Faith, Media & Culture

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

Ryan McPartlin (aka Captain Awesome of Chuck) talks about his lead role in Game Time: Tackling the Past.
The emotional football-themed family drama is the eighth presentation of the well-received Walmart-P&G Family Movie Night franchise. This latest entry debuts tomorrow night (Saturday, Sept. 3rd) @ 8:00 PM (ET) on NBC. Beau Bridges and Catherine Hicks (7th Heaven) co-star.

Viewers have so far been very supportive of the Walmart-P&G effort to bring family programming back to television and, hopefully, that support will continue with this latest entry. I recently had the chance to ask Ben Simon, the Walmart executive spearheading the effort, about the possibility that additional programming (i.e. series) or, perhaps, even an advertiser-supported family network could sprout from the films’ success.

His reply: We do have a longer term plans for next year and going forward. We have seen that there is a regular need for this with families beyond just once a month, once a quarter. There is a definite weekly need for programming that families can gather around and tune into and so we like that model. We’re looking at some different things amongst us as partners. It’s exciting. We’ve had some great results…We have another movie that’s going into production in less than ten days that’ll air the first weekend in December.  Another family programming event on NBC and, yeah, we’re opportunistically looking into next year and going forward about how to continue to support this unmet need for families...We’re zigging while the rest of the marketplace is zagging and we think that’s a good place to be.”

That might not exactly be a “yes” to the family network concept but it doesn’t exactly close the door either. We can hope.

In the meantime, here’s the synopsis of tomorrow night’s film.  I think it’s worth your time to tune in — hopefully, with the fam.

Pro football star Jake Walker is living the dream… or so he thinks. The veteran tight end is a fan favorite and on pace to set the all-time receiving yards record that will guarantee him a spot in the Hall of Fame. While working out at training camp, Jake receives an unexpected call from his brother Dean – their father Frank has suffered a major heart attack. Jake immediately leaves practice and returns to Riverton, North Carolina, the small hometown he’s avoided for nearly 15 years. Memories of glory and regret flood his mind as he returns to the family and friends he abandoned in pursuit of his career. Jake dutifully visits with Frank and Dean, but hurt and misunderstanding from the past begins to resurface, leaving him counting the days until he can return to his team.

A second unexpected call, this time from his agent, delivers Jake another crushing blow. His contract is not being renewed amid concerns about his surgically repaired knee. Suddenly, the life Jake knows is over. To avoid the media circus around this news, Jake reluctantly decides to extend his stay in Riverton. Attempting to make the best of the situation, he begins reconnecting with the community that once revered him.    Jake is reintroduced to Sarah, his high school sweetheart, and helps Dean take over their father’s high school coaching job.

Surprisingly impacted by the people around him, the real Jake begins to emerge from behind his armor to see that life is much more than the accumulation of personal stats. But when Jake’s offered a lucrative new contract to play for another team, he is forced to decide whether to go back to the career he thought he loved, or stay in Riverton and embrace the people who always believed in him.

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

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