Christopher Reeve: A Celebration of Hope

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Release date: March 01, 1998
Directed by: Louis J. Horvitz
Written by: Allen Rucker, David Leaf
Produced by: Don Mischer, David Leaf
Running time: 120 minutes

This ABC Television special presentation is a consciousness-raiser for spinal cord injuries, with proceeds to Christopher Reeveā€™s foundation benefiting various research and quality-of-life organizations. Guests follow typical blend of those with a connection to the star and/or cause and alternates performances with plethora of informational segments. Those tuning in for Meryl Streep, Ted Danson, Glenn Close, Christine Lahti and other billed actors will see them introducing filmed segs spotlighting success stories of people coping with spinal cord injuries.

Robin Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Cleveland Ballet’s Dancing Wheels, Glenn Close, Crenshaw High School Elite Choir, Ted Danson, Gloria Estefan, Chris Fonseca, Amy Grant, Tom Hanks, Phil Hartman, James Ingram, Christine Lahti, John Lithgow, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Dana Reeve, Jane Seymour, Meryl Streep, Stevie Wonder.

This special program, a tribute to actor Christopher Reeve, features inspirational stories and songs in a fundraising gala for the Christopher Reeve Foundation, held in association with the American Paralysis Association. Host Robin Williams opens the show by interacting with the audience, joking about Reeve’s training as a Shakespearean actor, and poking fun at certain medical discoveries. Highlights of the program include the following: Mary Chapin Carpenter, who was once a childhood neighbor of Reeve’s, thanks him for being a role model by singing “Keeping the Faith”; John Lithgow outlines the mission of the Christopher Reeve Foundation and the American Paralysis Association to aid spinal cord injuries; Stevie Wonder sings “Hold on to Your Dreams,” accompanied by the Crenshaw High School Elite Choir; Ted Danson introduces Travis Roy, who became paralyzed while playing hockey for Boston University, followed by a film chronicling Roy’s ordeal; singer Gloria Estefan mentions the accident that temporarily paralyzed her, and sings a song about it, “There’s Always Tomorrow”; Phil Hartman introduces clips from the National Wheelchair Basketball Association finals of 1997; Amy Grant sings a tune about the patience that is required to improve situations; Willie Nelson sings “Peace in the Valley”; Tom Hanks introduces a taped interview of Reeve speaking about the progress made in treating spinal cord injuries, and the future possibilities; Christine Lahti mentions how dreams can liberate the handicapped, and introduces James Ingram singing “I Believe I Can Fly,” as the Cleveland Ballet Dancing Wheels performs a ballet using wheelchairs; Aaron Neville sings a song of hope; handicapped comedian Chris Fonseca performs; and Deana Carter dedicates the song “That’s How You Know It’s Love” to people who spend their lives helping others.

Next is a film, narrated by Meryl Streep, that profiles the life of a disabled couple, Becki and Richard Melly, who are also present in the audience, and ends with Paul McCartney singing a portion of “Calico Skies.” Other highlights include the following: handicapped comedienne Nancy Becker Kennedy performs a comedy routine about how to deal with people in wheelchairs; Jane Seymour introduces saxophonist Tom Scott, who plays the theme to “Somewhere in Time,” the movie in which she and Reeve co-starred, accompanied by Sasha of Cirque du Soleil in an acrobatic ballet; Glenn Close introduces Reeve’s wife, Dana, who sings “The Music That Makes Me Dance,” the song she sang on the night she met her future husband; and Wonder, Carter, Neville, Grant, Carpenter, Nelson, and Estefan perform a medley of songs about friendship. Reeve concludes the program by dedicating the evening to some special people. Interspersed throughout the program are messages of hope and optimism by Winona Ryder and LeAnn Rimes. Includes commercials, promos, and public service announcements.