Category: Faith and Family on the Internet

5 for First Friday: Family-Friendly Viewing for the Month of March

Shark-Tank-castIt’s the First Friday of March, and we’re starting a new feature, spotlighting family-friendly viewing each month. Enjoy!

“Shark Tank”: There are always several episodes available to view on ABC.com and on Hulu, but watching “Shark Tank” live on Friday nights can be a nice way to start the weekend.

Though the reality show is its eighth season, and is already a multiple Emmy-award winner, the new episodes continue to be as fresh and exciting as the ideas that each entrepreneur brings into the “tank,” in search of funding from the panel of “sharks.”

Every episode presents a real opportunity to witness the American dream come true for hardworking and creative people, and gives viewers an insight into what it takes to win over investors.

This week, a mom from San Diego and two brothers get their shot. There’s also a profile on “shark” Robert Herjavec who shares his story about immigrating as a child from Eastern Europe to North America, escaping Communism and how this experience influenced his very impressive business success.

“Lark Rise To Candleford”: If you’re looking for a television series to binge-watch without having to worry about “explaining” questionable scenes and storyline choices to your kids, this BBC show—set in the English countryside and chronicling the small town life of its characters—ran for four complete seasons and every episode is available to watch on Amazon Prime. It is clean but also charming, heartwarming but also clever… as you might expect a British show to be.

“peg + cat”: This an animated kids series is in its second season on PBS right now, but if you have a preschool or kindergarten-aged child and you haven’t yet given it a shot, it’s worth checking out with them. There are several episodes available on Amazon Prime and YouTube—some for free and others for a small fee.

The show introduces basic math to little ones in a way they can understand. It is surprising how capable young children are of picking up introductory math concepts (like counting, recognizing patterns, sorting, proportions, drawing diagrams) if presented in a way they’re entertained by—and if you have daughters, you may especially appreciate that the protagonist is a little girl.

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Research continually shows that girls are less confident and more anxious about math than boys are, even at a very young age. The show provides a female role model who demonstrates skills—especially creative and persistent problem solving—that are vital to understanding math and eventually science as well. The other plus to “peg + cat” is that if you watch this show alongside your child, you will also get ideas on how to incorporate math concepts into simple games and exercises at home.

“Savoring Our Faith”: Although many are aware of the existence of EWTN Global Catholic Television Network, the expansiveness of their programming seems to be a better kept secret. Did you have any clue that EWTN has its own cooking show?!

The host, Fr. Leo Patalinghug, is quite likeable, a skilled chef and adept at weaving lessons from the Bible into lessons for the kitchen. You can find the list of episodes and airdates here—from the U.S. and Canada all the way to Africa and the Pacific Rim—or just check it out on YouTube.

You can also watch EWTN live online.

“Heartland” – Another not-so-well known programming outlet for families? Light TV. Light TV is a digital broadcast network that was launched by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey at the end of last year. When over-the-air stations — your local network affiliates and independent channels — went digital, the expanded bandwith capacity meant there were digital “subchannels” available. Some show programming related to the main channel; others are given over to independent networks, like Light TV.

They can be accessed with a digital antenna or on selected cable systems. Click here for an earlier blog post about the network and how to find it.

The series and movies that air on Light TV are chosen specifically because of their family-friendly nature, so while the content is not brand new, it may be new to you and you can be sure it’s pretty safe to watch with your kids.

“Heartland” was one of the first shows to air on Light TV and definitely represents the vibe that Light TV is aiming to accomplish. A Canadian series, which is in its tenth season and continues to film original episodes, follows a family with a love for horses and a common goal to keep their ranch running after they suffer a serious tragedy. The show is also available to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Just one parenting note: I would skip over the opening scenes as they contain some content regarding the aforementioned tragedy that could be scary for little kids.

See you next month!

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 ABC

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.

Launching Lent: Fr. Tony Ricard, Patrick Coffin and Other Catholic Media Pros Reflect on Family Prayer

Sister-Nancy-Usselmann-Joseph-Nesta-Patrick-Coffin-Father-Tony-Ricard-Family-PrayerToday — Wednesday, March 1 — is Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of the Lenten season. In case you were wondering what Lent is all about, here’s Family Theater’s new video explaining it:

One thing all Catholic families can do better is praying together, and Lent may be a perfect time to jump-start that in your home. As part of our ongoing “Faith in Media” series, we talked to Catholic mcdia professionals about the importance of family prayer.

To start with, podcaster, author, speaker and radio host Patrick Coffin gave us his own family prayer:

Coffin also offered us a longer take on family prayer, emphasizing that family prayer is the “great untried solution” to many of the ills besetting the modern family, including divorce and the splintering of family members.

Father Tony Ricard, a priest, speaker, author and evangelist from the Archdiocese of New Orleans discussed the importance of not only talking but listening in prayer, and how we, as a people, have to be “about the business of God.”

Then, Joseph Nesta, senior community-relations officer for Immaculate Heart Radio, told us about how saying a family rosary can create beautiful memories.

Finally, Sister Nancy Usselmann, F.S.P., of the Daughters of Saint Paul, the national director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies, explains how family prayer nourished her own vocation, that of her priest brother, and of her married sister and single sister.

Pray on!

Images: Courtesy 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.

‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Higher Ground': Martha Williamson on Faith, Love and a Touch of the Blues

Martha-Williamson-Signed-Sealed-Delivered-1On Feb. 2, “Touched by an Angel” creator Martha Williamson sat down for a talk at Bel-Air Presbyterian in Los Angeles, as part of its faith-based Beacon Hollywood ministry.

Williamson is currently known for “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” a series of movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, which premieres a new installment, “Higher Ground,” on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 9 p.m. ET.

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The series focuses on the “POstables,” a team based in the Denver, Colorado, office of the U.S. Postal Service, which attempts to deliver mail lost in transit and left undelivered. It’s up to the POstables to make sure the “dead letters” are, as Williamson says, “delivered late, but right on time.”

Here’s what’s happening in “Higher Ground,” from the official Website:

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans handyman and blues singer-songwriter Gabe Recolte was left homeless before he had the chance to express his love for club owner Hattie. Oliver and his team retrieve Gabe’s love letter years later and face challenges in solving the mystery. Stars Keb ‘Mo, Eric Mabius, Kristin Booth, Crystal Lowe and Geoff Gustafson.

While the stories of the POstables continue through each movie, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” also lets Williamson tell a story about new characters in each Martha-Williamson-Signed-Sealed-Delivered-2installment — as she did with “Touched by an Angel” — with faith themes threaded through.

We’ll deal with “Touched” in another post, but here are some selections from what Williams had to say about her new project.

On the tentative romance between head POstable Oliver O’Toole (Eric Mabius) and postal detective Shane McInerney (Kristin Booth):

I wanted to explore a man who’s a Christian, whose life was messed up. So, he’s married, and his wife has left him and taken off to Paris. He’s finally worked through that, and what it meant to be a man of honor and not take up with this other woman, even though he hadn’t even seen his wife for almost three years. But he wanted to do the right thing until he was released to do something else, and he was really was struggling.

He’s basically in love but hasn’t said it yet to Shane.

She is a 21st-Century technology woman, and he is a 20th-Century, basically a Luddite, who doesn’t even own a cellphone. The two of them should not be together whatsoever, but that’s not how God works, and so they’ve been going back and forth.

She’s not a believer and he is, so to pitch that to Hallmark without them thinking it it’s going to be a Christian show, was a real tap dance. But I said, “Just trust me, and as we develop these characters you’re going to want to see what happens, and you’re going to want to see his level of faith.”

On how Hallmark responded:

Michelle Vicary, the senior executive vice president [at Hallmark], said, “I’m not afraid of God,” which I thought was a very powerful thing to hear at a network.

They’ve been very supportive and I think the challenge for this that they are human. They are walking in faith, and they are at different points at faith. And they actually are responsible for maintaining other people’s faith. It’s a tremendous act of faith.

How fan response planted a seed for “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”:

I found some letters that had been written to me that I never read. Fan letters. I was reminded of how people’s lives had been changed. …

I’ll never forget this one little boy in an airport once he said, “My mommy and my sister and me, we watch [‘Touched by an Angel’] all the time. My daddy watches it too, but he watches it in the den because he cries.”

And I thought that was just adorable because it said so much, that this poor man, you know, was wanting to feel things but he didn’t want to appear weak, apparently. So I thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to have somebody like Oliver, a guy who’s really weak in so many ways but strong in his faith and that’s what keeps him going, and he’s a kind person?”

There’s this amazing web of fans for this crazy little show. They just deconstruct every single line. They see the Biblical references in it, even though it’s not there. … What they love is there’s this really sexy guy who struggles. He has fallen and gotten himself back up. He made bad decisions but he can still be a man of faith, and he’s a gentleman. He opens the door not because you’re a woman, he opens the door because you’re a human.

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On the mature love story in “Higher Ground”:

Keb ‘Mo is one of the most remarkable blues artists in the country. Back, a few months ago performed in the White House for President and Mrs. Obamam and he performed with James Taylor and Eric Clapton. I mean, he’s an incredible musician and he’s an old friend.

One more thing you should always do is never be afraid to reach out to somebody you admire and tell them that you admire them and say thank you. Which is exactly what I did with Keb ‘Mo, and we ended up begin friends, and now he’s on our show. Hallmark is not known for its diversity, and so it took three years to get this romantic couple on the screen, and I’m very happy about that.

And also, we know this, they ain’t young. They’re older folks. Who can fall in love too.

On the romances you’ll see — including Oliver and Shane — and the future:

I didn’t know if “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” was going to be picked up for three more movies, so I wrote this with the intention that, if this is the last show that we ever see in this series of movies, we will resolve some things.

The two couples that you see will come together in ways that the audience has been waiting for for a long time. I’m very happy about that, but most importantly, we finally see Shane realize, step up and become something of a believer, I would say.

She acknowledges that God has been working in her life. That’s huge. So, all the little tiny pieces were pulled together, and happily, we were picked up for three more movies for 2017, so I’m going to be busy for a while.

Here’s a sneak peek at “Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Higher Ground” …

Images: Courtesy Hallmark Channel

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.

 

 

St. Valentine’s Day: Let’s Talk to Our Kids About Love

hashtag love“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

As my kids are preparing to celebrate Valentine’s Day at school this week, I am reminded of this Scripture (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8). We often hear it at weddings, but if you read it with your whole family —particularly your children— in mind, it takes on an even more profound meaning. While Valentine’s Day is typically thought of as a romantic holiday, it is also an opportunity to talk with our little ones about love.

The four Bible verses that precede the passage above make it very clear that without love, we have nothing. And the verses that follow it emphasize that love is greater than all things, including hope and faith. That’s pretty powerful stuff. Certainly powerful enough to warrant a conversation with our kids about what love is. Doing so, on or in preparation for Valentine’s Day, is a perfect way to add a spiritual element to the popular celebration and to bring the family closer together.

So, what is love? As parents, the words spoken and the wisdom conveyed in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, provide incredible guidance: patience, kindness, good will, humility, selflessness, tolerance, forgiveness, care, trust, hope, perseverance. Contained in those four short verses is a parenting handbook which very clearly details the sort of behavior we should be striving to model for our children. What better way could there be to demonstrate our love for them, for our partners, our friends and neighbors?

For most of us, some of these qualities are easier to practice than others. The patience piece is particularly challenging when dealing with young ones. I suspect it is no accident that patience is the very first word used to explain what love is. What a stunning reminder, no?

In that spirit, I started to think of ways our family could talk about and express love in honor of Valentine’s Day. I came up with a few ideas…

  • Take some time to read 1 Corinthians 13 with your kids. Ask them what they think it means and explain it to them in language they will understand. If they’re old enough, watch this video with them:

  • Ask them to think about different ways in which they can practice patience (like waiting for a younger sibling without protest), practice kindness and care (like spending time with an elderly neighbor) or practice forgiveness (like giving a friend a hug after an argument and letting them know everything is okay).
  • Bake Valentine-themed cookies or cupcakes to donate to your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Talk about why it’s important to show love for those who may be lonely or don’t have much.
  • Have a special Valentine’s Day dinner —could be any day this week— and enlist your children to help with planning the menu, decorating a bit, setting the table or preparing the meal. After saying grace and starting to eat, go around and give each person a chance to say why they love the other members of the family.
  • Consider giving each of your children a special Valentine, or spending some one-on-one time with them, to let them know how much they are loved.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As a bonus, here’s Father Mike Schmitz sharing what he learned about love from, of all places, a Steve Carell movie:

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 Kate O’Hare

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.

‘The Crown': Bishop Barron Weighs in on the Netflix Royal Drama (Plus JFK Casting!)

The-Crown-FFBDon’t know about you, but with wild weather all over the country, if there ever was a weekend meant for relaxing indoors, this might be it. For Catholic families, it might be worth putting “The Crown” on the menu (along with some tea and scones, if you like).

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer:

The sumptuous drama premiered in its entirety on Netflix back in November, but Los Angeles’ own Bishop Robert Barron had his say about it just last week.

He emphasizes how “The Crown” demonstrates the willingness of the young Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) — as a God-anointed monarch, rather than an elected leader — to subsume her own wishes to the demands of her position. Consistently, she puts duty to crown and God over self, remaining bound more to traditional values than the vicissitudes of society.

Here’s his commentary:

Bishop Barron’s thoughts echo some of what was said about “The Crown” in a recent commentary at the Catholic magazine Crisis. Here’s an excerpt:

The monarchy may not be politically powerful anymore, but the crown is still heavy, both literally and figuratively. Nearly every historical drama makes something of the struggle between tradition and changing times, but most cheer for progress, with the result being a triumphalist vindication of modern-day mores. The Crown can’t easily follow that path because of, well, the crown. If society’s primary goal is to throw off the benighted ways of our forbears, kings and queens will be the first thing to go. In discerning a meaningful role for the monarch, one must also find a meaningful role for tradition, and this is a major theme of the show. The young Queen Elizabeth must negotiate a blitz of conflicting demands that are placed on her, most of which are rooted in one way or another in the soil of tradition. As queen, she knows that she has particular obligations to tradition, so she is uniquely entrusted with sifting through the relevant questions.

“The Crown” is not perfectly historically accurate, but it’s not bad. It’s visually stunning (and apparently had a hefty price tag), but unlike many historical dramas, it doesn’t rely on titillation and scandal. This is true to life. Whereas Queen Elizabeth II’s sister and children have had their personal peccadilloes plastered all over tabloids in the U.K. and around the world, the queen herself has remained a model of rectitude and self-possession.

As head of the Anglican Communion, she also hasn’t been shy about speaking on faith. Here’s her most recent Christmas greeting. The beginning is more secular, but at about the 4:20 mark, she begins talking about Christ. The queen even echoes Saint Therese of Lisieux, in talking about “doing small things with great love.”

As far as family viewing goes, “The Crown” isn’t without flaws. There are a couple of scenes of the backside of Matt Smith (“Doctor Who”) who plays Prince Philip, and some brief female nudity during scenes in Africa. There’s blasphemy and profanity scattered here and there (the series is rated MA for two stronger uses of profanity).

But overall, with some caution — and a recommendation for parents to watch WITH their kids —  “The Crown” is suitable for mature middle-school students and high-school students.

As a Catholic American of Irish and French extraction, I have no particular love for the British monarchy. But, in a self-indulgent world obsessed with tossing aside tradition in search of the next hot trend, Queen Elizabeth II stands as an example of someone who’s devoted her entire life to a duty she neither sought nor actively chose.

And she’s done it well.

By the way, there will be a second season of “The Crown,” which begins in the 1960s with a storyline involving war in Egypt and the downfall of the queen’s third prime minister. “Dexter” star Micahel C. Hall has been cast as Catholic U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Jodi Balfour as his wife, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

Image: Courtesy Netflix

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.

 

‘Faith in Media': Honoring Don Bosco With Patrick Coffin and Joseph Nesta on Media Evangelization

Don-Bosco-Joseph-Nesta-Patrick-Coffin-ffbJan. 31 is the feast day of Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco, also known as Saint John Bosco, also known as Don Bosco, an Italian priest, educator and writer during the 19th century.

He was famous for educating street children and troubled youth in Turin, Italy — and he’s the patron of apprentices, schoolchildren and youth — but because of his love of learning, he’s also the patron of editors and publishers.

If Don Bosco were alive today, like modern editors and publishers, he’d certainly be on the Internet, and maybe radio and television as well.

As part of our ongoing “Faith in Media” interview series, here are a couple more media pros, continuing the conversation (started in this post, with speaker and evangelist Father Tony Ricard, and “media nun” Sister Nancy Usselmann of the Daughters of Saint Paul) about using modern media to evangelize.

First up is Joseph Nesta, the senior community relations officer for Catholic radio network Immaculate Heart Radio. Among his topics is the ongoing relevance of one of the older mass-media technologies, radio, and how it impacts people even today.

Then we have Patrick Coffin. He’s a cradle Catholic, an author, speaker and radio host — for many years, he was the host of “Catholic Answers Live” — and now has embarked on a solo venture at www.PatrickCoffinmedia, featuring news and a podcast. He emphasizes that everyone can have an impact, even if they’re just doing it as an individual.

More from these media pros in a later post!

Images: Courtesy Family Theater Productions, Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.