- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lindsay Lohan needs help — with her film career.

The 21-year-old actress got busted — again — for driving under the influence Tuesday and may be facing jail time.

She won’t get much comfort when her latest film, “I Know Who Killed Me,” hits theaters tomorrow.

The film, a thriller about mistaken identity, wasn’t screened for review purposes. That’s a sign the studio knows in which direction critics’ collective thumbs will point.

It couldn’t happen at a worse time for the talented actress, who has gone from It Girl to tabloid princess faster than “Harry Potter” books fly off the shelves.

“I Know Who Killed Me” comes mere months after her worst film to date, “Georgia Rule.”

That project broadcast Miss Lohan’s peccadilloes into the public arena. Her unprofessional behavior during the shoot caused a studio head to fire off an angry letter to Miss Lohan, a missive that eventually hit the press.

On-screen, the young beauty played a character so close to her public persona that she probably could have ignored the script and still nailed her performance.

She starred as a sexually obsessed teen who rebelled against her alcoholic mother (Felicity Huffman) and a by-the-book grandma (Jane Fonda).

Critics shredded it, and deservedly so. The public ignored it ($18 million in domestic box office receipts).

Georgia Rule” followed last year’s lifeless teen romance, “Just My Luck” ($17 million), and inconsequential roles in 2006 boutique dramas “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Bobby.”

Only “Herbie: Fully Loaded” (2005) had box office clout ($66 million), but kiddie films are a pretty sure bet in Hollywood.

Where is the freshly scrubbed ingenue who starred in the terrific teen comedy “Mean Girls” (2004)?

Gitesh Pandya, editor of www.boxofficeguru.com, says “Mean Girls” turned her from a Disney kids star into a teen attraction.

“There was nothing to market [on ‘Mean Girls’] except Lindsay Lohan,” Mr. Pandya says.

Projects like “Bobby,” he adds, “allowed her to test the waters of serious films without being the center of attention. It did good for her, creatively.”

A few ominous headlines later, and it’s time for career damage control.

“Maybe films with more negative roles might work for her” as a way to deflect her real-life woes, he suggests.

Robert Downey Jr. went through a similar addiction meltdown but eventually emerged with his reputation as a talented actor intact.

“He comes with some baggage, but he’s a … good actor,” Mr. Pandya says, something that can’t be said about Miss Lohan just yet.

A better comparison could be made with Drew Barrymore, who battled addiction in her teen years but then emerged as a steady, bankable actress.

“Hollywood is very forgiving,” he says.

Miss Lohan’s behavior risks more than public favor. It forces film studios to require insurance clauses in case she relapses midshoot.

E! Online reports Miss Lohan lost her role in the small drama “Poor Things” because she was seen hitting the town again shortly after leaving rehab.

Now, her next project, “Dare to Love Me,” is also be in jeopardy thanks to her recent relapse.

Ultimately, her film career could be an afterthought if her impulses can’t be corralled.

“It looks like this woman wants to destroy herself,” Bill O’Reilly opined Tuesday on his nationally syndicated radio show.

If that’s the case, no amount of Hollywood wrangling will save her.

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