Review: ‘Cbs Sunday Night Movie Big Dreams & Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story’

Lee, who developed the project and is one of the exec producers, knows just how to play the saucy, groundbreaking and rule-bending singer, who set Nashville on its ear and in the process opened doors for numerous successors.

Lee, who developed the project and is one of the exec producers, knows just how to play the saucy, groundbreaking and rule-bending singer, who set Nashville on its ear and in the process opened doors for numerous successors.

Show taps some of the genre’s biggest guns, such as Chet Atkins, Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn, to play themselves, each sharing their real-life remembrances of one of country music’s more colorful performers.

Biopic opens with West’s 1991 fatal car accident, and switches quickly to her childhood, when an adolescent West had to care for her numerous siblings.

After a stint studying songwriting at a local college, West and her songwriting hubby Bill (William Russ), in the midst of raising a brood of youngsters, try for the big break: a shot on network variety series “Jamboree.”

Though her road to stardom is filled with speedbumps, eventually she succeeds , with hit records and a grueling roadshow schedule.

But failed relationships, a trio of husbands and the struggle to

stay on top take their toll, and the inevitable crutches like alcohol take root; the money flows, the back taxes are due, and it all comes to a crashing halt. But Lee manages to keep the telefilm in solid drama territory.

Scripter Theresa Rogerton keeps the teleplay taut with realistic dialogue and simmering emotion, wisely keeping her distance from cornpone humor and over-the-top histrionics.

William Russ as spouse Bill West captures the real-life model whose good-natured manner seems at odds with the often gritty, backstabbing side of the music biz.

Jennie Krochmal and Jennie Smith as the young Dotties keep the opening salvos of the story alive and worth watching.

Director Bill D’Elia has a talented cast and successfully guides them in establishing a high credibility factor to the story usually lacking in other biopix.

A nod also should go to costume designer Faye Sloan, who nailed the dress of the real-life equivalents as well as the changing eras.

Cbs Sunday Night Movie Big Dreams & Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story

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

Production

Filmed in Nashville by Ken Kragen Prods., Michele Lee Prods. and CBS. Executive producers, Ken Kragen, Michele Lee; producer, Robert Berger; director, Bill D'Elia; writer, Theresa Rogerton.

Crew

Camera, Richard Rawlings; editor, Bill Johnson; production designer, Charles Lagola; art director, Suzette Ervin; sound , Jim Hawkins; music, Edgard Struble; costumes, Faye Sloan.

Cast

Cast: Michele Lee, Chet Atkins, David James Elliot, Larry Gatlin, Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, William Russ, Lisa Akey, Jennie Krochmal, Michael Montgomery, W.M. Travis Baird, Joel Traywick, Dan Albright, Tommy Cresswell, David Ducey, Chris McCarty, Jennie Smith, Norm Woodel, Rosemary Newcott, Stuart Greer, Dan Miller, Cassie Criswell, David Dwyer, Jeffrey Ford, Don Mueller. Michele Lee taps both her experience as a dramatic actress and as a singer to deliver a credible, classy performance in this two-hour meller tracing the rise and fall of country singer Dottie West.
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