Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

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

1. Hallmark execs create in-house production company. Crown Media Family Networks, home of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, has announced the launch of Crown Media Productions, an in-house production company aimed at increasing the company’s original content across multiple platforms. Hallmark programming EVP Michelle Vicary will have oversight of Crown Media Productions where it is expected that creative relationships fostered over 15 years will bode will for the unit’s success. Benefits of the in-house production operation include an increase in original content output, ownership of all rights, more direct involvement with the creative process, and providing another avenue for increasing Crown Media Family Networks’ extensive film library.

As Vicary puts it, ”Launching Crown Media Productions represents the next stage of the company’s evolution…A production arm creates the infrastructure that makes it possible for us to keep up with an ever-growing demand for more and more original Hallmark-branded programming across a variety of platforms, and it benefits Crown Media with more direct input into the creative process and financing, rights retention, and growing one of the best family film libraries in entertainment.

Crown Media Productions will produce up to six TV films in 2015, all of which will be released under the banner of a Hallmark Channel Original or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Original.  The new production shingle will target doubling of this year’s output in 2016 and beyond. The first original films to come from Crown Media Productions will begin airing later this year.

2. Polo’s Last Resort. Speaking of Hallmark Channel, Teri Polo has been cast in Last Resort which us the working title for a Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere set to air as part of the network’s June Wedding Month.  The Meet the Parents  actress stars with Paul Johansson (One Tree Hill) as a couple on the brink of a divorce who work together to help plan their daughter’s marriage. While they don’t want to disrupt their daughter’s happiness by announcing their divorce, they must learn to work together to keep the wedding going, and soon discover their marriage just might be worth saving. Polo is currently the series lead on ABC Family’s show The Fosters.

3. Paying it forward. March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day, a global awareness event which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. To mark the day this year, actor David DeSanctis, who has Down syndrome, is paying it forward with random acts of kindness now through WDS Day. This week David, who stars in the upcoming film Where Hope Grows (due May 15), helped usher in a charity screen of the film screening for the Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols Family Foundation in Phoenix  and hosted a BE KIND school assembly in collaboration with The Be Kind People Project in which more than 500 students pledged to act with compassion and goodwill toward one another. David will be supporting the initiative all week via in-person appearances and social media.

4. Crackerjack idea. MarVista Digital Entertainment has just releasing the Southern-style faith-themed comedy Crackerjack on Amazon, Google, iTunes, Vimeo and VUDU, as well as On Demand with AT&T, Charter, Comcast, DirecTV and Vubiquity. Executive producer Jeff Foxworthy (The American Bible Challenge) narrates the tale of softball-obsessed loveable-loser Bill “Crackerjack” Bailey IV, who, upon learning his longtime live-in girlfriend is pregnant, inadvertently commits himself to a men’s ministry and their softball team to avoid impending fatherhood and the so-called “Bailey family curse.”  The film, a winner of the Knoxville Film Festival and the Charleston International Film Festival Audience Award, explores the universal themes of parenthood, manhood and the struggle to combat generational curses. Foxworthy says the film is a testament to the fact “that curses can be broken, change can be found in places other than your pockets, and the water in your gene pool can be treated.”

5. Zamperini’s Legacy of Faith. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just released exclusive new footage from its upcoming release of Unbroken on Blu-Ray and DVD March 24th with a special Legacy of Faith bonus disc that features 90 minutes of reflections and content from Louie Zamperini, Billy Graham, Greg Laurie and others.  Adapted from author Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book of the same name, Unbroken tells the inspiring true story of how Olympian and war hero Zamperini survived on a raft for 47 days along with two other crewmen after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII—only to be caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a series of prisoner-of-war camps. After struggling with alcohol and bitter memories on the homefront,  Zamperini, inspired by Billy Graham, went on to forgive his captors and become a sought-after Christian motivational speaker. For more info in ministry resources pertaining to film click here.          

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

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