Travolta! Stallone! Swayze! How's that for a lineup of movie stars for a summer release?
Before you answer, consider that it's Joey Travolta, Frank Stallone and Don Swayze. And, perhaps more important, that "Movie Stars" is a WB network summer comedy series, beating the Christmas in July rush by starting down the road to obscurity.
Executive producers Jonathan Axelrod and James Widdoes certainly try to get as many gilt-by-association references as possible: Robin Williams driving the carpool. Tina Turner holding a yard sale. Jennifer Lopez sun-bathing in the nude. Such jokes mostly serve as a reminder of the talent we're not seeing.
The eight-episode satire proports to show the mundane reality behind the seemingly glamorous lives of famous actors. Detractors would say that for two half-hours each week, Sundays and Mondays at 9, WB viewers' lives can be as banal as the celebrities'. As long as they can ignore the incessant laugh track.
The star of "Movie Stars" is former "L.A. Law" hunk Harry Hamlin, believably cast as bad-acting action-adventure star Reese Hardin. (Anybody remember "Clash of the Titans"?)
Jennifer Grant, daughter of Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon, portrays the wife, Jacey Wyatt. She's a supposed Academy Award-nominated actress. (Grant's work on "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Super Dave's Vegas Spectacular" seems to have escaped critical notice.)
Their million-dollar Malibu mansion also includes their 13-year-old apiring movie mogul son, Apache (Zack Hopkins); precocious 6-year-old daughter, Moonglow (Rachel David); and 16-year-old Lori (Marnette Patterson), Reese's daughter from a previous marriage.
Reese also is saddled with his slacker brother (Mark Benninghofen), an under-employed actor whose career highlights include playing frozen corpse No. 3 in "Titanic" and asteroid victim No. 702 in "Deep Impact."
But for all the talk of "stars," the brightest performances come from the sidekicks: Anne Haney, portraying Reese's mother, and recurring show-biz siblings Travolta, Stallone and Swayze, playing . . . well, the brothers of John Travolta, Sylvester Stallone and Patrick Swayze. (The producers also had considered casting the brothers of Bruce Willis, Ron Howard and Tom Hanks.)
Haney didn't pursue show business until age 45, but has become a solid character actress with impeccable timing. And with memorable roles in "Liar, Liar," "The American President," "Mother" and "Mrs. Doubtfire," she worked with real movie stars.
So have the brothers of the rich and famous. Their poker-table jabs at their own failings -- Sly and the others won't take their calls -- produce more smiles than the show's barbs at Kevin Costner, Calista Flockhart, Disney, Adam Sandler, Robert Downey Jr., Joe Pesci, Dweezil Zappa, Drew Barrymore and Roseanne.
"Movie Stars" also takes a shot at sitcom rookie Hamlin -- or at least his character.
After she gets a role in his upcoming action film, Moonglow proclaims, "The director said I was twice the actor that Daddy is."
CAPTION: Jennifer Grant and Harry Hamlin play actors with a mundane home life in the summer comedy series.
CAPTION: The best jokes of "Movie Stars" are at the expense of Don Swayze, Frank Stallone, Harry Hamlin and Joey Travolta.