can start!

TYATB-heartthrob Brandon Hunter immediately singles out Jessica and throws all his charm upon her, and of course Jessica is happy to accept. However, in the first scene with him, we, the readers, are shown what a fake and arrogant sod he really is:
"You like to live on the edge," Jessica commented.
"Is there any other way to live?"
"None that I can think of," she agreed. "I've had a few death-defying experiences of my own. There was the time I was taken hostage by a drug smuggler, and--"
"That's very interesting, Jessie," Brandon said quickly. "Did I tell you that I climbed Mount Whitney in January?"

Obviously, nobody else is allowed to outshine him EVER! Jess gobbles it up though, and never dreams that he's not totally into her, especially as he takes her on one fascinating date after the other, allowing her to experience Life As A Star.

As the rehearsals and shooting take place, it becomes more and more obvious what a brat Brandon really is. He can't act, he can't remember his lines, and he blames it on everybody else. Liz sees through him right away of course, but Jess is totally oblivious to all his faults.

Sam is less than thrilled with Jess' trip to stardom though. He doesn't like reading about her in the tabloids, and feels left out and neglected. Usually I'd agree with him, but this is one case where I actually think he should just let her run with it. It's all of one week! How neglected can he have time to feel? I never thought I should say this, but in this book Todd is the sensible one, and Sam is the one to go totally overboard. Sure, Jess is completely starstruck, but that's who she is! Sam knew that when he started going out with her. He finally gives her an ultimatum - Brandon or him! Jessica does NOT take well to accusations (even ones based on fact) nor ultimatums, so she picks Brandon, and drives off in their new jeep, leaving Sam stranded on the beach.

However, the very next day Jess overhears Brandon talking to the producer about how he's using Jess for media attention and to raise the ratings, but that he can't wait for her to go back to high school, so he can dump her and go back to chasing older women instead. Jess is shocked, hurt and offended and does not intend to let him 'die in his sin' as we say in Danish, so she and Liz concucts a plan to bring him as off-kilter as at all possible for the last scene - never doing anything that will actually make the shot, but making sure to confuse and distract him as much as at all possible. However, they make such a good job of it that once Brandon watches the shots, he decides that they're awful! (read: he doesn't want to come across as a fool on national television) and they have to do them over, meaning that they shoot the scene LIVE! (AS IF!) Jess uses this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get back at Brandon AND tell Sam that she loves him on national television! Brandon is naturally enraged, and even the director isn't too pleased, until he hears what Brandon has been up to, after which he thinks it's a perfectly reasonable punishment, and is even more impressed by Liz and Jess' acting than ever before, and offers them to extend their contract.

Back home Sam had seen the episode and immediately forgives Jess, and they live happily ever after.

The List:
* What show uses only 4 hours to shoot an entire episode, which is meant to air THAT VERY SAME EVENING? I've yet to follow any show that didn't shoot months - or at least a week - in advance.

* Liz is out to buy a jeep for her and Jess (without Jess along too? That doesn't seem very nice! Even I'd be annoyed if I were Jess.) and immediately impresses the salesman with her knowledge of cars and no-bullshit attitude. I don't know that much about cars NOW, yet alone when I had had my license for a year at most!

* The most amazing outfit yet to have been described in the series belongs to the casting director: "The woman had the most amazing hairdo she had ever seen. It was twisted into a single, unicorn-type horn on the front of her head and wrapped in multicoloured ribbons. More ribbons dangled from her ears and blended with her blouse, which was also a kaleidoscope of ribbons. Her pants were skintight white leather, and her shoes were sequined. Sequins in the daytime!. Elizabeth resisted the impulse to bust out laughing." Yeah, I would have been hard pressed not to laugh too.
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