Lifetime Tries Science Glamour

Living_Proof_(2008_television_movie) Can "television for women" tell a story about science? Tonight, Lifetime tries with Living Proof, the story of my hero Dr. Dennis Slamon, the UCLA oncologist behind the biotech drug Herceptin. Based on the melodramatic trailer, I'm not optimistic. But since I may owe my life to the drug--it raised my chances of surviving breast cancer from 50% to 95%--I've got the Tivo set. (The movie repeats Sunday and Monday nights.)

The Hollywood Reporter is encouraging: "the kind of L.A. story you can't help but love," a good description of the true story.

But the LAT is not encouraging: "'Living Proof' is good only in a moral sense." I'm not even sure about the moral sense, since, if the LAT is to be believed, the movie gratuitously bashes Genentech, the company whose extremely risky bet on Herceptin turned research into reality (and a lot of profits--but that's with benefit of hindsight).

The Boston Globe is kinder: "Of course it's earnest. Of course it lacks subtlety. Of course you'll shed a tear at some point....[A]ll Lifetime movies about major illnesses are required to move the viewer at all costs. It's TV law.

Variety sums up my expectations: "'Living Proof' rises above most Lifetime movie fare." But it still "attacks its subject matter with unapologetic sentimentality."

The movie is based on NBC science correspondent Robert Bazell's Her-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer.