LOS ANGELES (AP) – Ken Howard required no research to play a man in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

“I did all my homework for this role years ago,” he said. “I lived my homework.”

Howard’s father died of the disease in 1985 after a long and difficult decline.

Howard and Melissa Gilbert play a father and daughter estranged for years by a misunderstanding until he begins to have memory lapses in “Sacrifices of the Heart,” airing March 3 on the Hallmark Channel.

When Howard was first given the script, the 62-year-old actor didn’t know it was written by Patti Davis, daughter of the late President Reagan.

“I just read it cold and I remember thinking, “This is somebody who went through this,”‘ he said. “This is one of those movies that can accomplish many things. I hope people are touched by it, but I also hope they are informed because of it. So this is of value. A lot of jobs you go on, you can’t say that.”

Howard co-stars with George Clooney in the upcoming movie “Michael Clayton.” And he is currently filming the comedy “Smother,” in which he plays Diane Keaton’s husband.

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