How do I hate the TV movie "Princess in Love"? Let me count the ways.
I hated the beginning. The middle. The end. The acting. The casting. The script. The direction.The whole idea of making the movie in the first place.
Actually, I'm not sure I can count high enough to count the ways I hated this movie. This piece of Euro-trash is certainly the worst network TV movie of the current sweeps period and is certainly in the running for worst TV movie of 1996.
It's not just that "Princess in Love" (8 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2) rehashes the same tired tabloid headlines that have made a mockery of the British monarchy. What makes this teleflick just unbearable is that it takes an already trite, cliched situation and makes it more so.
In the interest of some degree of brevity, here are just of few of the truly hate-inspiring aspects of "Princess in Love."
- If you can avoid throwing up during the sickeningly sweet scenes of Prince Charles and his trollop . . . er, mistress, Camilla Parker-Bowles, cooing love to each other, you've got a strong stomach.
Only slightly less nauseating are the scenes of Princess Diana and Hewitt cooing their love to each other. Gag!
- If we are to believe that this is actually Princess Diana's behavior, then the woman must be nuts. She spends half of her time pursuing Hewitt, the other half in pursuit of her own husband. And she discusses the pursuit of her husband with Hewitt, her lover.
She's weird, weird, weird!
- Charles, of course, is no less weird. Oh, yes, we get to see him talking to plants and that sort of thing. But what's really odd is watching him sit in bed with Camilla and complain about the British press making him out to be a bad husband.
- The actors who play most of the characters in the movie - from Prince Charles to Queen Elizabeth to Sarah Ferguson to James Hewitt - are greatly more attractive than the actual people.
On the other hand, Julie Cox is not particularly attractive at all, making her an odd choice to portray Princess Diana.
- The dialogue is remarkably bad. The sort of stuff that seems regurgitated out of crummy romance novels.
And this is with no offense intended toward crummy romance novels.
- There is no one to root for in "Princess in Love." Prince Charles is a weird, spoiled brat of a middle-aged man who whines to his lover about his wife - a woman he never loved but married anyway. Princess Diana is a weird, spoiled brat of a young woman who whines to her lover about her husband.
Hewitt comes off the best - which is decidedly unsurprising, since he cooperated with and was paid for his participation in the book the movie was based on. And yet, the movie glosses over the fact that he betrayed the woman he supposedly loved for that paycheck.
In other words, he may be the worst jerk in the bunch.
- Of course, not only does the worst jerk of the bunch benefit from selling his story to author Anna Pasternak, but he'll doubtless benefit from the sale of the TV movie rights, too. Which is an even greater crime.
There are only two possible uses for "Princess in Love." It could be part of a primer on how-not-to-make-TV-movies.
And the script, acting and direction are so ludicrously bad that it could be a camp classic.
Perhaps the British should consider doing away with the monarchy. If it would prevent TV movies being made about those wacky Windsors, it would be worth dumping a few hundred years of history.
SISKEL & EBERT INTERVIEWS: Film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert do interviews tonight.
Ebert does better interviews.
Which should come as no surprise, because Ebert is a better film critic, too. Siskel has a tendency to make everything he says about him. And he's just not that interesting.
And Siskel tries to do the Barbara Walters thing a bit tonight, rather smarmily cozying up to Meryl Streep and making sure that all of us little viewers out here know that both he and Streep attended Yale.
Still, despite a few lapses like that, the hourlong "Siskel & Ebert Interviews" (7 p.m., Ch. 2) is actually quite good. And well worth watching if you're a film buff.
The interview subjects are certainly top notch. In addition to Streep, Siskel questions Brad Pitt. And Ebert sits down with Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
You can't do much better than that for a guest lineup.
And, again with a few minor lapses, both Siskel and Ebert have the integrity to avoid making this just another Barbara Walters special, full of hokey personal confessions and tears. The film critics ask their interview subjects about films and acting and directing.
It's a refreshing change.
And they manage candid confessions from all four. Interesting angles. Quotable quotes.
Of course, Siskel and Ebert have themselves become celebrities of a sort, particularly with the increasingly lame and obnoxious act they've worked up for appearances on late-night talk shows. And Hanks can even quote from Ebert's negative review of his acting in his first big hit, "Splash."
But it's still much less annoying than watching Walters dance with Demi Moore.