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Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

January 1970 Archives

“Lost” in Faith

posted by ellen leventry

Rabid fans of ABC’s “Lost” have many suspicions about the meaning of the show, fueled by their examination of myriad clues in exruciating detail. And while I was just as curious about things like where those numbers came from, I […]

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“Book of Daniel”: The Protests Start Early

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You’ll have to wait for next week to see our full coverage of NBC’s “The Book of Daniel,” a drama premiering Jan. 6 about Daniel, an Epsicopal priest dealing with life at home and at his parish. But the inevitable […]

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“The Office” Nails It, Week After Week

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I’ve been waiting for an excuse to blog about “The Office,” some religion angle to rear its satiric head in the NBC sitcom that, like its British namesake, skewers the absurdities of the typical desk job. But aside from a […]

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DVDs to Build a New Year’s Resolution On

posted by doug howe

Movies are most powerful when they jump off the screen and into our lives. Kris recently recommended several good DVDs for this holiday season, and I’d like to offer my own suggestions. These are a few DVDs that have jumped […]

Another Forgettable Legacy of the Sexual Revolution

posted by kris rasmussen

I went 0-for-2 at the box office this week, first sitting through the dreadful “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” and then catching the star-filled, meant-to-be-extremely-clever romantic comedy “Rumor Has It.” This movie is about a 30-something career woman, Sarah Huttinger […]

A Message From Beyond the Grave

posted by hesham hassaballa

I recently watched the 30th anniversary DVD edition of the film “The Message,” which is Moustapha Akkad’s groundbreaking Hollywood production of the story of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In addition to including both the English and Arabic versions of the […]

Time to Redefine the Family Movie?

posted by kris rasmussen

Joining a long line of less-than-memorable sequels based on movies that shouldn’t have made as much money as they did the first time around, “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” opened last weekend just in time to entice kiddies on Christmas […]

A Hip New Sound for Hanukkah

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We Jews often whine about the supposed lack of good Hanukkah music. The Hanukkah songs most Jews learned as kids don’t hold a candle (so to speak) to such memorable tunes as “Little Drummer Boy” or “Santa Claus Is Coming […]

Greetings to the Rest of Us!

posted by holly rossi

As if I even need to remind you…. today is Festivus! The fictional holiday made famous by Jerry Stiller’s character Frank Costanza in a 1997 episode of “Seinfeld” is–yes is–observed nationwide by many who crave “a Festivus for the rest […]

Don’t Count Muslims Out

posted by dilshad d. ali

So of course these days it’s all about Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and Solstice and any other holiday I’ve forgotten to include. And if you watch the seasonal wishes on TV, you’ll see that they make a mention of […]

Best Overlooked Holiday Shows, Now on DVD

posted by kris rasmussen

If you’re burned out on all the classic Christmas movies on the tube and you’ve seen everything worth seeing at the box office, here are a few personal picks for some overlooked but spiritually thought-provoking episodes of TV shows that […]

NYC Transit Strike Highlights the Kindness of Strangers

posted by donna freitas

If you live outside the NYC metro area, it’s possible you don’t know there is a major transit strike happening in Gotham, the first in 25 years, and it’s bringing the city to it’s knees–or rather, to its feet, rollerblades, […]

Jesus Takes Manhattan

posted by donna freitas

As a lifelong Red Sox fan, (though I now proudly call Yankee territory my home), I am stunned and saddened to report that the Red Sox traded Johnny Damon (JOHNNY DAMON!), a.k.a. Baseball’s Jesus, to the New York Yankees in […]

Heaven Is My Diet

posted by burb

Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, told Barbara Walters on her “Heaven” show that in heaven we’ll be able to eat every kind of food in any quantity without getting fat. Was this a plug for his […]

Enough with the 72 Virgins!

posted by dilshad d. ali

Barbara Walters really covered her ground in last night’s ABC special, “Heaven: Where is it? How Do We Get There?” She, in trademark Barbara fashion, grilled priests, imams, rabbis, Hollywood movie stars, the Dalai Lama, and regular folk who claimed […]

Bill O’Reilly Takes the Christ Out of Christmas!

posted by

I vowed not to wade into the so-called “War on Christmas,” given that (a) the whole idea of Christmas being under attack seems absurd to me aside from the occasional–and often laughably ridiculous–excesses by some people, and (b) even as […]

The Most Famous Christian?

posted by burb

As Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” edition was hitting newsstands Sunday night, Bono, one of this year’s honorees (along with Bill and Melinda Gates) was on stage in Charlotte, North Carolina, wearing a headband reading “COEXIST” spelled out with […]

Kelly Clarkson’s Jesus Juice

posted by ellen leventry

Biblical exegesis meets the Billboard Hot 100 in the January/February issue of Blender magazine. Kelly Clarkson–Blender’s Woman of the Year, winner of the first “American Idol,” and singer of the ubiquitous and insidiously infectious “Since U Been Gone”–considers herself a […]

How to Get to Heaven, Without Being Evangelized

posted by doug howe

A thorough and wide-ranging presentation of information regarding how to get to heaven is on your TV screen tonight. It’s not led by Billy Graham or Rick Warren or the pope’s representatives. Nope, it’s Barbara Walters. That’s right, the newswoman […]

CBS Tries to Solve the “Mystery of Christmas”

posted by kris rasmussen

Last month NBC’s “Dateline” did a special attempting to answer questions about the birth of Christ, and tonight another newsmagazine, CBS’s “48 Hours Mysteries” will also examine the veracity of the Christmas story. After taking a sneak peak at tonight’s […]

“King Kong” and the Communal Movie-Going Experience

posted by donna freitas

I remember going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark in the theater as a kid. As Indiana Jones makes his way through a tunnel of giant tarantulas, outruns a boulder, endures a snake pit, and smartly avoids having his […]

“The Family Stone” is a gem

posted by kris rasmussen

In the spirit of other dark comedies about dysfunctional families–movies such as “Home for the Holidays” or “The Royal Tenenbaums”–the latest Christmas flick, “The Family Stone,” is, on the surface anyway, a formulaic story about a young couple, Emmett and […]

Yule Be Humming

posted by burb

Did someone say Christmas albums? One of my many failed ventures is the Annual Roundup of Tolerable Christmas Music, which ran on Beliefnet precisely one annum. For one thing, I found out there’s not enough tolerable Christmas music released each […]

Springtime for Hitler

posted by

“The Producers,” the movie based on the Broadway musical based on the classic Mel Brooks movie, opens today in some cities, and that adds yet one more to my quickly accumulating list of must-see new films. The Broadway show was […]

Randal Trumps His Own Values

posted by holly rossi

Randal, who was hired by Donald Trump on last night’s finale of the fourth season of NBC’s <a href="The Apprentice, acted like a sore winner, upsetting viewers who have been in his corner all season long. The highly-educated, kind-hearted, tall […]

The ‘Pope of Trash’

posted by burb

Does Christmas seem to get more complicated every year. Online? In-store? Happy holidays? Merry Christmas? Mid-shopping, take time out to review the culture’s excesses with the expert on the topic, John Waters, the auteur of such films as “Hairspray” and […]

Kristin Chenoweth: Singing Her Own Tune

posted by kris rasmussen

My vote for most annoying Christmas commercial this season should go to Old Navy for its latest cheesy ad campaign featuring “the gifties”–a mock award show highlighting various Old Navy products. However, I can’t bring myself to mock these commercials […]

I’ll Be Hip for Hanukkah

posted by burb

The New York Times catches up with Hanukkah hipsters in its Style section today. The reporter attends a bash in a trendy Manhattan nightclub thrown by Jewcy, a group that promotes Jewish cultural awareness among young Jews, and cites it […]

Nip/Tuck Delivers

posted by ellen leventry

Nip/Tuck delivered early Christmas gifts this year, both figuratively and literally. The usually sordid plastic surgery doc-opera revealed a more spiritual side in last night’s episode–while still managing to keep the “ick” factor high. Mrs. Kringle–one half of a Santa-and-Mrs.-Claus […]

Narnian End Times

posted by burb

The “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” has gone wide without a cultural apocalypse. Narnia, it turns out, is pretty ambiguous theologically, and the next few books in Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia” series are vaguer still. Two sequels hence, […]

Forbidden Love that Lasts a Lifetime

posted by donna freitas

It was the buzz about Oscar-worthy performances by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal and a likely Best Picture nomination that got me in the door to see Brokeback Mountain, latest film by Ang Lee (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon“). Based on […]

Thank a Solider Week

posted by dena ross

While most of us will enjoy a nice, safe, holiday season with our family and friends, many of the men and women in the armed forces won’t be, especially those serving abroad. With this in mind, Townhall.com has started Thank […]

Richard Pryor, Profane But Profound

posted by doug howe

I was saddened to hear that Richard Pryor died. Most moral leaders would hardly say that the comedian lived an exemplary life, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have inspiring moments. He made me laugh and had a way about […]

Get Her Some Christian Cosmetics This Christmas!

posted by donna freitas

Not sure what to get your honey this holiday season? If you’re looking for something faithful yet fun, how about some Christian body cream or Christian bubble bath? This is what entrepeneurs Zachary and Stacey Adams offer through their company […]

Who Needs Church on Christmas Day When You’ve Got the Pastor’s DVD?

posted by donna freitas

Who needs family and community on Christmas, when you can just stay home? It falls on a Sunday this year–and who wants to go to Church on Christmas morning anyway? Not the memvbers of some of the nation’s biggest megachurches […]

That Other New Movie: All Wardrobe, No Lion

posted by doug howe

You’ve probably heard about an important movie with spiritual implications that’s based on a best-selling novel and made an impressive opening this past weekend. Only this one didn’t have anything to do with lions or witches, though wardrobe was front-and-center. […]

Live from Nashville: The Golden Wardrobes

posted by kris rasmussen

As I promised in my earlier report from the Nashville premiere of “Chronicles of Narnia,” I’d like to pass along snippets of conversations I had with various contemporary Christian music artists who attended the event. Durring the long, long trip […]

Working the Red Carpet

posted by kris rasmussen

Though I’ve never been to the Oscars or the Emmys (except in my dreams, where I imagine I am tall, skinny, blonde and my name is Nancy O’Dell), I did finally get to attend my first real red- carpet event […]

Spiritual Decor for Your Home

posted by donna freitas

Each year on December 13th, Swedes celebrate the feast of Santa Lucia, a festival marked by candlelight (Lucia means light) at one of the darkest times of winter in this northern country. The day still finds young girls donning crowns […]

Finally, a Chance to Walk Through the Wardrobe

posted by kris rasmussen

After waiting for months to see “The Chronicles of Narnia” (and feeling tortured by the fact that some of my fellow Idol Chatterers have already seen it), I finally had my chance last night to walk through the wardrobe for […]

A Different Kind of Road Trip in ‘Transamerica’

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Bree Osbourne (Felicity Huffman) is nearing the end of the psychoanalysis required for gender reassignment surgery. She takes hormones, lives as a woman, and tries her best not to stand out. She is a walking, talking contradiction: an ultraconservative woman […]

Calling All Screenwriters of Faith

posted by

Hoping to get a push from the “Narnia” release, an Atlanta-based organization called Art Within is “looking for the next C.S. Lewis,” according to a press release. The 10-year-old group runs a year-long screenwriting fellowship program, “Art Within Labs,” that […]

Lighten Up: Aslan’s One Cool Cat

posted by kris rasmussen

With all of the “Narnia” movie premiere hype going on, which my fellow bloggers have been commenting on eloquently, I had to laugh when my friend–and author of her own book connected to “Chronicles”–Sarah Arthur, sent me an article on […]

Law & Order Goes to Shul

posted by

“Law & Order” takes such care to get New York right–its people, its cultures, its attitude–that I am always surprised when it messes up the small stuff. Last night’s episode revolved around a synagogue that couldn’t seem to decide whether […]

An Emblem of His Age

posted by burb

Think John Lennon and religion, and what springs to mind is his loose-cannon observation in 1966 that “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus” (which led radio stations to sponsor record burnings and others to make death threats) and assorted […]

The Narnia Scare

posted by burb

The excitement in the conservative Christian community over the forthcoming movie of C.S. Lewis’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is matched only by the hysterics the “Christianization” of Narnia is causing elsewhere. In Salon today, Laura Miller asks, […]

Hasidic Reggae Artist Hits the Big Time

posted by ellen leventry

Talk about your crossover artists! Matisyahu, born Matthew Miller, has been taking the reggae world by storm–which might not be so unusual, except for the fact that he’s a Hasidic Jew who sings/raps about the Jewish experience. Check out the […]

From “The Passion” to the Holocaust

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So Mel Gibson is making a Holocaust movie. As the New York Times reports, Gibson’s production company is in the early stages of producing an ABC miniseries based on the memoirs of a Dutch Jew who was hidden and saved […]

The Award for Most Humble Performer Goes to…

posted by dena ross

At yesterday’s Billboard Music Awards, rapper Kanye West was presented with one of the industry’s highest honors, the “Artist Achievement Award.” In his acceptance speech, the “Jesus Walks” superstar said, “When I first came out I was a hot head–I […]

Everything I Know About Christmas I Learned From Linus

posted by

This Jew’s second-favorite Christmas tradition is happening tonight: the Charlie Brown special. (My #1 favorite is Chinese food and a rented movie on Christmas eve.) It’s not an exaggeration to say that as a kid, the most meaningful lesson I […]

“Cinderella Man” Packs an Emotional Punch

posted by kris rasmussen

One of the best movies of the year was not exactly a box office knock-out when it played in theaters this past summer, but the Depression-era rags-to-riches story “Cinderella Man” is now out on DVD, just in time to begin […]

A “Wing” and a Prayer

posted by kris rasmussen

After going on hiatus the last few weeks, “The West Wing” returned last night with an episode that focused once again on presidential candidate Santos’s struggle to incorporate his religious beliefs with the demands of politics–or more specifically, the demands […]

Is Your God Big Enough This Christmas?

posted by kris rasmussen

I found an amazingly thoughtful moment of holiday inspiration this week from a completely unexpected source–author and scholar Umberto Eco . His recent op-ed piece in the London paper The Telegraph, entitled “God isn’t big enough for some people,” is […]

Elle Macpherson, Ecofeminist Theologian?

posted by donna freitas

Elle Macpherson—supermodel, actress, and now lingerie designer and CEO of Elle Macpherson Intimates—is out and about posing for the holidays in her next-to-nothing offerings. (One billboard on the Long Island Expressway—an eight-story high vision of Elle bearing bra and panties—was […]

Is Narnia Red or Blue?

posted by

Peter Steinfels, in this week’s New York Times “Beliefs” column, writes of the latest Hollywood-induced skirmish in the culture wars: “Narnia, it seems, is in danger of becoming a red state.” That’s because evangelicals nationwide are seeing the film as […]

Holiday Controversy Quiz

posted by doug howe

With the airwaves, web and print media full of the questions about whether our season, trees and greetings are about “Christmas” or “the holidays,” I figure it’s a good time for a little quiz on it. Who has said some […]

Hark, The ‘Saturday Night Live’ Carols

posted by doug howe

“Saturday Night Live” at its finest is satire, not just comedy. At its satirical and relevant best, it offered some neutered and politically unoffensive versions of “holiday” carols on this week’s show. In so doing, one of the most traditionally […]

The Kitschiest Kristmas

posted by laura sheahen

Ah, Yuletide. Time to break out the Precious Moments Nativity set…ack! It is broken? Who could destroy such a thing of beauty? Never fear. There are plenty of ultratacky manger scenes out there, just waiting for you to buy them–or […]

A Review Tim LaHaye Could Love

posted by burb

Slate posts a belated but refreshing look at the “Left Behind” series here.

‘Lost’ Goes Biblical (and Dharmic)

posted by sherry huang

Last night on “Lost,” fate and (what looked like) the Bible found their way through the doors of the mysterious underground hatch. In this season’s third episode, after the survivors had found their way into the hatch, they were shown […]

Disney’s ‘Blasphemy’?

posted by

To say the Christian world is excited about the ‘Narnia’ movie is an understatement. Churches are planning mass viewings of the movie, groups have created Narnia-pegged ‘outreach tools,’ and many Christians see the film as the greatest opportunity for evangelism […]

Creed Cred

posted by burb

Religious references are increasingly a mark of authenticity in rap. But Chamillionaire, whose new album, “The Sound of Revenge,” is just out, raises the bar with “Void in My Life,” a meditation on growing up with one Muslim parent and […]

Chainsaw Conversions

posted by ellen leventry

I’ve heard of conversion by sword, but conversion by chainsaw? As another devoted fan of “Invasion,” I was stunned by last night’s episode, in which Deputy Lewis Sirk is convinced by Sheriff Tom Underlay–who is looking more and more like […]

Ancient Chatter

posted by

Welcome to the newly formatted Idol Chatter! If you’re looking to read a whole lot more about the spirituality of your favorite shows and celebrities, have no fear; you can access the Idol Chatter archives by clicking here.

Previous Posts

Box Office Blockbuster...or Blunder?
The Wall Street Journal reports that this Memorial Day Weekend, normally a blockbuster box office weekend, is one that Hollywood may wish for a mulligan. Disney's "Tomorrowland" didn't bring out the numbers, as expected. Granted, there are ...

posted 11:39:02am May. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Letterman Bids Farewell Tonight
It's David Lettman's last episode interviewing, so what do you do? Well have his first guest, ever, Bill Murray pop out of a cake - of course! [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW8MY9CD-tQ[/youtube] Murray appeared on the first late ...

posted 9:03:34am May. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Finding Neverland - On a Stage!
Calling all fans of Lost Boys!             You loved Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, right? The film about J.M. Barrie in 2004 is back - in the form of a Broadway ...

posted 12:53:47pm May. 19, 2015 | read full post »

Blues Guitarist B.B. King Dead at 89
Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King died Thursday night at the age of 89 in a Las Vegas hospital. King was the son of a sharecropper, and was born on a plantation in Mississippi. He worked his way up from singing in church, performing on street ...

posted 9:27:21am May. 15, 2015 | read full post »

'Where Hope Grows' is a Much Watch
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L10tIzZZrA Kristoffer Polaha stars as a baseball slugger with Detroit Tigers who was forced to retire early due to panic attacks at the plate. Calvin Campbell struggles with alcoholism, depression, and battles ...

posted 8:58:33am May. 15, 2015 | read full post »

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