'Hollywood Heights' gives James Franco a turn

Meredith Salenger and Brian Letscher in "Hollywood Heights"

Meredith Salenger and Brian Letscher in "Hollywood Heights" on Nick At Nite. (Credit: Viacom)

NIGHTTIME SERIAL "Hollywood Heights"

WHEN|WHERE Premiere hour previews at 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, followed next week by fresh hour episodes weeknights at 9, on Nick at Nite.

REASON TO WATCH Got a summer soap?

WHAT IT'S ABOUT James Franco seems to be going for the Guinness World Record of eccentric guest shots. First, he did 742 intermittent arcs as an insane serial-killer artist on "General Hospital." Now he'll pop up on this piffle of a cable serial "derived from" the Mexican telenovela "Alcanzar una Estrella," playing an "outrageous" (duh) movie mogul.

But first, the setup. "One Life to Live" kid Brittany Underwood (Langston) stars as a high school senior with music dreams that just might come true when her rock idol (Cody Longo, the 2009 movie "Fame") sees her songs. He'll flip for them. He'll flip for her. Melodramas involving parents, BFFs, business buds and significant others play out through October.

MY SAY There's a reason broadcast networks don't run prime-time shows nightly. They're expensive. Or else they look cheap. As in cable's "Hollywood Heights," which lacks the punch of a polished production.

On the other hand: It's nice to see teens and parents on varied paths that reflect real-world grounding. Families can watch this together nightly. The pace isn't exactly taxing. And it's summer. Who says the heights have to be high?

BOTTOM LINE Everybody wants to go Hollywood.

GRADE C+

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