December 30, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

Waste not, want not. Or something. In a Hollywood ecology experiment, the lives of some showbiz headliners were recycled into attention-grabbing made-for-TV movie projects — thereby neatly inspiring new headlines. Some fought the process with a ”whose life is it anyway?” defense: Tabloid perennial Elizabeth Taylor sued to prevent her biopic from airing. Others beefed or shrugged it off: Roseanne harrumphed that ”midget woman” Denny Dillon was all wrong for the lead in Fox’s Roseanne: An Unauthorized Biography and said that NBC’s script for Roseanne and Tom: Behind the Scenes (starring Patrika Darbo) ”makes Mommie Dearest look brilliant”; Madonna was uncharacteristically closemouthed about Fox’s naughty Madonna: Innocence Lost, starring unknown look-alike Terumi Matthews as That Girl. But Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa win the year’s showbiz recycling award for playing themselves in NBC’s Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story, and willingly, creepily reenacting deep personal tragedy and trauma — the suicide of Rivers’ husband, Edgar Rosenberg, Rivers’ liposuction, strains between mother and daughter — for the benefit of a mortified audience of voyeurs. One ecology lesson learned: Dirt grimes the hands of everyone who touches it.

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