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Melissa in New Shirley Temple Special Airing Tomarrow!

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Joined: 17 Aug 2002
Posts: 73
Location: Hollywood CA USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2002 11:26 am    Post subject: Melissa in New Shirley Temple Special Airing Tomarrow! Reply with quote

Shirley Temple tribute is sweet, just like the Little Princess

By Melanie McFarland
Seattle Times staff reporter
Fox Movie Channel crowns a marathon of Shirley Temple films with “Shirley Mania,” an hourlong tribute to the child star, tomorrow.

The phrase "child star" has a loaded definition these days. At worst, the words evoke images of "Eight Is Enough's" Adam Rich, all grown up and driving under the influence. This, and "Diff'rent Strokes" big brother Willis (Todd Bridges) duking it out with Vanilla Ice on "Celebrity Boxing." Sadness, tragedy — that's entertainment.

Given these "E! True Hollywood Stories," you might think it easy to forget the child star by whom all others will always be judged: Shirley Temple. But we can't. We won't. Especially not on Christmas Day, when children will no doubt crowd into church pews crowned with iconic shiny curls, and when "Shirley Mania," a new Temple tribute, caps a marathon of her films, airing between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., on Fox Movie Channel on Christmas Day.

The special, which premieres at 5 p.m. with encores at 6, 8 and 9 p.m., is equal parts camp and reverence; at some parts you'll be wishing for more of the latter than the former.

TV review

"Shirley Mania," 5 p.m. (repeated at 6, 8 and 9 p.m.), Fox Movie Channel
Still, any show that mixes in commentary on the child legend from tattooed rockers, grandmothers, child-pageant contestants and marginalized celebrities is worth the smallest gawk.

Why, in the first moments, "Shirley Mania" interviews both gracefully aging child star Melissa Joan Hart, a Temple memorabilia collector, and a badly maturing Corey Feldman, a peroxide disaster.

But you might want to ask, is Feldman a Temple worshiper, or merely there for some face time? And why does the hourlong special open with a mediocre rock band whose only point of interest seems to be its name, Shirley Temple of Doom? And was Temple, once she became Temple-Black, better as the U.S. ambassador to Ghana or to Czechoslovakia?

But the point is, we all love the tiny tapper. From the wig-shop owner giddily asphyxiating a mannequin head to demonstrate how well those sausage curls bounce, to the sweet old ladies in the Shirley Temple Fan Club, Temple is the source of many a smile.

This is not to say "Shirley Mania" is all cruising on the good ship Lollipop. The better part of this hour tour is spent ambling through museum aisles populated with Shirley dolls, or looking at showcases of dishes from which her sweetly dimpled face mugs.

This is where "Shirley Mania" loses steam. Unlike bubbly 7-Up gently swirling into that sweet bed of grenadine, it's hard to kick off with the punch of freakshow fun, and then gracefully segue into tours of the studio lot to see the commissary where she ate lunch.

This is just the kind of bait-and-switch "Shirley Mania" pulls halfway through before taking us on walk-throughs of the Hollywood mansion the Little Princess built.

And yet, the sweetness of "Shirley Mania" cannot be overlooked. Surely anyone who is excited at the notion of spending the entire day with the little girl who eased the masses out of the Great Depression and calmed spirits as they prepared for World War II will enjoy this tribute.

As those of us placating the household's Temple acolytes, you might want to try what one tattooed interviewee spoke of at the end of the special. Mix up a Shirley Temple — and add a little Seagram's to it.

Melanie McFarland:

Copyright © 2002 The Seattle Times Company
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