Category: Faith and Family on the Internet

NBC to Air ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Live Musical on Easter 2018

NBC — home to the hit family drama “This Is Us,” and the network that aired one season of “A.D.: The Bible Continues” — has chosen “Jesus Christ Superstar” as its next live TV musical, to air on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018.

Staged on Broadway in 1971, “Superstar” follows NBC’s other live musical events, including adaptations of “The Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan,” “The Wiz” and “Hairspray.”

Original show creators Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are executive producers for the event, and will oversee any new music or lyrics for the NBC vision. The other executive producers — Mark Platt (“La La Land”), Craig Zadan and Neil Meron — are also veterans of musical productions.

Says Variety:

“As we continue to expand the profile of our live musicals, we are thrilled to be partnering with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to bring a new live staging of the iconic ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ to NBC,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment. “Casting has just begun, but we want to fill out this classic show with as many recording artists as possible to give proper voice to what is the original rock opera score.”

The choice of “Superstar” follows Fox’s Palm Sunday, 2016, presentation of Tyler Perry’s “The Passion.” The live event was based on a Dutch production chronicling the last hours of Christ’s life, staged in New Orleans and featuring a panoply of pop-music performers.

Apparently NBC is also on the hunt for authentic music stars to fill out the cast.

For those too young to remember “Superstar,” it’s a rock-musical take on the last week leading up to the Crucifixion, largely from Judas’ perspective (or at least the perspective assigned to him in this version of the Passion narrative).

Most people who know “Superstar” have either heard the original cast album or seen the 1973 film version, starring Ted Neeley as Jesus, and Yvonne Elliman as Mary Magdalene. But at its heart, it’s still a stage show.

Also from Variety:

The musical first opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway in 1971 and starred Jeff Fenholt as Jesus and Ben Vereen as Judas, and was nominated for five Tony Awards that year. Prior to making its way to the stage, the musical was originally conceived as a concept album that hit no. 1 on the Billboard charts. Since then, the show has been performed in nearly 20 countries and translated into 18 different languages. In the 46 years since its debut, “Jesus Christ Superstar” has been revived many times, including Tony-nominated runs in 2000 and 2012.

From a Catholic perspective, “Superstar” is not good catechesis, but then, why would anyone expect a 1970s rock musical to be that, anyway? But it is an engaging, very human portrayal of Christ, and many folks — myself included — have found it spiritually uplifting and effective.

NBC’s version could be great, or awful, or somewhere in between, but throwing up a few prayers starting now can’t hurt.

Many Christians have decried “Jesus Christ Superstar,” but the Vatican did approve a version for pilgrims back in 1999.

From the U.K. Guardian:

Gerald O’Collins, a professor of theology at Gregorian university in Rome, said that accusations that the musical demeaned or trivialised Jesus were misplaced. “Christians have been depicting Him on stage since the passion plays of the middle ages,” he said. “This is no different.”

Here’s a peek at Ted Neeley’s performance:

Here’s Elliman, with Mary Magdalene’s signature song:

And Carl Anderson, as Judas, singing the musical’s signature song:

And here’s the entire 1973 movie, filmed in Israel (it’s not a great quality video; for better, grab it off Amazon Prime):

Image: Original Broadway logo

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.

EWTN to Premiere ‘The Message of Fatima’ On May 10

The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Cova da Iria, near Fatima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon, Portugal — and EWTN is rolling out a new miniseries to mark the occasion, called “The Message of Fatima.”

Between May 13 and Oct. 13, 1917, three Portuguese shepherd children — Francisco and Jacinta Marto, and their cousin Lucia dos Santos — saw monthly visions of Our Lady.

Mary instructed the children to pray the rosary for world peace, to end World War I, to convert sinners, and to bring Russia back to the Faith.

From Franciscan Media:

Mary gave the children three secrets. Following the deaths of Francisco and Jacinta in 1919 and 1920 respectively, Lucia revealed the first secret in 1927. It concerned devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The second secret was a vision of hell. When Lucia grew up she became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005 at the age of 97.

Pope John Paul II directed the Holy See’s Secretary of State to reveal the third secret in 2000; it spoke of a “bishop in white” who was shot by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows into him. Many people linked this vision to the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.

The feast of Our Lady of Fatima was approved by the local bishop in 1930; it was added to the Church’s worldwide calendar in 2002.

The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima is Saturday, May 13 … and the very next day, Sunday, May 14, is Mother’s Day — so that weekend, we celebrate both our Mother in Heaven and all the mothers on Earth.

In a May 4 blog post, EWTN revealed extensive details about its docudrama miniseries “The Message of Fatima,” written, produced and directed by Stefano Mazzeo.

From the EWTN blog:

Not everyone knows that an Angel appeared to the three shepherd children in 1916 to prepare them for the apparitions from the Mother of God the following year. Episode 1 of this important docu-drama, which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, May 10, prepares viewers for what is to come by conveying the Angel’s messages. At 8 p.m. ET that same evening, Fr. Mitch Pacwa will interview Writer/Director Mazzeo on “EWTN Live.”

Then, just as at Fatima in 1917, EWTN will air an account of one of the six apparitions on the 13th of the same month in which they originally occurred. Each monthly episode will begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, beginning Saturday, May 13 and ending Friday, Oct. 13 with the Miracle of the Sun.

The production was filmed on location in Fatima, featuring a trio of young actors that looks strikingly like the original seers, along with such authentic settings as the church in which the children were baptized, went to First Confession and First Holy Communion.

Said Mazzeo:

“Pope Benedict XVI said, “We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete. The message will continue to be lived out as long as there are people on earth. It’s a private revelation, so we don’t have to believe it, but it does lead us to and re-emphasize the deposit of faith. I cannot say for sure that anything will happen this year, but I believe that the message of Fatima is not finished yet. The prophesies are ongoing.”

Click here to read the whole thing, which includes several stills from the production.

There are also reports that Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta — who died while still children — during an upcoming visit to the Fatima shrine in Portugal on May 12-23. The sainthood cause for Servant of God Sister Lucia is ongoing, and in February, it passed an important milestone on the way to beatification, the last step before canonization.

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. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

 

For Mother’s Day, PBS Offers a Grieving Son’s ‘Requiem’ Mass

From PBS for Mother’s Day, “Requiem for My Mother” follows a son trying to deal with the sudden loss of his beloved mother by writing a new choral work for her, a traditional Catholic Requiem Mass — which premiered at the Vatican.

From the inbox:

REQUIEM FOR MY MOTHER

PREMIERES NATIONALLY ON PUBLIC TELEVISION IN MAY 2017

IN CONJUNCTION WITH MOTHER’S DAY

Inspiring Story of the Power of Music to Transcend Loss and Inspire a New Generation

Requiem for My Mother is an award-winning documentary and a compelling musical celebration of life and love, loss and acceptance. The film chronicles the personal journey of prolific Hollywood film score composer Stephen Edwards as he is forced to deal with the sudden loss of his mother, Rosalie Edwards, whose passion for music transformed his life and who was his constant inspiration. To deal with his loss, Edwards channels his anger, passion, sadness, and faith into a major new choral work — a “Requiem,” the traditional Catholic mass for the dead. The film follows the thrilling creation of the piece and the massive preparations leading up to its international premiere at a renowned music festival in Rome’s Vatican City. In collaboration with the Continuo Arts Foundation, along their renowned conductor Candace Wicke, the Requiem goes from a son’s personal lament to a soaring 160-voice choral performance with a 50-piece orchestra, staged in one of the most beautiful and sacred places in the world, the Basilica of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Rome. Directed by Stephen Edwards and David Haugland,Requiem for My Mother premieres nationally on public television in May 2017 (check local listings) in conjunction with Mother’s Day.

The film introduces us to the remarkable Rosalie Edwards, the beautiful daughter of Sicilian-American immigrants, proudly recalled by Edwards as a “typical 1950s glamour girl.” A mother of four, Rosalie was a dedicated musician who instilled her love of music in her children and became their biggest champion. Through vintage photos, old home movies, and interviews with his siblings, Edwards shares his memories of his mother and his Michigan upbringing. Rosalie’s story is intercut with the nerve-wracking preparations for the Requiem’s debut as conductor Wicke, a friend of Rosalie’s, and Edwards travel to rehearsals in Wisconsin, Miami and New York, as amateur choirs from far-flung parishes are painstakingly taught the piece. With time running out, the question looms. Will this massive choir, along with members from the Prague Philharmonic — with only one rehearsal — rise to the occasion for the most important musical moment of Edwards’s life?

A moving personal story as well as a rousing performance film, Requiem for My Mother reminds us of music’s power to transform grief into beauty, healing and hope for the future.

For complete information on the film and to listen to the Requiem, visit http://www.requiemformymother.com/.

Requiem for My Mother is an RFFM production in cooperation with the Continuo Arts Foundation. South Carolina ETV is the presenting station.

For more information, visit: http://www.requiemformymother.com/

Find it on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/requiemformymother/

About Stephen Edwards

Michigan native Stephen Edwards’ music education began at an early age, with training by his mother, Rosalie Edwards, followed by studies at Interlochen Music Camp and Lawrence University, where he was recipient of the “Outstanding Classical Soloist” award sponsored by DownBeat magazine, and selected as a participant in the All-American College Orchestra National Talent Search sponsored by Disney. Mr. Edwards continued his studies at the Dick Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, and immediately started working as a session musician for film and TV composers, such as Mike Post. A prolific composer, Stephen has scored more than 60 movies, from comedy to action, martial arts to documentaries. Recent and upcoming projects include a Dolph Lundgren zombie movie called Dead Trigger, Cops and Robbers with Tom Berenger, and Stoic with Antonio Banderas.

Image: Wikimedia Commons; RFFM Productions/Continuo Arts Foundation; Facebook: RequiemforMyMother (Stephen Edwards)

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.

Should Christians Even Try to Break into Hollywood?

Christian-Catholic-filmmaking-cinemaSo you’re a screenwriter, director, actor or producer, and you’re a serious Christian. Is working outside the Hollywood system the only way to find success?

It’s one way — but it’s definitely not the only one.

After all, Christ teaches us that everything is possible, if we’re oriented properly.

In the first daily Mass reading for today, April 28, from the Acts of the Apostles, regarding the failure of movements that rose up against nascent Christianity, we hear (emphasis mine):

So now I tell you,
have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin,
it will destroy itself.
But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them;
you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

So, what is a Christian Hollywood hopeful to make of this? Will Jesus descend from the Heavens with an army of angels and help you storm showbiz?

Probably not, but that doesn’t mean we should necessarily abandon the entertainment industry to rampant secularism and the dictatorship of relativism. If you really want to influence the culture and evangelize for Truth, Beauty and Goodness, why not use the megaphone that already exists?

Is Indie Film the Only Way to Go for Christians?

Not at all. You can work within the system, but first, you’ve got to identify your strengths and your niche, and become great at what you do. That’s the advice Catholic screenwriter Jennifer Dornbush gives in this video.

It’s not easy for anybody to break into the TV and movie studio system. But it can be done, as seen with the success of Sony Pictures’ faith-based Affirm Films division.

From a November 2016 piece in Deadline.comhere’s a selection from an internal memo by Steven Bersch, president of Sony Worldwide Acquisitions, who oversees the label. The occasion was the promotions of two executives to work under Rich Peluso, who has run Affirm since 2007, and who was also promoted to Executive Vice President.

These well-deserved promotions come at an auspicious moment for AFFIRM Films. In the past few years, our studio has become the industry leader in films for audiences of faith; by forging powerful connections with incredible reach, AFFIRM has no peer in reaching the core audience for these films. Behind films like War Room, which hit #1 on the domestic box office chart on the way to $68M and RISEN, and as the faith-based marketing partner for the Columbia Pictures Miracles from Heaven and Heaven is for Real, which became the #2 faith-based film of all time, the studio has now notched seven of the top 10 faith-based domestic openings of all time and is currently the most profitable faith-based studio, delivering over $420 million in domestic box office.

And, by the way, according to his LinkedIn profile, Peluso is based in Nashville, so not all of Hollywood is in Los Angeles.

OK, But are Big Studios My Only Alternative to Independent Film?

No. All big studios were once small studios, or even other businesses that grew studio arms. That process is still happening. In the digital space, look at how streaming content suppliers like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have quickly become major players in production.

Netflix has just leased Hollywood studio space; Hulu is making strategic partnerships, such as this one with A&E Studios for an Afghanistan War drama; and Amazon Prime’s latest pilot slate even includes a Christian-themed science-fiction drama called “Oasis.” 

At the same time, faith-based service PureFlix has become a substantial studio itself, including its recent $3M “The Case for Christ,” which has a 79% rating at secular site Rotten Tomatoes.

Hollywood Hasn’t Given Up on Faith-Friendly and Family Fare, So Don’t Give Up on Hollywood

By all means, if you want to make a film on your own, go for it.

Successful TV producer Chris Brancato even endorses the idea:

But just because the existing entertainment industry seems hostile to Christians, remember, in one way or another, it’s hostile to everyone.

If you are talented, excellent, persistent and determined — and you’re lucky enough to have Christ on your side — you can find your voice, and you can find your place.

Just look at Father Patrick Peyton’s Family Theater Productions — we’ve been on Sunset Boulevard since the 1950s, and we’re still here.

It won’t be easy, but nothing’s ever easy in the TV and movie business. You may fail spectacularly and wind up taking another road, but the only absolute guarantee of failure is not to try.

To further your education in the Hollywood area — with a Christian influence — try programs offered by Act One, John Paul the Great University, the School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University, the Cinema and Media Arts Program at Biola University, or the Cinematic Arts department at Asuza Pacific University.

Image: Adobe Stock

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.

Pope Francis’ Surprise TED Talk Emphasizes Solidarity, Tenderness — and Christ

TED-Vancouver-Pope-Francis-VaticanOn Tuesday, April 25, Pope Francis managed to surprise the world and do something entirely new, by delivering a prerecorded TED talk in Vancouver, Canada.

The event was the TED2017 conference, whose 1,800 attendees include many top tech CEOs. Here’s how TED describes itself:

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

Most TED talkers stalk a stage, wearing a headset mike, with a huge colorful presentation behind them. In contrast, the pontiff sat at a desk, his speech on paper in front of him (although he didn’t look at it), evidently using a teleprompter but managing to speak directly and emotively to the camera — and the audience beyond.

The theme of the conference is “The Future You,” and that’s something the pope addressed directly, saying:

I very much like its title – “The Future You” – because, while looking at tomorrow, it invites us to open a dialogue today, to look at the future through a “you.” “The Future You:” the future is made of yous, it is made of encounters, because life flows through our relations with others. Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone’s existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.

The 18-minute talk, called “Why the only future worth building includes everyone,” was the result of more than a year of negotiations between TED and the Vatican.

According to a post at TED’s blog, a camera crew from the Vatican Television Center filmed Pope Francis in a small, book-lined room at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the guest house that has been the pope’s home in Vatican City. Once the recording was done, TED video editors prepared the final version.

The pope spoke in Italian, but 40 TED translators provided subtitles in 20 languages (including English), with more to come. You can also click here for a full English transcript of the talk.

Even with all these people working on it, TED and the Vatican managed to keep it secret until it was unveiled at TED2017.

Essentially, it was not so much a normal TED talk as a homily, focusing on themes of compassion, solidarity, mutual aid and love — with mentions of Jesus, Mother Teresa, the Good Samaritan and Catholic teaching about the irreplaceable value of each human to God.

Here are some highlights:

First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone. We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.

How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us.

To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope.

Take a look:

Image: Courtesy TED

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.

 

David Henrie and Maria Cahill’s Big Catholic Wedding

David-Henrie-Maria-Cahill

Instagram/DavidHenrie

Star of hit TV series marries former pageant queen. It’s not an unusual story … or is it?

On Friday, April 21, “Wizards of Waverly Place” star David Henrie married Miss Delaware 2011 Maria Cahill … in a Solemn High Mass at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Wilmington, California. It’s very pretty.

Peter and Paul Church

The bride and groom looked pretty good too (from David Henrie’s Facebook page):

David-Henrie-Maria-Cahill-Wedding

I couldn’t be happier :) marriage is the most beautiful thing. DEO GRATIAS! Link in bio for the story via @people

His “Wizards of Waverly Place” castmates showed up, including Selena Gomez (also from David Henrie’s Facebook page):

David-Henrie-Maria-Cahill-Wizards-Waverly-Place-Selena-Gomez-David-DeLuise

It was truly and honor to have my whole cast come to my big day! Could be more blessed and appreciative of all that we did together… Many memories I’ll never forget and always cherish. @selenagomez @jaketaustin @comeagainjen14 @daviddeluise and Maria! @christineskariphotography

Contacted for comment, “Wizards of Waverly Place” executive producer Peter Murietta said exclusively to the Faith & Family Media Blog:

So proud to be part of a show that fostered the kinds of relationships that kept them so close after all these years.

All amazing people and such an amazing time.

People magazine had the whole story — well, almost. Henrie said to People:

“You always hear you should marry your best friend, and I actually get to do it,” Henrie, 27, told PEOPLE exclusively before their Old Hollywood-inspired wedding in Southern California on Friday. “You don’t meet girls like her every day.” Added Cahill, 26: “One of my favorite things about him is how funny he is and how we just get each other. Being married is going to be just that much better.”

People didn’t mention this was a Catholic wedding at a Catholic church — it just said the couple exchanged “traditional vows” — nor did it mention the strong beliefs of the happy couple.

Mezzo-soprano Clara Chung, who sang at the wedding as part of the de Angelis Vocal Ensemble, told the Faith & Family Media Blog:

It was a really beautiful and reverent Solemn High Mass, and they did well in choosing music that would properly adorn the liturgy. It was clear that the beauty of the Sacrament was of utmost importance to them.

Henrie reconnected to his Catholic faith while filming the 2015 film “Little Boy,” saying in an interview quoted at WorldReligionNews.com:

He added that the cast had helped him “to find the greater good and awaken the little boy in my heart, and led me back to my faith, led me back to my beliefs, and it has completely changed my life.”

Since then, he’s become a devout Catholic and a common visitor at Masses around the Los Angeles area.

As for Cahill, People entirely omits that the cradle Catholic, one of seven children, is a speaker (book her here) on the issues of pro-life, chastity (which Henrie has publicly addressed as well) and modesty, which got her in some trouble during her pageant years. From her speaker bio:

After winning Miss Delaware less than six months later, that talk was released to Youtube, starting controversy, especially in the pageant community. During her year as Miss Delaware, she was instructed to remain silent on her pro-life views, being told that speaking about this issue would hinder her chances of becoming Miss America. Maria continued to speak and spread the love of Life, Liberty, and Happiness for every single one of God’s children.

Here are a couple of videos from 2016 in which Ms. Cahill, now Mrs. Henrie, talks to Catholic high-school students and then sits down for a post-speech chat:

It’s a rare day that a young Hollywood wedding is also a big Catholic wedding. We hope the witness of David and Maria impacted everyone there, along with young people across the country and around the world.

Images: David Henrie Instagram; Wikimedia Commons; David Henrie Facebook Page

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.