TV REVIEWS : Deidre Hall's Quest for Motherhood

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A woman's struggle with infertility can mean years of invasive medical procedures, pain and anguish and even a shattered marriage. By her own account, "Days of Our Lives" star Deidre Hall knows this firsthand.

She tells of her long ordeal and her ultimate choice for a surrogacy pregnancy in "Never Say Never: The Deidre Hall Story," written by her husband, writer-producer Steve Sohmer ("Favorite Son").

Unfortunately, the film plays out on such a superficial level that Hall's real-life tribulations become just so much fodder for a run-of-the-mill TV movie.

A fundamental problem is the film's exploitation of Hall's daytime TV celebrity status. The camera loves this beautiful soap queen and director John Patterson allows an overabundance of that here. Constant close-ups of her perfectly made-up face, winning smile and pretty tears make Hall appear too willing to sacrifice depth for image.

And, because it's difficult to imagine that in reality deep emotion was cast off as lightly as it continually is in this re-creation, perhaps Hall's closeness to the subject is the reason for an emotional remove that often makes her seem shallowly self-absorbed, despite genuine tears.

Sohmer's cliched dialogue is a distancing factor, too. There's a pervading sense of "but enough about me, what do you think of me?" in Hall's interaction with virtually every other character.

Those who fare best as Hall's satellites are Wayne Northrop, Hall's former co-star on "Days" as himself, Mark Lonow as her paternal business manager, Daniel Hugh Kelly as Sohmer and Eve Gordon as the warm, caring surrogate mother. Surrogate motherhood, by the way, despite some references to high-profile court cases, gets a glowing plug here.

* "Never Say Never: The Deidre Hall Story," ABC (Channel 7), Sunday, 9 p.m.

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