Faith, Media & Culture

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

Why Unbroken could be a game changer.  Not known for any sort of religiosity Angelina Jolie is said to have  formed a deep bond with the real-life Christian hero Louie Zamperini  while directing the film version of his life story (adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book). The relationship may have had a lasting impact on her. In fact, it’s reported that when complications arose during the filming of the movie’s final scene, she got down on her knees and prayed for a miracle — and, apparently, had her prayer answered. 

In case you don’t know, Unbroken, which opens in theaters on Christmas Day, is the highly-anticipated epic story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini (played in the film by Jack O’Connell), an American Olympic legend who enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during World War II and, after surviving a near-fatal plane crash, survived in a raft for 47 days before being captured by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Though the film focuses on his Olympic and military experience, after the war — and some tough times at home — Zamperini became a born-again Christian. He died just a few months ago on July 2nd, 2014.

The film is produced by Jolie, along with as Clayton Townsend (This is 40), Matthew Baer (City by the Sea) and Erwin Stoff (The Day the Earth Stood Still). Joel and Ethan Coen, usually known for decidedly darker fare like the Academy Award-winning No Country for Old Men, rewrote the screenplay from earlier drafts by William Nicholson (Les Miserables) and Richard Lagravenese (HBO’s Behind the Candelabra).

While attracting truly A-list Hollywood talent of the highest caliber, the movie is also being embraced by the faith media as well — with critics from CBN, Parables TV, Movieguide, Guideposts, The Christian Post, JUCE-TV, Salem Radio Networks and World Magazine. Beliefnet’s Corine Gatti calls the film “Absolutely captivating.”

I, for one, am rooting for its success.  With all the focus lately on the failings of America and Christianity it’s time to step away from the constant shaming of our history and once again celebrate the best of what we can be.


By the numbers, Hallmark Channel as a lot to celebrate this Christmas.
*64.5 Million Viewers Holiday-to-date.
*15 Million Viewers watched the Hallmark holiday fantasy film Northpole.
*6.6 Million Viewers have seen the Hallmark family comedy One Christmas Eve.
*In November Hallmark Channel was tops with women between the ages of 25 and 54.
*The network reports 11.6 Million unique views across Facebook and Twitter in November.
*2.0 Million uniques reportedly visited (a 41% increase over last year) with 11.2 Million page views (a 20% year-to-year increase),
*The premiere of the holiday romantic drama Christmas Under Wraps was seen by 1.2 Million in the Women 25-54 demo and scored a 5.0 household rating, making it Hallmark’s Number 1 telecast ever.

Here’s one way to get your own TV show. Production is underway in Raleigh, North Caroline on a two-episode UP reality pilot with the working title #Holderness. The potential series focuses on Penn & Kim Holderness as they juggle their upstart home digital content business with the raising of their two kids.  Wackiness, no doubt, ensues.

Penn and Kim, two former local TV news personalities,  own and operate Greenroom Communications, a literal mom-and-pop shop that creates comedic videos for clients looking for fresh ways to advertise. In fact, it was the overwhelming success of their homegrown viral video — in which they and their kids sing about the joys of their Christmas Jammies — that caught the attention of UP. Here’s the video that led to it all below.

The initial two episodes of #Holderness are set to air on UP in February. The show is being produced by Figure 8 Films (the company behind UP’s upcoming series Bringing Up Bates) and the aforementioned Greenroom Communications.

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

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