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[03/15/06 - 12:00 AM]
Oscar(R), Tony(R) and Golden Globe(R) Award-Winning Actress Mercedes Ruehl and J.D. Pardo Star in the Lifetime Original Movie 'Just a Girl,' the Tragic True Story of a Boy Who Dared to Live as a Young Woman and the Consequences That Followed Her Bold Decis

[via press release from Lifetime]

Oscar(R), Tony(R) and Golden Globe(R) Award-Winning Actress Mercedes Ruehl and J.D. Pardo Star in The Lifetime Original Movie 'Just a Girl,' the Tragic True Story of a Boy Who Dared to Live as a Young Woman and the Consequences That Followed Her Bold Decis

Lifetime Partners with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) for Public Service Campaign

LOS ANGELES, March 15 -- Oscar(R), Tony(R) and Golden Globe(R) award-winner Mercedes Ruehl ("The Fisher King," "Married to the Mob") and J.D. Pardo ("Veronica Mars," "American Dreams") will star in the Lifetime Original Movie "Just a Girl," a moving drama about a loving single mother who prevails upon her close-knit Latino family to accept her teenaged son's daring decision to live as a girl, who is then shockingly murdered by a group of boys who discover her secret. Famed attorney Gloria Allred serves as co-executive producer. Based on a true story, "Just a Girl" will premiere this June on Lifetime Television.

"The issue of transgender sexual identity remains controversial and still considered a taboo subject," said Trevor Walton, Senior Vice President, Lifetime Original Movies. "This true story portrays with compassion and empathy a remarkable family's struggle to understand Eddie's choice to become Gwen. It also examines the terrible consequences of ignorance and fear that exist around this issue. Mercedes and J.D. are perfectly cast as these extraordinary characters, and will beautifully capture the emotional minefields these characters navigate in this painful yet inspiring story of tolerance and acceptance."

"Just a Girl" is the true story of Sylvia Guerrero (Ruehl), the mother whose son, Eddie (Pardo), begins to dress and act as a girl. Defying his traditional Latino heritage, Eddie insists on wearing makeup, growing his hair and eventually changing his name to Gwen, after the singer he idolizes, Gwen Stefani. When Gwen's transgender status is discovered by four young men at a local party, they savagely beat and kill her. The shocking and senseless murder shakes the community and Sylvia dedicates her life to bringing her daughter's murderers to justice and advocate for the rights of all transgender people.

Ruehl earned an Academy(R) Award, a Golden Globe(R) and a Los Angeles Film Critics Society Award for her performance in "The Fisher King." Her breakthrough film role was in "Married to the Mob," which earned her a National Society of Film Critics Award. Ruehl's additional film credits include "Last Action Hero," "Slaves of New York," "Big," Woody Allen's "Radio Days," "84 Charing Cross Road" and "Heartburn." She has numerous stage credits and most notably won a Tony Award for her performance in "Lost in Yonkers" and won an Obie for her performance in "The Marriage of Bette and Boo." Ruehl recently starred in the Lifetime Original Movie "Mom at Sixteen," opposite Jane Krakowski.

Pardo recently appeared in episodes of "Veronica Mars" and "American Dreams" and was a series regular in the CBS drama "Clubhouse," opposite Dean Cain. His feature film credits include "Havoc," with Anne Hathaway and "A Cinderella Story," with Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray.

Famed civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, who represented Sylvia Guerrero at the murder trial, also serves as co-executive producer on the project. Having practiced law for over 30 years, Allred is a partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Allred, Maroko and Goldberg. She is a three-time local area Emmy nominee for her television commentary on KABC-TV. Allred most recently served as co-executive producer of the CBS television movie "Amber Frey: Witness for the Prosecution." "From an early age, the child that was born Eddie Araujo, Jr., felt like a female trapped in a male's body," said Allred. Adding, "Dressing as a female and calling herself 'Gwen' was an expression of her identity. Unfortunately, her honesty and courage cost her her life. I am very excited that Lifetime has decided to present this important and emotionally compelling project. Once again Lifetime demonstrates that it truly is an innovative and pioneering leader in television."

Executive producer Zev Braun adds, "Even in the twenty-first century, society is still separated by race, religion and gender. It's time those walls be taken down and for people to be accepted for who and what they are -- human beings." Fellow executive producer Philip Krupp agrees, "Indeed -- we need to remember what Sylvia Guerrero simply told the defendants as they were being sentenced, 'Gwen deserved the right to live her life.'"

As part its continuing commitment to inform and support viewers about the issues explored in "Just a Girl," Lifetime Television will work with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to develop a public service announcement (PSA), which will air immediately following the film. In addition, visitors to Lifetimetv.com will have access to links to several key organizations working to promote tolerance.

"Understanding the tremendous challenges that Gwen and her family faced in their day-to-day lives and the horrible end that she met communicates an important message - we need to pay attention and take action," said Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). "More importantly, 'Just a Girl' exposes the hate that Gwen and other transgender individuals too frequently face, along with the uphill battle they encounter in the eyes of the law in trying to gain equal treatment and justice."

"Just a Girl" is produced by Braun Entertainment Group in association with Sony Pictures Television for Lifetime Television. Zev Braun and Philip Krupp ("Amber Frey: Witness for the Prosecution," "Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills") are executive producers. Gloria Allred is co-executive producer. Shelley Evans ("Footsteps," "One Kill") wrote the teleplay. Oscar(R) nominated and critically acclaimed Agnieszka Holland ("Europa Europa," "The Wire," "Copying Beethoven") will direct.

Sony Pictures Television is one of the television industry's leading content providers. SPT produces and distributes top-rated, award-winning programming in every genre, including series, movies and family entertainment for network and cable television; first-run syndicated series; off-network syndicated programs; and theatrical releases. SPT (http://www.sonypicturestelevision.com) is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.

Lifetime is the leader in women's television and one of the top-rated basic cable television networks. A diverse, multi-media company, Lifetime is committed to offering the highest quality entertainment and information programming, and advocating a wide range of issues affecting women and their families. Lifetime Television, Lifetime Movie Network, Lifetime Real Women, Lifetime Home Entertainment and Lifetime Online are part of Lifetime Entertainment Services, a 50/50 joint venture of The Hearst Corporation and The Walt Disney Company.

SOURCE Lifetime
Web Site: http://www.lifetimetv.com





  [march 2006]  
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· AMBER FREY: WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (CBS)
· AMERICAN DREAMS (NBC)
· CLUBHOUSE (CBS)
· FOOTSTEPS (CBS)
· GIRL LIKE ME, A: THE GWEN ARAUJO STORY (LIFETIME)
· MOM AT SIXTEEN (LIFETIME)
· ONE KILL (CBS)
· VERONICA MARS (CW)
· WIRE, THE (HBO)





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