Sunday, May 06, 2007

Botox: "If you're playing a mom you need to look like a mom."

Extracts from
The Backlash to Botox
TV Studios See Shortage Of Lined, Lively Faces

By Brooks Barnes for the Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2007

As an aging divorcee on the CBS sitcom "The New Adventures of Old Christine," Julia Louis-Dreyfus struggles to grow older with dignity, often sparring with the more-Botoxed-than-thou moms at her son's private school. In one memorable scene, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus, 46, ends an argument with the "meanie-moms" by shouting, "At least I have my original face!"

She's one of the few. The rarest commodity in TV these days, say veteran casting directors: stars without Restylane-frozen faces and collagen-inflated lips. Indeed, studios say there's a shortage of familiar faces that look their age.

Studios ... have started doing more screen tests ... in part to see how overzealous cosmetic treatments will play on screen. In recent years, Warner Bros. has doubled its casting staff in foreign countries like England and Canada where Botox is less common. And writers, particularly for daytime shows, say they now sometimes write plastic surgery into roles to explain to audiences why characters have retreaded faces.

"We try very hard for authenticity," says Marcia Shulman, Fox's executive vice president of casting. "If you're playing a mom you need to look like a mom. Otherwise it takes viewers completely out of the show."

A rival studio says it made an offer to a star this spring on the highly unusual condition that she "lays off the injectibles."

Both TV and the movies have been coping with the effects of cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery for years. But the problem is greater for television shows, because there are more close-ups. As in movies, peer pressure and a cultural fixation on youth play a role in the Botoxing of the small screen. (While facial surgery and treatments are more prevalent among actresses, casting directors say that actors are also loaded up with injections.)

Giant flat-screen TVs ... [are] showing facelift scars, overly peeled and pulled skin and extra-firm foreheads. "The Botox used to be less noticeable but high def has changed that," says one network president. "Now half the time the injectibles are so distracting we don't even notice the acting."

Network and studio executives say television is already suffering from a plastic surgery hangover in one important genre: comedy. Successful sitcoms, including "Old Christine," typically feature actors and actresses who use a heavy arsenal of facial expressions. Failed comedies -- for example, "Hope & Faith," "Listen Up" and "20 Good Years" -- often feature performers that border on cardboard caricatures. "Frozen isn't funny," says Mr. Thurm.

Some comedy stars have joined executives in sounding an alarm. Delta Burke, famous from 1986's "Designing Women" and a star of ABC's "Boston Legal," says she's trying to cut back on Botox. "When I'm watching myself I'm not moving," the 50-year-old star told a TV magazine last month. And "Desperate Housewives" star Teri Hatcher, 42, recently told Oprah Winfrey that she stopped using Botox "more than a couple years ago...

Two major casting directors say they recently considered Melanie Griffith, famous for 1988's "Working Girl," for TV projects but ultimately deemed her "uncastable" due to her extra-plump lips and rigid-looking upper face.

Still, CBS just hired Ms. Griffith ... Perhaps CBS is counting on reviews similar to one she got last season for her work on the failed WB sitcom "Twins." Wrote critic Joel Rubinoff: "Melanie Griffith -- virtually unrecognizable after plastic surgery, Botox, you name it -- is lovably vacant as the ditzy mom."


At 12:18 AM, Blogger Julie said...

In an Ugly Betty episode, the Vanessa Williams character frowned... her entire forehead furrowed like a cornfield. It was gorgeous. Of course I was still jealous... her furrows were even and straight. Mine are kind of lopsided and crooked. :)

But the cynical part of my mind can't help wondering if this frown was pre-scheduled to make sure that the crinkles would be there when they were needed. (Like, "Vanessa, we need you to frown on the 28th, so schedule your treatments accordingly.") I think I'm just jealous, though.

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous jewels said...

I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher this weekend. One of the guests was Gary Shandling and his entire face was frozen. It was so distracting, I kept watching his lips move, but nothing else.

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous sylvia said...

"Injectibles"...I had never heard that term before. What a sad state of affairs when casting directors need to search hard and even go abroad to find faces that actually move. Whatever happened to growing old gracefully?


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