Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.
Hollywood heroes. I spent last week in Hollywood for the big red carpet premiere of the faith-themed family comedy Moms’ Night Out which opens wide this Friday (5/9). I’ll have more on that, including interviews and my review, over the next few days.
Today though, I’d like to tell you about a conversation I had during the event with Kevin Sorbo, an actor I’ve interviews twice before (re: his roles in UP TV’s Christmas Angel, Abel’s Field and the recent box office hit God’s Not Dead). I liked two out of three of those films and even though I personally felt God’s Not Dead missed the mark, I really liked his performance. More than that, he really impressed me as a guy who’s not afraid to speak his mind in a town and an industry that likes to present itself as open minded but is, too often, anything but.
During our brief chat this time, I asked him for his explanation for the recent and enduring popularity of movies that reflect a positive belief in God. His ascribed their success to the fact that “People want optimistic films about hope and faith.” He also revealed that he would have loved to have played Greg Kinnear’s part in Heaven is for Real. Like Sorbo’s own God’s Not Dead (still in the top-ten movie after seven weeks), Heaven is demonstrating awesome legs. In its third week of release, it came in at number three last weekend, beating out even Captain America.
I then brought up the video he and his wife Sam made support of IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign for Gosnell, the Phelim McAleer film dramatizing the true story of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia late-term abortionist who in May of 2013 was convicted of three (out of eight) murder charges involving a mother and seven infants prosecutors said were viciously killed after having been born alive in the course of botched abortions. He was also convicted of 21 felony counts for conducting illegal late-term abortions and 211 counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law.
When I asked Kevin if he had any fears of career repercussions he replied “Hollywood gave up on me a long time ago” and said that he doesn’t expect to success of God’s Not Dead to change that equation. For his part, he plans to continue speaking his mind and continue to make and support movies that he believes in.
Per the Grand Jury report as quoted on the Gosnell movie website: This case is about a doctor who killed babies … What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors …. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.
Note: McAleer is seeking to raise $2.1 million for his movie. As of this writing, the committed tally stands at just over $1.9 million. If you’d like to offer your support to the Gosnell movie click here.
IMHO: Hollywood Reporter says the plan is to release Gosnell as a TV movie. I truly hope that some network out there has the courage to air it. It’s an important story that needs telling.
Ragamuffin out on DVD. The film, based on the life and legacy of best-selling Christian music singer/songwriter Rich Mullins, hits the DVD market today. The Color Green Films full-length feature is available exclusively in Walmart retail stores through Millennium Entertainment followed by a nationwide CBA retail release on July 8 through Capitol Christian Distribution.
Also, the Ragamuffin Movie Tour launched earlier this year is currently screening the film across the nation. Debuting to a sold-out house at the Orpheum Theatre in January, the tour will run through the end of the month hosting screenings in small venues – churches, college campuses, community theaters, etc. You can find a theater near you where the film is screening by going to: www.itickets.com/ragamuffin
Michael Koch plays Rich Mullins who, for those who may not know, is a Christian songwriter/singer who died in a 1997 accident at the age of 41. He grew up in Indiana, the son of a tree farmer father and Quaker mother. He performed with a touring Christian music group in his teens, and then attended Cincinnati Bible College from 1974 to 1978. Moving to Nashville in the 1980s, he wrote songs for Amy Grant, Debby Boone and other notable Christian artists and recorded nine solo projects with Reunion Records. He was nominated for twelve Gospel Music Association Dove Awards throughout his career, and had many #1 radio hits. In 1989, his song Awesome God was voted one of the top three songs of the decade according to the Christian Research Report.
FYI, I screened the movie and strongly recommend it. I also recently interviewed producer/writer/director David Leo Schultz (who also plays Sam, Rich’s best friend, in the film) and David Mullins (Rich’s real-life younger brother) but due to time constraints have not posted the conversations yet. They will be up next week.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11