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Tv Review : Vintage Manilow In 'Copacabana'

December 03, 1985|LEE MARGULIES | Times Staff Writer

Barry Manilow's TV-movie musical, "Copacabana," is like Barry Manilow's music: engaging and mushily romantic, conventional and predictable.

In other words, just right for network TV.

And the film, airing at 9 tonight on Channels 2 and 8, is enjoyable enough, as long as you know what you're in for. We're not talking Sondheim here. It's a featherweight romance with some bouncy show tunes, a couple of good production numbers and an assortment of vintage Manilow love ballads. Considering the emptiness of a lot of TV movies, that's an appealing package.

The story, based on characters from Manilow's hit song "Copacabana," casts him as Tony, a singer-songwriter from Brooklyn who falls for another aspiring singer named Lola (Annette O'Toole). He lands them performing jobs at the famed New York nightclub, only to see her lured away by the unsavory owner (Joseph Bologna) of a Cuban resort, who has more than Lola's career on his mind.

You know Tony will win her back, though, because Bologna can't sing.

Manilow, in what is billed as his TV acting debut, gets by nicely on a goofy charm that works well in the 1940s setting, even if his 1980s hair style and clothes don't. Writer James Lipton and director Waris Hussein have carefully constructed the plot so that nothing more is required of him.

The musical highlights include "They're Changing My Tune," a cute montage in which Tony makes the rounds of song publishers, each of whom has a suggestion about how to improve his style, and two chorus-line numbers, "Aye Caramba" and "El Bravo."

Manilow wrote 10 new songs for the film with lyricists Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman. The choreography is by Grover Dale. R. W. Goodwin produced for executive producers Dick Clark and Dan Paulson.

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