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Crowned and Dangerous

Yasmine Bleeth dives nimbly out of "Baywatch" and into the opener of ABC's new season of Sunday Night Movies, a droll, ironic murder mystery. Penned by Alan Hines, Carey W. Hayes and Chad Hayes, "Crowned and Dangerous" chases shadows and humor in the world of beauty competish; they even suggest being careful what you ask for --- it could come true.

Yasmine Bleeth dives nimbly out of “Baywatch” and into the opener of ABC’s new season of Sunday Night Movies, a droll, ironic murder mystery. Penned by Alan Hines, Carey W. Hayes and Chad Hayes, “Crowned and Dangerous” chases shadows and humor in the world of beauty competish; they even suggest being careful what you ask for — it could come true.

Danielle’s (Bleeth) pushy mother Katy (Jill Clayburgh) insists Danielle win these California regional contests since they’re the road to becoming beauty champ. But pretty competitor Shauna (Cassidy Rae) wins the crown early on in the telefilm, with Danielle named runner-up. Ouch.

Poor Shauna bites the dust after her contest victory.

All this occurs in the first few minutes of the dryly amusing telepic under astute director Christopher Leitch’s purposeful hand; the story then neatly folds back three months so viewers can catch how everyone got into such a pickle.

The long rivalry between the two girls, their yearnings for wealthy, handsome young Riley (George Eads), the enmity of his stepmother (Gates McFadden) and a couple of other suspects all build up the puzzle.

Bleeth accomplishes a considerable amount with her character, ranging from naive teenager to oh-so-gracious beauty queen. As her forceful, no-holds-barred mother, Clayburgh’s in good form. Eads makes a good impresh as a leading-man type despite the purposely hollow role. Rae’s well cast as the blond queen, and McFadden’s mean-spirited stepmother works well enough.

Production designer Donald Lee Harris, making the telefilm look shiny bright, explores San Diego sites with admirable resourcefulness. Robert Primes’ lensing is sharp, with John Duffy’s editing a plus. Score by Starr Parodi and Jeff Eden Fair reflects the wry tenor of vidpic.

Crowned and Dangerous

(Sun.(21), 9-11 p.m., ABC)

  • Production: Filmed on location around San Diego by Stu Segall Prods., Katie Face Prods. Inc. and Columbia TriStar TV. Executive producers, Tony Danza, Diana Kerew; supervising producer, Stu Segall; producer, Rosalie Muskatt; co-producers, Judith Verno, Rachel Verno; director, Christopher Leitch; writers, Alan Hines, Carey W. Hayes, Chad Hayes.
  • Crew: Camera, Robert Primes; editor, John Duffy; sound, Trevor Black; music, Starr Parodi, Jeff Eden Fair; production designer, Donald Lee Harris; casting, Vicki Rosenberg, Teri Tunder.
  • Cast: Cast: Yasmine Bleeth, Jill Clayburgh, Cassidy Rae, Gates McFadden, Troy Evans , Lily Knight, Oliver Muirhead, Mathea Webb, George Eads, Maggie Myatt, Angela Lambert, Catherine Staples, Scott Foley, Jack White, David Grant Wright, Debbie Grattan, Fred Ives.