February 28, 2000 12:00 PM

When Dyanne Iandoli’s secondgrade classmates learned she would be playing JonBenét Ramsey in Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, they immediately wanted the inside scoop. “Someone,” says the 8-year-old actress, “asked if they were gonna pour catsup all over me.”

In anticipation of such questions about Ramsey’s grisly 1996 murder, Iandoli’s parents—Deedra, 34, a homemaker, and Anthony, 36, a construction manager—met with a child psychologist to ensure that she would not be emotionally scarred by acting in the two-part CBS miniseries (see review, page 29). “She knows the basics of what happened,” says Deedra, “but the biggest thing for us as parents was to keep her as far away from that as possible.” Deedra also stipulated that her daughter could not act in any murder scenes (a dummy was used) or visit the basement set replicating where JonBenét’s body was found, and insisted that she be addressed during filming as Dyanne.

Their precautions paid off. “When the shoot was over,” says costar Marg Helgenberger, who plays Patsy Ramsey, “she wanted to hang out with us as opposed to going back home.” Iandoli did return to school near her Long Island home (brother Dominic is 4), where she recently served as class mayor, deftly tackling issues like noise levels on the school bus. Compared to that, playing opposite pros like AnnMargret (as JonBenét’s grandmother) and Helgenberger was a breeze. “Sometimes I had trouble remembering my lines,” she says. “But Marg messed up hers too!”

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