Falling Star concerns the least sympathetic creatures on the planet. No, not mosquitoes . . . an even lower life form . . . TV reporters. More precisely, those stars of the media better known as news anchors The author, a former anchorwoman herself, offers nothing new under the sun in this non-romance potboiler. While the writing is competent and at times the plot engrossing, there are no unique insights here. No sharp wit, biting humor or wry commentary. In short, there’s nothing here to raise Falling Star above the level of the mediocre. Instead, it’s a thoroughly predictable tale of ambition, greed, success and failure inside the cutthroat world of television journalism.
Forty-year-old Natalie Daniels has been on top for decades. She’s the star anchor at KXLA, and she intends to stay there. But her slimy new boss, Tony Scoppio, has other plans. Natalie’s not young anymore, not sexy enough, and her salary is just about breaking the budget. Her contract’s up in three months, and Tony wants to replace Natalie with young up-and-coming Kelly Devlin. Given all this, plus the fact that Natalie’s soon-to-be-ex-husband is a loser of stellar proportions, I was on Natalie’s side for a while. But when she stoops to paparazzi-style methods just to get a career-making interview, she lost my sympathies completely.
Kelly Devlin is an over-the-top villainess if ever there was one. She’s arrogant and evil and nasty and conniving and manipulating; she’s slept her way to the anchor desk and intends to stay there. She’ll do anything, a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g, to knock former-mentor Natalie off her pedestal and attain her own goals. As a character, she was thoroughly unbelievable because I just could not accept that that many men are willing to be led around by their dipsticks (and if they are, god help us all).
Geoff Marner is Natalie’s long-time agent and the supposed hero of this tale. Geoff is Australian (I have no idea why), and hunky. He’s three years younger than Natalie, has a very nice girlfriend he’s planning to marry, is a smart, sharp wheeler-dealer, but when he sleeps with Natalie, he lost my sympathies completely.
The crux of the story is Natalie’s refusal to bow to the forces of the inevitable. An older, wiser character even asks Natalie why she’s surprised she’s being shoved aside. I wondered the same thing. Not only is Natalie forty, she’s forty in California . . . in Los Angeles . . . in Hollywood for crying out loud. In that environment, mature women become useless bags of electrolytes to be dumped and replaced by better looking, younger, sexier bags of electrolytes every day of the week. Natalie’s naivete in this was astonishing to me. Like, what, she never watched Murphy Brown? She’s worked in television news for over twenty years and is still appalled at her treatment? Was she absent the day Deborah Norville replaced Jane Pauley? Hello?
Anyway, the childish antics of those who inhabit what I would term the network prime-time anchorgartens interested me not in the least. None of these characters was truly sympathetic, the stereotypical villains have nothing about them that make them human, the protagonists are little better, and my negative perceptions regarding media stars have only been reinforced.
Since Falling Star is this author’s first book, and since she herself was a TV news anchorwoman, the question arises: is this her own story? If so, was she Natalie or Kelly? Were the plot elements strictly fabrications, or is this a high level view of her own experiences? Admittedly, some of the details of on-air broadcasting were interesting, but have already been done, so if this was some sort of media exposé, it offered nothing new for me to be either astonished or appalled by. And, since the characters were so one-dimensional, I was not even entertained.
Having said all that, this author does know how to write, and write well. In spite of the problems I had with the book, it still held my interest for the most part. With more sympathetic characters, less stereotypical behavior, and less emphasis on the glamour world and more on the real world, this author may be one worth watching. I guess her next book will tell the tale. As for Falling Star, for me at least, it exploded on impact.