OFFBEAT: Melissa Joan Hart remembers Shirley Temple and movie project

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-02-21T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Melissa Joan Hart remembers Shirley Temple and movie projectBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Reader Pat Miller of Valparaiso left a message at my desk asking about how I decide when to write about movies and film screenings in my columns.

"I know you sometimes screen movies in advance, but I thought about you while watching cable's TCM, Turner Classic Movies and the introduction for films hosted by Robert Osbourne," Miller said.

"It reminded me of what you do for your readers. You are a lot like OUR Robert Osbourne."

Thank you Pat for your message and kind words. Osborne, who celebrates his 82nd birthday in May, began his career as an actor and is now a film historian best known as the primary host for Turner Classic Movies since cable network launched in 1994. Previously, he served in the same capacity on premium cable's The Movie Channel.

As readers know, my fondness for film usually leans toward the classic movies of the past, just like Osbourne's preferences. But we are not alone. Young actress Melissa Joan Hart, 37, is also a fan of classic film. The former child star of the ABC TV series "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" grew up being especially fond of of Shirley Temple. When we lost Temple last week at age 85, Hart was especially saddened by the passing.

I had forgotten that Hart and her talent producer mother Paula had also forged a friendship with Temple. After her passing last week, Hart sent out an Instagram photo of herself with Temple. She also wrote a special column for Entertainment Weekly magazine detailing her interaction with Temple, including securing the movie rights to Temple's 1988 autobiography "Child Star."

In 2001, Hart and her mother, with their production company Hartbreak Films, produced "Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story," a made-for-TV film for ABC and Disney, with Melissa's sisters Samantha and Emily cast as Temple at different ages during the young actress' life.

"First, we had to get Shirley's blessing and that door opened for me when we had a chance to ask her to play my grandmother on 'Sabrina,' " Hart said in her essay for Entertainment Weekly.

"She was not interested in playing a witch. But she was interested in meeting my mother and me. My mother and I, along with a few of my younger siblings, made the trip to Northern California to have lunch with Shirley and her husband Charles at their home."

Hart said Temple gave her blessing to make her life story, but with one major stipulation: respect the memory of her mother and not portray her as the over bearing stage mother.

"We spent many months in Melbourne, Australia where we produced 'Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story' for The Wonderful World of Disney to air on ABC as a Mother's Day special."

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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