No matter what goal Lifetime set when they cast Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor for their highly publicized movie "Liz & Dick," it can be assumed that the 3.5 million viewers, fanfare and media scrutiny of the made-for-TV film exceeded their expectations. What cannot be determined quite yet, however, is what effect the not-so-hot reviews will have on Lohan's future in Hollywood.
MTV News consulted a few experts on the subject to see if the onetime Disney darling has a chance to get things back on track.
"Lohan needs to tread carefully in the aftermath of 'Liz & Dick' instead of taking roles for the cash/bail money — like, say, a Lifetime made-for-TV movie," Movieline executive editor Jen Yamato told MTV in an email. "She needs to reset creatively in order to bounce back. Remember, she was actually a decent actress before her personal shenanigans turned her into tabloid fodder, and if that spark of talent is still burning somewhere deep within she's got to unearth it and cultivate it if she wants to avoid a future career built on gimmick roles and infomercials, or worse — reality television."
Entertainment Weekly correspondent Keith Staskiewicz said that he thinks Lohan still has good acting options, should she choose to actually commit to and pursue them.
"I think she has two possible paths, one is to descend into camp, that route is definitely open to her," Staskiewicz said. "Look at something like [her work in] 'Machete' or 'Liz & Dick' which could be interpreted as stunt casting, and in the future you see 'The Canyons,' which if you've watched the trailer is tremendously campy," he explained. "That's a possible route, but the problem with that is that there tends to be diminished returns and she's 26 and already is heading toward the late career of Joan Crawford and there is not a lot of mileage you can get out of that. Once you go down that route it's hard to double back."
The other option Staskiewicz suggested is for Lohan to re-commit herself to serious acting and take on several small roles that showcase her once-promising talent.
"She needs to start small, start showing that she is an actress as well as a celebrity," he said. "She has to realize that recognizability isn't the same as fame. She also needs to demonstrate that she can work consistently and needs to reassure people in Hollywood that they can hire her and they can count on her and she can do smaller roles if necessary."
VH1 News' Kate Spencer agreed that small and indie is the way to go for Lohan to re-establish herself as someone to be taken seriously in Hollywood.
"I do think she has talent, but 'Liz & Dick' failed to showcase it and actually made me question it," Spencer said. " 'Mean Girls' was great, but that movie is almost 10 years old and she can't continue to fall back on one awesome performance as proof that she can indeed act. I'd love to see how she does in something stripped-down and bare bones, where she's doing her own make-up on set and making next to no money," Spencer continued. "She insists she just wants to act, so it's time for Lindsay to take projects where she does just that."
Staskiewicz added that taking on a supporting character in a TV show would be a good start, a la her guest arc on "Ugly Betty."
"Maybe something on television similar to her arc on 'Betty' where she's on for four or five episodes," he said. "She needs to demonstrate that she's willing to put the work into it and it's not going to be a one-fell-swoop type thing."
Spencer suggested that Lohan let go of the idea of being a starlet and allow herself to be seen as someone vulnerable onscreen.
"There's no need to try to be a glamorous star," she said. "It's time to see some grit."