Meredith Baxter Birney turns from comedy to...

Meredith Baxter Birney turns from comedy to drama this week.

The "Family Ties" co-star plays the title role in "Winnie," a fact-based TV movie about a childlike woman who has lived in an institution for 30 years. The two-hour film airs Monday at 9 p.m. on NBC (Channels 4, 36, 39).

David Morse, formerly of "St. Elsewhere," portrays a fellow patient who is befriended by Winnie at a hospital gathering. She persuades him to run away, and together they enjoy a short-lived fling in the outside world.

The cast includes Barbara Barrie as a sympathetic teacher and Peggy McKay as Winnie's mother.

Based on a book by Jamie Pastor Bolnick, the film is directed by John Korty ("Who Are the DeBolts?") and written by Joyce Eliason.

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