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Scandal Sheet 1985
Description: The publisher of a celebrity gossip tabloid sets out to destroy an aging actor, whose career is foundering and who is also facing a war with alcoholism.
Released: 21 Jan 1985 Director: David Lowell Rich Writers: Howard Rodman Actors: Burt Lancaster, Lauren Hutton, Pamela Reed, Robert Urich Genres: Drama
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Scandal Sheet Reviews:

This made-for-TV piece moves quickly and has an arsenal of nice acting talent. Caught between a stalled writing career in the "legitimate" publishing world, and an offer she can't refuse, Helen Grant (Pamela Reed) gets in over her head with a seedy but successful tabloid. The fresh job takes her on a wild ride, and us right along with her. Usually a helping actress, Ms. Reed holds her own in the lead here. In fact she is the excellent pawn for the crafty Mr. Fallen (Burt Lancaster) who pulls all her strings. Burt is brilliant.It is a storyline of two kinds of betrayal: to others and to one's own self. The film makes you ask, "What's my price to sell out my ideals?" Powerful performances by Robert Urich and Lauren Hutton as well. Very watchable. I rate it an 8/10.


(There are Spoilers) "Scandal Sheet" really goes deep into how large cash can corrupt even the greatest of friends. Especially where it's used by the likes of a intelligent and manipulating sleaze ball like the publisher and editor of the scandal sheet "Inside World" Harold Fallan, Burt Lancaster. Trying to receive an inside storyline about actor Ben Rowan, Robert Urich, we see how those who work for Fallen do their jobs at the beginning of the movie. Catching the troubled actor at an unguarded moment, coming out an drug & alcohol rehabilitation center, Ben is so upset by Fallan's vultures, his reporters and photographers, setting him up to create him look like he's still drunk that he almost ends up back in the tank for attacking the pasty and obnoxious "Inside World" employees.Fallen learns that Helen Grant, Pamela Reed, is having problem at the Fresh York Town news magazine "Lifestyle" and begins to go to work on her by pressuring a cash strapped Helen to transport to the west coast, all expensive paid in order to work for his rag at a starting salary of $80,000.00. It later becomes obvious why Fallen is so interested in Helen to work for him; she's a very close mate of both actor Ben Rowen and his wife Meg, Lauren Hutton. Fallan feels that Helen who knew and roomed with Meg back in college can receive him the large storyline about Ben's secret life, due to him confiding in her, and then splash it all over the front page of his tabloid. Not interested at first to work for Fallan's "Inside World" Helen falls for his pitch in letting her write only real stories for his magazine not the made up sleaze and garbage that's usually printed in it. Fallan also exploits Helen's, a single mom, concern in getting her son Bobby, Robert Jayne, into a secure and decent personal school that her salary at "Inside World" can deliever for him. Instead of the tough and risky public schools that he's forced to attend back in NYC. It's not long before Helen realizes what Fallan want's from her; to betray her greatest mates Ben & Meg by getting the dirt on them after being agreed and taken into their confidence. It's difficult to watch "Scandal Sheet" since it has nothing in it that you can cling on to and give you, like the folks in the movie, any hope for the end of the film uplifting itself. "Scandal Sheet" has one of the most depressing endings I've ever seen.Ben, who was a major movie star, trying to receive his life back together is given the leading role in a 25 million dollar motion picture after being off the screen for years due to his acute alcoholism. With those financing the movie not being able to pay the high insurance premiums for the movie, because of Ben being in it, to begin rolling Meg who's also staring in the film gives up her whole salary,$800,000.00, to pay it.It's when Helen is forced by Fallan and his sidekick Simon McKay, Peter Jurasik, to pick up the document of Meg's payment to hold her husband Ben in the film, which they paid off the studio secretary to give them a copy of, that she saw just how weak Fallan & Co would go to receive the large storyline and tore it up replacing it with a blank sheet of paper in protest.Helen who was earlier thrown out of Ben and Meg's home when she innocently said them that she worked for Fallan's paper, which more then anything else drove Ben to drink, didn't quite realize the hurt it did to both their lives with that document. Helen trying to victory back Ben & Meg friendship by refusing to have anything to do with a storyline that Fallan wanted her to do about Ben's inability to receive work without the support of Meg has Fallan pull out his ace in the hole. With that Fallan reaches a weak that even he didn't think he should achieve but it did the trick and brought Helen back under his control.Fallan's paper in the end not only destroyed Ben's possibilities for a arrival in the films but drove the depressed and sick boy to have a fatal heart-attack with Meg left all alone and at the mission of having an emotional collapse. Helen herself has her self-respect and dignity ripped away from her and at the same time she's hated and despised by Meg who holds her, even more then the slimy Fallan, responsible for her husbands untimely death. With the front page storyline of Meg's payment of Ben's insurance privacy which Fallan, falsely and maliciously, gave Helen credit for. Trapped in Fallan's employment with no outside jobs or cash accessible for Helen to pay her expenses as well as being cleverly place in debt to Fallan she had no choice but to enjoy the whore for the large cash she's paid. Helen is actually willing to do everything, no matter how weak down and sleazy, he demanded of her even to sneak into the church and photograph the body of Ben Rowan, as he lies in state, for Fallan's scandal sheets next front page story.


There is what I think an necessary mission to be made about this TV film which has not been touched on in any of the several comments made so far. It is that the magnificent hero actor Burt Lancaster resumes here in 1985 the rôle of the related hero he played in "The Sweet Smell of Success", so many years before in 1957. As can only be expected with a weak budget TV film, it is no artistic masterpiece like the earlier work, but all the same, well worth seeing.The all-powerful gossip columnist of the first film, J.J.Hunsecker and Fallen,the editor of the yellowest of gossip magazines in this one, are both manipulative, calculating, and ruthless, but the first rôle was shown as being far more complex, so that Lancaster would have been able to enjoy the more straightforward second rôle standing on his head, as they say.Lancaster, as J.J.Hunsecker, is not only a megalomaniac, who bullies politicians and forces the ambitious Tony Curtis, his minion and errand boy, to commit despicable acts of betrayal and deceit and finally arranges for him to be savagely beaten by the police and thrown into clink, but he also appears to be a psychopath, with an unpleasantly more than brotherly love for his young sister, everytime ready to commit a crime at one remove to achieve his sinister ends. On the another hand,Lancaster as Harold Fallen in "Scandal Sheet", is very "correct", quite unemotional, impassive, and not even contemptuous or verbally disrespectful as he schemes and uses his bag of dirty tricks single-mindedly to obtain, through his equally unscrupulously staff, who hate one other and probably him too, some fresh eye-catching storyline such as an interview with the late Grace Kelly by a self-styled spiritual medium on a Californian beach, a storyline about siamese twins who died on being separated but were "stuck back together" again by one unspeakable male reporter in the same coffin to create a nice photo, or the trials and tribulations of an ex-alcoholic and ailing filmstar trying with the aid of his loving wife to create a come-back. Fallen is everytime soft-spoken, calm and cautious as he goes about trying to receive his filthy rag off the presses. He is a malignant force rather than a personality, who does what he feels he has to do, deploying others to do the current dirty work, so that he seems hardly to be more blameworthy than a spitting cobra blinding its opponents or prey with its venom - that is just the nature of the beast. This hero is also reminiscent of Mephistpheles, emissary of Lucifer the arch devil, whether in the "Faust" of Goethe or the "Doctor Faustus" of Marlowe: calm, logical, seducing with "offers you can't refuse", all without ever raising his voice, his blood pressure or even his eyebrows.



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