Easter Celebration Kicks Off
Palm Sunday with The Passion of the Christ
Also Features 14 Inspirational Movies, Including Uplifting Family Favorites Noah’s Ark, The Ten Commandments and The Greatest Story Ever Told
Easter Programming will air March 20-27 on UP
Atlanta, March 15, 2016– UP once again will be the family destination for great Easter entertainment as the network presents its annual “Easter Lives Here” slate of inspirational movies from Palm Sunday on March 20 through Easter Sunday, March 27.
Headlining the 14-film schedule is the March 27, 7 p.m. EDT, cable television premiere of hit musical drama Grace Unplugged. AJ Michalka (“The Goldbergs,” “Oliver Beene”) stars as Grace Trey, who is a phenomenal singer and the ideal Christian teen. But at the tender age of 18, after she gets the music break of a lifetime and is thrust into the “real world,” her faith is put to the test. James Denton (“Good Witch,” “Desperate Housewives”), Kevin Pollak (“Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show,” “Mom”) and Shawnee Smith (“Anger Management,” “Becker”) also star.
The first prime-time film in UP’s Easter event will be The Passion of the Christ, which will air March 20 at 7 p.m. EDT. The Passion of the Christ is a powerful, provocative and three-time Oscar®-nominated and People’s Choice Award-winning film from Academy® Award-winning director Mel Gibson(Braveheart, The Patriot). It stars Jim Caviezel (The Prisoner, “Person of Interest”), as Jesus and Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded, Spectre) as Mary Magdalene. The Passion of the Christ will air with limited commercial interruption for the third straight year.
Other “Easter Lives Here” highlights include the UP Original drama Noah’s Ark, starring David Threlfall (“Shameless,” Nowhere Boy) and Joanne Whalley (“Wolf Hall,” “A.D. The Bible Continues”); The Ten Commandments, starring Omar Shariff (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago), Dougray Scott (“Hemlock Grove,” My Week with Marilyn) and Paul Rhys (“The Assets,” “TURN: Washington’s Spies”); and The Greatest Story Ever Told, starring Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens), Dorothy McGuire (“Rich Man, Poor Man,” A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), Robert Loggia (Big, “The Sopranos”) and Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur, Planet of the Apes).
“Every year our celebration of Easter gets bigger and better,” said Sophia Karteris Kelley, senior vice president, programming. “We hope that this year’s lineup of powerful, inspirational films will bring families together to celebrate this season of joy and renewal.”
Following is a chronological slate of UP’s Easter movies:
The Book of Esther (Sunday, March 20, 11 a.m. EDT)
A powerful story of courage, faith and obedience. When Esther becomes King Xerxes’s queen, her cousin Mordecai and the despicable Haman engage in a dangerous game of intrigue. It’s no secret that Haman plans to exterminate the Jews. Can Esther convince her husband to spare her people – even though she may be putting her own life at risk? Starring Jen Lilley (“Days of Our Lives,” “Youthful Daze”), Thaao Penghlis (“Days of Our Lives,” “Mission: Impossible”), Robert Miano (Donnie Brasco, “General Hospital”) and Joel Smallbone (Taken, Like a Country Song).
Mary, Mother of Jesus (Sunday, March 20, 1 p.m. EDT; Monday, March 21, 1 a.m. EDT; Friday, March 25, 5 p.m. EDT; Sunday, March 27, 1 a.m. EDT)
This film depicts the extraordinary life of Jesus, from birth to crucifixion, as seen through the eyes of his mother Mary. Starring Christian Bale (The Big Short, American Hustle), Pernilla August (Star Wars: Episode One- The Phantom Menace, I Am Dina) and Geraldine Chaplin (Doctor Zhivago, Nashville).
Jesus (Sunday, March 20, 3 p.m. EDT; Friday, March 25, 7 p.m. EDT)
A film about the extraordinary life and mission of Jesus. This biblical story reveals how during His relatively short life, Jesus grew from a simple carpenter to a man whose spiritual teachings and loving ways continue to inspire billions of followers more than 2000 years after his crucifixion. Starring Jeremy Sisto (“Wicked City,” “Law & Order”), Debra Messing (“Will & Grace,” “The Mysteries of Laura”), Gary Oldman (Sid & Nancy, Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy) and Jacqueline Bisset (The Detective, Bullitt).
The Passion of the Christ (Sunday, March 20, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. EDT; Friday, March 25, 11 p.m. EDT; Saturday, March 26, 9 p.m. EDT). Shown with limited commercial interruption.
Academy Award winning director Mel Gibson (Braveheart, The Patriot) offers audiences breathtaking cinematography and the seamless performance of actor Jim Caviezel (The Prisoner, “Person of Interest”) in an uncompromising film depicting Jesus Christ’s profound courage and sacrifice. The Passion of The Christ dramatically captures the last 12 hours of Christ’s life on Earth, based on the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The film also stars Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded,Spectre) as Mary Magdalene.
Judas (Sunday, March 20, 11 p.m. EDT, Saturday, March 26, 11 p.m. EDT)
The story of the friendship between Jesus and Judas that ended in ultimate betrayal. Starring Johnathon Schaech (That Thing You Do!, “To Appomattox”), Jonathan Scarfe (100 Days in the Jungle, White Lies) and Tim Matheson (“The West Wing,” Animal House).
Courageous (Thursday, March 24, 9:30 p.m. EDT, Sunday, March 27, 4:30 p.m. EDT)
When a tragedy strikes close to home, four police officers struggle with their faith and their roles as husbands and fathers. Together, they make a decision that will change all of their lives. Starring Alex Kendrick (Fireproof, Facing the Giants), Ben Davies (New Hope, Closer to God: Jessica’s Journey), Ken Bevel (Fireproof), Kevin Downes (“Hitting the Breaks,” Faith of Our Fathers) and Robert Amaya (Moms’ Night Out, October Baby).
Noah’s Ark (Saturday, March 26, 1 a.m. EDT). UP Original Movie.
Filmed in Morocco, Noah’s Ark is a dramatic, family-oriented retelling of the epic biblical story of Noah and The Ark. In the film, Noah, a farmer and family man, is instructed by an angel to build an ark in the middle of a desert in order to save both his family and the faithful from a devastating flood – a seemingly impossible task, particularly when his four sons refuse to believe him or help. It’s only his loving, yet exasperated, wife Emmie, who stands by her husband’s side. Starring David Threlfall (“Shameless,”Nowhere Boy) as Noah and Joanne Whalley (“Wolf Hall,” “A.D. The Bible Continues”) as Emmie.
The Ten Commandments (Saturday, March 26, 12:30 p.m. EDT)
The story of Moses, who against impossible odds, leads the Jews out of Egyptian slavery into perilous freedom. Starring Omar Shariff (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago), Dougray Scott (“Hemlock Grove,”My Week with Marilyn) and Paul Rhys (“The Assets,” “TURN: Washington’s Spies”).
The Greatest Story Ever Told (Saturday, March 26, 4:30 p.m. EDT)
George Stevens’ epic production is a retelling of the story of Jesus Christ from the Nativity through the Resurrection. This film was nominated for five Academy Awards™ and features a star-studded cast including Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens), Dorothy McGuire (“Rich Man, Poor Man,” A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), Robert Loggia (Big,“The Sopranos”) and Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur, Planet of the Apes).
Abel’s Field (Sunday, March 27, 10 a.m. EDT)
Seth is a hard working teen saddled with the responsibility of taking care of his young twin sisters. Pegged by the athletic high school stars as a loser, he is bullied daily and can see no way out of his difficult situation. When he finds himself thrown together with the mysterious school grounds keeper, Abel, he finds exactly what he’s been needing– a friend. But when Abel’s past threatens to catch up with him, and Seth’s future becomes threatened, they must learn to rely on each other and have faith that God will lead them both home. Starring Kevin Sorbo (“Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” “The O.C.”), Samuel Davis (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Cabin Fever) and Richard Dillard (The Last Stand, Dazed and Confused).
Heaven is Waiting (Sunday, March 27, 12 p.m. EDT)
It has been years since Ned Stevens lost his wife Kate to cancer, but he still can’t let go of her memory. But when his daughter Liz brings home a new boyfriend from college, Ned finds that his comfortable world is turned upside down. Now Liz is out to find a new love for her dad, and an attractive single neighbor may just be the thing he needs. Starring Curt Doussett (Saints and Soldiers, Midway to Heaven), Kirby Heyborne (Saints and Soldiers, The Three Stooges) and Brittany Peltier (A Special Day, Midway to Heaven).
Fireproof (Sunday, March 27, 2 p.m. EDT)
The marriage of Caleb and Catherine Holt is in crisis, and they decide to divorce. However, Caleb’s father, John, proposes that his son delay their separation process for 40 days and follow a procedure called “The Love Dare” to make them love each other again. Starring Kirk Cameron (“Growing Pains,”The Best of Times) and Erin Bethea (The Redemption of Henry Myers, Letters to God)
Grace Unplugged (Sunday, March 27, 7 and 9 p.m. EDT; Monday, March 28, 1 a.m. EDT). UP Cable Premiere.
Grace Trey is a phenomenal singer and the ideal Christian teen. But at the tender age of 18, after she gets the music break of a lifetime and is thrust into the “real world,” her faith is put to the test. Starring AJ Michalka (“The Goldbergs”), James Denton (“Good Witch,” “Desperate Housewives”), Kevin Pollak (“Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show,” “Mom”) and Shawnee Smith (“Anger Management,’ “Becker”).
Heart of the Country (Sunday, March 27, 11 p.m. EDT)
With her husband jailed for Wall Street fraud, Faith leaves her life of luxury behind to return to rural North Carolina and the father and sister she left behind. This film parallels the famous parable The Prodigal Son. Starring actress and country singer Jana Kramer (“One Tree Hill,” “90210”), Gerald McRaney (“House of Cards,” “Simon & Simon)” and Randy Wayne (“The Lying Game,” “YouTube: The Musical”).
UP is television’s trusted entertainment brand dedicated to providing viewers with “feel good TV for you and your family.” UP uplifts viewers every day with premiere movies, original reality, dramatic and comedy series filled with compelling stories and characters with character. In keeping with its brand promise, UP’s pro-social initiative, “Uplift Someone,” inspires people to do simple, everyday acts of kindness. UP can be seen in 70 million homes on cable systems and satellite providers across the United States. Based in Atlanta, UP is a division of UP Entertainment, LLC and provides sales and operations services to the ASPiRE network.
Images: Wikimedia Commons