directed by Roger Pike
featuring Nicole Brown Simpson, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon, and Gianni Versace
There is no rest for the wicked, nor for the famously dead. In this tabloidesque TV series we follow the last days of various high profile celebrities and I was treated to a four pack of Nicole Brown Simpson, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon, and Gianni Versace. The premise is a moment-by-moment retelling of the last 24 hours of these celeb’s lives but there’s a bit of a cheat as they take the time to explore their backgrounds, early lives, and how they became famous. It’s all that gossipy stuff that makes you real — birth, education, and previous entanglements fill the hour. Of course, there’s the constant re-capping that drags down cable TV documentary — we hear the same stuff repeatedly, partly to refresh our memory, partly to catch the ear of the channel flipper, and partly to pad, pad, and pad some more. A British-sounding announcer ties together interviews with friends and relatives as actors re-enact scenes that posterity neglected to video document. Split screens and stock footage add a sense of forward motion and if there’s a slow spot in the story the editors step up and create the sense of action with the sorts of constant pans and cuts that define modern television.
What new nuggets emerge from this superficial investigative journalism? O.J. abused Nicole, collected knives, and very likely sliced her like an Easter ham. Gianni Versace hung out in über-gay South Beach and some people thought he was, “… a horny dog at heart.” Janis had good taste in drugs, but couldn’t tell the completely pure shit from the just pretty good shit. And Keith Moon? He’s lucky he didn’t just spontaneously combust when one of the other bandmates lit a cigarette. The commentator’s dialog is trite; comments like “On the eve of murdering Versace, the killer is very much on the loose” and “Nicole pays the check. She has less than two hours to live” are meant to sound ominous but come off as pretentious. The interviews are a bit better; the producers get a fair selection of ex-lovers, next door neighbors, and assorted TV grade experts. It’s the sort of program you might settle on when nothing else appeals but it’s not evil. Final 24 never stoops as low as the print tabloids: The salacious details are no worse than what is generally known, there are no awful “nude with a telephoto lens” shots, and while these celebrities had more sex, drugs, and rock and roll than they could handle they are portrayed as warm, loving humans. Perhaps if they lacked talent they would still be alive today.