Where’s Lindsay?

Dina and Ali work the Lohan brand
By SHARON STEEL  |  June 2, 2008

LION AND CUBS: Dina is pushing her “normal” family hard to propel Ali to insta-fame.

Dina Lohan and her 14-year-old daughter, Ali, made the rounds on the talk-show circuit last week to promote their new reality series, Living Lohan (E! Sundays at 10:30 pm), which debuted Memorial Day. On The View, both mother and teenager were visibly nervous. “Don’t worry, it’s just us girls!” the View vultures repeated, smiling, before picking apart everything from Dina’s decision to put her private life on camera to Ali’s fixation with mirroring sister Lindsay’s career choices. When the interview was over, Dina and Ali exchanged a glance of complete and utter relief. Somehow, they’d survived; there wasn’t even a follow-up to Ali’s denial that she’d ever had a nose job. It might have been different had Barbara Walters filled her place on the couch — but, fortunately for the Lohans, she was away on her book tour.

Working double duty as mother and manager to Ali and Lindsay, Dina claims Living Lohan is her chance to set the record straight about her clan. She and Ali want people to see that they’re a normal family, just like any other occupying a plush home in Merrick, Long Island. But do normal moms have an assistant to help them comb through the tabloids and gossip pages every day for mentions of coke snorting and cootchie flashing? Or say things to confessionals like “A lion’s got to protect her cubs” in reference to situations that have nothing to do with typical middle-school bullying? The most normal individuals in the Lohan home are the ones who shun the Hollywood hierarchy: little bro Cody, who would rather play soccer than groom himself for stardom, and grandma Nana, a former radio actress who now functions as the family’s thoughtful matriarch.

So, no surprise, the archetype roles that Dina and Ali play in Living Lohan make it clear that their goal in agreeing to film a show for E! is not about putting their average lifestyle on view — it’s about exposure, exposure, exposure. There are endless references to Lindsay and her exploits, even though she doesn’t appear on camera. Dina is constantly trying to keep her elder daughter’s image clean, even as she prepares to thrust her younger one under some very unforgiving fluorescent lights. Ali, in her tight jeans and Uggs, applies make-up whenever she leaves the house, and she’s delighted when a young girl close to her age asks for her autograph. “I’ve been following Lindsay’s footsteps since I was very young,” she tells us, and her eyes light up with a sad little fire. “Lindsay’s my role model, I look up to her. I try to look like her, dress like her, and everything.” Moments like these might keep people from judging Ali too harshly. There are many girls who believe they want these things, though they’re not likely to get very far without a mother like Dina to ensure they achieve their goal of insta-fame — whatever sacrifices that takes.

After music producer Justin Greene, a 25-year-old Justin Timberlake wanna-be, attempts to woo Ali with some synthy hip-hop tracks he wrote for her — while simultaneously feeding quotes to the tabs about a purported relationship with Lindsay — the showdown ends in, of all places, Ali’s bedroom. She demands that he stop the lies, and he tries to cut her off. But Ali isn’t hearing it. Arms akimbo, her voice rising, her cheeks flushed, she continues to scold him. This is the first time she looks as if she were in her element. At long last, she begins to resemble her one cherished muse.

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