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And Then There Was One

Lifetime's "And Then There Was One" turns the cameras on two television writers who find themselves in the midst of the worst tragedy imaginable when they and their daughter are diagnosed with AIDS. Based on the lives of Roxy and Vinnie Ventola, this wet-eyed drama doesn't grab you by the throat until midway through. But when the emotion and consequences of the disease begin to play out, the telepic reaches the higher ground of quality programming.

With:
Cast: Amy Madigan, Dennis Boutsikaris, Jane Daly, Steve Flynn, John Robinson, Jennifer Hetrick, Henry Ramer, Martha Henry, Cameron Arnett, Amanda Crouse, Candace Crouse, Damir Andrei, Gabe Cohen, Nancy Sakovich, Richard Monette, Naz Edwards, Kenner Ames, Paulina Gillis, Beatriz Pizano, Jonathan Potts, Deborah Grover, Maggie Huculak, Francoise Robertson.

Lifetime’s “And Then There Was One” turns the cameras on two television writers who find themselves in the midst of the worst tragedy imaginable when they and their daughter are diagnosed with AIDS. Based on the lives of Roxy and Vinnie Ventola, who wrote sitcom episodes for Norman Lear, this wet-eyed drama doesn’t grab you by the throat until midway through. But when the emotion and consequences of the disease begin to play out, the telepic reaches the higher ground of quality programming.

Director David Jones holds the reins a bit tight at the start, as the lives of the Ventolas — played solidly by Amy Madigan and Dennis Boutsikaris — are rosy, and the word “AIDS” isn’t uttered for nearly the entire first half-hour. When Rama Laurie Stagner’s emotional script begins to explore the life of a family whose members are all diagnosed with AIDS, Jones loosens up the feel of the production, which allows the acting, especially by Madigan and Boutsikaris, and the script’s dialogue to really shine.

The script is not without fault, though. Attempts to push political messages break the pace at the wrong times.

Jane Daly plays a great pal to the family as Vinnie and stricken toddler Miranda begin to succumb to the disease.

Andrew Dunn’s camera paints a hazy, misty tone that complements the drama, but Toronto just doesn’t cut it as Hollywood. Where are the palm trees?

Lifetime has given the viewing public a compelling tragedy in which the disease is a bit player and the human subjects take centerstage.

And Then There Was One

Wed. (9), 9-11 p.m., Lifetime

Production: Filmed in Toronto by Freyda Rothstein Prods. in association with Hearst Entertainment Prods. Executive producer, Freyda Rothstein; producer, Angela Bromstad; director, David Jones; writer, Rama Laurie Stagner.

Crew: Camera, Andrew Dunn; editor, Pam Maluf-Cundy; production designer, Barbara Dunphy; music, J.A.C. Redford, sound, Thomas Hidderly.

Cast: Cast: Amy Madigan, Dennis Boutsikaris, Jane Daly, Steve Flynn, John Robinson, Jennifer Hetrick, Henry Ramer, Martha Henry, Cameron Arnett, Amanda Crouse, Candace Crouse, Damir Andrei, Gabe Cohen, Nancy Sakovich, Richard Monette, Naz Edwards, Kenner Ames, Paulina Gillis, Beatriz Pizano, Jonathan Potts, Deborah Grover, Maggie Huculak, Francoise Robertson.

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