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5 for Friday: Mr. Peabody, Tolkien, Holiday Baking, Minions and Narnia

Don’t tell me there’s nothing suitable for the whole family to watch this weekend (including Monday). I trolled through TV listings just for you and turned up a quintet of offerings that parents and kids can enjoy together.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014) — Friday, 8 p.m., FXM (Fox Movies)

Like its TV predecessor, this animated movie works on two levels, with a lot of the jokes aimed at adults (and going right over small kids’ heads). Genius dog Mr. Peabody (Ty Burell) and his adopted boy, Sherman (Max Charles), use Mr. Peabody’s time machine to visit the past. According to the parents’ reviews at CommonSense Media, the issue of adoption could have been handled better.

But it’s not all bad.

From CommonSense Media:

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is an uneven production of highly entertaining visuals and semi-educational historical tidbits mixed with so-bad-they’re-occasionally-funny puns and physical comedy. There are jokes (and all the puns) obviously aimed at parents, and sight gags clearly targeted at the kids. But not all of the characters are easy to root for or even like. Penny (voiced by Modern Family star Ariel Winter) is a highly unlikable character for most of the movie, during which she’s petulant, bullying, and selfish — demanding to do risky and dangerous deeds. Eventually she redeems herself, but she’s too much of a mean girl for little kids to understand.

The father-son angle, however, is quite sweet. Mr. Peabody may be a genius dog that can master everything from cooking to rocket science to all forms of music, but parenting is the one thing he can’t just learn out of a book. The various ways that Mr. Peabody and Sherman protect, defend, and teach each other is a good lesson in what’s important about parent-child relationships (trust, communication, unconditional love). Baby boomer-aged adults will enjoy revisiting their childhood with this adaptation, but even those completely unfamiliar with the source material will find the story amusing if not remarkable.

 

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring/The Two Towers — Saturday, 5 p.m., AMC

Pop a big bowl of popcorn for this Tolkien-fest, as two of the “Lord of the Rings” movies air back-to-back, with “The Two Towers” lingering on to 12:30 a.m. This might be the perfect lineup for a teen sleepover, as the monsters and frequent, extended fight sequences might be too much for little ones.

But if you love dwarves and Hobbits and elves and orcs, your Saturday is set.

Holiday Baking Championship — Saturday, 5 pm., Food Network

The 2017 edition of this reality-competition show premieres Monday, so Saturday is devoted to the 2016 first season, in marathon form. Host Bobby Deen challenges nine bakers to a variety of Thanksgiving- and Christmas-themed culinary challenges.

The night begins with “Signs of the Season,” followed by “Grandma’s Thanksgiving Favorites,” “Thanksgiving Joy,” ‘Hearth and Home,” “Sweet Surprises” and “Christmas Morning.”

The new season launches Monday at 9 p.m., with “Holiday Party Delights” and “Christmas Family Fun” (in which the bakers must create a giant cookie puzzle based on a Christmas carol).

Here’s a dessert suggestion from last season:

Despicable Me (2010) — Sunday, 7 p.m., Disney Channel

The animated movie features the voices of Steve Carell (a Catholic, BTW), Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews and Will Arnett in the story of Gru, a supervillain trying to steal the moon, who meets his match in three orphan girls who want him to be their dad. Bonus: This is the movie that introduced the Minions.

From Catholic reviewer Deacon Steven Greydanus:

Despicable Me, from newcomer Illumination Entertainment, is the best of the lot so far. It’s slicker and better-paced than all of the non-DreamWorks entries, and it has more energy than any of its predecessors except Monsters vs. Aliens. Best of all, it’s got heart and sweetness eluding all the earlier entries.

Heart? Sweetness? (In villainous European accent) Don’t make me LOL! Heart is for eating at breakfast time! Sweetness is only flavor of revenge! That’s how I roll!

But the moppets, generic as they are, really are super cute. (In an early scene, they offer a heartfelt prayer to be adopted.) Their interactions with Gru, e.g., tucking them in and reading them bedtime stories, slowly become genuinely lump-in-throat inducing. On the family-film spectrum of sincere and sentimental (Pixar, most of Blue Sky) to snarky and ironic (most of DreamWorks), Despicable Me leans solidly toward sincerity and sentiment.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) — Monday, 8:25 p.m., HBO Family

Based on the beloved first installment of C.S. Lewis Christian-allegory fairy-tale series “The Chronicles of Narnia,” this 2005 entry follows four British children who are swept into a wintry wonderland inhabited by talking animals and an evil White Witch.

From Steven Greydanus:

As an ensemble story of 20th-century British schoolchildren caught up in a world of magic and danger, it evokes the Harry Potter stories, though without the moral debates about witchcraft and rule-breaking and the like.

And with its central motif of a divine being who faces down a chilling icon of evil and brings salvation by laying down his life before triumphing over death and evil, it recalls The Passion of the Christ, but without the troubling arguments about antisemitism or the almost unbearable brutality.

At the same time, Andrew Adamson’s film — the director’s first solo effort and first live-action film (Adamson’s only prior credits are co-directing Shrek and Shrek 2) — is neither as daring nor as visionary as [Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” movie or Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”].

Nor is the screenplay, by Adamson and three credited co-writers (none with any notable credits), as faithful to the source material as the Harry Potter films (at least before the books broke 500 pages). Nevertheless, the film brings Lewis’s story to life with sufficient fidelity and movie magic to make it one of the best and brightest family films in some time.

Image: Courtesy DreamWorks

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.

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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.

‘Garage Sale Mystery’ Takes Over August Sundays on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Solving crimes has never gone out of fashion on television, but these days it’s often laden with sex, violence and deep dives into depraved lifestyles. And then, there’s “Garage Sale Mystery” on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Based on novels by Suzi Weinert and presented in two-hour movie installments since 2013, it’s a TV version of what’s known in mystery fiction as a “cozy mystery,” which feature a (frequently, but not always) female amateur sleuth. She’s got brains and keen observational skills, along with great instincts and knowledge of human nature. Sometimes she’s married; sometimes she’s not.

But when the local police need a bit of extra help in solving the unusually high rate of murders that happen in her (often small) hometown, the cozy-mystery sleuth is there.

Cozy mysteries offer viewers a chance to puzzle through clues and the vagaries of human behavior without having to wallow in the darker side.

From “Murder, She Wrote” to “Father Brown,” the cozy remains a TV constant, but has been largely supplanted by mystery dramas centered on police or military investigators. Those have their place, but there’s nothing like watching a bright but dedicated amateur show the pros how it’s done — especially one, like Jennifer, who doesn’t flinch at the prospect of a morgue visit.

Last week, I attended a screening of “Murder by Text,” a “Garage Sale Mystery,” at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, California, attended by Hallmark executives, fans, friends and stars, including “Garage” star Lori Loughlin.

She plays antique-store owner Jennifer Shannon, a wife and mother of two teen children, whose eye for detail and knack for deductive reasoning entertains her family and helps local Detective Lynwood (Kevin O’Grady) burnish his cases-closed stats.

With side plots involving the family and Dani (Sarah Strange), who works in Jennifer’s store (an actual antique shop in British Columbia, Canada, where the show is shot), “Garage” tells an entertaining story that keeps it light, humorous and interesting.

“Murder by Text” also features Jennifer’s husband (Rick Ravenello) and daughter in a dispute over his company’s plan to turn a local historic building into condos, without raised voices or slammed doors. While I thought daughter Hannah (Eva Bourne) still acted like a bit of a brat — you don’t slap bumper stickers on people’s cars without their permission — the issue resolved with good sense and good humor.

How refreshing.

While the murder element of the show may disturb young children, “Garage Sale Mysteries” is perfectly suitable for preteens and up.

Here’s what’s coming up in August:

Garage Sale Mystery: The Beach Murder (August 6, 9 p.m. ET/PT): Jennifer wades into a murder when a young internet entrepreneur drowns in the ocean, the apparent victim of a surfing accident.

Garage Sale Mystery: Murder by Text (August 13, 9 p.m. ET/PT): After a bass player sends a cryptic suicide text, Jennifer suspects the apparent suicide was actually murder. Meanwhile, Dani deals with a visit from her sister, who may have hidden talents (and a secret).

Garage Sale Mystery: Murder Most Medieval (August 20, 9 p.m ET/PT): Jennifer finds a dead body in a suit of armor purchased for her client.

Garage Sale Mystery: A Case of Murder (August 27, 9 p.m. ET/PT): A tape inside an old recorder Jennifer purchases may hold the sound of an actual murder.

And courtesy of Parade magazine, a clip from “Murder Most Medieval”…

Image: Courtesy Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

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

5 for First Friday: Family-Friendly Viewing for May (Daniel Tiger! Oz! Fatima!)

It’s the First Friday of the month, so we’re spotlighting some family friendly viewing options for May. Take a look…

“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”: The Emmy-nominated series, which is a favorite among most preschool parents, debuts a brand new one-hour special titled “Tiger Family Trip” on PBS KIDS this Monday, May 8. The special kicks off a week of new Daniel Tiger programming that includes “The Lemonade Stand/Mad at the Beach” (airing Tuesday, May 9, streaming Friday, May 12) and “Daniel Feels Two Feelings/The Neighborhood Carnival” (airing Thursday, May 11, streaming Friday, May 19).

If you have kids between the ages of 2 and 5 years old and aren’t yet familiar with Daniel Tiger, I highly recommend the program, which is an animated series based on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” A recent study indicated that preschool-aged children who watch “Daniel Tiger” have higher levels of empathy, are better at recognizing emotions and more confident in social situations.

In “Tiger Family Trip,” Daniel and his family set off on their first road trip, but Daniel doesn’t know what to expect during the long car ride. Fun and helpful ways to make road trips fun for parents and young children are explored.

See the trailer for “Tiger Family Trip” here:

“The Wizard of Oz”: If you have older children in elementary school, this may be the time to introduce them to the 1939 film classic which Amazon Prime made available to subscribers on May 1. When a tornado tears through Kansas, young Dorothy and her dog Toto are caught up in the storm and somehow find themselves displaced into the land of Oz. While on their way to meet the Wizard and ask for his help getting back home, they meet a scarecrow, a tin man and a cowardly lion who have requests of their own.

Click here to read Deacon Steven Greydanus’ positive take on the classic film.

“What About Bob?”: If the flying monkeys in Oz are a little too scary for your kids, you might try this 1991 Richard Dreyfuss/Bill Murray comedy, available May 5 on Hulu. Dreyfuss plays a reputable and hardworking psychiatrist who is enjoying a family vacation at the country house…until his most obsessive, neurotic and dependent patient (Murray) follows him there. This PG-rated comedy is just as funny and endearing today as it was twenty-five years ago. Totally holds up.

Click here to see Common Sense Media’s take on the film.

Take a look at the trailer for old time’s sake:

“Sister Act”: This music-filled 1992 musical comedy, starring Whoopi Goldberg as a lounge singer who seeks refuge in a San Francisco convent after a mob boss puts her on his hit list, is another solid option for family movie night. It comes to Hulu on May 31. Its sequel, “Sister Act 2,” will be available as well. Click here for a Catholic review.

When the movie came out, the idea of nuns who could excel at popular music was a novel one.

But now, it’s not so unusual. Recently at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., four religious sisters from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, along with a Dominican friar and a Franciscan brother, formed a band called Force of Habit.

And of course, there was Sister Cristina Scuccia, who won the Italian version of the singing competition “The Voice.” Here’s her audition (and click here for her official Website):

“The Message of Fatima”: Premiering May 10 on EWTN, just in advance of the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, and airing monthly through October, the docudrama recalls the apparition of Mary seen by three Portuguese children in 1917. To learn more about this dramatic effort to honor Fatima’s 100th anniversary, click here to see our blog post.

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.

Images: PBS; Warner Bros.

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.

 

‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Garners Six Oscar Nominations, Including for Mel Gibson

andrew-garfield-hacksaw-ridge-ffbMel Gibson appears to have found his feet again in Hollywood, and it took his very Catholic movie about a Seventh-Day Adventist World War II hero to do it.

In the Academy Awards nominations, released in the early hours of Tuesday, Jan. 24, Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” took nods for best picture, lead actor (Andrew Garfield), best director (Gibson), film editing (John Gilbert), sound editing (Robert Mackenzie, Andy Wright) and sound mixing (Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, Peter Grace).

This makes it the third highest-nominated film (tied with “Lion” and “Manchester by the Sea”), behind “La La Land,” which got 14, and “Moonlight and “Arrival,” which both earned eight (click here for the full list of nominations).

But before you get too excited, “Hacksaw Ridge” also received three Golden Globe nominations — for the film, Gibson and Garfield — but walked away empty-handed.

HacksawRidgeTeaserPoster_2016June39The film also earned one SAG Awards nod, for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role (Garfield).

The Oscar nod for Gibson marks his first nomination since 1996’s “Braveheart,” which earned him best director and best picture. He did receive acting nominations, for “Ransom” in 1997, and “What Women Want,” in 2001.

In the 21st century, Gibson was embroiled in several scandals, including a drunken rant after a DUI bust, the breakup of his marriage and his tempestuous relationship with girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, with whom he has a daughter.

And recently, on Jan. 20, the 60-year-old Gibson welcomed child number nine, a son, Lars Gerard, with girlfriend Rosalind Ross.

On the scale of Hollywood misdeeds, this is relatively minor stuff, but it does point up Gibson’s issues with alcohol and his troubled relationship with the Faith.

At a press conference for “Hacksaw Ridge” a few months ago, Gibson (wearing a large Miraculous Medal) described himself as “a poor practitioner.” He also said he was attracted to stories like “Hacksaw” — a portrait of unarmed medic Desmond Doss, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for singlehandedly saving 75 soldiers on Okinawa — as inspiration, saying, “maybe I could take a leaf out of his book on some level.”

From Variety:

Gibson thanked his cast and crew in a statement and said the Academy’s recognition of the film is “a testament to every single person who worked on Hacksaw Ridge, and to every soldier who made the sacrifices they made to fight for their country, including Desmond Doss.”

“What could be more exciting than listening to the nominations being announced while holding my newborn son!” added Gibson. “This is a truly wonderful honor. I’m especially happy for Andrew Garfield, our producers Bill Mechanic and David Permut, our editor John Gilbert and our incredible sound teams.”

Producer Bill Mechanic tells THR he spent 15 years trying to convince Gibson to direct Hacksaw Ridge. “The first two times he passed.” “The third time, he read the script overnight and committed in the morning.” He says Hacksaw is a tribute to Gibson’s incredible talent. “I think it also shows there is forgiveness in Hollywood even if it might not seem that way.”

Notable, too, is that “Hacksaw” was an independent film, not a big blockbuster. But its quality was so evident that Hollywood somehow swallowed its animus against Gibson and took notice.

In box-office terms, “Hacksaw” ranked 51st for the year in worldwide grosses, with with $157.9M, not that far behind top nomination-getter “La La Land,” at 45, with 174.3M, and above some other nominated films, including “Hidden Figures,” at 80, “Manchester by the Sea,” at 105 and “Lion,” at 146.

Actually, none of the nominated films is anything like a box-office blockbuster.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Not to rain on the parade of this year’s many highly worthy Oscar nominees, but the fact is, most of the best picture nominees have not been all that widely seen, at least by the standards of mainstream Hollywood blockbusters.

As of Tuesday morning, none of the nine films nominated for best picture have crossed the $100 million mark so far at the domestic box office.

While that’s not unprecedented, it’s only the fifth time that’s been the case in the past 20 years. (In 2009, the motion picture academy expanded the best picture race from five nominees to as many as 10, in large part to try to open the Oscars up to more broadly appealing films.)

Three of this year’s best picture nominees —  “La La Land,” “Hidden Figures” and “Arrival” — are within striking distance of the $100 million mark domestically. “Arrival” is the top earner at this point with more than $95 million, but it is in a dwindling number of theaters at this point after two months in release, while “La La Land” and “Hidden Figures,” which have fresher legs, should easily chug past $100 million.

Despite a lot of buzz and early interest, Martin Scorsese’s “Silence,” about Jesuit missionaries in 17th-century Japan — which also starred Garfield — got only one Academy Award nomination, for cinematography. It’s also performed poorly at the box office.

The Oscars will be handed out on Sunday, Feb. 26. Prior to that, the Feb. 8 edition of Family Theater Productions’ monthly Prayer & Pasta event will feature a panel — Head of Production Father David Guffey, C.S.C.; Catholic movie reviewer Carl Kozlowski; and Sister Nancy Usselman of the Pauline Center for Media Studies — to discuss and analyze the nominees.

Image: Courtesy Lionsgate

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.

Fox’s ‘The Exorcist’: Should Your Family Be Watching?

exorcist-fox-patheosAs with many things in popular culture having to do with the Church, there’s no easy answer to the question of watching Fox’s supernatural drama “The Exorcist,” airing Fridays at 9 p.m. ET.

You’re free to ignore it altogether, of course, but that doesn’t mean young people you care about aren’t seeing it.

Inspired by William Peter Blatty’s novel and the 1973 film based on it — and, as of episode five, directly linked to the original film — “The Exorcist” stars Alfonso Herrera as Father Tomas, a young Chicago priest who is drawn into the apparent demonic possession of the teenage daughter of a parishioner (Geena Davis).

Visions send him to the disgraced Father Marcus (Ben Daniels), who has fought demons before, the last time unsuccessfully.

The possession of the girl is but the first salvo in an apparent all-out demonic war in Chicago, which is awaiting the arrival of Pope Sebastian (only seen from the back in posters that say, “He is coming.”).

It should be obvious to anyone who’s seen even clips or a trailer from the show that it’s absolutely not for grade-school-age children and probably not for most preteens. Even for older teens and young adults, it raises questions about the Faith and the Church that need to be addressed.

First, before you even consider letting the young people in your life watch it, you need to watch it.

As Catholic author Charles Coulombe said to me recently:

So much depends up on the person. One individual reads “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings,” and it makes them a Catholic. Another person goes all whooey. It’s never a one-size-fits-all thing. Given the example of the “Harry Potter” thing, people would call me and say, “Should I let my kid read it?” I said, “I give you a rule my father had — read one of the books yourself, and if you approve of it, think it’s fine, then great. Let the kid read it. But if you have a problem with it, then don’t.

They say, “Oh, I don’t have time to read a book like that.” “Well, then, stop pretending it’s important, because you know it isn’t. You just want to talk. It’s not important to you.”

If you’ve been missing the show, it’s available at Fox’s homepage  and on Hulu.

“The Exorcist” is interesting on two levels, especially for a show about the Faith coming from secular writer/producers. A lot of what young people see and hear about Catholicism comes from secular sources, and now is as good a time as any to teach them to discern the difference between entertainment and Truth, between something like “The Exorcist” and Bishop Barron’s “Catholicism.”

First, in a positive sense, the show absolutely avers the existence of supernatural evil and the power of Christ over it. Both Father Tomas and Father Marcus use prayer to battle the demon, and the possessed girl’s family is seen praying and struggling.

It’s not every day you see a rosary and hear the “Our Father,” the “Hail Mary,” and “The Blood of Christ compels you!” in a primetime network TV show.

So, “The Exorcist” says that evil is real, and that Christ is real, that prayer has power, and that exorcist priests are warriors in the fight for human souls.

All this is good.

On the other hand, this is a TV show, it’s a story, and it’s hoping to garner ratings (so far, they’re not abysmal, but they’re not high). So, the writers are going to throw in juicy twists to keep us watching — and it’s here that the Church gets a black eye.

Father Tomas had a platonic but emotional relationship with a married woman. Last week, it tipped over into a sexual relationship. He’s deeply remorseful but doesn’t seem prepared to leave it all behind. (Frankly, in situations like this, I’d like as many hard questions to be asked about the woman’s motives as the priest’s.)

Also, Father Marcus is a bit off the rails himself, but the power of faith is still in him. His relationship with the institutional Church, as is Father Tomas’, is strained. People seem to forget there wouldn’t be exorcists if the Church didn’t deem them necessary, but safeguards have to be put in place.

You saw some of this push-and-pull in the original “Exorcist” movie, but that was the 1970s. Exorcism is much more in the open than it was a few decades ago, but secular TV producers may not be aware of that. The Church prefers it be a private matter, but the Vatican is hardly pretending possession isn’t real. It may not be the source of most people’s problems, but it’s not dismissed out of hand as superstition.

Blatty even says the Vatican invited him to document a real exorcism in Rome.

Talking to an audience at the Cannes Film Festival in France on Thursday, the 80-year-old filmmaker said that the Vatican invited him to film an exorcism earlier in May. The version he constructed for the 1973 supernatural horror film, Friedkin added, was not that far from the actual rite he recently documented.

“I don’t think I will ever be the same having seen this astonishing thing,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse. “I am not talking about some cult, I am talking about an exorcism by the Catholic Church in Rome.”

The Vatican says it’s not the specific entity that invited Blatty, but thinks it may just have been a different Catholic group.

In tonight’s “Exorcist” episode, though, an over-the-top scene just kicks the Church — or at least some public members of it — into the demonic dumpster. We understand that they’re not good or faithful people, but even so … really?

Poorly formed Catholics, anti-Catholics, non-Catholics who know little about the Church, and those who think that Dan Brown novels are real, are ripe to be drawn in by this kind of hyperbolic silliness.

But if you can teach your young people to discern that, while the story says some positive things about the power of prayer and faith, it’s also a yarn meant to entertain and titillate, you’re giving them skills that will serve them well as they navigate our confused culture.

Images: Courtesy Fox

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.