Faith, Media & Culture

Faith, Media & Culture

“Mayberry” meets “Friends” at UP’s “Coffee Shop” + For Producer/Director Dave Alan Johnson “heart” beats “edge”

posted by John W. Kennedy

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

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Coffee Shop is a warm, tasty blend of humor and romance.  The film airs this Sunday (/9/14) @ 8:00 PM (ET) on UP TV.

Synopsis (per UP): Coffee Shop is the story of Donavan Turner (Laura Vandervoort), a smart, independent, twenty-something woman looking for just the right blend of happiness in her life.  She owns a hip neighborhood coffee shop in a quaint, scenic beach town and her specialty is matching people to their perfect, new brew.  While she’s been less than successful fixing her love life, Donavan enjoys her work and has the robust support of her sister Becky (Rachel Hendrix), Becky’s boyfriend Kevin (Jason Burkey) and the wonderful, eclectic family of her coffee shop regulars.  Unfortunately, she’s keeping a secret from them all.  The new bank owner, Frank Miller (Jon Lovitz), won’t extend her loan and she’s facing immediate foreclosure.  Things get further complicated when Donovan’s ex-boyfriend Patrick (Josh Ventura) returns to declare his love just as her clashes with Broadway playwright — and tea-drinker – Ben Carson (Cory M. Grant) get interesting.  Ben is in town writing his new play for his producer (Kevin Sorbo).  With love brewing and financial ruin bubbling around her, Donovan realizes that her identity and self-worth are not defined by what she can accomplish alone.  Instead, Donovan – and her community – can accomplish more together, which leads her to make choices she may not have before.

Mini-Review: Imagine, if you will, that Central Perk (the main hangout in Friends) opened its doors in Mayberry, N.C. (home of The Andy Griffith Show) and you’ll have some idea of the flavor of Coffee Shop. As in both of those classic shows, we are introduced to a cast of likable characters who we wouldn’t mind hanging out with — perhaps even on a weekly basis. There are, IMHO, good grounds for serving up a series version. The setting is strong, the youthful cast is attractive and then there’s Jon Lovitz (a favorite of mine) as the playwright-wannabe banker who holds the coffee shop’s mortgage. The song Low Fat Latte by Michael O’Brien and Danny Palmintier (featured in the closing credits) would even go down easy as cool theme song for the show. Plus, it’s interesting that the lead male character (played by Cory M. Grant) is named Ben Carson. If a certain other Ben Carson actually becomes president, that should provide a source of some humor. Take my word for it. I know. I’ve heard them all. But I digress. Coffee Shop is Recommended.

Filmed in Birmingham and Fairhope, AL, Coffee Shop is produced by Salt Entertainment in association with Erwin Brothers Entertainment and Foxfield Entertainment. It’s directed and produced by Dave Alan Johnson (Doc, Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye, High Incident) from a screenplay by Theresa Preston and Jon Erwin.  The ensemble cast also includes Cory M. Grant (Nashville, All My Children), Rachel Hendrix (October Baby, The Perfect Wave) and Jason Burkey (October Baby, A Long Way Off), with Jon Lovitz (New Girl, Saturday Night Live), and Kevin Sorbo (God’s Not Dead, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys).  Popular singer/songwriter Mandi Mapes, originally from New Orleans and now based in Birmingham, contributes an original song, entitled In Your Arms


A conversation with veteran TV producer Dave Alan Johnson

JWK: How did Coffee Shop come about?

DAVID ALAN JOHNSON: Coffee Shop was a script that Theresa Preston and Jon Erwin had written.  They wrote October Baby. I had worked with them on that. This is kind of Theresa’s baby. As I was doing other work with them they gave me that script and said “We were thinking about maybe doing this.” So, I really, really liked it. We worked a lot on the script and, as we were doing it, they said “You know, maybe you should direct this” — because Jon and (his brother) Andy (directors of October Baby) were busy doing Moms’ Night Out. I said “You know, I love this script! I would love to direct this!  So, that’s how it all kinda came about. I ended up producing it and they (the Erwin Brothers) are the executive producers.  

JWK: While the film is debuting this Sunday on UP, I understand it’s actually already found success on the festival circuit.

DAJ: Yeah. The former CFO of Paramount he is a mutual of somebody. They had a copy of an early cut of the movie and he saw it and he loved it. He said “Hey I have a film festival in Florida called Movieville in the Bradenton/Sarasota area. He said “I’d love to have this in the festival!” So, we said “Sure! Why not?!” So, we entered. So, wended up having a standing ovation at our screening. Laura Vandervoort won for Best Actress. I won for Best Director. We were the Audience Favorite and a finalist for the Best Movie. It just kinda happened. I thought “Oh, that’s great!”

Then we also actually had a very limited release in Alabama because we shot it all in Alabama (with) with several crowds of like 600. So, maybe 1500 people total and the audience just loved the movie…There were a lot of laughs all the way through and sniffles and tears — not from sadness, tears from joy — and big applause. So, it’s very gratifying when that happens with an audience.

 JWK: I read that you’re a big fan of old “Andy Griffith Show” — which is one of my all-time favorite shows too.

DAJ: I am.

 JWK: Coffee Shop seems to share some elements with that — at least in terms of celebrating small town America.

DAJ: For me The Andy Griffith Show is like the greatest show ever made. I’m always trying to do some of Andy Griffith in everything I do. I did a series called Doc which was on PAX with Billy Ray Cyrus. That was very much like Andy Griffith goes to the city — but he’s a doctor. So, there’s always elements of those kinds of home spun qualities and characters.

This one is a little less of that although it does take place in a small town and has its own set of quirky characters. But they’re all young. What we’re trying to do with Coffee Shop is have it be young and modern and relevant. Something that you never see in culture today — I mean NEVER see in culture — is a young, stylish — in this case — beautiful, attractive female (who is) strong and independent who also says “I believe in God.” You just never get that message.

I have a 27–year-old daughter. She was born and raised in California by somebody in the movie and TV business. She’s as hip as the next person but she also happens to love and believe in God — and it’s not out of the ordinary. There are many people like that but if you watch most TV (shows) and movies, and culture in general in the US, you never see that combination.  We wanted to make sure that we had that in there and people are really responding to that.

JWK: The characters are definitely appealing and I could see them going on in different stories. Is there any chance that a TV series could result?

DAJ: There could be. Laura Vandervoort is the lead…She’s just phenomenal in it. She’s got a series now (Bitten) that is actually all over the world.  She shoots it in Canada. It plays on Syfy down here. She plays a werewolf — the last remaining female werewolf. It’s very different than our movie but Laura is just one of the most delightful people I’ve ever met and worked with. She’s just fabulous. So, if she ever became available I would certainly — and I think the network would — be open to it. Right now, she’s not available for another series. She is available for some other movies so if this one does well — as we hope and believe it will — I think we’d all be up for doing a version of Coffee Shop.

JWK: Speaking of the network — which is UP — it sort of reminds me of the old PAX Network on which you produced shows like Doc and Sue Thomas F.B.Eye. Like UP, PAX sought to produce uplifting entertainment programming. PAX, of course, is no longer around. Do you think today’s market will support a channel that actively goes against the tide of dark programming? It seems to me that the broadcast networks are deep in to dark programming and have all-but-abandoned the idea of uplifting storytelling.

DAJ: The networks have absolutely abandoned it — for the most part. I think there is definitely a huge place for this. I think UP has just scratched the surface of where they can go. You see Hallmark. They’ve had great success too over the last few years. UP is even a little bit more sort of not shying away from faith. I really believe that there’s a big market out there for it.

We’ve seen it with this movie. If you’re a woman who has beliefs — you know, believes in God — and think that’s a good thing in your life and believe that that matters you never see yourself (on TV). So, to see yourself on this network and have your values not only respected but embraced, it’s just a no-brainer. I mean there’s a huge, huge audience there for this. I think, as UP gets known more, people stay. That’s what we keep finding — is that people go…”Gee, I don’t (know) that network” and, as they discover it, then you hear “Oh, now it’s one of my favorites! It’s on my favorites list! I’m on it all the time!”

I think as they can grow bigger, the programming will continue to (grow even more in quality).  On Coffee Shop they spent a little bit more money than on some of their other stuff and I think it looks that way. The movie has a fabulous look and feel to it. Success begets success in our world. I think there’s a chance that we’ve just seen the very beginning — the tip of the iceberg — on UP.

JWK: I’ve been doing this blog for quite some time now and I think most of the other networks aren’t understanding how much the young audience wants to see uplifting programming. They’re tired of being dragged down.

DAJ: Absolutely! The data says that. They do research and polls. Faith is very strong among young people. Now, it may not be the same kind of organized church or religion that other generations have had but the idea of (other) believers and faith and God in their lives is very important to this generation. I know it anecdotally. I have a 25-year-old son and a 27-year-old daughter. So, I know them. I know their friends. I know the world they live in’

JWK: Speaking of Hallmark, you did a film for them that I enjoyed called Christmas with Tucker. What was that experience like?

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DAJ: That was for last Christmas. It was actually on just a year ago. It was a great experience. It came from Greg Kincaid’s book — a sort of small, Christmassy book. He knew my work. He and his agent called and said “Hey, would you like to do this?” I said “Yeah, I like this book and I understand this world. I think this could be a great, kind of classic, Christmas movie. So, I sent it over to Hallmark and they said “Yeah, we like it” So, we did it. James Brolin came on board. He had never really done anything like this. He just loved it and had a great experience. How can you go wrong with dogs and Christmas and cute kids?

JWK: It reminded me of classic family shows like Lassie.

DAJ: Absolutely!

JWK: You don’t see those kinds of shows anymore.

DAJ: No — and it’s too bad. Because every thinks that programming has to be edgy and it has to push the boundaries. That’s really just not the case.

Sue Thomas F.B.Eye is an example…I meet families all the time — and we get emails from people — (saying) “We loved this series! It was our favorite series!” We have people watching it who weren’t even alive when it was made…These are time-tested principles and characters and relationships.  If you do quality work with likable characters and humor and heart, there’s a huge audience out there for it. You don’t have to push the envelope. There’s an audience out there for Game of Thrones too. Nobody’s gonna deny it. There’s an audience out there for things that push other boundaries.  No one’s denying that.  But, at the same time, you shouldn’t deny that there’s a huge audience out there for stuff that has a bit more — I guess I would call them — classic values.

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JWK: Those values were definitely on view in your other PAX show Doc which I watched regularly. I know you were inspired by The Andy Griffith Show but I always thought of it as sortMcCloud as a doctor.

DAJ: It was an exact combination of the both of them. I sat down with Jeff Sagansky who was running PAX then. I knew Jeff from CBS. I had done some projects with him and I had written a couple of episodes of Brooklyn Bridge and things…So, Jeff said “What do you want to do?” I said “Well, I want to do The Andy Griffith Show which is what I always want to do.” He said “Well, I kinda need it set in a big city.” I said “Okay. Well, McCloud’s kinda been done — the country sheriff who goes to the big city.” He sat there for a minute and said “What about a country doctor?” I said “A country doctor who goes to work at a big corporate HMO! I get it! I know how to do that show!” That was the entire development process for Doc.

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JWK: Why do you think the broadcast networks have pretty much given up on uplifting shows with likable characters — despite the evidence that people like those shows?

DAJ: Because it’s not where they live. That’s really the answer. It’s about “How does this affect my standing in the club?” They’re always sort of trying to make shows that other people will think are cool. So, they’re always thinking “Gee! HBO or House of Cards is nominated for all these Emmys so we have to push the envelope and we have to go there.” Yet, when you look, CBS is the one that doesn’t do that (as much) and they’re the ones who are doing the best. You look at their big hits, they’re pretty standard — kind of classic shows. The NCISes of the world, even CSI to some extent. So, you watch what they’re succeeding with and you look at shows like American Idol or The Voice. Those shows are just classic Americana shows. They don’t push any envelopes…American Idol tried to push the envelope a few seasons ago and then their viewership dropped.

It’s kind of one of those baffling things in life. They sort of refuse to look at what’s right in front of them — but it’s what gives a place like UP the chance to come in and own that audience and they are starting to do that.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

See first 15 minutes of underrated film “The Identical” here

posted by John W. Kennedy

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

See for yourself. The Identical opened last week to, frankly, very disappointing box office numbers — disappointing to me because, as I said in my review, The Identical is a Highly Recommended and quite original piece of faith-friendly filmmaking in which Ray Liotta and newcomer Blake Rayne shine as a minister and his son whose relationship is strained by a startling secret. 

In a nutshell, The Identical is a saga of twin brothers (both played by Rayne) who unbeknownst to them were separated at birth during the Great Depression. One grows up to become a ’50′s-’60′s rock legend.  The other struggles with a love of and talent for music that puts him at odds with the desire of his dad (Liotta) that he follow in his footsteps as a minister.

No doubt some moviegoers were turned off by professional critics many of whom, it seems, are just generally turned off by films that deal uncynically with faith. As is often the case, there is quite a disconnect between what they wrote and how mainstream audiences reacted. According to Rotten Tomatoes, while professional critics gave the film a 5% approval rating, 75% of ordinary moviegoers who saw it gave it the thumbs up.

In any event, you can decided for yourself. As the headlined promised, below you can view the first 15 minutes of The Identical. You can also register your reaction at the film’s website.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Updated Fall Faith/Media Preview: What’s ahead in movies, TV, music and books

posted by John W. Kennedy

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Since I originally posted the Faith, Media & Fall Preview last week, a few additions have come to my attention.  New entries are headlined in red.

Prepare to be inspired! Media publications like Entertainment Weekly and others are known for compiling Fall Preview issues that focus — and laud praise upon — the latest in so-called “edgy” entertainment. To the extent that inspirational content is mentioned at all, it’s usually accompanied by some sort of supposedly sophisticated aside indicating that such “schmaltzy” and “manipulative” fare isn’t worthy of being taken seriously by smart viewers. What makes inspirational and/or faith-themed storytelling any more manipulative than its darker counterparts is beyond me. They are both, after all, putting forth a world view of how to respond to the world. Is it hipper to be kind or snarky? Your answer will likely track very closely with the type of entertainment you are drawn to. In any event, all effective storytelling influences our world view Game of Thrones is no less “manipulative” than Touched by an Angel. And being darker, no matter many critics tell us, is not necessarily synonymous with being smarter.

In any event, my point — and I do have one — is that, in general, inspirational movies, TV show, music and books just don’t get the attention and respect they deserve. With that in mind, here’s your fall preview entertainment between now and New Year’s Day that will at least aspire to inspire. How successful they’ll be in that goal remains to be seen — but I, for one, applaud the intent.


Tuesday 9/2: Moms’ Night Out (DVD) The light-hearted film that follows three stressed-out mothers as they attempt to have one relaxing night on the town, only to have it turn into complete chaos. The Christian-themed comedy starring Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Middle), Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy), Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, Rudy) and country music superstar Trace Adkins premiered at the box office earlier this year. An exclusive Blu-ray™/DVD combo pack at CBA retailers features bonus content—including blooper reels, special featurettes and commentary from filmmakers and stars.

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Friday 9/5: The Identical (in theaters) A faith-themed tale of musically-gifted twin brothers (both played by Blake Rayne) who, after being separated at birth, are thrust into divergent paths — one as a Elvis-like rock star, the other struggling to please his adopted father (Ray Liotta) who happens to be a minister. Ashley Judd, Seth Green and Joe Pantoliano also star. I’ve seen it. It’s good and Blake Rayne is an up-and-coming star to watch. Update:  While the movie got off to a less-than-spectacular start at this past weekend’s box office, in my book it’s Highly Recommended.

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Friday 9/5: The Remaining (in theaters) The Apocalypse interrupts a wedding. I have to admit my taste in faith-based films tends not to veer toward End-of-Days scenarios but there are two out this fall (the other being Left Behind in October) that may make some box office noise.

Saturday 9/6: Holy Ghost (Special Digital Premiere) The documentary in which filmmaker Darren Wilson shines a light on the power and love of the Holy Spirit raised a record-breaking $360,000 in just 45 days to become the #1 most-funded faith-based film in Kickstarter history. Rather than pursuing a traditional theatrical or direct-to-home entertainment release, Wanderlust Productions is staging a one-time, World Premiere Experience on September 6th during which fans from all over the world will have the opportunity to view Holy Ghost directly on any digital device, free of charge. Wanderlust believes that the one-time 48-hour event will attract viewers from all over the world and drive subsequent VOD and DVD purchases, resulting in strong profitability for the project. This, it is hoped, will enable instant reinvestment for the company’s next project which is due out in the fall of 2015.

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Tuesday 9/9: Veritas (Music)
The self-titled album will be the first full-length offering to fans from the powerhouse contemporary classical vocal group made up of Jeff Anderson, James Berrian, Andrew Goodwin, Jordan Johnson, and Lucas Scott Lawrence. With a unique musical style fashioned from a fusion of artistic excellence and creative pursuit with performances that promise to inspire an audience of any distinction, Veritas brings a fresh approach to the contemporary classical genre.

Tuesday 9/9:  Your Legacy: The Greatest Gift  (FaithWords)/Wanting to Believe—Faith, Family and Finding an Exceptional Life (B&H Books)
Dr. James Dobson and his son Ryan debut their respective parenting books on the same day. To say they’re competing with one another isn’t right. It’s more like the two works complement each other. 

Friday 9/12 Dolphin Tale 2 (in theaters) Warner Bros. Pictures and Alcon Entertainment’s “Dolphin Tale 2” continues the story of the brave dolphin Winter, whose miraculous rescue and recovery—thanks to a groundbreaking prosthetic tail—made her a symbol of hope and perseverance to people around the world and inspired the 2011 family hit movie Dolphin Tale. The film reunites the entire main cast, led by Harry Connick, Jr., Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”), Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Austin Stowell, and, of course, the remarkable dolphin Winter as herself. Charles Martin Smith, who directed “Dolphin Tale,” wrote the sequel and is again at the helm. Cozi Zuehlsdorff, who reprises her role as Hazel from the original Dolphin Tale, says she was so moved by the themes of the film that they helped inspire her to write (and perform) the song Brave Souls (below).
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Sunday 9/14 Coffee Shop (UP Premiere Movie/8:00 PM ET) A romcom that follows the story of  Donavan Turner (Laura Vandervoort), a smart, independent, twenty-something woman looking for just the right blend of happiness in her life.  She owns a hip neighborhood coffee shop in a quaint, scenic beach town and her specialty is matching people to their perfect, new brew.  While she’s been less than successful fixing her love life, Donavan enjoys her work and has the robust support of her sister Becky (Rachel Hendrix), Becky’s boyfriend Kevin (Jason Burkey) and the wonderful, eclectic family of her coffee shop regulars.  Unfortunately, she’s keeping a secret from them all.  The new bank owner, Frank Miller (Jon Lovitz), won’t extend her loan and she’s facing immediate foreclosure.  Things get further complicated when Donovan’s ex-boyfriend Patrick (Josh Ventura) returns to declare his love just as her clashes with Broadway playwright — and tea-drinker – Ben Carson (Cory M. Grant) get interesting.  Ben is in town writing his new play for his producer (Kevin Sorbo).  With love brewing and financial ruin bubbling around her, Donovan realizes that her identity and self-worth are not defined by what she can accomplish alone.  Instead, Donovan – and her community – can accomplish more together, which leads her to make choices she may not have before.

Monday 9/15: The Evolution of Gospel – Gospel Music Heritage Celebration (John F. Kennedy Center Music Event in D.C.)
September is Gospel Musical Heritage Month. The Gospel Music Heritage Month Foundation was established September 2008 to celebrate and educate people everywhere about the rich heritage of the gospel music. In each year since its establishment, both local and global celebrations have been held to educate and entertain diverse audiences with the rich history and legacy of gospel.  UP TV plans to a tape a special tied to this year’s event with this year’s Evolution of Gospel honorees including Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin and Senator Blanche Lincoln.  The special airing on UP will be taped from Washington, DC.  More details will be released as they become available.

Tuesday 9/16: Holy Ghost (DVD) The movie which debuted via a Special Digital Premiere on 9/6 becomes available on DVD. Highly Recommended.  For more information about the film, including how to find a special showing near you, click here.

Friday 9/19: The Evolution of Gospel – Gospel Music Heritage Celebration (Texas State University Sawyer Auditorium Music Event)
A second live musical extravaganza honoring the history of Gospel music. 

Saturday 9/20 Perfect on Paper (Hallmark Channel Original Movie/9:00 PM ET) Morgan Fairchild portrays author Beverly Wilcox, a powerful, glamorous and intimidating figure straight out of The Devil Wears Prada. Lindsay Hartley (Passions, All My Children) is Natalie Holland, a book editor from Portland who unfortunately hasn’t had good luck in relationships. But when Natalie accepts a job offer from a publishing friend in Los Angeles, she finds herself moving to the West Coast metropolis and working alongside Beverly. As if that weren’t enough, more complications arise when she meets a handsome surfer (Drew Fuller of Charmed) and a charming, successful LA attorney (Kieren Hutchison of One Tree Hill). As tensions mount at work and in romance, the young editor learns a lesson about judging a book by its cover and finds out that guys who look Perfect On Paper may not always be the better choice.

Sunday 9/21 My Other Mother (UP Original Movie/8:00 PM ET) Candace “Candy” Meyers (Essence Atkins) is a successful anchor on a top-rated national magazine show.  Fiercely independent and committed to her job, Candy doesn’t make many friends with her demanding, gruff nature.  In fact, her only true friend might be her long-time manager Lewis (Kendrick Cross).  Candy discovers that an anonymous fan she’s had for years has passed way – and he was her biological father, Freddy Nelson.  Content with the love and support of her adoptive family, Candy has never been curious about her biological parents.  That all changes when she travels back for her father’s funeral, meets the Nelson family – including biological uncle Abner (GregAlan Williams), Freddy’s wife Delores (Angie Stone) and her two step-brothers – and discovers that her reclusive, angry and stubborn birth mother, Mary Jo (Lynn Whitfield) is going to be a challenge.  The journey these two surprisingly similar women take getting to know each other will break down walls and open them up to a life they never knew was possible.

Friday 9/26: Believe Me (in theaters/on demand) Sam (Alex Russell) stands on stage as thousands of fans go wild. Smart, charismatic, handsome, he moves them with his message, and when he calls for donations to his charity, the money pours in. Only thing is, Sam doesn’t believe a word he’s saying.

Friday 9/26: The Song (in theaters) The fictional story aspiring singer-songwriter Jed King (Alan Powell of Anthem Lights) as he struggles to catch a break and escape the long shadow of his father, a country music legend. After reluctantly accepting a gig at a local vineyard harvest festival, Jed is love-struck by the vineyard owner’s daughter, Rose (Ali Faulkner of Twilight: Breaking Dawn)and romance quickly blooms. Soon after their wedding, Jed writes Rose The Song which becomes a breakout hit. Thrust into a life of stardom and a world of temptation in the form of fellow performer Shelby Bale (Caitlin Nicol-Thomas of Nashville), Jed’s life and marriage begin to fall apart. Inspired by the Song of Solomon (known for its poetic language about love and lovers), THE SONG features 11 original songs with an American Roots flavor.

Saturday 9/27: Midnight Masquerade (Hallmark Channel Original Movie/9:00 PM ET) Young businesswoman Elyse Samford’s (Autumn Reeser) life takes a turn when she inherits Samford Candy, a multi-billion dollar corporation, from her retired father (Richard Burgi). A trademark infringement lawsuit against a rival company brings Elyse to Higgins Attorneys and Sons, where Rob Carelli (Christopher Russell), a young, too-nice-for-his-own-good lawyer, is bullied by his boss, firm founder Carter Higgins (Chris Gillett), and his two arrogant sons (Damon Runyan and Danny Smith). Despite his workplace woes, Rob becomes instantly smitten with Elyse.
With Halloween just around the corner, Elyse invites the Higgins law firm staff to an opulent masked Halloween costume ball. Rob obeys an order to remain in the office working that night, but has a change of heart when his spunky, 12-year old niece, Ruby (Helen Colliander), convinces him to attend the ball wearing a prince costume. After a magnificent waltz and magical exchange with the handsome “prince,” Elyse yearns to locate this mysterious man and hopefully find the romance her life has been missing.  (Photo from Hallmark Channel)


Wednesday 10/1: Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (formerly Hallmark Movie Channel) officially launches. What does a channel that focuses largely on murder mysteries have to do with faith and inspiration? Personally, I find the focus on timelessly clever cat-and-mouse shows in the vein of Columbo, The Rockford Files and Murder, She Wrote over sexual predator-of-the-week fare like SUV and CSI and the other alphabet salad crime dramas currently in vogue at the broadcast networks. Those classic were diverting without being sleazy. And there is, actually, something inspirational in seeing oh-so-clever villains being brought down by actual good guys like Lt. Columbo, Jim Rockford or Jessica Fletcher.

Wednesday 10/1 – Sunday 10/5 : Building a Family Legacy (Global Simulcast Series) A film series from James and Ryan Dobson that builds on their book releases on 9/9. Info here.

Friday 10/3: Left Behind (in theaters) Rayford Steele (Nicolas Cage) is piloting a commercial airliner just hours after the Rapture when millions of people around the globe simply vanish. Thirty thousand feet over the Atlantic, Rayford is faced with a damaged plane, terrified passengers, and a desperate desire to get back to his family. On the ground, his daughter, Chloe Steele (Cassi Thomson) is among those left behind, forced to navigate a world of madness as she searches for her lost mother and brother. The movie is based on the New York Times bestselling book series of the same name, co-authored by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. Based on the Bible and published in 32 different languages, the series has sold more than 65 million copies and is one of the best-selling fiction series of all time. Kirk Cameron headlined as earlier film adaptation of the book series in 2000.

Sunday 10/5: Nowhere Safe (UP Premiere Movie/7:00 PM ET) After two teen girls cruelly impersonate her online in a “reverse cyber bullying” plot, Ashley’s reputation is ruined. She and her mother Julie are ostracized, forcing them to flee an escalating threat to their lives. Starting over at a new school miles away, romantic interests and the poignant lessons from an eccentric history teacher draw them out of seclusion until they realize confronting a hurtful past is essential to ensure a brighter future. Stars: Natasha Henstridge, Jamie Kennedy, Danielle Chuchran.





Tuesday 10/7: Lights Out (Book)
Travis Freeman, the inspiration for the theatrical film 23 Blast (premiering 10/24), joins with co-author Rebeca Seitz to share his story in his own words. Plunged into a world of darkness at the age of 12 when illness stole his sight, Travis, whose dream of success on the football field obscured by darkness, held on to his belief that  God was still the light for his life. (Book cover photo from The Freeman Foundation website)

Tuesday 10/7:  St. Paul’s Choir School Christmas Album (Music)
As part of their initiative for The New Evangelization to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the school, the boys of St. Paul’s Choir School of St. Paul’s Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA have signed a recording deal with AimHigher Recordings. The first recording will be a Christmas album. The album can be pre-ordered here.

Tuesday 10/7: Love Finds You in Sugarcreek (DVD) Based on the novel from the bestselling Love Finds You book series. The film, which aired to strong ratings on UP TV back in June,  is a love story is filled with inspiring life lessons about faith, trust and first impressions. In the quaint town of Sugarcreek, Ohio, policewoman Rachel Troyer (Sarah Lancaster) is fiercely protective of her three Amish aunts. When a penniless stranger named Joe (Tom Everett Scott) shows up with his five-year-old son, the aunts insist on helping them. But Rachel has immediate suspicions and devotes herself to investigating Joe’s secretive past, even as she finds herself falling for him. For what it’s worth, I gave it my thumbs up.

Saturday 10/11: Recipe For Love (Hallmark Channel Original Movie/9:00 PM ET) When Lauren Hennessey is assigned to ghostwrite a cookbook for TV chef Dexter Duran, she uncovers that he is not the bad boy that he pretends to be for his fans. Lauren falls for Dexter and is able to convince him to show his roots, but the TV network has other plans and the two of them must work to save their jobs and their relationship. Stars Danielle Panabaker, Shawn Roberts, Pascale Hutton and Amos Mitchell.

Sunday 10/12: Heavenly Match (UP Original Movie/7:00 PM ET) Life would be perfect for Reverend Casey Hart if it weren’t for parishioners who keel over during her sermons, steal money from the collection box and don’t believe a woman should be a minister.  Not to mention the very inconvenient feelings she is suddenly having for her long-time friend, fellow seminarian and verbal sparring partner, David Swenson.  It isn’t until Betsy is thrust into the position of senior minister for her church, however, that she discovers the real cause of her discontent: her fear of failing has become stronger than her faith in herself.  Stars Samaire Armstrong, Brendan Penny and LeToya Luckett.

Sunday 10/12: Along Came a Spider (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries/9:00 PM ET) When an upscale neighborhood is hit by a string of burglaries, an undercover cop poses as a nanny to investigate the crimes and finds himself falling for a beautiful, fellow nanny. Cameron Mathison (The Christmas Ornament) and Sarah Lancaster (Chuck) star with Valin Shinyei (Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle), Marcie Juiles (Along Came a Nanny) and Tom McBeath (Supernatural).

Tuesday 10/14: Here’s to the Ones (Music) The Rhett Walker Band’s sophomore album (via Essential/Sony). The title track, and theme of the album, is an All-American ode to the hard working middle class. The value of Faith will be celebrated in the song Love Like Jesus which, according to Walker “explores what it looks like to make the most of each day inside the context of our faith…It’s about living life to the fullest but I don’t believe we can unless we choose in every avenue of our life to always love like Jesus.”

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Wednesday 10/15: Mary of Nazareth (DVD/available for pre-order)
An epic motion picture on the life of Mary, mother of Christ, from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus. Shot in High Definition in Europe, the ambitious film seeks to capture the essence of Mary’s profound faith and trust in God amidst the great mysteries that she lived with as the Mother of the Messiah, as well as her compassionate humanity, concern for others and the deep love that she and Jesus shared for one another, her special role in God’s plan for our redemption, the tremendous suffering that she endured in union with his passion and death and as her serene joy at His Resurrection. Directed by acclaimed European film director Giacomo Campiotti (Bakhita, Doctor Zhivago, St. Giuseppe Moscati), and written by Francesco Arlanch (Restless Heart, Pius XII, Pope John Paul II). Alissa Jung plays Mary. Andreas Pietschmann portrays Jesus. For information on arranging parish and school screenings click here. For info on the companion book click here.

Saturday 10/18:  My Boyfriends’ Dogs (Hallmark Channel Original Movie/9:00 PM ET) Bailey Daley has wound up single and the proud owner of her boyfriends’ dogs. What went wrong? As Bailey recounts her failed quest to finding the perfect guy, she discovers the secret to true love might have been right under her nose all along. Stars Erika Christensen, Teryl Rothery, and Joyce DeWitt.

Sunday 10/19: If I Had Wings (UP World Premiere Movie/7:00 PM ET) Seventeen year old Alex Taylor dreams of flying. He also dreams of running for his high school’s cross-country track team. Both dreams seem equally out of reach as Alex has been blind since the age of two. Alex, determined to run, practices with his father, probation officer Geoff Taylor. Geoff, with additional girth and age working against him, finds that he no longer can keep up with his son, a gifted runner. He must find a running partner at the school fast enough to help Alex make the cross-country team. This help comes from the unlikeliest of sources. Brad Coleman, a schoolmate of Alex’s, spends most of his time running from the law. Brad is caught in a pathetic daytime robbery attempt and faces incarceration for repeat offenses. Geoff makes a deal to keep Brad out of jail and back in school. He pairs the two boys, opposite in many ways, together. And despite a rocky start because of their many differences, an unlikely friendship forms.  Stars: Richard Harmon, Jaren Brandt Bartlett, Jill Hennessy (Law & Order, Crossing Jordan), Craig Bierko (Cinderella Man).  American Idol 2009 finalist Scott MacIntyre, who is also blind, was recruited to write the words and music to the theme song.

Sunday 10/19: Wedding Planner Mystery (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries/9:00 PM ET) A young wedding planner is framed for a crime and struggles to clear her name as she learns that love does not always arrive in a pretty package. Based on Deborah Donnelly’s novel Veiled Threats.

Thursday 10/23: The 17th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (PBS/check your local listings)
Taped Sunday 10/16 at The Kennedy Center,  Jay Leno will be honored by his Tonight Show successor Jimmy Fallon and his longtime band leader Kevin Eubanks, as well as Jerry Seinfeld, Betty White and others.  

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Friday 10/24: 23 Blast (in theaters)
Inspired by the true life events of Travis Freeman (see Lights Out above) who played football for Corbin High School in the mid 1990’s despite being blind. The film stars Stephen Lang (Avatar, Terra Nova), Alexa Vega (Spy Kids, Machete Kills), Mark Hapka (Day of Our Lives, Criminal Minds), Max Adler (Glee), Bram Hoover, Kim Zimmer (Guiding Light, One Life to Live), Becky Ann Baker (Men in Black, Freaks and Geeks, A Simple Plan) Timothy Busfield (Field of Dreams, thirtysomething), Dylan Baker (who also directed) and Fred D. Thompson (Sinister, Law & Order, Die Hard 2).

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Friday 10/24: Return to the Hiding Place (in theaters) The multi award-winning World War II action-packed drama portrays the rescue of Dutch Jews during the Holocaust and shares the compelling story of a young band of passionate teens that form their own Resistance Army. In May 2014, Return to the Hiding Place opened in select cities as part of a highly successful limited release and ranked in the Top 5 for per screen average reaching $7,338.40 per screen (3-day) in its opening weekend.  The 3-day weekend concluded with the film garnering an impressive box office total of $49,692 on only six screens. For the record, I reviewed the film then and loved it.

Sunday 10/26: Garage Sale Mystery: All That Glitters (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries/9:00 PM ET)
The adventures of Jennifer Shannon continue. Lori Loughlin (When Calls the Heart, 90210) stars with   Steve Bacic (When Calls the Heart), Sarah Strange (Motive), Brendan Meyer (The Christmas Ornament) also star in the second installment of the Garage Sale Mystery movie series with Loughlin as a sleuthing yard sale treasure hunter who uses her keen eye to solve crimes.  The Garage Sale Mystery movies are based on the book by author Suzi Weinert.

Jennifer Shannon (Loughlin) has a gift for finding rare treasures hidden in garage sales that she can resell at her consignment store, Rags to Riches.  But her keen eye for finding valuables also gets her involved in the criminal investigations that happen at the very second-hand sales she frequents.  When Jennifer’s friend and self-storage facility owner Martin (Michael Kopsa) turns up murdered—just hours after auctioning off an abandoned storage unit full of unique items to Jennifer—she is immediately pulled on the case as a key eyewitness.  Working with Detective Lynwood (Kevin O’Grady), Jennifer helps single out a disgruntled customer as the Prime Suspect, while she and her business partner, Danielle (Strange), sift through boxes from the auction.  As her husband Jason (Bacic) worries about her safety, Jennifer starts to get over her head when there is a break-in at her store, and a run-in with Martin’s angry wife.  Then, Jennifer and Danielle discover their new merchandise contains the sparkly evidence they needed all along to nail the surprising real culprit, and they must race to save a life—and put their own on the line. (Photo from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)
Thursday 10/30: The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards 2014 (Hallmark Channel Special/9:00 PM ET) Hosted by Terry Bradshaw and Beth Stern. Heroes + Dogs + What’s not to love?
Friday 10/31: God the Father (in theaters) Per Variety: “God the Father,” produced by Moshe Diamant and directed by Simon Fellows, documents the life and spiritual transformation of Michael Franzese, son of Colombo underboss John “Sonny” Franzese…Franzese followed his father’s profession as a mobster, making his reputation in schemes such as an elaborate gasoline bootlegging scheme that involved collecting gas taxes and not paying the government. He renounced the life of crime in 1987 and began seeking redemption as a Christian. “God The Father” includes graphic novel-style animation, re-enactments, archival news footage and interviews. Franzese co-wrote the script with Moshe Diamant.
Also in October
The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom that Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot by Jay Richards & Jonathan Witt (Ignatius Press)
As the Ignatius website states “Anyone who has read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings can gather that their author hated tyranny, but few know that the novelist who once described himself as a hobbit “in all but size” was—even by hobbit standards—a zealous proponent of economic freedom and small government. There is a growing concern among many that the West is sliding into political, economic, and moral bankruptcy. In his beloved novels of Middle-Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien has drawn us a map to freedom.”

Practical Theology: Spiritual Direction from Saint Thomas Aquinas (Ignatius Press)
Also from the Ignatius website: “From a lifetime of studying the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, popular author Peter Kreeft says that his amazement has continually increased not only at Aquinas’ theoretical, philosophical brilliance and sanity, but also at his personal, practical wisdom, his “existential bite.” Yet this second dimension of St. Thomas has usually been eclipsed by the other. Kreeft wrote this book to help bring that sun out from its eclipse. He provides easily digestible samples of the religious wisdom of Aquinas.”
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Saturday 11/15: Northpole (Hallmark Channel Original Movie/8:00 PM ET) Santa (Robert Wagner) and Mrs. Claus’s (Jill St. John) magical home, Northpole, has grown into a huge city powered by the magic of holiday happiness around the world. Yet the city is in trouble, as people everywhere are too busy to enjoy festive time together.  One of these stressed-out souls is Chelsea (Tiffani Thiessen), a single mom who is trying to get noticed at her new reporting job while helping her ten-year-old son Kevin (Max Charles) adjust to a new school. When he starts talking about real elves and actual sleigh rides, she worries that his imagination has gotten out of control. With a little added help from Kevin’s charming teacher Ryan (Josh Hopkins), a mysterious elf, Clementine (Bailee Madison), and a gospel singer named Josephine (Candice Glover), Chelsea may learn that even chasing down the facts can lead to holiday magic.
Friday 11/21: Little Hope was Arson (Theaters) A stirring documentary on the causes and consequences of a string of East Texas church fires. Part detective story, part faith film, the film tells the 2010 story of 10 East Texas churches set ablaze in one month, sparking the largest manhunt in regional history. But once the crime was solved, the real mystery began. What drove two young men to do it? What effect did it have on their families and the churches? And when a church loses its building . . . can it still stand? “From the moment I read about these fires, I knew there was a redemptive story that could rise from these violent and tragic acts,” said Theo Love, the film’s director and producer. “When churches and families face such loss—of property and relationships—it can turn attention to what really matters.”
Note: An earlier version of this post misidentified the title of this film as New Hope was Arson. My apologies.

Date/Time TBA: Paper Angels (UP Original Movie/7:00 PM ET)* In Paper Angels, abused wife Lynn (Josie Bissett), leaves her alcoholic husband Darryl (Russell Porter), with her two kids, Thomas (Rustin Gresiuk) and Sara (Farryn Van Humbeck) and move to another town where she works as a waitress to make ends meet.  In that same town, we meet Kevin (Matthew Settle), whose Marketing & Design company is on the brink of shutting down due to the economy.  Plus, Kevin’s wife Jenny (Kendra Anderson) is in a difficult pregnancy with twins.  Thomas starts a new school and becomes the target of a bully who is threatened by how well he plays basketball.  Unable to join the high school team, Thomas goes to the community center where he meets Kevin and the two of them become unlikely friends through pickup basketball games.  Little do they know the tremendous impact they will have on each other’s families this Christmas through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program.  Inspired by the hit holiday song by country star Jimmy Wayne and book by Wayne with Travis Thrasher.

Date/Time TBA: Nativity! (UP Premiere Movie)This Christmas, primary school teacher Paul Maddens is charged with producing the school’s nativity play. Competing against the posh rival school for the honor of best reviewed show in town, the stakes are raised when Paul idly boasts that his ex-girlfriend Jennifer, a Hollywood Producer, is coming to see his show with a view to turning it into a film. The only trouble is – they haven’t spoken in years. With eccentric assistant Mr. Poppy fueling his ‘little white lie’, Maddens suddenly finds himself a local celebrity and at the center of quarreling parents and over-excited children desperate in their bid for fame and fortune. Maddens’ only hope is to get back in touch with Jennifer and lure Hollywood to town so that everybody’s Christmas wishes come true. Stars Martin Freeman, Marc Wootton, Jason Watkins.

Date/Time TBA: Naughty & Nice (UP Original Movie)
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Los Angeles and commuters have Pepper Sweeney, a cynical and funny radio comic to keep them entertained. When Pepper’s latest radio antics anger an important advertising executive,  he gets shipped over to sister station, KBRG, in Idyllwild, Colorado to serve out his suspension until the dust blows over. Samantha McCoy, following in her father’s footsteps, loves radio and came home to Harrison to host her own talk show. She is unapologetically romantic and nostalgic, especially at Christmastime. She is immediately at odds with Pepper who never met a sentiment he couldn’t twist into a punch line and has no use for Christmas. When Samantha and Pepper’s “war of words” catches the attention of the small town, their joint show becomes a hint and they start to see something in each other brought to the surface by the romantic holiday season.  Stars: Haylie Duff, Tilky Jones, Maureen McCormick.

Date/Time TBA: 12 Dog Days of Christmas (UP Premiere Movie) When a foster teenager, who can’t seem to stay out of trouble, is assigned to work at a no-kill animal shelter for his community service, he finds a sense of responsibility  and real connection for the first time in his life and the true spirit of Christmas.  The shelter’s owner finds that she can no longer afford to fund the shelter and the clock begins to tick to get all the dogs placed in loving homes before Christmas. Filming in Marion, SC (near Myrtle Beach, SC) Stars: Reginald VelJohnson, Vincent Giovagnoli, Lexi Giovagnoli, Lunden D’Leon (Somebody’s Child).

Date/Time TBA: The Tree That Saved Christmas (UP Original Movie) Imaginative, hard-working Molly Logan (Lacey Chabert) grew up on her family’s generations-old The Tree That Saved Christmas  in rural Vermont and would often write stories about individual trees as they shipped out, her favorite being a “Charlie Brown” tree struggling to grow.  One day, after hearing the roar of buzz saws used to clear the woods of sickly saplings, nine-year-old Molly (Olivia Steele-Falconer) ran to save her favorite – even after her father Gordon (Eric Keenleyside) and his crew had made a gash in its trunk.  She knew that someday this little tree would have a story to tell.  Now 29, Molly lives in Manhattan and is pursuing her dreams of a writing career.  Unfortunately as an assistant to Pendant Publishing CEO Walter Dunlap (Jim Thorburn), Molly has no life and little chance to write.  Buried with work and Mr. Dunlap’s personal Christmas plans, Molly is devastated to learn from her architect brother Ryan (Matthew Anderson) that the bank is foreclosing on her parents’ heritage tree farm.  This will be her family’s last Christmas at the farm as all the trees will be cleared to make way for a golf course.  However, a frustrated Molly can’t make it home thanks to obligations to her boss and his young daughters Victoria (Yasmeene Lily-Elle Ball) and Sofia (Alisha Newton).  Much to her shock, Molly discovers that the Christmas tree she ordered for the Dunlap home is that same one she saved years ago, down to the distinctive gash on its trunk.  Certain that it is the same tree from her youth – and a sign – Molly drags the tree back to her Vermont home and embarks upon a plan to save the family farm – with some surprising, inventive help from her brother and former boyfriend Lucas (Corey Sevier), who now works at the bank for his father Elliot (James Kidnie).


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Wednesday 12/12: Exodus: Gods and Kings (in theaters) Director Ridley Scott‘s epic take on Moses (Christian Bale) and the Israelite flight from Egypt.

Tuesday 12/25 (Christmas Day): Unbroken (in theaters): Angelina Jolie directs the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who overcame great odds after being Japanese forces during World War II. Based on the biography Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Holy Ghost” movie event tomorrow (9/6); Film a moving experience + “23 Blast” gets Christian radio support

posted by John W. Kennedy

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

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“My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants–from this time on and forever,” says the LORD. – Isaiah 59:21

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” - Galatians 5:22

Directed by God. Putting God in the director’s chair pretty much sums up the stated goal of Wanderlust Productions CEO Braden Heckman when talking about his company’s new documentary Holy Ghost in which filmmaker Darren Wilson travels the world seeking out evidence of His existence. It’s up to you to decide what to make of the apparent miracles caught on film. Personally, I believe in miracles and, while it’s wise to be cautious of charlatans, I’m willing to accept the reality of the miraculous events as they’re presented.

Holy Ghost was crowd-funded by 2,500 investors who surged to support Wilson’s Kickstarter campaign, raising a record-breaking $360,000 in just 45 days to become the #1 most-funded, faith-based film—and the #2 most-funded documentary—in Kickstarter history.

As a movie, the Holy Ghost is beautifully shot and the narrative works.  You really do get caught up on the efforts of the team involved to seek out evidence of the Holy Spirit alive and present in our world. I can’t help but admire the audacity to put themselves out there on a quest that could get them labeled as crazy and, in one particularly instance, perhaps even killed. And when say I audacity I mean the first dictionary definition (“the willingness to take bold risks), not the second (“rude or disrespectful behavior”).  That’s an important distinction because the second thing I admire about these guys is their total respect and compassion toward everyone they encounter — regardless of their religion or lack thereof. This is really a movie about God’s love and the healing that comes from His love. A beautiful film. Holy Ghost is Highly Recommended.

The Holy Ghost World Premiere Experience begins at 2pm ET/11am PT tomorrow (Saturday, 9/6). The live one-time digital event, which will also feature a rare solo musical performance by Brian “Head” Welch of Korn, as well as the Christian band Jake Hamilton & the Sound, will make it possible for anyone in the world to watch the entire event free of charge by going to Korn will be introduce the film from the Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding, CA.

“We’re deeply grateful to Brian for his avid support and the prominent role he has agreed to play at the upcoming world premiere. There’s no question he’s going to add his own unique touch to the event,” said Darren Wilson, Director of Holy Ghost and founder of Wanderlust Productions. He adds “The Holy Ghost World Premiere Experience is designed to engage fans in an incredible, one-time event built around the film. We’re expecting thousands of young people to physically join us in the Redding Auditorium while others simultaneously participate in hundreds of churches, at thousands of HOLY GHOST home screening parties, and in coffee houses, restaurants, and parks around the globe – anywhere where there’s an Internet connection. We are confident that this film and the experience itself will be surprising and richly rewarding for everyone who participates.”

Wanderlust’s #HolyGhostExperience campaign, launched last week to mobilize 25,000 of Holy Ghost‘s most avid fans to crowd market and promote the film, has exceeded internal projections and goals, a strong indication that large audiences will be tuning in tomorrow (9/6).

“We launched the #HolyGhostExperience campaign to keep our target consumer in the driver’s seat, empowering fans to mass promote this coming Saturday’s World Premiere Experience. We gave 25,000 people the opportunity to participate by engaging in as many as five easy, seven moderate, and two challenging promotional tasks,” said Braden Heckman, CEO of Wanderlust Productions. “Our fans have blown us away, beating all of what we thought were ambitious projections. There’s no question that, as a result, we have even higher expectations for Saturday’s event in terms of audience size.”

Key Metrics for #HolyGhostExperience campaign (per Wanderlust Productions):

  • More than 1.5 million people have seen Holy Ghost promotional messages in social media thanks to a successful crowd-amplification effort. Using the Thunderclap platform, which enables people to donate their social media accounts to promote events, Wanderlust has surpassed their original goal by a stunning 200%. Well-known Thunderclap supporters include singer Michael W. Smith, Kim Walker of Jesus Culture, Brian “Head” Welch of Korn, and Jake Hamilton of Jake Hamilton and the Sound.
  • More than 650 churches have signed on to participate to date, bringing large groups together to experience the movie.  
  • More than 50 movie theatres have joined by popular demand from the website Tugg.
  • Holy Ghost‘s Official Facebook Page has passed 230,000 strong, meaning that Holy Ghost will have more Facebook fans when it is released than When the Game Stands Tall (a successful faith-based film backed by a major Hollywood studio) did on August 22nd when it was released in theaters.  
  • Fans are donating money and have promoted almost 250,000 additional trailer views by volunteering small dollar donations to push the trailer further.


K-LOVE/Air1 Radio supporting faith-based 23 Blast.  Ocean Avenue Entertainment has announced a partnership with K-LOVE/Air1 Radio in support of its upcoming theatrical release 23 Blast. In conjunction with this venture, a special movie trailer has been created featuring the David Crowder Band’s single “My Beloved,” which just released on and The promotional effort will also feature other initiatives to support the film including, but not limited to, movie pass giveaways, a social media campaign and a 10-city VIP screening program.

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The uplifting Dylan Baker Film is inspired by the true life events of Travis Freeman, who played football for Corbin High School in the mid 1990’s despite being blind, 23 Blast will release nationwide in theaters on October 24 through Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Inc. in association with Toy Gun Films.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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