Annie is a television film which first aired on ABC on November 7, 1999. Like both the original Broadway musical, which it is based on, and the 1982 Columbia theatrical film version, also based on it, it is based on the cartoon, Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray. The main idea is that the principal character, Annie, intends to find her parents who had left her with a note at the orphanage 11 years ago when she was a baby. It was the directing debut of Rob Marshall.
In Depression-era New York City, Annie (Morton), reads aloud a note to Molly, the youngest orphan, with the others joining in the reading aloud (as they are annoyed by her previous reading of it). While the other orphans are sleeping ("Maybe"), she sneaks out, in hopes that she'll find her parents, afraid that they have never found her. Just as she is about to get outside, Miss Hannigan (Bates) stops her and brings her back. She then turns on the light and wakes the others. "As a little welcome home party", she has them scrub the floor and strip their beds for Mr. Bundles ("It's the Hard-Knock Life".) As he enters, Annie gets in the laundry basket (with help from the others in order to try again to find her folks) and hides as he takes the dirty laundry out. It is during roll call (in which each orphan has to respond usually, "I love you, Miss Hannigan.") that Miss Hannigan finds out that she is not there anymore, and how so. She runs out to try and stop her.
Alicia Morton as Annie, the protagonist of the film. She is biologically the daughter of David and Margaret Bennett. This was Morton's first film role ever. She also played Molly in a school play of Annie when she was 6.
Kathy Bates as Agatha Hannigan, the main antagonist of the film. She is the caretaker of the orphanage. She loves her job but hates children.
Some of the songs that appeared in the original Broadway production that didn't appear in the 1982 Columbia film adaption appeared here.
Andrea McArdle, who was the Star-to-Be in this film, played Annie in the original Broadway production.
In the Broadway production and the Columbia film adaption, Miss Hannigan is a more sympathetic villain and an anti-heroine in the latter, while Rooster becomes the true antagonist. Instead of changing here, she is sent to a psychiatric hospital, however, Rooster and Lily are still arrested.
This is the first and so far, the only adaption to have Grace Farrell portrayed by an African-American actress as she was white in all previous and later ones.
In this adaption, Annie and Oliver Warbucks are both white, while Grace is African-America. In the 2014 adaption, it's vice-versa, and in the 1982 film, all three are white.
"NYC", which had been in the original Broadway production, took over for "Let's Go to the Movies", which had not, but rather, appeared in the Columbia film adaption.
Normally, Annie's hair is curly while in this version, it is straight, however, in one scene, it is curled.
Kathy Bates (Miss Hannigan) and Victor Garber (Oliver Warbucks) both appeared in the 1997 disaster film Titanic as historical characters Molly Brown and Thomas Andrews, respectively.
Kristen Chenoweth and Victor Garber would later appear separately (again) in another musical's Disney TV film adaptation, The Music Man.
Audra McDonald and Kristen Chenoweth were both Tony Award Winners for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a musical, for their respective roles in Carousel in 1994 and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1999.
Marissa Rago (Pepper) and Erin Adams (Tessie) spoke in a recent interview in 2013 on The Tiara Talk Show about their fun experiences working on the film.