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Cbs Sunday Movie a Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story

It's a slick way of introducing the autobio, and Funicello is poised, charming and lovely. (A neat juxtaposition under Corcoran's hand occurs late in the TV movie when LaRue passes the As Annette tells it, her younger self was egged on by her mother Virginia (Linda Lavin, playing with insistent gladness), was spotted by Walt Disney at a recital, and forged ahead into the Mouseketeers. She works with Frankie Avalon (Avalon himself plays the role with effectiveness), Dick Clark enters (played by Kavan Smith before Clark appears) and Paul Anka passes through her life, but how close and for how long isn't explored -- only that he passes out of her life to further his career.

It’s a slick way of introducing the autobio, and Funicello is poised, charming and lovely. (A neat juxtaposition under Corcoran’s hand occurs late in the TV movie when LaRue passes the As Annette tells it, her younger self was egged on by her mother Virginia (Linda Lavin, playing with insistent gladness), was spotted by Walt Disney at a recital, and forged ahead into the Mouseketeers. She works with Frankie Avalon (Avalon himself plays the role with effectiveness), Dick Clark enters (played by Kavan Smith before Clark appears) and Paul Anka passes through her life, but how close and for how long isn’t explored — only that he passes out of her life to further his career.

Mom sticks like mustard plaster, but Annette meets her first husband, settles into domesticity and loses him. Marrying again, she suffers one problem: She’s developed multiple sclerosis and doesn’t want anybody to know.

Len Cariou plays an avuncular Disney, and Rob Stewart brings off an insinuative turn as first husband Jack. David Lipper’s topflight as an eager Anka, and Justin Louis is OK as Avalon until the real thing comes along. Andrea Nemeth is a spirited delight as the discovered Annette, Frank Crudele does a sure job as Annette’s dad, and Don S. Davis as Glen Holt, Annette’s second husband, is fine.

Designers Linda Del Rosario and Richard Paris catch the era’s spirit, and helmer Corcoran does commendable work. Tech credits are good.

TV movie doesn’t try to cover the Disney sweetheart’s complete pro career, focusing instead on Annette, the girl and the woman, and how she has coped with her illness.Program is flooded with sunshine, and it’s wholesome, helpful and entertaining, like its subject. Just the thing for youngsters to watch with their parents and grandparents — who may have Mouseketeer hats squirreled away somewhere.

Cbs Sunday Movie a Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story

(Sun. (22), 9-11 p.m., CBS)

Production: Filmed in Vancouver by Once Upon a Time Films, Savoy Pictures TV, Cactus Pictures and Fireworks Entertainment. Exec producer, Stanley M. Brooks; co-exec producer, Jay Firestone; producer, Ron French; director, Bill Corcoran; writers, John McGreevey, Peter Torokvei, based on the book "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes -- My Story" by Annette Funicello; camera, Jan Kiesser; editor, George Appleby; production designers, Linda Del Rosario, Richard Paris; sound, Patrick Ramsey; original music, George Blondheim; choreographer, Maddalena Acconci. Cast: Eva LaRue, Frank Crudele, Rob Stewart, David Lipper, Don S. Davis, Justin Louis, Andrea Nemeth, Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Linda Lavin, Austin Basile, Ahnee Boyce, Jay Brazeau, Victoria Brooks , Stephanie Ciccone, Demetri Goritsas, Elysa Hogg, Gary Jones, Lorraine Landry, Hrothgar Mathews, Alexandra Purvis, Claire Riley, Greg Rogers, Nina Roman, Domenico Sansalone, Blair Slater, Kavan Smith, George Touliatos, Scott Augustine , Kim Bailey, Talia Derksen, Laura Jenkins, Ben Newcombe, Kelli Stewart, Rene Tardle, Kimberly Wallace, Dick Clark, Shelley Fabares, Virginia Funicello, Joe Funicello, Glen Holt, Gina Portman, John Portman, Jason Gilardi, Jack Gilardi Jr. Annette Funicello's story proves pleasantly persuasive, with people's ages blurred, TV programs unexplained, events played out easily and the sugar refined. Eva LaRue of "All My Children," limning Annette from 1958 till the present, is a delight, and Funicello fans from the '50s and beyond probably will latch on to the memories -- hers and theirs. Telefilm, directed with unfailing good taste by Bill Corcoran, early on introduces Funicello lying on a divan. She meets shy little Heather (Alexandra Purvis), who'd like to hear Annette's Cinderella story.

Crew: Camera in a wheelchair and, when she turns around, she becomes Funicello.)

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