Category: Kate O’Hare

Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas — One Month Away!

Marry Me at Christmas

Los Angeles is already starting to decorate for Halloween, which is more than a month away, so why wouldn’t Hallmark launch its annual Countdown to Christmas movie event exactly a month from today?

On Friday, Oct. 27 until Dec. 31, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries go wall-to-wall with holiday-themed movies, including a total of 33 original movies between the two channels.

Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas features new movies every Saturday and Sunday (except. Oct. 29) at 8 p.m. ET/PT — click here for the full rundown — starting on Oct. 28 with “Marry Me at Christmas”:

Stars: Rachel Skarsten, Trevor Donovan
Organizing a Christmas wedding is a true treat for bridal boutique owner Madeline Krug. She loves the challenge of finding the perfect dress for the bride and orchestrating an exquisite event. What Madeline didn’t expect was to be swept off her feet by the bride’s gorgeous brother, movie star Johnny Blake. Jonny came to the quirky town of Fool’s Gold to support his sister — not to fall in love. Yet Madeline is the most extraordinary woman he’s ever met. Planning the perfect wedding leads to candlelit dinners and strolls through snow-covered streets. Madeline finds the real Johnny even more captivating than her celebrity crush. Will the action star be brave enough to take on the role of a lifetime?

Here’s the whole thing (you can download the schedule from here):

 

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries begins its celebration, called The Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas” click here for the full rundown, on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 9 p.m. ET/PT with “Mr. Christmas”:

Starring: Sam Page, Tara Holt
Tom Jacobs has built an entire business around helping clients find the perfect gift for their loved ones. Since his company’s busiest time of the year is the holidays, he’s earned himself the nickname Mr. Christmas. When Tom’s good friend Paul comes to him asking for help in finding a gift for his girlfriend, Jenny, Mr. Christmas finds himself in a bit of trouble. The more he learns about Jenny during his research, the more he likes her, and the guiltier he feels being caught between his heart and his best friend. With Christmas rapidly approaching, Tom dreads his encroaching deadline as it will mean an end to his time with Jenny and perhaps an end to his only chance at being with his one true love.

Here’s the rest (you can download the schedule from here):

Heaven knows we could all use a little cheer!

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

Roma Downey, Mark Burnett and MGM Launch Lightworkers.com to “Make the World a Better Place”

Back in July, “Touched by an Angel” star turned producer Roma Downey announced that her LightWorkers brand would be launching a new platform, featuring “original video series, compelling editorial and thoughtfully curated content,” intended to uplift and entertain.

Here’s the video, shot at Downey and Burnett’s Malibu home:

Now, it’s here (actually, click here).

So, what’s it all about?

From my inbox:

LightWorkers.com has a robust offering of emotional, shareable and impactful content that highlights entertainment, lifestyle, faith and family. The content, social media and real-life activations aim to offer visitors achievable ways to make positive changes in their communities, both online and off. It will also create new advertising and sponsorship opportunities for brands, including video franchise sponsorship, custom branded videos and original branded series that align with a shared mission of doing good.

LightWorkers.com already has a hit with “37 Seconds of Good News” which spotlights ordinary people doing extraordinary things in this world. Originally launched on social media, the series has already surpassed 21 million views on Facebook. LightWorkers.com will also showcase a wide range of content from new and established personalities, including bestselling author Michelle McKinney Hammond telling it like it is in advice series “Tough But Fair”; Brooklyn Wagner, who brings her blunt and boisterously random perspective to “Welcome to Brooklyn”; and Julianna Strickland and Natasha Feldman who’ll take your thoughtful gift-giving game to the next level with “Giftable.” There are also moving profiles of athletes and influencers in our premium docuseries “I Struggle. I Rise.” and celebrity interviews with friends of the LightWorkers family – Van Morrison, Jeff Probst, Cindy Crawford, Ali Landry, Niecy Nash, Brooke Burke and more – opening up like never before about how they’ve persevered through challenges in their own lives.

“LightWorkers has sparked a movement on social media, where we’ve been able to engage across different platforms sharing positive messages of hope and encouragement. We need these inspirational messages now more than ever,” said Downey, President of LightWorkers Media. “My motto has always been that it’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. My hope is that LightWorkers.com will invite others to do the same, inspiring them to shine their own light within their communities to remind us that there are good people doing extraordinary things everywhere.”

Talking to the Los Angeles Times, Downey explained how the idea began — and can’t we all relate to her answer?

Downey said she came up with the the idea for LightWorkers.com after being overwhelmed by negative stories while watching the news. The former “Touched by an Angel” star wanted to create a site to highlight people who were doing good in the world, she said. The company started testing the idea with 37-second videos highlighting heartwarming stories, such as a community in India that set up a fridge offering free food to the poor. Those clips garnered more than 20 million views, bolstering the company’s confidence in the concept.

“I have worked on big epic productions, and I believe this is the future,” Downey said. “I’m very excited to be ahead of the curve on this.”

So, congratulations from all of us at Family Theater Productions to Downey, Burnett and everyone at LightWorkers. As Downey says in the introductory video, “Be a LightWorker, and shine a light. Together, we can make the world a better place.”

Image: Courtesy LightWorkers/MGM

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: CBS’ Catholic-Family Comedy ‘Kevin Can Wait’ Returns Monday, Plus Leah Remini

UPDATE:

This post was written without having seen the season-two premiere of “Kevin Can Wait,” which apparently upset many viewers in how it dealt — or didn’t — with the demise of Donna, the wife character played by Erinn Hayes.

From Entertainment Weekly:

 In June, CBS president Kelly Kahl had promised, “It will be treated with dignity and respect, something that will have taken place in the past.”

Well, how it was handled was in 20 seconds with a postcard from Donna’s gym and a kung-fu joke. There was no explanation or insight into her demise, only that it had been over a year since she died. On Twitter, many fans expressed outrage about how quickly the death of the show’s female lead was glossed over.

“Wow,” wrote one Twitter user. “Really. #KevinCanWait just casually mentions his wife ‘died over a year ago.’ Just to bring Leah Remini back. Sad and distasteful.”

I’ve been around show business long enough to know that there is probably a lot more to this than appears on the surface, but this is very disappointing. We’re pleased that the Kendra/Chale wedding finally took place, and that dad Kevin (Kevin James) got a priest to perform it, but as to the rest …

Very disappointing indeed.

*****************************************

When CBS’ comedy “Kevin Can Wait” returns on Monday, Sept. 25, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, retired Catholic cop Kevin Gable (played by Catholic Kevin James) is facing life with a new job, a new boss and …

SPOILER ALERT!

…and as a single father.

That’s right, the producers have killed off Kevin Gable’s wife, but they’ve added in Kevin James’ TV wife from an earlier sitcom, “King of Queens.”

In season one, Long Island resident Kevin was married to nurse Donna (Erinn Hayes), mother of their three children: law student/waitress Kendra (Taylor Spreitler); tomboy Sara (Mary-Charles Jones); and hypochondriac Jake (James DiGiacomo). Living in the family garage was English tech developer Chale (Ryan Cartwright), Kendra’s fiance.

As the season ended, Kevin’s former police partner, Vanessa Celucci (Leah Remini), reappeared as Kevin came out of retirement to pair up with Vanessa as fake spouses on an undercover assignment.

Remini played James’ wife for nine seasons on the hit CBS sitcom “King of Queens,” when she was still in the Church of Scientology. Now, she’s out of Scientology, back in the Catholic faith, and host of an Emmy-winning Tuesday-night reality show about her former religion on A&E, called “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.”

Between the seasons, in what was described as a “creative reset,” the producers let Hayes go and decided on her character’s demise. Some time has passed since the event — no so much time that Kendra and Chale have gotten married yet — Kevin is now a single dad, and he’s going to be working at a security firm — with Celucci as his boss.

Considering the howls of joy from the studio audience when James first slid into a booth with Remini, there are probably a lot of people — both TV types and fans — thinking about rekindling the actors’ romantic chemistry. Back during the summer, when the announcement was first made about Hayes leaving the show, I wondered if they would use a divorce to split the couple up, or whether they Donna would pass away somehow. Since James is a serious Catholic, having his character divorced would mean either no romantic involvement, or an annulment plotline that might puzzle the non-Catholics in the crowd, who’d just go, “Hey, he’s divorced. What’s the problem?”

So, I wasn’t surprised when the decision was made to make Kevin a widower. But we don’t yet know whether Vanessa and Kevin will be anything more than old friends and colleagues (at least not for a few episodes).

From an interview in the TVInsider:

Vanessa and Kevin go way back. What’s their dynamic?

Leah Remini: Like family. Nobody lets anything go—they hurl insults, but underneath it they care for each other.
James: They have that love/hate thing. It’s nice that we don’t have to build history.

Sounds like a recipe for some Moonlighting-esque chemistry…

Remini: We can only hope! But on the show, Kevin is adjusting to a new normal. There are so many stories to tell just around that right now.
James: We don’t know where it will go. Maybe they will get together, maybe they won’t, but we wouldn’t want to lock in on anything yet.

The season-two premiere is called “Civil Ceremony,” and here’s how CBS describes it:

KEVIN RUSHES TO THROW KENDRA THE PERFECT WEDDING WITH VANESSA’S HELP WHEN CHALE IS ABOUT TO BE DEPORTED, ON THE SECOND SEASON PREMIERE OF “KEVIN CAN WAIT,” MONDAY, SEPT. 25

“Civil Ceremony” – Kendra and Chale must get married immediately when the Gables learn that he is about to be deported. As Kevin chases down Father Phillip (Jim Breuer) to officiate the ceremony, Vanessa helps Kendra put together the last-minute affair, on the second season premiere of KEVIN CAN WAIT, Monday, Sept. 25 (9:00-9:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Leah Remini joins the cast as Vanessa Cellucci, and Jim Breuer returns as Father Phillip.

And here’s a preview:

Here’s to hoping that Kendra and Chale finally tie the knot. There aren’t too many clean family comedies on network TV, but “Kevin Can Wait” seems to be one of them.

And, BTW, Remini seems very happy at her new gig, if her Instagram account (which she also used to announce the Catholic baptism of her daughter) is to be believed:

Image: Courtesy CBS

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.

 

‘Maya the Bee’ Controversy: A Question of Trust Between Animator and Audience

Every day, parents sit their children down in front of entertainment that presents itself as child-friendly and child-safe — and the majority of it is — but there’s a catch. Not everyone who works on these shows may have children’s best interests in mind.

Recently, “Maya the Bee,” a popular European cartoon offered on Netflix, became the center of a controversy when a mom noticed a very inappropriate drawing of a male body part etched in the background of a scene, and posted about it on Facebook. She wasn’t dreaming or mistaken — it was there.

Here’s the reaction from the studio, as published in The Hollywood Reporter:

“An absolutely inappropriate image has been discovered in a four-second fly-by scene in one episode of the total of 78 episodes of the series,” said production group Studio 100 in a statement on Friday. “The origin of this image obviously results from a very bad joke from one of the 150 artists working on the production.”

And from Netflix (which pulled the episode):

“This is indeed unacceptable to the Studio 100 Group as owner of the brand and all its partners and doesn’t reflect the quality of its work and its values,” the company’s statement continues. “Legal action has already been started. Studio 100 very much regrets this incident and would like to offer its sincere apologies to all Maya the Bee fans. At the same time the company is taking all suitable technical measures to remedy the situation.”

It’s a little hard to imagine the mindset of an artist who would think it was funny to put such an image in a show intended for small children. But, different sorts of people work on these shows, especially animated ones, and they all have their own sensibilities. I remember doing an interview with a producer turning out animated shows for kids on Nickelodeon. He said that he and his fellow 20-something animators basically did the shows primarily to amuse each other, and delighted in slipping in little jokes.

I don’t know that he or his pals did anything like the “Maya the Bee” animation artist (but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did). But this was before the rise of social media, so if they did, it wouldn’t have gotten the immediate response that the parents who took “Maya” to task on social media did.

In a perfect world, parents would pre-screen every bit of TV that their children watch — but we don’t live in a perfect world. We do, however, live in a world saturated with media. While the producers of “Maya the Bee” may not have had any ill intent, things slip through. This might be a good teaching moments for parents to explain how entertainment comes to be, how it’s made up of writers and animators, voice actors and producers, studios and networks.

The more kids know about the process, the less godlike and mysterious it seems, and the more they realize that people who make TV are flawed human beings like the rest of us. In our world today, there’s far too much hero-worship of those in showbiz, rather than a grounded realization that it’s a business like any other.

And if you see something in a show that caters to children that offends you or your values, speak out. Enough parents doing so caught the attention of both the “Maya the Bee” studio and Netflix, and action was taken.

In this highly competitive media environment, viewers matter. Every producer and network knows that people rely heavily on word-of-mouth, often through social media, to choose programming for their children. Never forget the power you have — and don’t be afraid to use it.

As Ronald Reagan used to say, “Trust, but verify.”

Image: Courtesy Netflix

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.

5 For Friday: ‘Blind Side,’ ‘Twister,’ ‘Cake Boss’ and More

Another weekend, another search for choices suitable for parents and younger kids or teens to watch as a family. Fear not, we got you — and all of these can be watched on your TV, without a streaming app.

(All times Eastern; check local listings for times in your area.)

“Twister” (1996) — Friday, 8 p.m., AMC

In a summer and fall of extreme weather, this one reminds us that there are folks out there working to understand storms better so we can be better prepared. Written by Michael Crichton (“Jurassic Park”) and his then-wife, Anne-Marie Martin, and directed by Jan de Bont (Speed”), this humor-laced action film follows storm chasers studying tornadoes during a Midwest summer. But under the thrills and chills is the story of a divorcing pair of meteorologists — played by Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt — who rediscover each other, rekindle their love and save their marriage.

There are NO sex scenes, just some kissing, but the reproductive-therapist character played by Jami Gertz does give some mildly suggestive advice to couples on the phone — but hey, they’re trying to make babies! Also, the huge laptop used by the scientists, and the therapist’s early-model cellphone, are pretty funny compared to today’s technology.

“Moneyball” (2011) — Saturday, 6 p.m., TNT

Written by Aaron Sorkin and based on the 2003 book of the same name by Michael Lewis (who also wrote “The Blind Side” — see below), this surprisingly engaging film follows Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) as he employs revolutionary economic theories to help his cash-strapped team create a winning roster. It sounds dull as dishwater, but it’s anything but. And if kids want to know what math has to do with real life, this movie is a prime example of its importance in many fields, including professional sports.

“Moneyball” is a rousing, exhilarating ride, and along with the baseball, there’s a sweet subplot about divorced Beane and his relationship with his preteen daughter (Kerris Dorsey). I don’t even like baseball, but I love “Moneyball.”

Bonus: Chris Pratt makes an appearance.

“Cake Boss” — Saturday, 8 p.m., TLC

Buddy Valastro of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey — a Catholic who made dessert for Pope Francis when the pontiff visited America in 2015 — and his colorful family pastry business return with a 9th season of new episodes of the hit reality series. Expect family highjinks sprinkled in with some amazing confectionary creations.

“Lincoln” (2012) — Sunday, 8 p.m., TMC

Directed by Steven Spielberg, and loosely based on historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Lincoln biography, “Team of Rivals” — this sprawling historical epic focuses on the last four months of Lincoln’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) life and his efforts to have the House pass the 13th Amendment (the one that abolished slavery). It’s PG-13, and it’s on pay cable, so it might not be suitable for younger kids (and it is two hours and 30 minutes long), but for preteens and up, it’s an absorbing look into a time in American history that reverberates right into today’s headlines.

“The Blind Side” (2009) — Sunday, 8 p.m., Spike

Based on the 2006 book by Michael Lewis, the film focuses on Michael Oher, an offensive lineman who played for the Baltimore Ravens (including the team’s 2013 Super Bowl win) and the Carolina Panthers. It follows him from his impoverished Tennessee upbringing, into Wingate Christian School (in real life, Briargate Christian School in Memphis), and his adoption by Christian couple Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy (Tim McGraw, Sandra Bullock).

“The Blind Side” is often hailed as a rare pro-faith and pro-family film that accomplishes both missions without overt preaching, while managing to be a sports film at the same time.

Enjoy!

Image: Courtesy TLC

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.

Bishop Robert Barron Launches New Streaming Platform, Talks Faith at Facebook

Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire apostolate has gone digital with a new streaming platform.

From the bishop’s message that landed in my inbox today:

We are offering a new way to view our content on this cutting-edge streaming site, and you’ll be able to watch any of my programs on any device and at any time.

With a Word on Fire Digital subscription, you will instantly have access to ALL of my video programs.

You’ll also be the first to gain access to new releases, as well as other content that will be added throughout the year.

Here’s how it works…

You can pay a low monthly price to access everything, or you can purchase programs individually, rent them for a limited time, or effortlessly send them as a gift.

I am confident that Word on Fire Digital will be another new way to reach souls with the Gospel via the new media.

Click this link to learn more and watch the new video trailer: http://WOFDigital.org

Click here for the trailer; and here to sign up for a free trial.

Now, you can have Bishop Barron all the time, and share him more easily with friends, family and faithful seekers.

This appears to be part of a new digital outreach by Bishop Barron, who headed to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on Sept. 18, to talk about how to discuss faith on social media.

From Catholic News Agency:

Bishop Barron said authentic faith is not opposed to reason; it does not accept simply anything on the basis of no evidence.

He compared faith to the process of coming to know another human person. While one can begin to come to know someone by reason, or through a Google search or a background check, when a relationship deepens, other questions arise.

“When she reveals her heart, the question becomes: Do I believe her or not? Do I trust her or not?” he said.

“The claim, at least of the great biblical religions, is that God has not become a great distant object that we examine philosophically,” the bishop said. “Rather, the claims is that God has spoken, that God has decided to reveal his heart to his people.”

Click here to watch the full Facebook video.

Word on Fire Digital is not the only place to find great Catholic content online. Of course, there’s always the Vatican Website, but that’s just the beginning.

Try the Augustine Institute’s Formed streaming service, which aims to be “Catholic Netflix.” It features hundreds of Catholic videos, movies, audio content and ebooks. You can try a seven-day free trial or subscribe as a parish. Click here.

Catholic TV can be seen on several platforms, including Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, or on your iPhone or Android phone. But it’s also available online, just click here.

Of course, premier Catholic network EWTN is available on cable and satellite TV, but it also posts many of its shows on its Website and YouTube channel, and streams online live, right here.

So, if you can’t find anything good to watch, you can always find something to watch that celebrates truth, beauty and goodness.

And, as you see at the bottom of the post, you can also visit our YouTube and Ustream channels, and coming soon, we’re adding our catechetical Web series “Catholic Central” to the mix. For a preview and to learn more about our great young hosts, Kai (Kaiser Johnson) and Libby (Elizabeth Slater), visit CatholicCentral.com.

Image: Courtesy Word on Fire

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.