Bong & Donnell

Two Baltimore 17-year-old best friends, Philippine-American Bong Deirosario and black Donnell Green, show how they've come this far in life. Bong, stuck with an ailment known as arthrogryposis, which leaves his hands and feet helpless, spins around in an electric wheelchair; his main power, though, is buddy Donnell. It's a touching, often amusing, beguiling sketch about youthfulness. Pals since kindergarten days, they've shared their lives openly and heartily. Both being raised by single mothers, neither cares to see his dad. As Donnell, just short of 17, says, he doesn't need him now: He's grown up.

Hour folds back to their younger years when they were full of pepper.

Donnell decides he’d like to be a football or an actor. “If that doesn’t work out, I’d like to be a doctor or a lawyer.” Bong literally rolls around on the floor playing baseball with his mom, who’s a model of patience until, after a year or two passes, she discovers he’s smoking, that he’s not keeping up his grades, and he’s been suspended.

But times passes, the boys get involved in making a movie, “The Mall,” and the casting is a treat. Thing is, Bong, irresistible to the girls, gets them smiling in nothing flat. Admitting to being the “baddest boy on wheels,” Bong is also blessed with poise and charm.

People mag does an article on them, and they head for “Good Morning America” — and watching the boys luxuriate in first-class plane seats on their way to Gotham is a treat.

Program’s been ably directed by co-producer William A. Whiteford, who also videotaped and edited the diverting work. But Bong and Donnell are what makes it work.

Bong & Donnell

Tues. (12), 7-8 p.m., HBO

Production: Videotaped in Baltimore and New York City by Whiteford-Cohen Prods. Producers, Susan Hadary Cohen, William A. Whiteford; director-camera-editor, William A. Whiteford

Crew: sound, Dwayne Dell, Bill Porter, Dennis Towns, Tim Wolfe; music, Tom Alonso.

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