I agree, pretty much, with your assessment of the Disney made-for-tv movie.
They chose Alicia by throwing head shots in the air and whichever one landed face up would become Annie.
And no, I'm not joking. First-hand information. They couldn't decide between the finalists. Each person wanted a different girl and the only way to settle it in time to begin filming was to do it this way.
Pretty sad. But I wouldn't be surprised to hear this type of casting happens often. I mean, look at Annie20th. They allegedly didn't want Joanna but hired her anyway, because there was a deadline. And we all know how that turned out!