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TBS Gives Clichéd Reading of JFK Jr.

1/05/2003 7:00 PM Eastern

Most of the clichés have already been expended in describing the life of the "Prince of Camelot," John F. Kennedy Jr.

Apparently, someone forgot to apprise TBS Superstation of that fact, because the network's newest biopic, America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story, trots them all out again.

Even the film's format is a cliché: Add America's Prince
to the long list of made-for-TV biopics that take the form of the after-the-fact documentary, featuring folks who knew the subject and "footage" of the aftermath before the actual story begins.

The film opens the day after the plane carrying Kennedy (newcomer Kristoffer Polaha), his wife, Carolyn (Portia De Rossi of Ally McBeal
fame) and Carolyn's sister, Lauren (Jennifer Baxter) goes down off Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

After hearing from actors depicting the grieving fans outside John-John's TriBeCa apartment, we're then transported back in time to the early 1990s, when the president's son is still working in the Manhattan District Attorney's office and struggling to pass the bar exam. We follow him on a bike ride to work and listen as passers-by either buck him up or make him the butt of their jokes.

The film delivers a series of snapshots of JFK Jr.'s life, but because it starts in young adulthood, we don't get much of a sense of how being the son of an icon he barely remembered affected his life. John-John and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (Jacqueline Bisset) talk about how JFK Jr. was pressured to give up his dreams of acting, but we aren't taken back to those days. Aside from black-and-white flashback footage of a toddler John-John playing at daddy's feet, there's virtually no mention of his upbringting.

And though Bisset has Jackie O's voice down pat, there's really no sense of emotion behind her performance; same goes for Polaha in the title role. Only De Rossi seems to exert herself emotionally in a scene where John-John refuses to open up to her following some early setbacks at George, his political magazine — and the choppy script makes such emotion seem as if it came from nowhere.

The most credible performance of the lot, though, is Tara Chochol as longtime JFK Jr. girlfriend Darryl Hannah — a performance that often makes you think you're watching the Splash
star herself.

Aside from showing that JFK Jr. was regularly tailed by cameramen, America's Prince
doesn't provide the viewer with any insights on this life that one couldn't have obtained by reading contemporary tabloid accounts. It's a film as one-dimensional as Kennedy's public persona.

America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story bows Sunday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m. (EST) on TBS Superstation.

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