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'Chasing Farrah'

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'Chasing Farrah':

It's good-really Farrah Fawcett's reality show seems to be the real deal.

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CHASING FARRAH

Tonight at 10, TV Land.

By now, anyone who's followed the career of Farrah Fawcett - or even just her talk-show experiences - knows to expect the unexpected. Yet her new reality series for TV Land, "Chasing Farrah," delivers one of the most unexpected moves of all: It's really good.

And unlike most TV shows purporting to be reality, there are times when it seems real. This isn't just a surprise. It's more like a shock.

Since her swimsuit-and-smile poster days and her one-year superstar stint on "Charlie's Angels," Fawcett has been mystifyingly mercurial. Originally embraced and dismissed as a sex symbol, she turned her career and image upside down by starring in such brutal and demanding vehicles as "Extremities" and "The Burning Bed." But for every impressively subtle acting turn, there's a loopy appearance on "Late Show With David Letterman," or a pay-per-view special proving there's an audience for anything Farrah Fawcett does - and proving little else.

Then there are the men in her life, including longtime lover Ryan O'Neal, whose decades-long relationship can best be described as on-again, off-again. For "Chasing Farrah," which premieres tonight at 10 on TV Land, it's on again - and it's in large part responsible for making the series sparkle.

On paper, the concept of "Chasing Farrah" reads like just another reality-TV train wreck, an "Anna Nicole Show" redux waiting to derail. The self-reflexive, "Seinfeld"-type concept is to film the network meeting in which Fawcett and her management team are pitched a reality series - which, if they agree to it, will feature that pitch meeting in the first episode.

That's the same dreadful recipe that gave us "The Real Roseanne Show," but "Chasing Farrah" is different. So different that the meeting begins with Fawcett admitting she dislikes reality shows in general, and specifically doesn't want to be laughed at like Anna Nicole Smith. She needn't have worried. Fawcett herself turns out to be the person responsible for widening the focus of "Chasing Farrah" to show not only her at the center of a reality-TV maelstrom, but also to step back and acknowledge the crew filming her as she goes about her life. She had the right vision or instincts to embrace, rather than erase, the conflicts and flaws in the process. When things go wrong technically, she cackles with glee and begs the camera operator to keep rolling. When everyone around her wants to stop filming, that's when she wants to keep going.

That doesn't mean every story gets told, or told well. Among the members of Fawcett's inner circle, in addition to protective manager Mark Burg and equally protective agent Harry Gold, are longtime friend Alana Stewart and photographer Lisa Boyle. The former attends a function with Fawcett; the latter documents some of Fawcett's antics, while occasionally scoring screen time herself.

What's never mentioned, though, is that Stewart once co-starred in Fawcett's "Small Sacrifices" and much more recently was one of the spotlight-hungry contestants on "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" Also absent is the information that Boyle had a long career on the opposite side of the camera - starring in such mature-audience films as "I Like to Play Games" and, like Fawcett, posing for Playboy.

Two episodes of "Chasing Farrah" are shown tonight. That's a smart move, because the second episode, in which O'Neal agrees to show up and be filmed lounging with Fawcett, is where the gold is. When they're through throwing Frisbees and drinking Champagne and watching the sunset and eating dinner, O'Neal and Fawcett manage to build to a private moment in the midst of the pervasive TV equipment and crew. First, she dances sexily to Meredith Brooks' "Bitch," one of the most perfectly suited TV theme songs in years ("I do not feel ashamed ... take me as I am"). Then they dance together, swaying and smiling - and you know you're watching a moment that's sweet, and real, not generated for the cameras.

In the genre called reality TV, that's a rarity.

So is "Chasing Farrah."

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Wow this lady hasn't had a career since I was 3 years old. Instead of giving her her own show maybe she should have got her feet wet on The Surreal Life so people know or recall who she is.

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even as a gay teen i had that poster and many other Farrah pictures on my walls. It probably gave my parents false hope!

She was beautiful!

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Okay..I watched an episode of this show and I can honestly say I didn't get it. Maybe she was hot 30 some years ago and she's an alright looking older woman now, but I can't figure out why she's doing this show. To me its just a self indulgent actor doing a reality show to try to rivive a career that's long since died. Good Luck!

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