Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.
Uplifting Entertainment UPdate. As of midnight this morning (June 1) GMC TV — which began its life in 2004 as a cable channel focused on gospel music and has grown into a full-scale entertainment network — underwent a name change. UP is intended to more clearly communicate the mission reflected in the channel’s established Uplifting Entertainment slogan. The network name change, of course, also means a change in its website URL — which is now UPtv.com.
UP’s debut weekend will feature the sort of original programming that has contributed to GMC’s phenomenal ratings growth. Tonight Love Will Find a Way, a stage production starring Christian Keyes (What’s Done In The Dark, Madea Goes To Jail), Gabrielle Dennis (The Game), Jason Weaver (Drumline, ATL), Vanessa Simmons (Run’s House, Dysfunctional Friends), Carl Payne (Martin, The Game) Shanti Lowry (The Game, The Closer) and Suveria Mota will debut at 7:00 PM ET with encore presentations at 9:00 PM ET and 11:00 PM ET.
Tomorrow night, the UP Original Movie Jimmy will premiere at 7:00 PM ET with encores at 9:00 PM ET and 11 PM ET. The film stars Ian Colletti (Rake), Patrick Fabian (Saved by the Bell), Kelly Carlson (Nip/Tuck), Chuck Carrington (JAG), Bob Gunton (The Shawshank Redemption) and Ted Levine (Monk). Based on the book by Robert Whitlow, Jimmy is about a mentally-retarded young man who finds himself in danger when he becomes an important witness in a criminal trial.
Next Friday(at 9:00 PM ET), the network will debut the uplifting reality show Family Addition featuring Leigh Anne Tuohy (the real-life woman portrayed by Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side). The series will follow the lives of families who have been fostering children and are on the verge of adopting one or more of their foster children.
Other shows airing up UP this summer include Bulloch Family Ranch (a reality show about a big-hearted Florida family that has opened their spread to a group of teens with troubled pasts) and the dramatic family saga Heartland. The network also continues to air its menu of old favorites such as 7th Heaven, Touched by an Angel, Family Ties, 227, Moesha, Judging Amy and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
“The response to our new name has been phenomenally positive,” says UP President and CEO Charley Humbard who explains “The beauty of UP is that it needs no explanation. Every hour of programming on UP is uplifting, inspiring and entertaining for the whole family. It captures the essence of our brand – uplifting entertainment – and will lend itself to many interesting and fun creative executions.”
Note: On Tuesday, I’ll be posting my conversation with Charley Humbard and UP Vice Chairman Brad Siegel in which they share more about the thinking behind the name switch and the future of UP.
Statement and prayer request from HCJB Global: On May 30, the HCJB Global family learned that Norma Pederson, wife of President Wayne Pederson, was diagnosed with advanced cancer. Norma underwent successful surgery during which several tumors were removed. She will begin recovery from her surgery at home in the next few days and then will begin a regimen of chemotherapy to eradicate any remaining cancer. Wayne and Norma remain optimistic.
“We’ve been blessed for many years with good heath, but now we’re on a new journey,” said Pederson. “We know that God is always faithful, and He is intimately involved in this trial.”Wayne has cleared his travel schedule for the next few months to be with Norma during her treatment, but plans to retain his role as President. “I am surrounded by an incredible group of people who will help me maintain leadership responsibilities. We are so blessed to know that whatever difficulties we face, God is still in control of our lives and our ministry.”
Please join us in consistently praying for Wayne and Norma during this challenging time. Regular update on Norma’s progress will be available at WWW.HCJB.org/PrayForNorma.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11