Category: Christians working in Arts and Media

Norbertine Web Series ‘City of Saints’ Premieres With ‘The Good Thief’

City-of-Saints-Episode-1In the Catholic world of Southern California, the white-robed Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey are well-known — now the world gets to meet them.

On April 10, “The Good Thief,” the first episode of “City of Saints,” a seven-part series of short Web videos, premiered on It traces the story of a troubled young man whose encounter with one of the Norbertine priests changed his life, comparing it to the story of St. Dismas, the “good thief” who was crucified alongside Christ.

Click here to watch; the page also offers background information on Father Norbert Wood, the Norbertine priest featured in the episode, and St. Dismas.



St. Michael’s Abbey is in Silverado, California, in the heart of Orange County. The Norbertines operate a boys’ boarding school at the abbey, administer parishes in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, release chant CDs — and now, star in a new Web series.

Asked what a Norbertine is, here’s Father Norbert’s reply:

A priest whose life is anchored in the Mysteries of the Altar and who bathes there every day in the fountain flowing from the Savior’s open Heart.

A priest who begins anew every day to walk the path of conversion and who seeks to love and serve with a generous heart like St. Augustine and St. Norbert.

A priest who hungers and thirsts for the Lord and for the salvation of His people and who renews that hunger and thirst each day in prayer.

Here are the upcoming episodes:




Image: Courtesy Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey

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.


UPDATED: 5 for First Friday: Family-Friendly Viewing for April

TumbleLeaf-Spring-a-Ling-FFBIt’s the First Friday of the month, so we’re spotlighting some family-friendly viewing options for April. Take a look …

“Tumble Leaf Spring-a-ling Surprise”: The series — which received four Daytime Emmy Award nominations this year, including Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Animated Program– is streaming a new special on Amazon Prime this month.

“Tumble Leaf Spring-a-ling Surprise” follows Bloom the Bunny and his friends as they hunt for their lost eggs. Along the way, they find signs of the season of spring are everywhere. It’s a fun and colorful journey, in stop-motion animation, which can be interactive as well when your little ones begin to spot lost eggs on-screen before the characters do. It’s also a nice way to get them ready for an Easter egg hunt of their own if you plan on having one.

UPDATE 4/12/2017:

To celebrate the beginning of spring, Amazon Original Special Tumble Leaf Spring-A-Ling Surprise will be free to stream on Prime Video in the US beginning Friday, April 14 at 12 a.m. PST and ending Sunday, April 16 at 11:59 p.m. PST; no Prime membership required.

Check out the trailer:

“Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery ”: The second season of the well-done CNN miniseries debuted last month and concludes on Sunday, April 9, using scientific technology and archaeological research to learn more about the life of Jesus. Though you might feel suspicious of this subject matter being tackled by a major news organization, there’s nothing to fear here. A number of theologians, scholars and historians contribute to the episodes in a respectful way.

Of course, no scientific fact can replace what faith already accomplishes, but the episodes are interesting if you’re into history, ancient artifacts and Bible stories. If you have older children, this series may help to pique their interest in the church. The topics explored this season include the childhood home of Jesus, the tombs of King Herod and Lazarus, the bones of Peter and relics related to Thomas. Watch Sunday at 9PM ET on CNN and preview the series online at

Click here to see a clip from Sunday’s finale, which explores the tradition that St. Thomas brought Christianity to India.

“An American Tail”: The 1986 animated family film comes to Netflix this month along with “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West” and “An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster.” It’s been more than thirty years, but the story of Fievel Mousekewitz and his family as they emigrate from Russia to the U.S. in search of freedom still holds up. Just tell your kids it’s the “Finding Nemo” from your childhood.

Here’s a peek:

“The Secret Life of Pets”: Last summer’s computer-animated hit feature, following a Jack Russell Terrier named Max whose life is turned upside down when his owner adopts a stray dog named Duke, comes to Netflix on April 22, and is another great option for family movie night. For siblings, there may even be a good lesson on teamwork and sticking together in there.

“Easter From King’s”: BBC Worldwide launched their subscription-based, video-on-demand service called BritBox this past month, which is making a whole lot of British programming available to American audiences for the first time. The cost for BritBox is $6.99 a month, but you can take advantage of a 7-day free trial as new users. If you’re looking for some music to play during your family’s Easter dinner, you may consider Kings College Choral Scholars, at King’s College at Cambridge. Featuring hymns and readings, it is a rare look into an Anglican Easter service abroad which includes one of the most prestigious choirs in the world.

Or, you can watch it here.

Also, don’t forget the Solemn Mass of Palm Sunday from the Vatican, available on EWTN.

Korbi is a former full-time TV blogger, writing for sites such as E! Online and Yahoo!. She is now a full-time mom of twin boys. In her free time, she moonlights as a Marriage, Family & Individual Therapist.

Image: Courtesy Amazon Prime

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.

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.


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?


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.


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.


UPDATE on 3/22: As reported by

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.