Faith, Media & Culture

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

1. Out of the Arena.  From The Wrap: CNN cancelled Eliot Spitzer’s talk show “In the Arena” Wednesday, causing a major shake-up in the network’s prime-time slate. Spitzer’s show, which aired at 8 p.m., will be replaced by Anderson Cooper’s “AC 360,” which presently airs at 10 p.m.…”In the Arena” ranked 27th among cable news shows, worse than all of its competitors at 8 p.m. and even drawing a smaller audience than the re-run of Cooper’s show at 11 p.m. It was seen as a risky move from the outset given that just two years before Spitzer was forced to resign as governor amidst a prostitution scandal.
Comment: The new CNN lineup takes effect August 8th but Spitzer’s last show was last night. It looks like the powers that be couldn’t get him out the door fast enough.

2. Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management. From The Wrap: Charlie Sheen hopes to return to TV in a show based on the 2003 Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson comedy “Anger Management” in which he would play a variation of Nicholson’s character, TheWrap has confirmed.
Comment: Eliot Spitzer is available for the Adam Sandler role.

3. New gay drama headed to Showtime. From Hollywood Reporter: With Torchwood: Miracle Day premiering on Starz this week, Russell T. Davies has another American series in development.  A spokesperson for Showtime confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Davies and BBC Worldwide Productions is developing  a drama series currently titled, Cucumber. It’s a homecoming for Davies as he re-created his British series, Queer As Folk, for the network in 2000, which went on to become one of Showtime’s most successful original series and ran for five years. The new project will also revolve around the lives of gay men.
Comment: Are they really serious about calling the show Cucumber?

4. What’s old is new again — at least when it comes to kids. From Hollywood ReporterThe Care Bears are getting the CGI-animated treatment in a new TV show aiming to launch next year, which has been designated the 30th anniversary of the launch of the children’s franchise. Also from Hollywood Reporter: The Cabbage Patch Kids could be headed to the small screen again in a special that might be produced by Galen Walker, who is producing a live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feature film for Paramount.

Then, of course, there’s this:

5. Animation a growth business in Hollywood.  From Hollywood Reporter: Paramount Pictures is launching a new, in-house animation division, the studio announced Wednesday. It is aiming to release its first title in 2014.

6. Murdoch media empire rocked by British hacking scandal. From The Financial Times: Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp, has strongly backed Rebekah Brooks, the executive at the centre of a phone-hacking scandal, even as he denounced the “deplorable and unacceptable” behaviour at the News of the World. Mr Murdoch’s intervention in the scandal that has outraged the public and rocked the coalition government came as investors took fright at the damage being inflicted on his global media group.

7. British TV to air documentary on The Life of Muhammad. From The Independent: The BBC is to trace the journey of the Islamic prophet Muhammad for a new series which is claimed to be a first for British television. Al Jazeera reporter Rageh Omaar will present the three-part programme for BBC2, following in the prophet’s footsteps from Mecca and along the journeys he took during his life. To ensure the programmes are in line with Islamic tradition, they will not depict the face of Muhammad or feature dramatic reconstructions of his life. The Life Of Muhammad is to be screened next month and will follow events such as his migration to Medina and the founding of the first Islamic constitution, through to his death. It will also examine his legacy and the impact of the faith he established.
Comment: And, yes, Iran’s cultural minister, is officially angry.

8. Is atheism a religion? From MediaiteRadio and TV host Thom Hartmann cut against the popular misconception that liberals are “godless” by taking on Rick Wingrove, Virginia State Director for American Atheists, on Tuesday’s edition of The Big Picture. At issue was a 4th of July campaign that involved airplane banners that said “God-less America” and “Atheism is Patriotic,” a campaign which Hartmann sees as “evangelical,” and part of a pattern that, he argues, is no different than any other religion.

9.  Major storm on Saturn. From CBS Sacramento: It began as a bright white dot in Saturn’s northern hemisphere. Within days, the dot grew larger and stormier. Soon the tempest enveloped the ringed planet, triggering lightning flashes thousands of times more intense than on Earth. The international Cassini spacecraft and ground telescopes have been tracking the turbulence since last December, visible from Earth as a type of storm known as a “Great White Spot.”…Such planet-wide weather disturbances are rare on Saturn, where the atmosphere is typically hazy and calm. Since 1876, astronomers have observed only five other megastorms on Saturn.
Comment: So, if you’re heading out to Saturn today, bundle up.

No blog tomorrow. Have a great weekend, everybody!

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

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