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`True Hollywood Story’ focuses its cameras on life of actress

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Mackenzie Phillips' life could be the subject of a made-for-TV movie.

The daughter of a rock singer - John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas - she co-starred in the movie "American Graffiti" when she was 13. She co-starred in the hit TV series "One Day at a Time" starting when she was 15.And by the time she was 19, she had been fired from the show because of serious drug and alcohol problems. Her life was pretty much out of control.

The folks at the cable channel E! certainly think it's worth a couple of hours. Which is why Phillips will be the subject of an "E! True Hollywood Story" Sunday.

Not that the actress, who has rebuilt her life and is rebuilding her career, is exactly happy about it.

"E! approached me to do a `True Hollywood Story' and I said, `You know, I'm not really very interested,' " Phillips said. "It's been sensational enough without having it sensationalized.

"And they said, `Well, that's OK, because we're going to do it with or without your cooperation.' "

Phillips said that she felt "cornered" and was immediately nonplused by that news.

"So, in order to have at least a little bit of spin control, I agreed to be part of it," she said. "It's kind of a scary thing. I've been a little weird about it. I was on an airplane the night before last, flipping through People magazine, and there it was - `A Childhood Neglected, A Life Reclaimed: Mackenzie Phillips, the True Hollywood Story.' Weird."

The better news for the actress is that she's once again starring in a television series. She's playing the rock-star mother of a young girl with an interest in the paranormal in the upcoming Disney Channel series "So Weird," which is scheduled to debut in December.

Phillips' character is sort of a former star on a comeback tour, traveling by bus across America with her daughter and son in tow. Which is sort of an echo of what Phillips' early life was like. Sort of.

"I remember it as my dad sort of putting a flower behind my ear and dressing me in tie-dyed T-shirts and piercing my ears with peacock feathers," Phillips said. "That's what is was like for me to be a child around the Beatles and the Rolling Stones back then.

"But I think what we're putting forth is a much more wholesome, family-oriented version of rock 'n' roll."

No doubt, given that it will air on the Disney Channel.

Phillips actually looks and sounds great these days. And she's excited about her future.

"I took a lot of time away from what I love to do, which is acting," she said. "As probably all of you know, I've made a lot of positive changes in my life. I came back and started working again as an actress in 1994."

And she's done a good bit of work as a guest star, appearing in shows ranging from "Melrose Place" and "Beverly Hills, 90210" to "Walker, Texas Ranger" to "NYPD Blue" and "Chicago Hope." But that's not what she's most proud of.

"I'm very active in lecturing about alcoholism and addiction," she said. "I'm recovering myself."

"For me to come from where I've come from . . . to the point where I get to have a series again is really a big deal for me. And I'm really, really excited."