Patricia Heaton calls "The Engagement Ring," the TNT movie in which she has roles on both sides of the camera, "a comic opera, where all the emotions are heightened."

"It's about what true love really is and how you find it," she said. "Is it that first flush of romance, or is it the years of commitment and hard work together? And is one better than the other?"

The tale of two winemaking families offers glimpses of each. Sara, Heaton's character, learns that her mother, Alicia (Lainie Kazan), had been in love with Nick, the son of a rival winemaker. After Nick joined the Army, Alicia never heard from him and thought he had found someone else. She married another man, unaware that Nick had mailed her a diamond ring. The ring's arrival 40 years late stirs up confusion and memories.

"I love the multigenerational aspect of it," Heaton said. "I get to think of my parents in a new light, falling in love and still needing that romance. You don't see that on television. And I also thought it was great to shoot a TV movie that wasn't set in a courtroom or a hospital."

Heaton, who also is an executive producer, was intrigued both by the Napa Valley setting and the story itself -- "It is like 'Moonstruck,'" she recalls thinking when she read the script.

The crew shot in Napa as well as on British Columbia's Vancouver Island.

"We were parked by this marina, and you'd see schools of dolphins," she said.

Heaton called Kazan a powerhouse. "Lainie fills the room, she's so wonderful and energetic," Heaton said. "The scene where she gets the ring, I had read that many times without knowing who would play that role. And it was so much fun. She exceeded my expectations."

-- Kathy Blumenstock


Monday 8 p.m. TNT