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The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom

DVD cover
Directed by Michael Ritchie
Written by Jane Anderson
Starring Holly Hunter
Beau Bridges
Swoosie Kurtz
Music by Lucy Simon
Cinematography Gerry Fisher
Editing by Eric A. Sears
Distributed by HBO
Running time 99 min
Country United States
Language English

The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom is a 1993 comedy TV movie produced by and for HBO. It was directed by Michael Ritchie and starred Holly Hunter, Swoosie Kurtz and Beau Bridges.

It is based on the true story of Wanda Holloway, a woman who tried to put out a hit on one of her daughter's classmates (and the girl's mother) to advance her own daughter's middle school cheerleading career. The movie also has themes connected to Operation Desert Storm, during which the real scandal took place.

This should not be confused with Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story, a 1992 television film produced by ABC that approaches the story in a more serious light.

Holly Hunter won the Emmy Award for playing Wanda Holloway and Beau Bridges won both the Emmy and the Golden Globe Awards for the supporting role of Terry Harper, Holloway's brother-in-law whom she contacted to arrange the hit.

Plot summary

When Wanda Holloway was a teen, her father forbade her to try out for her school's cheer team. Many years later, when she had a daughter of her own, she was determined that her daughter would fulfill the dream she was denied and become a cheerleader.

The Holloways lived in the Channelview, TX suburb of Houston. Their life was seemingly peaceful, and much the same to other families in the area. Wanda, wanting Shanna to become a cheerleader, enrolled her in various dance and gymnastics class in training to become a cheerleader when she reached middle school. Wanda also got the garage floor laid with a proper dancing surface, and floor to ceiling mirrors encompassing the garage interior, so that her daughter could practice her routines. Wanda forced Shanna, every day, to practice for hours on end, despite sickness or injury.

Next door to the Holloways, lived Wanda's best friend, Verna Heath, and her daughter Amber. Amber was the same age as Shanna, and the two became friends. Verna had been a successful varsity cheerleader when she was young, and held the same ambition for Amber. Like Wanda, Verna enrolled Amber in various dance and gymnastics classes as soon as she was old enough.

Leading up to the cheer-leading tryouts for the Alice Johnson Junior High School, jealousy and envy sparked between Wanda and Verna, despite the fact that their daughters friendship remained. In the months prior to the tryouts, Wanda had forced Shanna to put everything into cheer-leading. Wanda did all of Shanna's homework for her, so that she could focus entirely on being a success in the tryouts.

When the tryouts finally did come, there was a lot of competition. Amber Heath impressed the judges with her back flips and high kicks, but Shanna Holloway, despite all of her training, didn't make the grade. When the results came out, Amber and her mother Verna were very excited, but Shanna and Wanda were disappointed.

The fact that Shanna didn't make it into the team, and Amber did, put a final end to the friendship between Verna and Wanda, and Wanda forbade her daughter from having anything to do with Amber. However, Wanda didn't give up on seeing her daughter being a cheerleader.

Every day, Wanda used to say to Shanna "Next year, next year we're going to do it. We are going to make the team!". Shanna practiced very frequently until the tryouts for next seasons cheer squad. When the time did arrive however, the Holloways were in for another major disappointment. Like before, Amber Heath made the team, and was even promoted to co-captain. But Shanna had been disqualified. Apparently, her mother had been trying to bribe the judges and other students, to get Shanna into the team. The shock of her daughter not making the team for the second time, put Wanda into a mad fit of rage, anger, and jealousy.

Wanda was determined, that if it wasn't for girls like Amber, Shanna would have definitely been a cheerleader. She was obsessed with the notion that living next door to talented Amber had sapped Shanna's confidence and ruined her chances of success. Wanda wanted Amber dead.

In a trailer park on the outskirts of the city, a meeting was arranged. Wanda Holloway met up with a renowned hit man named Terry. "I've got a big problem," Wanda said sternly. "I want someone done away with." Terry listened as Wanda explained the situation. However, he was mortified by the woman's hate for the thirteen year old girl. Killing adults was one thing, but Terry didn't agree with the murder of a young vibrant girl - and over something as petty as cheerleading.

After the rendezvous, Terry contemplated the situation, and decided that people like Wanda should be locked up. So he decided to play along with the charade. He met Wanda again, only this time, he took a tape recorder to record their conversation. "We're talking $5000 to kill the girl," he said. Wanda didn't hesitate. "Go for it" she said.

Terry sent the recorded message, along with background information, to the police. It was enough to get Wanda arrested. Wanda was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but was set free when it was discovered that a member of the jury at her trial was on probation. Altogether, Wanda Holloway only served six months for the attempted murder of Amber Heath.

Shanna decided it would be best to quit trying for cheerleading teams. These days, her mother has different hopes for her daughter. Presently, Shanna and Wanda Holloway reside in California, where Shanna is taking modelling, singing and acting classes. Wanda hopes that one day, her daughter will be a famous Hollywood actress, no matter what it takes.

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