OUTSIDE IN by Courtney Thorne-Smith


Email this review


From a former Melrose Place star, a spottily incisive tell-all about diet- and thinness-obsessed Hollywood.

Kate, supporting actress on the smash-hit nighttime soap Generations, should feel blessed. Two years ago her career was in the can when the “bloids” outed her as ten or so pounds overweight. But that was before Hamilton, her handsome manager/husband, took her in hand. Not only does he personally supervise her daily weigh-ins and workouts, he’s recruited her into his marriage guru Penelope’s unique cult of “surrendered wifehood.” Dreading an impending lingerie scene, Kate binges on honey-roasted peanuts. Luckily, shooting is delayed: The star of Generations, Sapphire, is in full wardrobe meltdown. None of Sapphire’s outfits, purchased during the many phases of her own fat wars, fit. Sapphire is in denial that her own appetite for muffins, Snickers and caramel lattes is the problem. The anxiety induced by Hamilton’s high-handed sanctimony and treacherously conditional love (reminiscent of Kate’s mother’s) proves slimming; ultimately, the director deems the former “Katie-cow” too emaciated for skimpy underthings. Hamilton, seeking a more suitable mate from the A-List of narcissism, becomes Sapphire’s manager and lover. Abetting Sapphire’s quest for primetime—if not world—domination, he ejects Kate from both the marriage and Generations. Meanwhile, Sapphire’s agent Michael, feeling redundant, writes short stories at Kate’s favorite Starbucks. He’s mired in a web of deceit. Not only does he flirt with Kate without revealing his identity, he’s promised Sapphire the lead in a nonexistent biopic of Vivien Leigh—now he must package the movie himself to prevent a total diva implosion. Kate’s makeup person, recovering alcoholic Paige, is her sidekick and sounding board. The characters’ witty repartee tends to pall as the banter drags on. Hilariously hyperbolic at first, the self-absorption of Hamilton and Sapphire has a similarly brief shelf life. Worse, Kate’s willed helplessness undermines the credibility of her struggle for selfhood in the snake pit.

A heavy-handed, intermittently diverting satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7679-2749-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Broadway
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2007