It's sad to think that "Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss" is what Jamie-Lynn DiScala is making of her "Sopranos" cachet. This TV movie, which premieres tonight at 9 on USA, is at the opposite extreme of the cable quality spectrum from her celebrated HBO series. It's no more than a banal catalog of revealing hooker outfits and cliches about the world of high-class prostitution, notably limp lines such as "Fantasy is my business." Insight into the psychology of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss? Hints as to why she took on the oldest profession in the first place? Sorry, wrong channel number.
DiScala, formerly Sigler, doesn't evoke the real Fleiss in the least. As Fleiss herself has said, the actress is too pretty for the role. But really, the agenda of "Call Me" is not to tell Fleiss's real story so much as it is to be glamorous and titillating, so the casting makes sense. See pretty Heidi learn to doll herself up to please her johns; see pretty Heidi snort coke and never look less than fabulous; see pretty Heidi strut down hotel hallways like a model; see pretty Heidi luxuriate in long limos; see pretty Heidi end run her own madame (Brenda Fricker), take over the business, and field calls while sunning on the deck beside her own swimming pool.
The movie gives the world of prostitution an invariably high-gloss treatment, as if having sex with strangers for big wads of money has no drawbacks except, perhaps, the possibility of getting busted. Fleiss's transition from organizing neighborhood baby sitters to organizing hookers is shown as no more than a clever career move that paid off beautifully for a long while. The "fall" of the title is given but a brief cameo compared to the extended "rise" sequences.
Most of the supporting characters are familiar types, particularly Fleiss's seedy older boyfriend, director Ivan Nagy, who is played like a "Dick Tracy" villain by Robert Davi. Fricker has a brief but dishy moment as the betrayed Alex, and Corbin Bernsen makes something of his small part as an impotent movie director who needs a flock of women to become aroused. But for the most part, "Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss" just doesn't do the trick.
Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.