вторник, 10 июня 2008 г.

Rudy fails the taste test

I HAVE many aims in life, but the one I'm most passionate about is to be the subject of a based-on-a-true-story telemovie. And not just any old based-on-a-true-story telemovie, either. For the dream to be realised, it would have to have a colon in the title and feature the words ``the'' and ``story'' after that colon. So far I've been toying with Remote Control: The Kerrie Murphy Story, although Dare to Dream: The Kerrie Murphy Story also has a nice ring to it.

This might not seem like a particularly realistic aim, but with at least 60 based-on-a-true-story telemovies having that name structure, it's not outside the realm of possibility, either. The trick is to have an interesting story to tell.

Being famous or part of a famous scandal helps, certainly. Witness A Family in Crisis: The Elian Gonzales Story (2000), Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story (2000) or even Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story (2001).

Then there is the disease of the week route, with Dying to Be Perfect: The Ellen Hart Pena Story (1996) (anorexia) and Never Say Never: The Deidre Hall Story (1995) (infertility).

Being both famous and having a disease is even better such as An Act of Love: The Patricia Neal Story (1981), about the actor's struggle with a stroke, and Reason for Living: The Jill Ireland Story (1991), about the actor's struggle with cancer.

Failing that, you can be either a survivor, such as the rape victim in Taking Back My Life: The Nancy Ziegenmeyer Story (1992), or a murderer, such as A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story (1992) (TV), although that's a bit of a murky area because the telemovie implies she was driven to kill, so she's also a victim.

Of course, none of these seem like a particularly attractive method to achieve my aim, so I think I'll stick with the uplifting achievement such as being the first person to swim Canada's Lake Ontario, as in Heart: The Marilyn Bell Story (1999).

As a last resort I could take legal action, such as in Frog Girl: The Jennifer Graham Story (1989), which is about a girl who sued her school for the right not to dissect a frog, but frankly, being forever known as ``frog girl'' would make it a Pyrrhic victory at best.

The reason I love these sorts of telemovies is to see how cliched screen writers can make someone's life story if they really put their minds to it -- these things are as formulaic as their names.

So while I wouldn't for a second mock the life experiences of the person who the telemovie is based on (well OK, except maybe frog girl) it's quite easy to forget the ``true'' aspect and focus on laughing at the bad acting and predictable scripts.

My initial reaction to Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story was that they really dropped the ball on the name -- surely Zero Tolerance: The Rudy Giuliani Story is the obvious name -- but in watching it, it became clear that the real problem was that it touched too raw a nerve.

Obviously any examination of the former New York mayor is going to include September 11, which really is a topic that should be kept out of the clumsy hands of a telemovie. It uses real footage of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, intercut with cheaply staged shots of Giuliani, played by James Woods. It's footage that we've all seen a million times and to see it, with the knowledge of all the death that went with it, as stock footage is unpleasant. Of course September 11 is only one aspect of Giuliani's career and from that the telemovie flashes back to his rise from attorney-general to mayor of New York City. It's a competent, if shallow, overview of his career, but these telemovies are not exactly aimed at people who are into politics.

In future, they should stick to people like me or Frog Girl.

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