By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman
Although I am decades older than the target audience, I enjoyed the first four episodes of the new Hollywood Heights. It’s the new teen soap on Nick at Nite, created, written, produced and acted by several daytime veterans. What I really admire about this show is that it has good soap bones.
Hollywood Heights is a multi-generation show based on relationships, not on the shock and schlock plots we are so used to in daytime. The kids and their parents actually seem to care about and even love one another, as daytime characters did in days of old. Brittany Underwood (ex-Langston, One Life to Live) stars as high school senior and young aspiring songwriter Loren, who, along with her close friend Melissa (Ashley Holliday), really digs rock star Eddie Duran (Cody Longo), a very cute nice guy who comes to town to do a concert, and later sponsors a song-writing contest. We meet Loren’s mom, Nora (Jama Williamson), Melissa’s family and Cody’s girlfriend, bad girl Chloe (Melissa Ordway) as they prepare for the big event. The hour long daily show has a large cast! After a ticket mishap, Loren and Melissa finally get in (their antics reminded me of Lucy and Ethel) and Loren is given every teen girl’s fantasy — Eddie touches her hand and looks into her eyes in the middle of a song.
Remember when daytime soaps used to be about female fantasies? Here you go junior style. The canvas is full of kids and their elders, each of whom has a secret or a story hook. Remember daytime soaps when older characters had their own stories? One of the fathers, Don, is played by Grayson McCouch (ex- Morgan, Another World, ex-Dusty, As the World Turns) and I really like Williamson who plays Loren’s very young single mom. Oh to have to be a teenage girl and have such a sweet “best friend” mom like this!
The show is put together by many backstage daytime vets like director Owen Renfro (General Hospital), line producer Jeanne Haney (Passions, General Hospital Night Shift) and produced beautifully by Jill Farren Phelps (Santa Barbara, Guiding Light, etc., etc.) The show is the baby of headwriter Josh Griffth (One Life to Live, The Young and the Restless), who has nicely adapted it from a Mexican soap. I guess the reason the show appealed to me so much is that a lot of careful thought seems to have gone into it, and it reminds me of soaps they way they used to be.