Esai Morales (La Bamba, Criminal Minds), Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Eureka, The Newsroom) And Loretta Devine (Waiting to Exhale, The Client List) Star In The Timely UP Premiere Movie Saving Westbrook High


School Closing Drama Also Stars Coby Ryan McLaughlin, Clare Carey, Brian Lafontaine, GregAlan Williams, Adrian Kali Turner and Julianne Cabrera

Sep 23, 2013, 13:49 ET from UP

ATLANTA, Sept. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- UP, America's favorite channel for uplifting entertainment, presents the UP Premiere Movie Saving Westbrook High (#SavingWestbrookHigh), a timely high school/community drama starring Esai Morales (La Bamba, "Criminal Minds"), Salli Richardson-Whitfield ("Eureka," "The Newsroom"), Loretta Devine (Waiting to Exhale, "The Client List"), Coby Ryan McLaughlin ("Women's Murder Club," "The Secret Life of the American Teenager"), Clare Carey ("Chuck," "Crash"), Brian Lafontaine ("Homeland," "Drop Dead Diva"), GregAlan Williams (Remember the Titans, "Necessary Roughness"), Adrian Kali Turner (Bad Teacher, "Arrested Development") and newcomer Julianne Cabrera.  Produced and released by Eric Tomosunas' Swirl Films, Gary Wheeler (Somebody's Child, The Heart of Christmas) directs from a screenplay by Rhonda F. Baraka (Trinity Goodheart).  Saving Westbrook High will make its television premiere on Sunday, October 20 at 7 p.m. EDT, with encores at 9 and 11 p.m. EDT on UP.

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Manny Cortez (Esai Morales) has scrimped and saved to buy a two-bedroom home for his family – wife Teresa (Adyana de la Torre) and daughters Selena (Julianne Cabrera), 14, and Gabriela (Bianca Red Arrow), 12 – so that the girls can attend Westbrook High where his beloved late father was the football coach.  No sooner does the Cortez family move into the suburban school district, than the local school board announces that Westbrook High will close at the end of the year and be consolidated into a new, "super-school" to save money.  Long known for its extraordinary teachers and being a top school in the state, the teachers, students and parents unite to fight back – Westbrook High is worth saving.   Charismatic English literature teacher Elijah Bennett (Coby Ryan McClaughlin) leads the staff, including devoted drama teacher Doris Howell (Loretta Devine), history teacher Sara Davies (Clare Carey), chemistry teacher Boomer Joseph (Brian Lafontaine) and Assistant Principal Robert Melville (GregAlan Williams).  They soon meet the new principal, Dr. Christine Walker (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), who has very different views on education and the value of protesting the school board's decision.  Years ago, Elijah and Christine were close as Westbrook High students, and despite their differences now, a bond and some sparks remain.  Perhaps the most passionate about saving the school are the students, especially shy and insecure Jasper (Adrian Kali Turner) who emerges as a leader.  Selena joins the cause and learns why her father is so passionate about this school, her grandfather and her education.   In the end, they all learn a lesson about family, community, finding a place where you truly belong and uniting to fight for the right cause.

"Schools do not exist in a void, and as such, the input, participation and support of parents, students, the community, and its elected leaders are all necessary to keep good teachers and good schools in place as neighborhood cornerstones," said Barbara Fisher, svp, original programming, UP. "With an award-winning ensemble cast led by Esai Morales, Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Loretta Devine, Saving Westbrook High brings these timely issues to television in an entertaining, compelling and relatable manner that we hope inspires conversation and debate with families and educational professionals."

The film will have a limited theatrical release before it makes its television premiere exclusively on UP.

UP presents Saving Westbrook High, a Swirl Films production.  Stars Esai Morales, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Loretta Devine, Coby Ryan McLaughlin, Clare Carey, Brian LaFontaine, GregAlan Williams, Adrian Kali Turner and Julianne Cabrera.  Directed by Gary Wheeler.  Produced by Eric Tomosunas, Dave Eubanks and Keith Neal.  Casting by Kimberly Stewart and Vanessa Neimeyer.  Director of Photography is Rob Givens.  Editor is Jonathan Olive.  Composer is Ken Lampl.  Screenplay by Rhonda F. Baraka. 

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About UP
UP, ( based in Atlanta, is America's favorite network for uplifting family entertainment. The network presents original and acquired movies, series, stage plays and music specials along with gMovies, the first faith-friendly streaming movie service. The UP brand is reflected in "Uplift Someone," the network's successful pro-social initiative.  UP can be seen in more than 65 million homes on major cable systems including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Charter Communications, as well as DIRECTV on channel 338, DISH Network on channel 188, and Verizon FiOS on channel 224.   Follow UP on Facebook & Twitter & @UPtv.

About Swirl Films
Swirl Films (, America's "number one urban film production company," focuses on independent features and multi-camera productions.  Recent films include 2012 ABFF Best Narrative Feature, Best Actress and Best Director winner The Under Shepherd, 35 & Ticking and Percentage, with Flavor Unit Production (Queen Latifah & Shakim Compere).  Swirl Films is a major content provider for UP. Most recently, Swirl Films produced The Perfect Summer, starring Eric Roberts, Sydney Penny and Jason Castro in his TV acting debut.  In addition, hit programming includes She's Still Not Our Sister, Sugar Mommas, and the Wedding Vow SeriesAdditional original productions include: Love For Sale, Something Like A Business, TV One's Roast and Toast of John Witherspoon and Just Another Day.