Category: Christians working in Arts and Media

Christopher Awards: ‘Hacksaw Ridge,’ ‘This Is Us,’ Dolly Parton and More …

Hacksaw-Ridge-This-Is-Us-ChristophersHollywood can often seem hostile to family values, but The Christopher Awards intend to honor good where it can be found, whether in movies, television or books.

The Christopher Awards were created in 1949 to celebrate writers, producers, directors, authors and illustrators whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”

Today, March 28, The Christophers — founded by Maryknoll priest Father James Keller in 1945 — released the 68th Annual Christopher Award winners, to be presented in New York City on May 16.

Said director of communications Tony Rossi:

“The powerful love of family is a thread in so many of our winning projects this year, be it family we’re related to by blood or those whose kindness and selflessness lead us to form an emotional and spiritual connection with them. These are the kinds of bonds that can change people’s lives and change the world.”

The movie winners are “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hidden Figures,” “The Hollars” and “Queen of Katwe” (or own Father David Guffey reviewed that one). Said “Hidden Figures” director Ted Melfi (a previous winner for “St. Vincent” in 2014):

“Movies that entertain are the norm, but films that enlighten, educate and inspire are so rare, yet so important and the Christopher Award shines light on these films, further illuminating their footprint on the planet. As one candle has the ability to cast out darkness, such is the power of one film to impact hearts and minds for the better. It’s truly an honor to be considered for a Christopher Award…and an incredible blessing to be awarded one.”

The TV offerings blend TV-movies, scripted series and documentary. They are “60 Minutes: Gold Star Parents,” “America ReFramed: In the Game,” “Born This Way: Bachelor Pad,” “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love,” “Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing” and hit freshman drama “This Is Us” (I had my say on that one).

Click here to read the whole release, including the rundown of worthy books for adults and young people.

Image: Courtesy NBC/Lionsgate

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Patrick, Francis and ‘City of Saints’ — New Saintly Stories

City-of-SaintsMarch 17 is St. Patrick’s feast day, but as all Catholics know, we are surrounded by a cloud of saintly witnesses every day of the year.

Now, the Augustine Institute and the Norbertines of Saint Michael’s Abbey are offering new ways to see and hear saintly stories.

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Released today, “The Trials of Saint Patrick,” the second production from the Augustine Institute Radio Theatre, tells the truth behind the legend. From the homepage:

The Trials of Saint Patrick tells the dramatic story of how a kidnapped slave risked his life to become a champion of the Christian faith to the outer-reaches of the Roman Empire. With the Augustine Institute Radio Theatre’s high-quality acting, cinematic sound design and musical score, the much-loved Saint Patrick will be seen in a fresh new light.

Augustine Institute audio dramas capture the power and passion of the most compelling stories on the best theatre screen there is: your imagination.

You can listen to episode one by clicking here.

Brother-Francis-Augustine-LighthouseIt follows on the earlier release of “Brother Francis: The Barefoot Saint of Assisi” (the link also features a trailer video).

It’s described as:

A young man of wealth who became a traumatized prisoner of war and outcast. A holy beggar, he embraced the lepers, challenged a Pope, debated a Sultan and shook his world to its very core. Discover the Francis you never knew in Brother Francis. The Barefoot Saint of Assisi. 10 exciting episodes with over 50 actors capturing the power and passion of Francis of Assisi.

Both are available on CD, from Lighthouse Catholic Media.

Also, in the inbox today landed “City of Saints,” a seven-episode series from the Norbertines of Saint Michael’s Abbey (in Orange County, California), and Kinnane Films.

We don’t know much about it yet, except the trailer (click here for that; it can’t be embedded), which shows scenes of the Norbertines and of various people, says that the series tells seven true stories, and reminds is that “Every saint has a history; every sinner has a future.”

If you enter your email, the first episode lands in your own inbox on Monday, April 10.

If you don’t know about the Norbertine Fathers, here’s a little vignette of their communal life, from 2010:

Image: Norbertines of Saint Michael’s Abbey/Kinnane Films

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

5 Faithful, Inspirational Videos — From Bob Dylan to Salve Regina to Pentatonix

Salve-Regina-CFRRecently, my boss here at Family Theater Productions, Father David Guffey, C.S.C., asked each of us to come up with a list of videos that we found particularly compelling or inspirational.

When I looked at my own list, I realized not all the videos are the same — and one of them is from a secular singing group — but they do have things in common.

  • They are bold in their message.
  • Most of them are beautiful to look at.
  • They all place the Church, or the Christian message in general, squarely in the path of popular culture, without either denigrating the culture or degrading the Faith.
  • They speak truths and Truth.
  • They evangelize. (Bishop Barron often says that a young man found his Dylan video, then found more videos, then catechesis — eventually becoming Catholic.)

Which videos inspire you?

Enjoy!

Image: Spirit Juice/Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

 

[UPDATE: Caviezel Out, David Boreanaz In] Jim Caviezel to Star in CBS Navy SEAL Pilot

Jim-Caviezel-Family-Theater-Rosary-Bowl-FFBBeloved by viewers for both his performance as Jesus in Mel Gibson’s 2044 blockbuster, “The Passion of the Christ,” and as the star of the long-running CBS series “Person of Interest” — which ended after five seasons last spring — Jim Caviezel may be returning to CBS this fall.

From Deadline.com:

Once a CBS drama star, always a CBS drama star. Jim Caviezel, who headlined the network’s long-running procedural Person of Interest, has been tapped to lead the cast of its untitled Navy SEAL drama pilot from former Justified executive producers Ben Cavell, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly and Shameless executive producer Chris Chulack.

Written by Cavell and directed by Chulack, the project follows the lives of the elite Navy SEALs as they train, plan and execute the most dangerous, high-stakes missions our country can ask. Caviezel will play Jason, the respected, committed leader of his assault team who’s been through more than a dozen deployments.

Cavell, Timberman, Beverly and Chulack executive produce for CBS TV Studios.

In the Navy SEAL pilot, Caviezel joins another actor from a long-running CBS procedural: former CSI: NY co-star A.J. Buckley. Also previously cast in the project are Max Thieriot, Neil Brown Jr. and Toni Trucks.

Caviezel next stars in The Ballad of Lefty Brown, which just premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival. He is repped by ICM Partners and attorney Frank Stewart.

Along with being a film and TV star, Caviezel is also a longtime friend of Family Theater Productions, having met our founder, Father Patrick Peyton, by chance, in 1991. The aging priest agreed to the young actor’s impromptus request for confession and gave him sage advice.

Click here to watch the moving video — a screenshot is below — in which he describes the life-changing encounter.

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UPDATE on 3/22: As reported by Deadline.com:David_Boreanaz_by_Gage_Skidmore

As Bones is heading into its series finale next week, star David Boreanaz has been tapped as the lead of CBS’ Navy SEAL drama pilot. Boreanaz replaces Jim Caviezel, who was cast in the role last week. Cavizel, who has a long history with CBS as the star of the long-running crime drama series Person of Interest, has parted ways with the network and the Navy SEAL pilot’s producer CBS TV Studios over creative differences.

Incidentally, Boreanaz was raised Catholic, and his character on “Bones,” FBI Agent Seeley Booth, was also a Catholic.

Here’s to hoping Caviezel pops up somewhere else …

Image: Family Theater Productions/Wikimedia Commons: Gage Skidmore

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

 

 

Father Patrick Peyton: New Profile of Family Theater’s Own ‘Rosary Priest’

Patrick-Peyton-John-Paul-II-Mother-Teresa-Bing-Crosby-FFBSeventy years ago this past February 13, Family Theater Productions went on the air on the Mutual Broadcasting System with a radio drama called “Flight From Home,” starring Loretta Young and Don Ameche, with host Jimmy Stewart. Here’s a post we put up to mark the birthday on our Facebook page:

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The driving force behind it all was Irish-born Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., a Holy Cross priest with deep devotions to Our Lady and to the rosary — and blessed with the Irish gift of persuasion. Using all three, he founded Family Theater Productions, appeared at huge rosary rallies around the world and became one of the Church’s earliest modern-media evangelists.

He also popularized the famous phrases, “The family that prays together stays together,” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.”

Visit FatherPeyton.org, which pays tribute to his life.

Today, Catholic Web site Aleteia pays tribute to Father Peyton with a lovely profile that also includes information on his sainthood cause. Here’s a taste (click here for the whole thing):

Without having any background or influence in mass media, Father Peyton went to New York and convinced a woman from the Mutual Broadcasting System that the nation needed a Catholic radio program. The non-Christian woman decided to give Father Peyton a chance on one condition: he needed to enlist the help of Hollywood stars.

Father Peyton nervously called Bing Crosby and somehow, with the help of Our Lady, was able to win him over for the cause. The radio show hit airwaves on May 13, 1945 and featured “Archbishop Spellman of New York, President Harry Truman, Bing Crosby and the parents and sister of the Sullivan family of Iowa leading the Rosary… Father Peyton finished the program with an impassioned plea for families to pray the Rosary together for peace.”

The success of the first show was overwhelming and listeners were asking for more.

Father Peyton then went on a crusade to make his show a regular program, and established Family Theater Productions in 1947 with Hollywood stars eager to support him in his work. His various productions would go on to feature stars such as “Grace Kelly, Gregory Peck, Rosalind Russell, Jimmy Stewart, Helen Hayes, Ronald Reagan, James Dean, Natalie Wood, Robert Young, Raymond Burr, Lucille Ball, Bob Newhart, Jack Benny, Loretta Young and Frank Sinatra.”

To learn more and sample Father Peyton’s productions — and what Family Theater is still producing — visit us on YouTube and UStream.

For a glimpse into the future, get a sample of our upcoming Web series Catholic Central at www.catholiccentral.com.

And, of course, follow us here on our blog, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Image: Family Theater Productions

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett to Produce ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’ Movie

Our-Lady-GuadalupeThere have been movies and TV specials about Our Lady of Guadalupe before, as we outlined here in December — but none of them was a big Hollywood feature. Now, that’s about to change.

As reported by Deadline.com, veteran screenwriter Joe Eszterhas  (“Basic Instinct,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Flashdance”), a Hungarian-born Catholic, has penned a new script about Juan Diego’s vision of the Madonna in 1571 Mexico, and taken it to LightWorkers Media, run by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. Through Lightworkers, the movie will go to MGM, where Burnett is also president of television and digital media.

Here’s some of what Deadline had to say (the article also tells the whole story of Juan Diego, which is a bit of surprise for a secular entertainment-news outlet):

Eszterhas had been working on the script long before the faith-based push became popular at Hollywood studios.

The thought about writing a screenplay about Our Lady of Guadalupe came to him 14 years ago during what he calls his life-changing “Christian conversion.” The screenwriter would later write a book entitled Crossbearer to share his story about that moment sitting on the curb in his cul-de-sac in 2001 at his wits end after battling cancer and addiction. A man who was once the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood with a wild lifestyle was now feeling defeated, and found himself begging God for help. That’s when something other-worldly happened.

When he regained his health, Eszterhas traveled to Mexico City to do research and to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe to help him become a messenger for God. The end result is the spec script that Lightworkers just picked up.

Eszterhas told Deadline that his wife, Naomi, inspired to write the script about the Blessed Mother as she herself, felt a closeness to her. Downey herself played the Blessed Virgin Mary in both Son of God and the TV mini-series The Bible.

As soon as we get an idea of casting or a release date, we’ll let you know.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.