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Fat Actress – The Complete First Season Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 May 2005

Fat Actress – The Complete First Season
Showtime Entertainment
MPAA rating: TV-MA
starring: Kirstie Alley, Bryan Callen, Rachael Harris
TV release year: 2005
DVD release year: 2005
film rating: Three Stars
sound/picture rating: Three Stars
reviewed by: Bryan Dailey

Being a successful actress in Hollywood is almost as tough as winning the lottery. The competition for starring roles is fierce and the pressure to be thin and beautiful is so heavy that many eating disorders and chemical dependencies are not uncommon amongst Hollywood starlets. As comedian Janeane Garofalo sarcastically says in her stand-up act, “I checked out the latest issue of Cosmo this week and it said that thin is in this summer. As if big fat girls have been having a free run of it up until now.”

One of the most publicized weight gains by a famous actress is that of two-time Emmy Award-winning “Cheers” star Kirstie Alley. It seems as if for a span of several years, you couldn’t wait in line at grocery store checkout counter without seeing some mention of Alley’s newfound girth. Gaining weight in an unforgiving place like Hollywood has to be tough enough, but to have it documented pound by pound to a gossip-hungry world on the pages of the tabloids would drive anyone into depression, which often further fuels the urges to give up and “let oneself go,” turning to food for comfort.

After a period of many failed attempts at landing acting roles and dealing with depression, Alley decided to stop letting her weight keep her down. Instead of trying to hide from the fact that she has gained quite a bit of weight, Alley created a show for Showtime that is based on the events of her life over the past few years, embellishing them and changing the players involved. The result is the blatantly self-deprecating-titled “Fat Actress.”

With a loose feel that is like a combination of the highly improvised show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” mixed with “Entourage,” a fictional series about a current Hollywood celebrity and his gang of friends, “Fat Actress” episodes are 30-minute snapshots of the tabloid stories about Alley’s life. Alley emphasizes in her press materials that the show is fictional, but the concepts and plots were derived from her own experiences. Hollywood executives turn show concepts down all the time and know that another project or person to pitch an idea will coming walking in the door like clockwork. Alley wasn’t going to let a “no” get her down and she remained persistent in her pitching of the show. She decided to send two dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts to Showtime’s president Bob Greenblatt’s office with a note saying that perhaps he’s not fat enough to understand the show’s concept, that he should have some doughnuts and then maybe he’ll get it. Sure enough, Greenblatt did “get it” and the series got the green light.

The real stars of the show are the celebrities who make cameos. Kirstie Alley may not be pulling in Julia Roberts’ kind of money and roles, but she does have quite a few friends around Hollywood and she was able to pull some pretty big A and B list celebs to make appearances on the show. From longtime friend and “Look Who’s Talking” costar John Travolta to rocker Kid Rock and media mogul Merv Griffin, there is some pretty major star power on the seven episodes that make up Season One of “Fat Actress.”

I had heard very mixed review of “Fat Actress,” some of which were very positive and others that were pretty negative, so I went into watching the show with an open mind. The first episode starts with some, dare I say, horrible overacting by Alley as she cries and whines to her agent while lying on her bathroom floor. She wants the audience to know that she has been suffering for years and the only kinds of acting roles she has been offered are things like weight loss commercials. Her screeching and crying are like nails on a chalkboard and I was fearful that if the whole first episode was going to be like this, the result was going to be an unwatchable mess.

Fortunately, the show picks up as the season progresses and it seems as if all the actors find their groove in later episodes. Alley’s main cohorts are her personal assistant Eddie Falcon, played by Bryan Kallen from the show “Mad TV,” and Rachael Harris, who plays Alley’s personal stylist Kevyn Shecket. This little trio all have delusions of grandeur about landing their next big role in life. Alley is obsessed with getting another show at NBC. Eddie stalks Carmen Elektra and Mayim Bialik from “Blossom” and thinks he is going to becoming the next leading man in Hollywood. Kevyn seemingly wants to be Alley’s agent and tries to hardball directors like “Charlie’s Angels’” McG.

The plots turned out to be much funnier than I would have thought, ranging from Alley being obsessed with Gwen Stefani and waiting outside the singer’s house every morning to try to go jogging with her, to deciding that perhaps smoking crack can help her lose weight. In one episode, Alley sets up a meeting for a possible acting role at the same hotel Kid Rock is staying at so she can try to seduce him. Kid is into the idea, but Alley’s latest diet attempt, laxatives combined with lots of caffeine, has her going to the bathroom throughout the entire meeting. The staff at the hotel where the meeting takes place thinks she is pregnant and going into labor so they call an ambulance for her.

In the end, “Fat Actress” is not a show about weight loss. It’s about seeing someone who has been very successful in Hollywood and how fast a star can fall, but in the end it’s also about a person with real feelings and emotions. Sure, Alley would like to lose some weight, as most women do, but she learns to accept herself for who she is. By being able to poke fun at herself, she actually ends up making those who try to put her down because of her weight look silly. Leading men like John Goodman and Marlon Brando have had long careers in Hollywood and were never put down for their weight the way Kirstie Alley has been. Alley hopes that with “Fat Actress,” she can open people’s eyes to the fact that even a big girl can be a star.

more details
sound format:
Dolby Digital 5.1
aspect ratio(s):
Anamorphic Widescreen 1.77:1
special features: Commentary from actors Kirstie Alley, Rachael Harris and Bryan Callen on two episodes, Commentary from producers Brenda Hampton and Sandy Chesley on two episodes, “Making Of” Documentary, Premiere Party, Deleted Scenes, Interview Clips, Actor Bios, Previews, DISH Network promo
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba

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