Faith, Media & Culture

Faith, Media & Culture

For KING & COUNTRY performs “A.D.” video + “Joy” to the malls

posted by John W. Kennedy

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

They will know we are Christians…By Our Love. For KING & COUNTRY performs the beautiful hymn (which it would be nice if we could live by) in a new promo video for A.D., Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s upcoming drama series about the early Church set to debut this Easter on NBC.  Talking about the video, Downey says “We are very excited to share this music video inspired by our new television series A.D. with you this Christmas. For KING and COUNTRY’s powerful rendition of By Our Love reminds us this it is through love that Jesus changed the world. During this Christmas season we rejoice in how God brought His compassion for all humanity and launched a revolution of love that has transformed the lives of generations.”

Joy to the World. 1 Girl Nation has been hitting the mall circuit, bringing  joy to shoppers across the country while promoting A Vert 1 Girl Nation Christmas.  Sponsored by major radio stations in Atlanta, Cleveland, Grand Rapids and others, thousands of eager fans have gathered this holiday season to watch the all-girl group perform their music, including their hit single Joy which recently became the second highest charting Christmas tune of the year hitting #8 on the Christian Adult Contemporary chart. Joy is one of only two holiday songs to chart in the Top 10 this season.

On that note…Merry Christmas everybody and a very Blessed New Year.  See you in 2015.

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

“Unbroken” legacy: Luke Zamperini talks about the Christian faith his father passed on to him

posted by John W. Kennedy

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

The son also rises.  Louis Zamperini died of pneumonia on July 2, 2014 at the age of 97 — just about 70 years after he was originally classified as Killed in Action when his place was shot down over the Pacific in 1943. His legacy lives on  through Unbroken which hits theaters on Christmas day and through his progeny.  I just spoke with Luke Zamperini, one of his two children, whose love and admiration for his father clearly remains unbroken.

JWK: Did your father see the film version of Unbroken?

LUKE ZAMPERINI: Yes, he did. He didn’t see the entire film in its final cut or anything. He went into the hospital in May. (Director) Angelina (Jolie) had just gotten back  from the production in Australia (where) she was doing some editing. When we let her know that he was in the hospital, she came over one night. She brought her laptop that had the rough cut of the film on it. She climbed on his hospital bed with him and they watched it together. It was really something. I don’t know if he was more excited watching the film or having Angelina sitting on his bed with him. 

JWK: What was his reaction to the film?

LZ: Well, interestingly enough, the very next day he went into intensive care where he had his final six weeks of battle to try and save his life. He was incubated, so he was unable to talk. Of course, they had a medically-induced coma as well. I had to depend on asking Angelina how (the viewing) went). She told me that he enjoyed the film, that he was pointing out little details here and there that he wasn’t quite sure of. She assured him that in the very next scene that  his running outfit would turn from white to black — or whatever the detail was…She told me “I showed it to him up to the point of the prison camp. I didn’t want him to see the prison camp stuff while he was in the hospital fighting for his life.” But, what he saw, he really enjoyed.

JWK: What was his relationship like with Angelina Jolie?

LZ: Just an amazing thing to behold. When we first met Angelina, she came over with her husband-to-be Brad. We sat down and we talked with them. She arrived with a basketful of Italian delicacies to give to her hero — which was my father. She had read the book Unbroken (by Laura Hillenbrand) twice in preparation to do the film and she just fell in love with him. He is her guy. So, she loved him like a father and he loved her like she’s Angelina Jolie! He was just smitten by her, as well. They had this fabulous relationship. She’d call and talk to him (about) things that were not related to the film and he enjoyed talking with her. So, it was a wonderful, wonderful relationship.

JWK:  How old are you?

LZ: I’m 61.

JWK: Tell me about your relationship with your father.

LZ: First of all, he was my hero because he was my dad. He was just a great father to have. I was born in ’53 which was after the events that were covered in Unbroken. But I just had this wonderful father. He was around me all the time. He was a happy, joyful person. He was a great cook. He taught me how to sew, how to iron and take care of myself because he took great pleasure in all of that, as well. My mom got quite a break because he loved to cook and he was a good tailor. He also taught me how to ski, how to drive automobiles. He taught me how to be a good person. And, most importantly, he led me to a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was just wonderful having him for a father.

I spent as much time as I could with him. Particularly in the last ten or fifteen years, we did a lot of things together. He was always on all of our family vacations with my son and his friends. He was like my best friend. I’m going to miss him dearly. I miss him already, to tell you the truth.

JWK: How many siblings do you have?

LZ: I have a sister.  She’s older than I. She was born the same year that dad became a Christian. So, it was just the two of us. I have his only grandchild, my son Clay (who appears as Olympic torchbearer in Unbroken).

JWK: How old is your son?

LZ: He’s 28.

JWK: What do you do for a living?

LZ: I’m a chief building inspector for the city of Los Angeles Department of Buildings and Safety.

JWK: What was your own reaction, first to the book Unbroken, and then to seeing the film?

LZ: Reading the book was just amazing. When Laura Hillenbrand had said that she wanted to write his biography, I went out and got (her previous book) Seabiscuit and read it. I thought “Oh, she should do a really good job.” I had no idea that she would create this masterpiece.  I couldn’t put the book down. I read it in two days, something like 500 pages.

And I’m absolutely in love with the film. It is so wonderfully done. I gotta tell you (from) the director (through) the cast and the crew, you could tell this was a labor of love for all of them. Angelina had brought over all the key actors to meet my dad, listen to his stories and get his insights about the characters that they were playing. They were just all dedicated to doing the very best job they could — not just for their careers but for Louie.

JWK: Did your father tell you about his wartime experiences growing up — or was much of this part of his life new to you?

LZ: I knew my father’s story from as early as I can remember. He spoke about it. This was what made him different than a lot of guys who came back from World War II. He actually spoke about his experiences. And, to tell you the truth, these were my bedtime stories growing up. I’d ask him to tell me a little part of his adventure on the life raft or what it was like running in the Olympics or what it was like in the prison camp.

Plus, his autobiography Devil at My Heels was first published in 1956. So, I had that to refer to. Plus, he had a 16-page color comic book that told his story. It was geared for young people…So, I was very aware of what his experience was.

JWK: What was the greatest thing he taught you on an emotional level?

LZ: He taught me how to be resourceful. He taught me how to be a good person and, most importantly, he led me to faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

JWK: So, faith was very important in your family’s life.

LZ: Oh, yeah, very much so. You know, he would tell his story to whoever would listen because, inevitably, the facts of what he suffered and being able to forgive his captors through faith in Jesus Christ gives people an opportunity to understand that it’s just not a story or a theory, this Christianity, but it’s actually a faith that can be lived out.

JWK: So, he forgave his captors.

LZ: Oh, yeah. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Of course, nobody knew what that was back in the 1940’s. Every night he had a recurring nightmare of being beaten by the Bird, his most sadistic captor. In his dreams, he would be throttling the Bird trying to choke the life out of him. And, indeed, in his waking hours, he would be trying to figure out how he could get enough money together to go back to Japan and find this guy and finish him off.

Frankly, this was the self-medicating with alcohol…which was destroying him. It wasn’t until he found himself in a tent meeting in downtown Los Angeles in 1949 with a young preacher named Billy Graham that he was actually able to deal with this. He was reminded during that sermon of all the promises that he made God on the life raft and in the prison camp — that, if God would get him home alive, he would seek Him and serve Him all of his life. He realized at that point what a heel he had been for not making good on his part of the bargain. And he went to the backstage area, found a counselor and got down on his knees.

When he got up off his knees, he told me that he had realized at that moment that he was done getting drunk, he was done fighting and that he had forgiven his prison guards, including the Bird. He went home that night and it was the first night in five years (that) he did not have that nightmare. He never had it again the rest of his life.

JWK: Tell me about the Bird.

LZ: The prisoners would have liked to have named him something else more appropriate — but he spoke English. So, they picked the Bird, basically, because of his hawk-like gaze.

JWK: What did your father do for a living when he came back from the war, particularly after his experience with Billy Graham?

LZ: He talked about his story a lot. He lived on honorariums.

JWK: So, he was in demand as a speaker.

LZ: Yes. He made his living as a speaker and then, later on, around 1960 or so, he….did a lot of commercial real estate deals in the San Fernando Valley portion of Los Angeles. Eventually, he went to work on a federally-funded senior citizens program that he ran in Hollywood, California. And then, the honorariums were revived again after the book Unbroken came out. I accompanied him on just tons of speaking engagements. He was suddenly in demand again at the end of his life.

JWK: Finally, what do you hope people take from this film?

LZ: I think what people will take from this film is the power of the human spirit to survive and to be resilient. And the power of forgiveness to change someone’s life.

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

Will “Old Fashioned” romance fly in 2015? USA Today suggests yes

posted by John W. Kennedy

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

Thumbs up! That’s the word from USA Today on Rene Gutteridge’s  novelization of Old Fashioned which has been released in advance the upcoming faith-themed film on Valentine’s Day.  The romantic drama  starring young Robert Redford lookalike Rik Swartzwelder (who also wrote, directed and produced) will be going up against the highly-hyped movie version of the S&M-laden Fifty Shades of Grey, which, of course, can offers a far different  view of a relationship between a man and a woman.

Swartzwelder’s Skoche Films, meanwhile, has just released a new trailer.

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

In 2015: “Exodus” doc plus Ben Franklin in faith-themed adventure + Hallmark’s record holiday ratings

posted by John W. Kennedy

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

Coming Attractions:

One night event: Patterns of Evidence: Exodus to run in select theaters across the US Monday, January 19 @ 7:00 PM local time. Whether or not Ridley Scott’s take on Exodus works for you, you might want to check out this award-winning documentary. Filmmaker Timothy Mahoney chronicles an in-depth archaeological investigation in Egypt as his team attempts to corroborate the biblical text. The film explores one fundamental question:  Is there any evidence that the Exodus story actually happened? Twelve years in the making, the provocative documentary reveals new or rarely seen evidence regarding the Israelites’ descent into slavery, their Exodus from Egypt and their ultimate conquest of the Promise Land.  A half-hour pre-show debate will run at 6:30 PM  local time and a panel discussion moderated Fox News’ Gretchen Carlson will immediately following the film. Tickets  are available at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com.  The event will be presented in 600 movie theaters around the country through Fathom Events’ Digital Broadcast Network. For a complete list of theater locations, visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

Revolutionary faith-themed film Beyond the Mask is due in theaters on April 6, 2015. A former British mercenary overcomes his past, wins his beloved and teams with Ben Franklin to defuse a plot of historical proportions. The movie, from Burns Family Studios and Gathr Films stars Andrew Cheney  (Seasons of Gray) (SEASONS OF GRAY), Kara Killmer (If I Can Dream, Chicago Fire), John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings) and, as Ben Franklin, Alan Madlane.

This just in from Hallmark Channel: Rounding out this year’s new Countdown to Christmas original holiday premieres, Best Christmas Party Ever and The Christmas Parade boosted Hallmark Channel to become the highest rated network on cable among women in the 25-54 demo for the 6th consecutive week. Reaching 56 million unduplicated viewers, The 12 New Movies of Christmas made the network the most watched on cable among households and women 25-54 for 7 weekends. The films capped off this year’s original premieres as the highest-rated cable movies of the week, a distinction the network has claimed for seven consecutive weeks, since Countdown to Christmas kicked off on October 31st.

The December 13th premiere of Best Christmas Party Ever earned a 3.1 HH rating and averaged 3.4 million total viewers and reached 5.4 million unduplicated viewers. In its 8-10pm time period, the program scored the #1 spot among HH (3.1) and total viewer (1.6) rating, as well as HH (2,651,000) and total viewer (3,420,000) delivery. The premiere helped boost the network to be the #1 rated cable network in prime time and total day among HH rating, as well as the #1 rated cable network for total day among W25-54. Among HH ratings, the film was also the top program on cable for the day.

Drawing over 3.5 million total viewers and reaching 5.2 million unduplicated viewers, the Sunday, December 14th premiere of The Christmas Parade earned a 3.1 HH rating and was the #1 program of the day among HH rating. The film placed #1 among HH (3.1), W25-54 (1.5), and total viewers (1.6) rating in its 8-10pm time period. The film premiere delivered #1 among HHs (2,664,000) and total viewers (3,502,000). Among HH ratings, the premiere catapulted the network to be the #1 rated cable network in both primetime and total day.

The “12 New Movies of Christmas” premieres averaged a 3.4 HH rating and reached 24 million unduplicated viewers. Of this season’s original debuts, seven ranked as the #1 program of the day, including One Starry Christmas,  The Nine Lives of Christmas, Northpole,  A Royal Christmas, Debbie Macomber’s Mr. Miracle and the aforementioned Best Christmas Party Ever and The Christmas Parade.

In addition, the premiere of Christmas Under Wraps marked the network’s highest-rated and most-watched telecast in history, scoring a 5.0 HH rating, averaging 5.7 million total viewers, and reaching 7.2 million unduplicated viewers  – Hallmark Channel’s largest unduplicated audience in network history.

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

Previous Posts

For KING & COUNTRY performs "A.D." video + "Joy" to the malls
Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture. They will know we are Christians...By Our Love. For KING & COUNTRY performs the beautiful hymn (which it would be nice if we could live by) in a new promo video for A.D., Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's upcoming drama

posted 4:26:42am Dec. 23, 2014 | read full post »

"Unbroken" legacy: Luke Zamperini talks about the Christian faith his father passed on to him
Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4PdNE-RUVY The son also rises.  Louis Zamperini died of pneumonia on July 2, 2014 at the age of 97 -- just about 70 years after he was originally classified as Killed in Action when h

posted 3:05:58pm Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

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posted 9:44:35am Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

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