Dexter Actress Julie Benz to Star in Lifetime Movie Network's Held Hostage

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Julie Benz Stars in True-Life Drama for Lifetime Movie Network's Held Hostage Premiering July 2009

Julie Benz is outstanding in this smart and sensitively written dramatic role about my life.

Acclaimed actress Julie Benz (Showtime's wildly popular serial-killer drama Dexter, Saw V, Rambo, Buffy) will star in a Lifetime Movie Network original movie, Held Hostage. Held Hostage is an incredible true mother/daughter story of terror, courage, resiliency and self-discovery premiering on Lifetime Movie Network in July 2009. Bruce McGill (W., Cinderella Man) and Canadian actress Natasha Calis (Impact, Christmas Caper) also joins the cast.

About Held Hostage:

Ripped from the headlines, the film is based on the true story and book of the same title by Michelle Renee ( Benz plays Michelle Renee/Estey, an abused teenage runaway that escapes the streets and climbs the corporate ladder as a single mother to become one of the youngest bank executive's for one of the largest banks in the world. Benz's character is then kidnapped by three masked gunmen, held hostage for 14 hours and forced to rob a bank to save her only child's life while they are both wired to explode.

In the midst of the traumatic aftermath the tactical criminal defense team calls Michelle's role in the bank heist into question and reveals damaging information about her haunting past that could devastate the prosecution's case against her attackers. Completely dismantled and suffering with PTSD, Michelle realizes that to recover from this terrifying event in a positive way for her daughter and herself, she must embrace her past and heal her lifeā€¦all of it.

"Julie Benz is outstanding in this smart and sensitively written dramatic role about my life." Shares Renee coming home from location in Vancouver, BC. As Creative Consultant and Associate Producer on the project, Michelle goes on to describe the journey she has traveled from homeless abused teen to business executive to survivor and international speaker/author with a movie about her life coming out in July. "It takes being passionately and tenaciously committed in the pursuit of your dream, vision, and purpose to see things through to fruition." And although she admits that she wanted to give up a thousand times but yet never gave into that temptation, she continues by adding her signature phrase, "Success takes believing in yourself and belieiving in living your dreamBIG life with gratitude always at the center."

Alongside Benz is Canadian actress Natasha Calis (Impact, Christmas Caper); the young star who celebrated her 10th birthday on the set of Held Hostage. Calis is playing the role of Michelle's only child and hostage survivor, Breea. This bright, young yet old-soul kind of natural talent is hard to find and Calis certainly brought to life the reality of what youth suffer after violent trauma and how the incredible bond between mother and daughter can heal anything.

Held Hostage also co-stars Bruce McGill. Known for his work on over 100 feature films, most recently the award winning film W. with Josh Brolin, McGill plays the hard hitting cop with a heart in Held Hostage who discovers more about himself as he witnesses Michelle and Breea's relationship, tenacious courage and strength. McGill will soon be filming opposite Sean Penn in another true and high profile story and working on an upcoming feature release with Jamie Foxx.

Held Hostage will be produced by Johnson Production Group and Held Hostage Productions, Inc. (Canada) for Lifetime Movie Network. Timothy Johnson (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Cold Case, Lovesick) will Executive Produce. Grant Harvey (Whistler, Confessions of a Go-Go Girl, Lovesick) will Direct the teleplay by Jim Kearns (John Q) and Maria Nation (The Two Mr. Kissels, Little Girl Lost) based on the book by Michelle Renee.

About Michelle Renee:

Michelle Renee is an author, speaker, advocate, and dreamBIG entreprenuer. From abused runaway, at times homeless, teen to becoming a banking industry executive by the age of 30, Michelle has been dreaming big all her life. At age 35, Michelle and her 7 year-old daughter were kidnapped, held hostage, taped with exploives and after 14 hours, Michelle was forced to rob the bank she managed to save their lives. Michelle Renee kept on dreaming big and with resiliency, and resolve became the 2008 MSN Hometown Hero, a published author, speaker, owner of dreamBIG® Consulting and Women Who dreamBIG®. She delivers her Live Your dreamBIG® Life message around the world. Michelle celebrates the gifts she has discovered through the challenges she has overcome with courage, optimism, and inner-strength and inspires others to do the same. Her debut book, Held Hostage, will premier as a Lifetime Movie Network original movie in July 2009 starring Julie Benz. Michelle was recently honored to be added to the Chicago Children's Hospital Trauma Center Survivor Wall alongside Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou and became a Family Advocate for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and Children's Hospital Chadwick Center in San Diego. Michelle is currently working on her sophomore book, Winning Myself Back, and resides in Southern California with her daughter.

Media Contact/Michelle Renee Representation:
Phyllis Parsons
The Parsons Company, Inc.
p_parsons2001 @

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