Faith, Media & Culture

Faith, Media & Culture

This weekend’s faith-themed films: “The Song” falls flat while “Believe Me” hits the right notes

posted by John W. Kennedy

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

Faith at the movies. The Song and Believe Me are two faith-themed movies that couldn’t be more different in terms of tone — suggesting a diversity and maturing of the overall genre that is healthy. But, IMHO, one worked and one didn’t

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Believe Me Synopsis (from the press release): Sam Atwell (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, Sam doesn’t believe a word he’s saying.

Months earlier, Sam was a typical college senior focused on keg stands, hookups and graduation. But when a surprise tuition bill threatens his dream of law school and leaves him thousands of dollars in the hole, he’s forced to think outside the box. Convincing his three roommates they can make a killing exploiting the gullible church crowd, the guys start a sham charity and begin campaigning across the country, raising funds for a cause as fake as their message.

For Sam, embezzling money is easy compared to getting attention from the person he cares about the most. When Callie (Johanna Braddy), the tour manager and Sam’s love interest, finally uncovers the guys’ ruse, it’s Sam’s moment of truth. On the final night of the tour, before a packed auditorium but alone in the spotlight, it’s time for Sam Atwell to decide what he really believes.

Believe Me stars Alex Russell (Carrie), Zachary Knighton (Happy Endings), Johanna Braddy (Video Game High School), Max Adler (Glee), Sinqua Walls (Teen Wolf), Miles Fisher (Superhero Movie), Christopher McDonald (Boardwalk Empire) and Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation). The film is directed by Will Bakke (Beware of Christians) and co-written by Bakke and Michael B. Allen (also of Beware of Christians).

Believe Me is out is out simultaneously in theaters and on DVD/Blu-ray.

Review: I must admit I was prepared to hate this movie since I was really turned off by Bakke and Allen’s previous collaboration Beware of Christians, which in my review at the time, I found to be “smug, judgmental, a bit self-aggrandizing and all-around annoying.”  But with Believe Me, they have come up with a film that is not only both funny and dramatic (in all the right places) but also rings true and is actually important for Christians to see.  You could say it preaches to the choir — but with a message that challenges the choir and which it actually needs to hear.

Believe Me is, basically, about how vulnerable people who are searching and want to believe are to charlatans who will exploit that longing for their own purposes. It speaks to the responsibility to those who see themselves as spreaders of the Gospel to actually keep God and the good of His people at the center of all they do. It also warns the faithful that it is wise to skeptical of those who cloak themselves in the Bible (or government or anything else for that matter). Which, BTW, isn’t a call to cynicism. It’s realizing that our faith is in God and not His messengers. And that when it comes to people, while most are trying and mean well (most often while not holding themselves up as paragons of faith) people will fail us — and we’ll fail people. And, while most of those failings are simply a matter of all of us falling short of perfection (no matter how hard we might try) there are, unfortunately, people out there who intentionally prey on the vulnerability of others.

I’ve always liked this line from Desiderata:

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Finding that balance between skepticism and trust is hard and something I personally pray about and struggle with (including in these blogs). Believe Me is that increasingly rare film that challenges the faithful without attacking the faith.

And, while it has a profound message for the choir, it also outside the choir with an intelligent, well-written, well-directed, well-acted story that shows sincere faith (particularly as displayed by Johanna Braddy’s character of Callie, the young Christian woman the con man Sam (Alex Russell) finds himself attracted to.  My guess is that non-Christians may see this film and actually come out respecting the beliefs of sincere Christians more than they would after viewing, say, God’s Not Dead — which preaches to the choir in a far more simplistic and heavy-handed way.

While I didn’t find the ending of Believe Me to be completely satisfying, overall it is an extremely well-done film that raises legitimate issues while balancing its biting wit with genuine heart. Believe Me is Highly Recommended.

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The Song Synopsis (from the film’s website): Aspiring singer—‐songwriter Jed King is struggling to catch a break and escape the long shadow of his famous father when he reluctantly agrees to a gig at a local vineyard harvest festival.  Jed meets the vineyard owner’s daughter, Rose, and a romance quickly blooms. Soon after their wedding, Jed writes Rose “The Song,” which becomes a breakout hit. Suddenly thrust into a life of stardom and a world of temptation, his life and marriage begin to fall apart.

The Song stars Anthem Lights lead singer Alan Powell, Ali Faulkner (Twilight: Breaking Dawn) and Caitlin Nicol-Thomas.

Writer/Director Richard Ramsey told me the film says City on the Hill, the production company behind the film, approached him about doing a film based on the biblical Song of Solomon that would, in a modern setting, address the same themes of romance and marriage. He says he was blown away by how contemporary the ancient narrative of a man of means trying to find meaning in all the wrong places. He says he hopes his film puts forth the same message found in the original Song of Solomon — that it is, in fact, important and good to stay faithful to your wife or husband — and to always stay faithful to God.

Mini-Review: I fully support the basic message of the film and thought the performances and production values were all first rate and Richard Ramsey is certainly a talented a talented storyteller (both as a director and writer).

Yet, this film was strangely depressing to me. What should have been a celebration of romantic faithfulness and married love ends up wallowing in an adulterous affair that plays out more like a finger-wagging guilt trip. It’s likely to confirm to many movie goers the belief that Christians simply have a problem with sex. Don’t get me wrong. Adultery is wrong but it’s already been the subject of countless movies. I think this movie actually aspired to be more than just another — except with an added dose of Sunday school. And, honestly, the frequent direct quoting from the Bible did start to take on a thumping tone. I believe that films are a great way to reach beyond the choir with positive parables of faith and love.  Bible thumping, IMHO, is not the most effective way to invite people inside the tent.

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

The “Race” is on. Authors offer “Five Core Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom and the Culture of Life”

posted by John W. Kennedy

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

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Core strength.  It’s said to be key to physical fitness. And according to Jason Scott Jones and John Zmirak — authors of The Race to Save Our Century: Five Core Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom and the Culture of Life (Crossroad Publishing, 2014)it’s also the key to the health of nations. Core principles, they contend, are what provides society the discernment for distinguishing between the paths of good and evil.

From the brutal violence in the Middle East to an erosion in agreed-upon unifying values at home, Jones (a filmmaker and human rights activist) and Zmirak (a college teacher and political commentator who writes for Intercollegiate Review) see a fading of guiding principles as the root cause of the threats to peace and liberty that darkened the first half of the 20th century and threaten to do even worse (due to technology) in the 21st. Those threats, according to the authors, include:

  • Racism and nationalism—from American eugenics and the Armenian Genocide to Hitler’s Holocaust and the butcheries of Al Qaeda and ISIS.
  • Militarism and “total war”—from starvation blockades to the Blitzkrieg; from Dresden to drone strikes and contemporary terrorism.
  • Utopian collectivism—from Lenin, Stalin and Mao to Pol Pot, Kim Jong Un and Hugo Chavez.
  • Radical individualism—from Hobbes’s Leviathan to Ayn Rand’s self-worshiping heroes who made way for the Culture of Death.
  •  Utilitarian hedonism—from forced population control to euthanasia of the handicapped.

I recently had the opportunity to ask John Zmirak about the core principles he and Jones are identifying.


JWK: Your subtitle of your book is “Five Core Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom and a culture of life.” Can you briefly tell me what they are?

JOHN ZMIRAK: Sure. The principles we uncovered by studying the horrors of modern history, and pondering how to stop total war, genocide, and totalitarianism arising all over again, were these:
a.    The sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person as an image of God. No exceptions.
b.    The reality of a higher law that stands in judgment of all merely national laws, such as Germany’s law after 1933, or America’s segregation laws, or Roe v. Wade.
c.    The need for small, decentralized government that doesn’t try to replace or control free institutions, such as churches and the family.
d.    The value of a free, humane economy (with a safety net) centered on private property as the bulwark of the family.
e.    The crucial role of solidarity, a decent concern for the rights of every human being on earth, including civilians in enemy countries and workers in foreign sweatshops.

JWK: Have we, as a society, moved away from the very concept of core principles? Have we, in general, become more concerned with which group than what principle is at stake when confronted with controversies?

JZ: Identity politics are a tragic side effect of man’s fallen nature. They amount to group narcissism, masquerading behind noble-sounding slogans. Far too many Americans think first and foremost of how a policy will affect their pocketbooks and their self-esteem, instead of looking to fundamental human rights and the Common Good. We are trying with this book to establish a common ground of political decency, which people from the Left and Right, religious or secular, can agree on—then move forward to argue honestly about the smartest, fairest ways to do our national business.

JWK: Looking at the genocide going on in the Middle East, are we are on a path toward repeating and even exceeding deaths from mass murders and wars of the previous century?

JZ: The moment that terrorist groups get hold of nuclear or biological weapons, all bets are off. The casualties will be astronomical, the retribution will be appalling, and you can kiss your constitutional and civil liberties goodbye. Unless we embrace higher values that will hold us back from overreacting, the next 9/11 we experience will goad Americans to a ruthlessness that will recall the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima. Remember that last time mainstream magazine editors were pondering whether or not to “Nuke Mecca.”

JWK: What role does popular culture play in fanning both the “utopian collectivism” and “radical individualism” you see as sowing discord at home and around the world? And how can it play a positive role in the future?

JZ: Popular culture encourages the worst elements of both ideologies, while tossing out the grains of truth. So people are encouraged to “follow their bliss” and reject “stale conventions” of good behavior, to maximize their individual freedom. But then when their lives become a bleeding mess, they expect Big Government to provide for them and protect them from the consequences. So you end up with libertarians on welfare, blogging about the evils of the Nanny State. Radical individualism helps demolish the family and churches, which leaves the federal government as the only safety net for isolated, supposedly “independent” citizens.

JWK: Does it really matter whether Democrats or Republicans control government? Is there a difference between them?

JZ: There is not enough of a difference for my taste. Republicans need to renounce crony capitalism, global interventionism, and middle-class welfare programs. They need to see how big business uses big government to agglomerate power, and return to the Founders’ vision of a free people with a free economy, who view the government as the very LAST resort when every possible private initiative fails to solve a problem. We’re a long way from that vision, in either party.

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

“Holy Ghost” movie premiere a success + “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” Christmas movie + “Daniel Boone” on INSP

posted by John W. Kennedy

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

The Holy Ghost World Premiere Experience was a huge success. The one-time September 6th digital event—which featured a special musical appearance with Brian “Head” Welch of Korn—made it possible for anyone in the world to watch the event free of charge for 48 hours.

Data reported by Wanderlust Films, producer of the movie, indicates that the innovative marketing campaign yielded more than one million estimated viewers. The company is now hoping that that larger-than-expected audience (of which 41% were outside the U.S. and nearly half viewed it via a mobile device) will support the film now that it’s available on DVD.  Holy Ghost, as was noted here earlier in my positive review, became Kickstarter’s #1 most-funded, faith-based film (raising $360,000 in just 45 days).

Those interested in seeing Holy Ghost on DVD can click here.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered Christmas movie to arrive in time for holidays. The new film will debut Sunday, November 23 at, 9:00 PM (ET) on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Hopefully, that’s a good sign for the renewal of the charming Hallmark Channel series which created and produced by Martha Williamson (Touched by an Angel) and stars Eric Mabius, Kristin Booth, Crystal Lowe and Geoff Gustafson. The film will guest star Marion Ross (Happy Days) and Rob Estes.  Anyway, here’s the plot: When the postal detectives discover an urgent letter written to God, they delay their own travel plans to help a little girl who’s mother’s life hangs in the balance on Christmas Eve.

About the film’s premiere on the new Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Hallmark Channel’s Executive Vice President of Programming Michelle Vicary says “Because viewers expect quality holiday family programming from us, we asked Martha Williamson…to write and Executive Produce a Christmas movie for us, which exceeded our expectations. Her Signed Sealed Delivered for Christmas is so unique, we wanted to showcase it on the newly rebranded Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, where it’s destined to be discovered as a modern classic.” Great. Now please renew the show.

INSP has acquired the classic series Daniel Boone just in time for the network’s fall lineup. The network will run6-hour marathon on Sunday, September 28th beginning at 1:00 PM (ET). Beginning the next day (9/29) the show will air Monday – Thursday at 10:00 AM (ET).  Fess Parker starred in the title role.

“’Daniel Boone was a man, yes a BIG man…’” smiled Doug Butts, SVP of Programming at INSP when announcing the acquisition. “Most of us fondly remember the theme song from this great American classic. Daniel Boone is not only entertaining but it embodies the timeless values and positive entertainment audiences have come to expect from INSP. We couldn’t be more thrilled to bring Daniel Boone to our lineup during the 50th anniversary of the series and we believe it will be a great opportunity for a whole new generation of viewers to enjoy this family drama.”

INSP is available nationwide to more than 80M households via Dish Network (channel 259), DirecTV (channel 364), Verizon FiOS (channel 286), AT&T U-verse (channel 564) and more than 2,800 cable systems. Click here to find INSP in your area. For quality dramas, positive entertainment and inspiring stories, celebrating the American spirit and honoring timeless traditional values, it’s INSP.

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

“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

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