“Brave New Girl” is either payback or an investment. There’s no way any self-respecting network, even one as low in the pecking order as ABC Family Channel, would commission such a trite film without ulterior motives. “Brave New Girl” merited special treatment because it is based on a book supposedly written by Britney Spears and her mother, Lynne.

Little Golden Books have more complex plots than “Brave New Girl.” A small-town teen with a big voice aspires to be an entertainer. Her lifelong dream is to hone her talents at a prestigious musical school. She’s finally accepted under fairy-tale circumstances, only to be shunned by snooty students as well as professors appalled at her lack of formal music training. In the end, she shows them all.

Holly Lovell, a fresh-faced blond teen who seems to have been crafted to look like a Britney in training, dreams big, but her only credit is Dairy Princess in her hometown. Her mother, Wanda, a single parent, is living vicariously through her daughter. Wanda had unrealized show business dreams of her own – she yearned to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Alas, the best she can offer Holly is moral support. A call from a telemarketer is a relief; usually she only hears from collection agencies. The bank is looking to take back their house, too.

Fortunately, Holly has an option. Her boyfriend just came into his uncle’s trailer and wants her to move in with him. If she wants to get married, he says, that would be OK, too. This breathtaking proposal comes simultaneously with the improbable scholarship to the elite musical academy, where Wanda and Holly are mocked as the Beverly Hillbillies.

Lindsey Haun has the biggest role as Holly. Virginia Madsen has the biggest name as Wanda. Haun’s slim resume isn’t going to be enhanced by her nondescript performance, and Madsen, who connects the dots without expending much energy, isn’t going to reignite a career in retro burn.

Predicting where each plot thread is headed and how it will be resolved is easier than acing the TV Guide crossword puzzle. It’s about as satisfying, too.

There’s undoubtedly something in this for ABC; keep this in mind if and when a Britney musical special shows up. There’s nothing for any discerning viewer.


Stars: Lindsey Haun, Virginia Madsen

Airs: 8 and 10 p.m. EDT Sunday on ABC Family Channel; also 8 p.m. Monday, 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday

(c) 2004 South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Visit the Sun-Sentinel on the World Wide Web at http://www.sun-sentinel.com/

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-04-22-04 1059EDT

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