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Posts tagged ‘Hollywood’

Plea to Take Mel Gibson Off ‘Blacklist’ Sparks Hollywood Debate.

Image: Plea to Take Mel Gibson Off 'Blacklist' Sparks Hollywood Debate

Eight years after Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant during a drunk-driving arrest, Hollywood is debating the rehabilitation of an Oscar winner who was once one of the industry’s most bankable stars.

The heated discussion was sparked by a March 12 opinion piece in Deadline Hollywood by Allison Hope Weiner, a freelance writer who covered Gibson’s infamous spiral out of favor and now considers him a friend. Her appeal for an end to what she called a “quiet blacklisting” has generated more than 5,700 comments on’s movie page and more than 800 on the Deadline Hollywood site, which is read by many in the industry.

“He has been in the doghouse long enough,” Weiner wrote. “It’s time to give the guy another chance.”

Gibson’s movies, from “Mad Max” to “Braveheart” and “Apocalypto,” have grossed $3.6 billion, according to Rentrak Corp., providing an incentive for studios and agencies to consider absolution. His particular transgressions, and the number of them over the years, mean it’s unlikely to come easy.

Forgiving Gibson “is not the same thing as forgiving Lindsay Lohan for partying too late,” said Elizabeth Currid- Halkett, author of “Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity” and an associate professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. “Anti-Semitism is not just behaving badly.”

While the 58-year-old still directs and acts — he recently completed production as a co-star with Sylvester Stallone on “Expendables 3” — major studios “are either wary of him or prefer not to work with him,” said Michael Fleming, Deadline Hollywood’s film editor. “I am surprised this has lasted this long. The guy has made a lot of people a lot of money.”

Malibu Tirade

The back-and-forth by commentators on Weiner’s piece boils down to a bygone question in Hollywood: whether what someone says or does off screen, however repugnant, should have any effect on his fitness to make movies.

Gibson is a long-running case in point. The hits to his reputation aren’t limited to those from his tirade about Jews being “responsible for all the wars in the world,” delivered as he was arrested in 2006 in Malibu, California. In 2010, audiotapes of threats he made to his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva — laced with racial epithets — surfaced. The next year he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge after a dispute with Grigorieva, the mother of his youngest child.

In 2004, he came under fire for what the Anti-Defamation League and others saw as anti-Semitism in “The Passion of the Christ,” a blockbuster he directed, co-produced and co-wrote. He reacted to a Frank Rich column about it in the New York Times by telling the New Yorker, “I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. I want to kill his dog.”

‘Harmful Words’

In 1992 he offended the gay community with remarks in a Spanish newspaper interview and later told Playboy that he would apologize “when hell freezes over.”

He did apologize after his Malibu arrest for what he said were his “vitriolic and harmful words,” and after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor drunk-driving charge was sentenced to three years’ probation.

Alan Nierob, a Rogers & Cowan publicist who represents Gibson, said his client should be allowed back in the fold. “People should know that he is now healthy once again, both physically and mentally after suffering a breakdown,” Nierob said. “He is an artistic genius, and the industry should benefit once again from his enormous talent.”

‘Harsh Language’

Weiner, describing herself as an observant Jew, said in Deadline Hollywood that Gibson today “is clearly a different man, one who has worked on his sobriety since that awful night in Malibu.” And the movie industry, she said, is hypocritical, willing to “work with others who’ve committed felonies and done things far more serious than Gibson.”

She cited Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist who has been in the “Hangover” films. Gibson was dropped from a cameo in “The Hangover Part II” in 2010 after “a lot of people” working on the film protested, Todd Phillips told the Hollywood Reporter.

“Gibson has been shunned not for doing anything criminal; his greatest offenses amount to use of harsh language,” Weiner wrote in her more than 3,400-word piece. She said she chose to publish it on the 10th anniversary of “The Passion of the Christ,” which she described as “about an innocent man’s willingness to forgive the greatest injustice.”

The independent release grossed $612 million at the global box office, and Gibson personally made $210 million in 2004, according to Forbes. His fortune was estimated at $850 million by the Los Angeles Business Journal, and People magazine reported that his 2011 divorce halved that.

Befriending Rabbis

In recent years, Weiner said, Gibson has befriended rabbis, attended Passover Seders and donated to Jewish causes. He invited to coffee the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who took him into custody in Malibu. He was at Weiner’s son’s bar mitzvah, where she said he charmed her family.

“My friendship with Gibson made me reconsider other celebrities whose public images became tarnished by the media’s rush to judge,” Weiner wrote. “Whether it’s Gibson, Tom Cruise or Alec Baldwin, the descent from media darling to pariah can happen quickly after they do something dumb.”

Hollywood is littered with stars who fell from grace — Charlie Sheen after a rant against the producer of “Two and a Half Men,” Robert Downey Jr. after arrests for illegal drug use, Cruise after jumping on Oprah’s couch and admonishing Brooks Shields for treating her postpartum depression with pharmaceuticals — and who bounced back.

Two Oscars

Downey, Gibson’s co-star in “Air America” in 1990, has been among his staunch defenders. He asked that Gibson be on stage to present him with a life-achievement award from American Cinematheque in 2011, and said in his acceptance speech that his friend deserved from Hollywood the same forgiveness it had afforded him. Gibson had helped revive Downey’s career when he was considered uninsurable by paying his insurance bond for 2003’s “The Singing Detective.”

Gibson rose to international fame with the “Mad Max” and “Lethal Weapon” films and won Oscars in 1995 for best picture and best director for “Braveheart,” in which he also starred. He garnered acclaim for “Apocalypto,” about the end of Mayan civilization, which he financed through his Icon Productions LLC; Walt Disney Co. distributed it.

Released five months after the Malibu arrest, it did well at the box office. “Say what you will about him — about his problem with booze or his problem with Jews — he is a serious filmmaker,” wrote New York Times critic A.O. Scott.

Bypassing Theaters

One of Gibson’s big hits as an actor before Malibu was “Signs,” a 2002 thriller by M. Night Shyamalan that grossed $228 million. One of his biggest flops ever was “The Beaver” in 2011 with Jodie Foster, which made less than $1 million in U.S. theaters, according to the Internet Movie Database.

He bypassed theaters with “Get the Gringo” in 2012, releasing it instead on pay-television. Last year he was a co- star with Sheen in “Machete Kills,” which wasn’t a critical or commercial success.

In Hollywood, “there are some who may forgive and some who never will,” said Michael Sitrick, chairman and chief executive of Sitrick Brincko Group LLC, a Los Angeles-based public relations and crisis-management firm that has represented rapper Chris Brown, baseball player Alex Rodriguez and socialite Paris Hilton. “It’s not about spin. It has to be genuine.”
© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.


Al-Qaida Magazine Calls for Car Bombs in US Read Latest.

Al-Qaida sounds a call for its terrorist followers to strike the United States and other Western nations with car bombs — and even suggests times and targets — in the Spring issue of its magazine, Inspire.

The magazine manifesto suggests U.S. targets such as Washington, D.C., New York, northern Virginia, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as locations in Great Britain, France and “other crusader countries.”

The article suggests terrorists aim for places that are heavily populated: sporting events, election campaigns, and festivals.

Christmas and New Year’s are suggested as good times for attack. In Europe, the article suggests attacking the Bastille Military Day Parade in Paris and soccer stadiums in England “when huge crowds leave the stadium and celebrate around the entrances and [the English Football Association’s] FA Cup matches.”

“The important thing is that you target people and not buildings,” the article says.

Washington and New York have “symbolic importance,” the article says, because D.C. is the seat of the federal government and New York is the former capital and currently the country’s financial, cultural, transportation, and manufacturing center.

Northern Virginia is suggested because “almost all the military bases are based in this state, apart from the Air Force which is based in Chicago.” The area also is home to many government agencies, the Department of Defense and CIA and “attracts a load of tourists,” the magazine said.

Chicago is the second-largest financial center in the United States and is a major transportation hub. Los Angeles is the second-largest city and is home to Hollywood. Celebrities often visit restaurants in the area on weekends, the article says.

A letter from the editor in the front of the magazine reads in part:

“The American government was unable to protect its citizens from pressure cooker bombs in backpacks, I wonder if they are ready to stop car bombs!

“Therefore, as our responsibility to the Muslim Ummah in general and Muslims living in America in particular, Inspire Magazine humbly presents to you a simple improvised home recipe of Shahzad’s car bomb.

“And the good news is … you can prepare it in the kitchen of your mom too.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Greg Richter

Jindal, Cruz See ‘Duck’ Result as Win for ‘Liberty’ Over PC.

By Cathy Burke


Conservative groups declared victory on the “Duck Dynasty” controversy on Friday and hailed the quick reinstatement of patriarch Phil Robertson — less than two weeks after he was yanked from the A&E hit show for anti-gay remarks.

Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal called the network’s decision a victory for “the freedoms of speech and religious liberty,” the Daily Caller reported. 

The reality series is filmed in Louisiana, where the Robertsons live, and Jindal was a vocal critic of A&E’s decision to suspend the family elder Dec. 18 after an explosive GQ magazine interview in which the 67-year-old patriarch compared homosexuality with bestiality.

“I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment,” the Republican governor said at the time. “The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with.”

On Friday, he released a statement saying he was pleased with the reversal.

“I am glad to hear that the folks at A&E came to their senses and recognized that tolerance of religious views is more important than political correctness,” he said. “Today is a good day for the freedoms of speech and religious liberty.”

“The left is going to have to get accustomed to the fact that it does not have a monopoly on free speech and is not the only group who is permitted to voice its opinion in the public square. The left may control Hollywood, but they don’t control the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans.”

Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, also applauded the decision, but noted the network announced its decision late on the Friday between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. “Better late than never,” Reed said.

“A&E Networks belatedly came to their senses,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “Their rash suspension of Mr. Robertson threatened to destroy the most valuable franchise on cable television and alienate 40 million evangelical Christians in the process. While Mr. Robertson used some admittedly ill-advised language in the interview, he said nothing that justified this punishment. He simply quoted the Bible in answering a question about his faith.”

Reed said he hoped “the network will never again take the bizarre step of sanctioning someone for expressing their Christian faith.”

Organizers of a petition started by Christian fans,, were wary of the reinstatement, The Hollywood Reporter said.

“Despite our celebration, we remain uncertain of A&E’s true intent,” said a statement from Faith Drive Consumer founder Chris Stone, according to the Reporter. “Today, in the network’s statement of their core values – centered on ‘creativity, inclusion, and mutual respect’ — Faith Driven Consumers are left wondering whether A&E considers us to be a part of America’s rich rainbow of diversity. Do they also now embrace the biblically based values and worldview held by the Robertson family and millions of Faith Driven Consumers?”

GLAAD, however, was not appeased.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, the pro-gay rights group said “If dialogue with Phil is not part of the next steps, then A&E has chosen profits over African American and gay people — especially its employees and viewers.”

“Phil Robertson should look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Politico reported Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz lauded the news with a tweet of the Drudge Report‘s home page splash:

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who also rushed to Robertson’s defense after his suspension, did not post any immediate reaction to the reinstatement.

Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the network’s change-of-heart, noted the bearded clan recently re-signed to stay on at the top-rated series in a deal worth more than $200,000 per episode.

The hit is a big asset for the network, the Reporter noted; it’s second in popularity on all cable channels only to “The Walking Dead,” with an average 13.4 million viewers, and it’sgear is sold by retailers including Walmart, Sears and Cracker Barrel restaurants.

The Robertson family is off during duck hunting season, which the Reporter noted was a contractual stipulation, through Jan. 26.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Bozell: Hollywood ‘Gay Lobby’ Behind ‘Duck Dynasty’ Suspension.

Hollywood‘s “gay lobby” is to blame for the suspension of A&E TV’sDuck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, conservative media analyst Brent Bozell charged in an interview with Newsmax TV on Thursday.

“This is A&E making a decision because the single most powerful lobby in Hollywood is the gay lobby. It’s a reality. They are hugely successful,” Bozell, founder of Media Research Center, said in the exclusive interview.

In Hollywood, “If you are not supportive of the gay issue, there is something fundamentally wrong with you,” Bozell said. “There is something fundamentally wrong with religion. This is why so many few people are practicing Christians in Hollywood. They don’t believe in it.”

Story continues below video.

Robertson, the dad on A&E TV’s wildly popular “Duck Dynasty” was dumped indefinitely for attacking homosexuality in a January GQ magazine interview.

“So you’ve got somebody who comes out – perhaps inarticulately – but he comes out expressing his Christian faith and he was banned from the network,” Bozell said of Robertson.

The Duck Dynasty dad ruffled some feathers in an interview for the January issue of GQ, calling homosexuality a sin and equated it with bestiality and promiscuity.

Asked what, in his mind, is sinful, Robertson replied: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

Bozell acknowledged, “A couple of thing he said were inarticulate, but, on the whole, what he said was accurate.”

Bozell said Hollywood has been successful in pushing a gay agenda.

“They have understood the power of culture far more than conservatives have ever understood it and they have been very effective. They put themselves onto the sets, literally onto the TV sets and production. They participated in deciding a quota system on how many gays were going to be in there, whether something was ‘homophobic’ or not. And how many gay characters are there now? How many times out of nowhere, for no reason, is there a gay scene? Why? Because they are pushing it.

“It’s a very dangerous thing … do not be surprised if … the Christian belief on homosexuality is going to be branded as a hate crime,” he warned.

“Why is Phil Robertson popular? Because he evinces a culture and a worldview. It’s not because people are duck hunters. It’s because they like him. They like the things he believes in. They like the things he says. That’s why he is so popular. So why did they do this to him? Because it doesn’t matter. He’s unpopular to the people that matter.

“Bill Maher goes on HBO and says things far more offensive than this about people of faith. He is a radical atheist who loves to insult people. That is celebrated as tolerance. But have somebody do the opposite and express his faith and he’s suspended.

A&E issued a statement on Robertson’s suspension, “His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cynthia Fagen and John Bachman

‘Duck Dynasty,’ Gay Activism and the Clash of 2 Cultures.

'Duck Dynasty'
Duck Dynasty

You knew it would happen sooner or later. An outspoken, wildly popular, conservative Christian who doesn’t give a hoot—or in this case, a quack—about political correctness would air his views about homosexuality, and overnight, Hollywood hell would break loose.

To catch you up on the latest events, earlier this week, the text of Phil Robertson’s interview with GQmagazine was released online, containing controversial comments about homosexual practice, among other things. (For those who have been living under a rock, Phil Robertson is the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan, and he is a self-proclaimed “Bible thumper.”)

Shortly after the interview was released, and quite predictably, GLAAD issued a statement condemning Robertson’s remarks as “some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication” and said “his quote was littered with outdated stereotypes and blatant misinformation.” (Reminder: GLAAD officially stands for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, but I have long suggested that a more appropriate name would be the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Disagreement.)

GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz says, “Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe. He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans—and Americans—who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors, who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.” (Note to GLAAD: The majority of Louisianans do not support same-sex marriage.)

This was followed by a clarification and apology of sorts by Robertson: “I myself am a product of the ’60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.

“However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and, like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the world’s largest gay activist organization, also condemned Robertson’s remarks and called for A&E, the cable network that airs Duck Dynasty, to take action: “The A&E network should take immediate action to condemn Phil Robertson’s remarks and make clear they don’t support his views.”

Later the same day, A&E issued its own statement: “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

In support of Robertson, the Faith Driven Consumer Facebook page started an “I Stand With Phil” campaign, while another Facebook page, “Boycott A&E Until Phil Robertson Is Put Back on Duck Dynasty,” had more than 100,000 “likes” in a matter of hours. Talk about a clash of two cultures!

What did Robertson actually say that was so controversial?

First he remarked, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

Was he accusing all (or most) gays of engaging in bestiality or of sleeping with multiple women? It appears not, although I can easily see why his critics would think otherwise, and in that context, he was right to clarify his comments.

What he was saying, though, was that gay sex should be seen as part of the “anything goes” mentality of the sexual revolution of the ’60s, and in that regard he was right. In fact, while gay activists emphasize homosexual identity, placing the gay rights movement in the context of the civil rights movement of the ’60s, Robertson and other conservative Christians emphasize homosexual behavior, placing gay activism in the context of the sexual revolution of the same era.

Robertson next quoted from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, a famous passage in Paul’s letters in which he clearly states that practicing homosexuals, along with practicing heterosexual sinners of various stripes, will not inherit God’s kingdom. (For the record, despite frequent objections to the contrary, the Greek text is quite clear in terms of its overall sense.)

Was A&E genuinely unaware that Phil Robertson held to these views? I seriously doubt it. My guess is that they were just glad (not GLAAD) that he hadn’t aired them publicly.

Finally, Robertson suggested (speaking first for himself) that the female sexual organ was “more desirable” than a man’s rectum and that a woman had “more to offer” a man.

And for these comments he was promptly suspended.

The fact is, though, no matter how much two men may love each other, it remains indisputably clear that men were biologically designed to be with women, and vice versa. In that regard, no matter how crude Robertson’s comments may have been, they were correct.

As for his quotation from 1 Corinthians 6, did anyone really think that Robertson would say, “You know, now that I’ve become a TV celebrity, I’m going to revise my views on God’s intent for human sexuality and marriage”?

Personally, I don’t believe for a moment that Robertson will bow down to A&E and compromise his convictions, although I could see him offering a further clarification of his statements, explaining, for example, that he was not accusing homosexuals of practicing bestiality any more than heterosexuals engage in such perversion.

And I don’t see how A&E can back down from its position regardless of how popular the show is. The gay lobby is far too powerful. (I imagine that Alec Baldwin has an opinion on this as well, although, to be clear, I am not comparing Robertson to Baldwin.)

In fact, I don’t see either of them about to blink, which means the culture wars are about to hit the fan, and this could get very ugly very quickly.

I suggest that those of us who agree fundamentally with Robertson make clear that: 1) We are unashamed of our belief in Jesus and in biblical morality; 2) we stand against the mistreatment of all people, including gays and lesbians; and 3) we will not support the radical redefinition of marriage, regardless of the cost involved, nor do we see cultural capitulation to gay activism as inevitable.

Now would be a perfect time to take a stand, but with grace, precision and wisdom.


Michael Brown is author of Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

Cardinal Dolan: Obamacare Asks Catholic Church to Violate Convictions.

U.S. bishops have been seeking affordable and universal healthcare since 1919, and were early supporters of the Affordable Care Act, said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, but they have been put in a “tough place” because of mandates that go against church teaching.

“We started bristling and saying, ‘Uh oh, this isn’t comprehensive because it’s excluding the undocumented immigrant and its excluding the unborn baby,'” Dolan said in an interview with NBC’s David Gregory that aired Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

The church backed Obamcare because of religious conviction and dictates of conscience, Dolan told Gregory. “And now we’re being asked to violate some of those.”

Story continues below video:


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Turning to the issue of gay marriage, Dolan admitted he would be

Pollyanna to deny there is a strong push to legalize same-sex unions nationwide.

“We’ve been outmarketed,” Dolan said. “We’ve been caricatured as being anti-gay. When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion molders that are behind it, it’s a tought battle.”

Dolan noted that people said after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion that the issue would go away in a couple of years.

“To this day it remains probably the most divisive issue in American politics,” he said.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Why Hollywood Films Need Christian Heroes.

Superman, 'Man of Steel'
Superman, ‘Man of Steel.’

Christian filmmakers could learn a lesson from The Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America and Man of Steel, and it’s this: Audiences want heroes.

The reason The Blind Side was an astounding success is because Sandra Bullock’s character was heroic. Yes, the movie had conflict. There were times when her friends didn’t understand her and the government questioned her motives. But it was entertaining to watch a white Southern Christian woman stand on her principles and show love. It was worth a $12 ticket and the purchase of a DVD.

The Sound of Music featured Julie Andrews in the signature role of her career as Maria, a Catholic-postulate-turned-governess. She was seeking God’s will for her life. She sought to show love. She saved 20th Century Fox from being ruined by Elizabeth Taylor’s conniving Cleopatra.

Too often Christian filmmakers want to tell the prodigal story. Audiences get dragged through the mud of some sinner’s life and are supposed to go home satisfied with their ticket purchase because the sinner repented in the end. It’s a bit like taking medicine. The thought is, “It’s good for you to see this, and some sinner may see it and get saved.”

There’s a place for such movies. They can, and do, minister to some people. However, they don’t do well at the box office. People go to the pharmacy for medicine, not the movies. If God calls you to make a movie on sex-slave trafficking or drug addition, go ahead and do it. Just don’t be disappointed if it only reaches a small audience, and don’t expect to sell it as the next Blind Side.

Christians who want to transform Hollywood and see the major studios make more uplifting movies should strive to produce movies that do well at the box office—while being uplifting. This is what makes Hollywood want to change. The huge success of The Bible miniseries on the History Channel and Duck Dynasty on A&E is a major topic of Hollywood conversation.

A surprise hit of the 1980s was Chariots of Fire (not made by Christians). Scottish Olympic athlete Eric Liddell played a self-sacrificing, principled Christian hero in contrast to a pride-seeking runner, Harold Abrams.

Just think of the great “Christian” movies of the golden age of Hollywood. Here are some that topped the box office charts for their respective years:

  • Sergeant York (1941), with Gary Cooper
  • Mrs. Miniver (1942), with Greer Garson
  • Going My Way (1944), with Bing Crosby
  • The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman
  • Quo Vadis (1951), with Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr
  • The Robe (1953)with Richard Burton
  • The Ten Commandments (1956), with Charlton Heston
  • Ben Hur (1959), also with Charlton Heston

Every one of them had a profound hero played by a major Hollywood star.

The most successful modern Christian movies have heroes:

  • Facing the Giants
  • Fireproof
  • Amazing Grace
  • Courageous
  • Soul Surfer
  • The Passion of the Christ
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Blind Side

At times, the heroes grow into the role, as with Fireproof, but by the end of the movie you have a principled character you want to tell friends to go see.

Television is the same way. Some of the most successful programs featuring Christian faith had heroes—ChristyLittle House on the PrairieTouched by an AngelSeventh Heaven and Walker, Texas Ranger. Sure, episodes sometimes dealt with dark issues, but it was a hero facing the challenge.

Hollywood seems to be waking up.

Russell Crowe stars in Noah, which releases March 28. The preview shows him being threatened by a king with an army behind him. The king says, “I have men at my back. You stand alone, and you defy me?” Noah responds, “I am not alone.” I want to see how that plays out. The preview gives you goosebumps. Unless Noah has some flagrant abuses of the biblical story, you can expect it to do huge business.

Bring on the heroes!



David Outten is production editor for Movieguide. This article originally appeared on

Unseen Protector.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

Recommended Reading
Proverbs 3:21-26 ( )

When actor James (“Jimmy”) Stewart left Hollywood to become an Air Force pilot after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, his father gave him a copy of Psalm 91 to carry with him as he flew bombing missions. According to the Jimmy Stewart Museum, the actor said, “What a promise for an airman. I placed in His hands the squadron I would be leading. And, as the psalmist promised, I felt myself borne up.” Stewart was referring, of course, to Psalm 91:12: “In their hands [the angels] shall bear you up.”

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( )

Biblical writers were confident of nothing if not God‘s power and protection. That doesn’t mean that harm never came to an Israelite or a Christian. But it does mean that God’s oversight was part of His protection. The author of Psalm 91 was saying the same as David in Psalm 23: We will fear no evil because God is with us. The knowledge of His presence becomes a comfort in times of danger. If God is with us, then nothing can touch us without His knowledge.

Life can be dangerous even on the best days. Make sure you live it confidently and fearlessly, knowing that God is with you.

A sovereign Protector I have, unseen, yet forever at hand.
Augustus M. Toplady

Matthew 25-26

By David Jeremiah.

Young Singles Have Schizophrenic View of Love, Says Megachurch Pastor.

John Mark Comer
Pastor John Mark Comer is passionate about answering the young generation’s questions about relationships with raw, uncut and honest answers in his new book, ‘Loveology.’ (Facebook)

John Mark Comer, lead pastor of Bridgetown: A Jesus Church in Portland, Ore., a city with one of the highest percentages of religiously unaffiliated adults in the nation, will release Loveology this coming February.

Bridgetown, which is part of a family of churches formally known as Solid Rock, is unique in that about half of the 6,000-member church is made up of educated, unmarried college students and 20-somethings. Having experienced challenges in his own dating life and even marriage, Comer is passionate about answering the young generation’s questions about relationships with raw, uncut and honest answers in Loveology, which releases Feb. 4.

Two years ago, Bridgetown hosted its “Loveology” event, where 2,000 college-aged adults attended a two-night, in-depth teaching series on the theology of love, marriage, sex, romance and singleness. Each night ended with two hours of live, uncensored, anything-goes questions and answers led by Comer and a colleague.

The “Loveology” podcast taken from the event continues to rank in the top three downloaded teachings on the Bridgetown website. Two years after the event, young adults are requesting another “Loveology” event and continue to approach the church with questions about their relationships.

“Young, amorous singles who love and follow Jesus are inundated with a schizophrenic view of love,” Comer explains. “The message of culture and the message of the church are at odds, and it can feel like a maze trying to navigate the two.

“We’re a generation with questions: What is marriage? In a time where 50 percent of marriages implode within a few years, why take the risk? If sex is so wonderful, why should we wait for it?

“More than ever, the church can’t stay silent. The Scriptures have so much to say about marriage and sex. We have to join with the biblical authors and talk about relationships in an honest, open and truthful way.” 

In a world where love and romance are the main ingredients in many films and television shows, often these plot lines create an incorrect portrayal of real-life relationships. We may see the main characters riding off into the sunset, kissing in their happily ever after or perhaps even walking down the aisle toward marital bliss. No matter the conclusion, we are given the message that love is easy and always full of affection.

Many have fallen for this Hollywood fairy tale, pushing aside morals to pursue a happily ever after. Forty-eight percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 move in with a partner before getting married in an effort to fortify their relationship. While one would assume these couples soon make it to the altar, many never do, deciding to cohabitate rather than face the specter of divorce. With 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, too many have seen the dream of perfect matrimony fail. Obviously, something isn’t working.

Since the ultimate goal for Christian couples is marriage, Comer begins Loveology there, with a discussion about what marriage should and shouldn’t be, based on the Genesis account of God’s creation of marriage and sex. Then he works backward through all the steps along the way—relationships, love, sex, romance, singleness and masculinity and femininity.

Comer helps readers understand how to successfully complete the journey from young adulthood—first embracing one’s own sexuality and being content with singleness to finding love that leads to the altar.


Ann Carroll

Drenda Keesee: Challenging a New Generation of Women Through the Media.

Drenda Keesee
Drenda Keesee

Drenda Keesee is using the media to help women discover their God-given potential. Her new weekly program Drenda is broadcast on numerous national TV networks like the ABC Family Channel. Her book is She Gets It! The 11 Lies That Hold Women Hostage, and she and husband Gary lead a thriving church outside Columbus, Ohio. Recently, Kathleen Cooke, who’s leading a new women’s initiative based in Hollywood, interviewed Drenda about her church, family and vision for media.

Kathleen Cooke: You and your husband, Gary, pastor a beautiful and growing church just outside Columbus, Ohio. And yet you didn’t start out successful. What turned things around for you?

Drenda Keesee: Gary and I always had a desire to minister like Paul, who was a tentmaker and paid his own way. We wanted to have our own business so we could share God’s Word without being controlled by financial concerns or manipulation from others. But our plans to build a business were more difficult than we thought. For almost 10 years we lived on commission sales in the financial services sector. For Gary, a basically shy and quiet person, every day was a struggle to talk to people and learn a new area of business.

Gary grew up in the pizza business before attending Oral Roberts University, where we met. I was not shy and believed in Gary tremendously, so I scheduled appointments, managed office details and took care of our young, growing family. In spite of our best efforts, one morning we woke up broke, discouraged and not sure where we were going to find money for groceries. I’ll never forget my mother calling from out of town and asking how things were going. In a cheery voice I responded, “Things are great, just great.” She said, “Open the refrigerator door and tell me what you see.”

As I stood in our kitchen, I opened the refrigerator, breaking down in tears, I said, “An empty jar of mayonnaise!” Literally that was all that was in the refrigerator, and our cabinets were no different. It seemed the harder we tried to get out of debt, the further we got into it. At this point, I was starting to get mad with God. How long did we need to keep trusting that He was going to bring us into a place where we were successful and could minister? In the upcoming weeks after this, I began to really seek God in a way I had not in many years.

One night, I decided I was not going to bed unless God told me what was going on and what we needed to do to get out of the financial mess we were in. I stayed up praying and searching the Scriptures for answers. After a while, I began to see in the book of Haggai (I know—who reads that?) where God said, “Consider your ways. … You looked for much, but it came up little … because my house is in ruins while everyone one of you runs his own house.”

It goes on to say that the silver and the gold are His, and in the midst of their lack God is instructing the Israelites that if they will take care of His things, that from this day forward He would bless them. What I realized is that although we had a noble goal to build a business for God, we were neglecting both Him and His Word while we built our own life, promising to honor Him once we got there. We had one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom of God.

That night, I felt God show me that we would start helping others get out of debt and strengthening their marriages too. Others needed to hear what we were learning. It seemed hypocritical to tell others how they were relying on debt instead of God while we were in debt, but as we stepped out and started our own business with an emphasis on getting out of debt, we started to flourish in time. Something was different. Just like Haggai says, “From this day forward (when you put God’s things first), I will bless you.” Even though we still had some mountains to climb, and debt to pay, we had a word from God, and it gave us a renewed confidence that God was still with us and had a plan to not only help us but to use us to help others.

Cooke: You have an incredibly intense devotion to your family. Far too often among national Christian leaders, we see dysfunctional family relationships. Why is it so important to put family first?

Keesee: You can accomplish many things, but if you don’t have a strong family that is devoted to one another, then money or success can be very lonely. It was always a first priority next to our devotion to God—to have a great family. I always told God I would do anything He asked, but I would not sacrifice my family. He actually brought a thought to me that said, “I never asked you or anyone else to do that. That was their choice.”

I have come to recognize throughout the years that God gets the blame for so many choices people make when He wasn’t the one who did it. It seems easier to blame God than accept personal responsibility. With that in mind, we always tried to let our children know the “why” behind the “what.” They caught our devotion to God. We modeled it for them by living a real relationship with God with them, not just in front of them. We prayed together and asked them about their needs and taught them to ask God, seek Him first, and then they actually saw the provisions and miracles He did for them and with them.

This is a living faith and is relational, not religious and informational. We made many sacrifices together as a family to do what we felt God was directing us to pursue. We talked it out and made these decisions as a unit. Our children were on board with us. It has always been, and still is, important to us that they pursue God’s plan for their lives. We have several successful companies, but so far all five of our children love to minister throughout the church. They could be just as effective as a marketplace minister in the business arena, but they really love God’s church and helping His people.

Cooke: You’ve poured all these years of ministry into a new national TV program called Drenda. Some say the era of Christians on television is over. Why do you feel TV is the right platform for your message to women?

Keesee: I think we live in a media-driven culture and with so many women’s programs heralding a message of selfish pursuits in the name of freedom, and I just want to counter that message. The greatest joys I have in life are the ones that involve God, our marriage and family, but I don’t see these being valued in most women’s programs.

I am concerned that people are building their lives on sand and that one day they will wake up, just like we did when we found ourselves in serious debt. They will find themselves in tremendous regret that everything they chose and built means little to nothing. Haggai also says, “I blew on your efforts.” Just like sand, what we build our lives on will blow away if it doesn’t have eternal significance. I want women to recognize that it is a high calling to be moms and wives, and these are very fulfilling roles, with lasting joy that supersedes a moment of pleasure today. Invest in something eternal, and it lasts.

Invest in pleasure and it is fleeting, just like money! [Laughs.] Many women are trading their children in for happy hour and end up drinking a cup of sorrow later as their selfishness brings loneliness. But my so-called sacrifices to take care of my family have brought great joy. I want women to make good choices so they can enjoy real life.

Cooke: The show has been on television for a number of seasons, and I know you’re back at the drawing board revamping the program. You’ve never been afraid to change your methods to keep up with a shifting culture. Why is change so important?

Keesee: Change is important because we lose relevance with people’s lives if they can’t hear our message. The message doesn’t change because its based on eternal truths, but the package has to. We need to be on the forefront of change instead of following the world around like a puppy dog with a paper in its mouth. I want to be the one who helps make the change instead of following the crowd at the end of the pack.

Cooke: What’s your most important message to women today?

Keesee: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” I say this eating locust (croissants) and wearing camel hair (in Paris). Just kidding. But seriously …

I want to help people live more of what matters for their life and family. The price or choices to live a life with God based on His ways is worth it. I can’t completely call it a “price,” since the rewards have been far greater than the price we paid. In the beginning, you don’t see the outcome of your choices—that’s why it takes faith—but it’s later that the results show.

At that point, it may be too late to make some of the right choices with your husband and children that will impact the relationship. Hopefully not, but sometimes it’s too late. We allow women talk-show hosts who aren’t married and have no children to tell us how to live our lives and then expect not to be lonely and unhappy. Sure, we have many choices as women to live our lives, but there is no meaning to life if I live it just for me.

I want to live it with a few people that truly love me and share it with a lot of people who truly need to hear what I have to say. Character is who you are; reputation is who people think you are. I want to have character. Women are forsaking character because they want reputation, but God’s wisdom creates a successful life based on character. What’s popular is not always lasting, and what is lasting is not always popular.

Cooke: You and Gary have built a great church, have written best-selling books and have launched two national TV programs. [Gary has his own program, Fixing the Money Thing.] What’s next for Gary and Drenda Keesee?

Keesee: Gary wants to produce a movie trilogy equivalent to Star Wars …

I don’t know all that God has in store for us, but I know that whatever we do, we will be confronting cultural lies and sharing truth about more of what really matters in life. However we need to do that, we will! But ultimately, I want to leave a legacy in our children and the next generation that they can navigate throughout the changes they will see in their lives and in the culture and do it with a strong awareness of God’s destiny for their lives.


Kathleen Cooke is co-founder of Cooke Pictures in Burbank, Calif., and The Influence Lab, which is focused on empowering the church to engage culture through media. Find out more

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