LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Here's big-screen and stage veteran Sigourney Weaver in a most unexpected place: A made-for-TV movie on Lifetime Television. The cable network, once known for "Golden Girls" reruns and tawdry telefilms, has recently scored critical and ratings success with its series "Army Wives," and last year's original movie "Coco Chanel" earned both Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for star Shirley MacLaine. Now another A-list feature-film star is taking the lead role in "Prayers for Bobby," arguably the network's loftiest and most ambitious production yet. "I'll admit I was first surprised by their involvement in this," Weaver said, while promoting the film at a hotel earlier this month. "But the way they've supported this from start to finish — and it's been a long road for them — is proof that they're serious about changing the face of the network." Lifetime's reach was another draw for Weaver: "More people will see this in one airing than may ever see some of the features I've done. And there's a message here that a lot of people need to hear." Based on a true story and the book by Leroy Aarons, "Prayers for Bobby" is about Mary Griffith, played by Weaver, a devoutly Christian mother who disowns her gay son over his sexuality. Griffith blames herself for her son's subsequent suicide, and finds solace not in her church, but PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and has since become a gay activist. The role wasn't an easy one for Weaver. "I think all I did was think about how much I love my daughter and if she had something that was weighing on her, that she felt was bigger than her and that she wouldn't be able to come to me and have me listen," Weaver said, getting teary. "I'm not saying it's not frightening for the parents. I think it would be very frightening. I think all parents do is try to keep their kids from leading lives that are dangerous or unsafe. And this is a tough life." Weaver has kept in touch with the real-life Griffith, whom she met during production. "One of her grandchildren just came out who is 15," Weaver said, getting misty again. "And Bobby would be so proud because it was greeted with such unconditional love from the entire family and they said, 'We're proud of you.'" "Prayers for Bobby" premiered over the weekend and will be replayed Tuesday night (Jan. 26) on Lifetime. ——— On the Net: http://www.mylifetime.com