[12/15/08 - 01:18 PM]
Emmy Award Nominee Lauren Ambrose and Adam Kaufman Star in "Loving Leah," a New "Hallmark Hall of Fame" Presentation to Be Broadcast Sunday, JaN. 25 on the CBS Television Network
Susie Essman, Ricki Lake, Natasha Lyonne and Mercedes Ruehl also star in the film, based on the play of the same name.

[via press release from CBS]

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Loving Leah is the new title for this movie that was previously announced as "Unorthodox.") --


Susie Essman ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), Ricki Lake ("Hairspray," "China Beach"), Natasha Lyonne ("American Pie") And Academy Award and Golden Globe Award Winner Mercedes Ruehl ("The Fisher King") Also Star

Emmy Award nominee Lauren Ambrose ("Six Feet Under") and Adam Kaufman ("Without a Trace") star in LOVING LEAH, a new "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation to be broadcast Sunday, Jan. 25 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. This quirky love story revolves around the unexpected wedding and unconventional married life of a 26-year-old widow and her late husband's brother, a handsome 30-year-old cardiologist. Susie Essman ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), Ricki Lake ("Hairspray," "China Beach"), Natasha Lyonne ("American Pie") and Academy Award and Golden Globe Award winner Mercedes Ruehl ("The Fisher King") also star.

Jake Lever (Kaufman), a successful, 30-year-old Washington, D.C. doctor who seems to be living his dream, is stunned to learn of the death of his older brother, Benjamin. Jake and his mother, Janice (Ruehl), who are not religious, drifted apart from Benjamin after he moved away to become a rabbi and chose to devote nearly all of his time to his rabbinical duties and his faith. As a result, Jake and Janice are virtual strangers to Benjamin's young widow, Leah (Ambrose), and the other mourners in Benjamin's close-knit Hasidic community in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Already ill-at-ease in Benjamin's world, Jake is shocked when he is asked to honor an ancient Levirate marriage law. As a single man, he's expected to marry the childless Leah to carry on Benjamin's name...or else deny his brother's existence in a ceremony that will release them from this generally un-enforced Jewish law.

Despite his serious relationship with a beautiful surgeon, Carol (Christy Pusz), Jake finds it unthinkable to deny his brother's existence and impulsively suggests he and Leah marry and maintain a secretly platonic relationship in Washington, D.C. Leah gladly accepts as a means of finally pursuing her own dreams without offending her very traditional and domineering mother, Malka (Essman).

Jake and Leah's oversimplified plan to live separate lives out of Jake's two-bedroom apartment proves to be more challenging than anticipated, especially when Leah's suspicious mother shows up unexpectedly. The harder they work to disguise their "pretend" marriage, the more their real love for each other grows.

Ricki Lake portrays Gerry, the first female rabbi Leah has ever met, who invites Leah to join her temple in Washington, D.C. Natasha Lyonne plays Leah's sister, Esther.

Lauren Ambrose was twice nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her work in the series "Six Feet Under." Additionally, she and her "Six Feet Under" co-stars won two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. Her additional television credits include a recurring role on "Party of Five." Among her film credits are "Starting Out in the Evening" with Frank Langella. Her theater credits include the Broadway production of "Awake and Sing!" and the role of Juliet in the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park production of "Romeo and Juliet" in Manhattan.

Adam Kaufman's television series credits include a recurring role as the father of Samantha Spade's child on CBS's "Without a Trace" and recurring roles on "Dawson's Creek" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Among his guest-starring television appearances are "CSI: NY" and "CSI: Miami," both on the Network, "Mad Men," "Monk," "Law & Order," "Veronica Mars" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." He also starred in the cable mini-series "Taken."

Susie Essman's television credits include a starring role in the cable series "Curb Your Enthusiasm," for which she and her cast mates were nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Among her additional television credits are guest-starring appearances on "The King of Queens," on the Network, "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." Her film credits include "Keeping the Faith."

Mercedes Ruehl won an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for her supporting role in "The Fisher King." Her additional film credits include "Married to the Mob," "Lost in Yonkers," "Big," "84 Charing Cross Road," "Crazy People" and "Last Action Hero." Among her television credits are recurring roles on the series "Entourage" and "Frasier" and a lead role in the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation "The Lost Child." On Broadway, Ruehl won a Tony Award for her performance in "Lost in Yonkers" and received Tony Award nominations for her work in "The Shadow Box" and "The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?"

Ricki Lake made her film debut as Tracy Turnblad in the original version of John Waters' "Hairspray" and had a cameo role as a talent agent in the recent production of the film. Her additional film credits include "Serial Mom," "Mrs. Winterbourne" and "Cry-Baby." Her television credits include a regular role on the series "China Beach" and a recurring role on CBS's "The King of Queens." She also hosted her own talk show, "Ricki Lake," for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award as Outstanding Host.

Natasha Lyonne's film credits include "American Pie" and "American Pie 2," "Slums of Beverly Hills," "But I'm a Cheerleader," "Kate & Leopold," "Krippendorf's Tribe," "The Grey Zone" and "Die, Mommie, Die." She also appeared in the cable mini-series "If These Walls Could Talk 2."

LOVING LEAH is a Hallmark Hall of Fame production. Brent Shields ("Pictures of Hollis Woods") and Michael Besman ("About Schmidt") are the executive producers; Jeff Bleckner ("Boston Legal") is the director; P'nenah Goldstein wrote the script based on her play of the same name.

RATING: To Be Announced

  [december 2008]  


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