Heaton Stars In "Front Of The Class"

Two-time Emmy winner Patricia Heaton is best known for the nine seasons she played Debra Barone on the classic sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Heaton returns to CBS as the mother of a boy with Tourette Syndrome in the Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie "Front of the Class."

Heaton told Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez that the movie, based on a true story, is "moving" and "inspiring" with a happy ending.

"I loved the script when I got it," she said. "I'm the mother of four, so I related to this wonderful gal, Ellen Cohen, and her son, Brad. The doctors didn't know what was wrong with him. They were blaming her for his behavior, they were blaming a divorce for his behavior.

"Finally, she went to the library herself -- as mothers will do to fight for the end for their kids and find out what's wrong -- and realized he had Tourettes," Heaton explained.

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations. Heaton says while some people with the disorder have a real difficult time in life, it did not stop Brad, who was up front about it and went on to become an award-winning teacher.

Maggie pointed out that in the movie, Brad appears the strongest of everyone, as a child and as an adult, despite his disability.

"He says [TS] has been his constant companion and a real friend to him because it's made him stronger, push forward and never take no for an answer," Heaton said.

There is no cure for the disorder.

Brad Cohen speaks all over the country and he still has tick and sounds and movements that he makes -- but the actress says he has a wonderful sense of humor about it.

Actor Jimmy Wolk portrays Brad in the TV movie.

"He's kind of new. I think this is his second or third job out of college acting" Heaton said. "To have to be a person with [TS] -- he's just terrific in it, really great."

As a mom in real life, Heaton has four sons -- ages 9, 11, 13 and 15.

"Front Of The Class" airs Sunday, Dec. 7, at 9 ET/PT on CBS.
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