'Call’ Your Friends For USA’s Guilty Pleasure


Grab your, uh, popcorn, fellas, Heidi Fleiss is coming almost full frontal into your living room.

Fleiss, the Hollywood madam whose bust raised eyebrows and anxiety levels in Tinseltown, is portrayed as a hot number by Jamie-Lynn DiScala (Meadow of The Sopranos), who’s sure to get a rise from viewers of USA Network’s upcoming telepic.

Executive-produced by Stanley M. Brooks, (Behind the Scenes: Three’s Company; A Season on the Brink), Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss focuses on the twenty-something who held the most powerful little black book in America.

The biopic clearly defines the childhood influence of Fleiss’s father, a pediatrician, in a hippie household where guilt and blame were not allowed. As a teen, Fleiss recruits her friends as babysitters, organizes jobs for them and takes a cut of their pay as her fee. As an adult, her father helps her hide her wealth with joint purchases and bank accounts.

The college dropout’s affinity for older men turns her on to 53-year-old Ivan, a former A-list director, played by Robert Davi (Profiler). Ivan introduces Fleiss to Madam Alex, played by Academy Award-winning actress Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot). Driven by her desire for fine things and beautiful lovers, Fleiss hits the streets.

Boyfriend Ivan teaches Fleiss the ropes and thickens her skin so much that after a police raid lands Madam Alex in jail, she becomes the victim of the youngster’s newfound strength. Fleiss draws from Alex’s client base and, in a move from mattress to management, drafts over 300 girls to build a multimillion dollar business. After a years-long affair, Ivan, too falls prey to the beast he created.

With split-screen phone conversations and push-aside cuts from scene to scene, Call Me stays true to 1980s movie production techniques, replete with Cyndi Lauper on the soundtrack. The voiceovers become corny very quickly, and, though the film is not as gritty as one might expect, it remains dramatic enough to maintain the viewer’s interest through legitimate storytelling.

The sex depicted is more sanitized than steamy, but director Charles McDougall (the U.K. Queer as Folk) turns up the heat through short scenes (don’t blame the men) and montages of engagement in mile-high, conference room, desktop and shower settings. There’s even a foursome dangling just a thong’s length from being FCC-unfriendly.

Call Me premieres on USA on Monday, March 29 at 9 p.m. ET.