starlet fever (14/22)
This compelling drama follows the professional and personal life of Sebastian Stark (James Woods), a charismatic, self-confident defence attorney who transfers his skills to the prosecutor’s office. This week, Stark and the team attempt to discover why a 21-year-old starlet plunged to her death in the Hollywood hills. Were the predatory paparazzi responsible for running her off the road, or was she the victim of a stalker?
Driving home alone from yet another Hollywood party, young actress Taylor Mays is leaving someone a voicemail message about a break-up when she notices a car following her a little too closely. Suddenly the other car rams Taylor’s Mercedes, causing her to lose control and veer off the road into a deep ravine to her death.
When Stark and his team show up at the scene, they are disgusted at the paparazzi swarming around the crash site. Taylor had been having a long-running feud with the press, which makes the team wonder if the photographers who had been chasing her caused the accident. “The press always control the case,” says Stark. “This time they arethe case.”
While Raina and Stark talk to Taylor’s family, inlcuding her young sister Kristie (Joy Lauren, ‘Desperate Housewives’), Isaac asks a paparazzo a few questions about press harrassment of Taylor. The snapper explains that the photogenic starlet was worth a lot of money to the press, adding: “and most of us aren’t crazy like that.” However, there was a photographer by the name of Jano who had recently had an argument with Taylor’s bodyguards. He denies running Taylor off the road, but when pictures of the crash are found in his car, his innocence looks doubtful.
Silver paint found on Taylor’s car seems to implicate Jano further, until analysis of the crash shows that a larger car – probably an SUV – must have hit the Mercedes. Someone close to Taylor owns one of these: her stepfather and manager Marty Babish, who starts to look more and more like a valid suspect when it emerges that he has a history of sleeping with his young protégées. One ofthese is April George, a former teen sensation who bitterly tells Raina and Madeline how the caddish Marty ruined her career after seducing her and stealing her money. “You put me on the stand and I will make that jury cry,” she promises. “Just the way Marty taught me.”
With the realisation that Marty has a motive – Taylor was being pressurised to drop him, which would have landed him in financial trouble – Stark and the team decide he is their man. Controversially deciding to corner him at Taylor’s memorial service, citing the “element of surprise”, Stark ignores Marty’s protesting lawyer, Lloyd Holden, (Ray Wise, ‘Twin Peaks’) and spots Marty attempting to make a run for it out of the window… not the actions of an innocent man.
In the courtroom, Stark gets to work convincing the jury that hustler Marty – a “knight in shining Armani” to impressionable young things like Taylor and April George – killed his charge. However, Marty’s defence lawyers are not going down without a fight, and do their best to discredit Taylor by bringing up her drug and alcohol problems. Trying to shift the blame back to Marty, Stark calls his star witness – April George. But when Holden reveals that April not only has a few skeletons in her closet but also has a million-dollar book deal in the bag if Marty is found guilty, Stark realises that his star witness is now useless. Can he pull this case back from the brink?