What kind of twisted experience must director Noah Harald have endured to inspire the anti-heroine of Lila Carter? As the Starlet, Lila takes the remorseless, manipulative, sleep-with-anyone-who-gets-me-to-the-next-rung starlet cliché to a whole new plateau, all with winking Southern affectations.

It took me a while to figure out the facial resemblance, but Ellie Gerber’s Lila has some Britney in her with the smile and spunk of a (young) Mary Lou Retton. Add a whole heap of Melrose Place, and you’ll begin to get a sense of this belle-on-wheels.

In the beginning of this Filmaka web series, Lila says goodbye to daddy and leaves Sweetwater, Texas with her boyfriend with the fully self-aware conceit of conquering Hollywood, and conquer she does.

During her first night in California, Lila ditches her hometown sweetheart like excess baggage and sexes her way in to a velvet-roped club, where she meets, and then services, the first rung on the ladder: her first agent, Michael Levin (Charlie Capen). Levin soon faces the wrong end of jail-bait bribery (Lila’s only 17), which leads to Lila’s first big break.

Having stepped over her boyfriend and agent number 1, Lila goes on to sabotage a fellow actress, alternately charm and get intimate with a couple directors, and offer her realtor a very generous ‘down payment.’

Gerber deftly inhabits the prom queen-turned-psycho-social-climber, but Lila’s written with nary an ounce of likability. We can see through every insincere gesture, and her glowing, ‘wink-wink’ smile is a bit overworked even for a character who only knows false charm. Harald does nice work creating moods – whether in the club, in the meeting rooms. or on the sets – setting up a forbidden, if-you-can’t-stand-the-heat vibe.

After multiple rounds of deviousness, though, it’s enough already and we become impatient for the denouement – Lila’s comeuppance – which finally arrives at Episode 3, Season 2, when a security tape of her ‘taking a meeting’ with a potential director on the conference table hits ‘Hollywood Inside Access,’ i.e. the tabloid news.

Alas, the retribution is delivered anticlimactically, with lukewarm heat, we’ve digested and moved on before completing screenings of the final episodes. At 3 ½ to 5 minutes per episode, though, you can get through the whole thing in less time that it’d have taken you to watch one full episode of Dallas.

Story aside, Starlet is the product of a full-scale production team, and it leads to an image quality that hit the perfect mix of TV drama and web video. Even the brief title intro is highly effective in its ominousness.

Check it out at Filmaka.com.

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