Keri is so very.

Friday, October 16th, 1998

Maybe it’s me. But there’s something inherently manipulative in the ad campaign—or just the intensity of the campaign—for the new WB young angst program "Felicity". First of all, of course, there’s that WB announcer guy—Don LaFontaine—the same voice we hear in countless movie trailers and, hilariously, in a parody of those trailers where he pops up behind the counter of a Hollywood Video store to narrate the plot of a movie to a customer. He just seems to care so… much…about making us believe that "Felicity" is the next hit we’ll take…into our hearts.

His intensity and caring pale, of course, next to the pale Keri Russell, who seems so very ready to show us the importance of being earnest. Although in fairness, compared to the gamut of facial twitches that Calista Flockhart uses to communicate complexity of thought, Ms. Russell wins the prize for nuance and subtlety in her acting. But are you watching "Dawson’s Creek" and whatever-the-heck-that-is-Beach and "Felicity" for the acting? Or are you going for a quick pang of recognition, a remembrance of insecurities past? An Altoid of emotion after a long day’s work.

But c’mon, don’t you feel just the slightest bit…targeted? As if beyond that two way mirror, shadowy demographic marketers are adjusting the nuances of the show’s lighting, the percentage of hair-curl, the background sadness of the string section for maximum impact based on their observations…of you. Don, give us just a little more tug when you say "this fall…on the WB." And call Paula Cole up to see if she has something for this show. (I have this image of Ms. Cole maniacally cranking out song after song to keep up with the WB’s new programming. Don’t wanna wait, indeed.) Keri, 10 percent more pout, please.

I think the folks deep within the vast Disney and Time Warner empires (it’s interesting how a tiny handful of media companies intersect to come up with this stuff) have worked hard to craft this piece’o’television. And they were proud to hire a 19-year-old writer—a prodigy!—to create several of the show’s episodes, because, like, she’s lived though it, you know? The quote in Entertainment Weekly was "In many ways, I am Felicity."

Well, yes, except then we hear in the L.A. Times and on Entertainment Tonight last week that 19-year-old Riley Weston is, in fact a 32-year-old actress who, because she looks young, has always lied about her age to get acting jobs. It’s acceptable to do this as an actress, she says. But when Disney is promoting you as the voice of your generation, well, now Disney says "we trusted her as a colleague and are saddened by her dishonesty."

So what part of the process of the making and marketing of "Felicity" isn’t dishonest?

What part of television isn’t, in that way, dishonest?

* * * * *

By the way, the evil spirit of Bill Gates who lives inside my word processor, judging my every cobbled noun, would prefer the name "Chalets Flowchart" to Calista Flockhart. Hey, not bad!
* * * * *