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Idol Chatter

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January 1970 Archives

Apocalypto Now

posted by Paul O'Donnell

What does it mean when some of the best religion stories these days appear in New York magazine? It means the Apocalypse is near. Last week New York had a concise but interesting Q&A with Jay Bakker, son of Jim […]

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‘Betty’s’ Not So Ugly, Just Kind of Odd

posted by Ellen Leventry

Perhaps, like me, when you saw the teasers for ABC’s new show “Ugly Betty,” you thought you’d be getting “Less Than Perfect” at a magazine rather than a television station: a cute sitcom wherein the ugly duckling teaches those around […]

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The Chaplain of Fashion

posted by Donna Freitas

Ministers aren’t exactly known for their fashion sense and couture style–until now, that is. Beginning this month, the Rev. Joanna Jepson is trading life at a local British parish for big-city London, and most interestingly of all, a post as […]

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Christmas Is Coming: “The Nativity” Heads to the Big Screen

posted by Kris Rasmussen

One of the movies I am most excited about seeing this upcoming movie season is New Line’s version of Jesus’ birth, “The Nativity Story.” And if you are as interested as I am in how Hollywood is going to treat […]

Everyone Loves a Jewish Boy (Or Do They?)

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Are Jewish men attractive? TV doesn’t seem to think so. Sure, Ross Geller certainly had his moment in the sun, as did Paul Buchman before him. (And any Jewess would be out of her mind to refuse to “hug it […]

ABC News’ “Jesus Camp” Report

posted by mkress

Watch the YouTube video that helped fuel the ongoing controversy over the documentary “Jesus Camp“:

Jesus Goes To “Camp”

posted by Kris Rasmussen

Though the documentary “Jesus Camp”–which goes inside Pastor Becky Fisher’s “Kids on Fire” camp in North Dakota–has only been playing in movie theaters in limited release for two weeks, it has generated a firestorm of controversy. I saw the movie […]

Forget MySpace: Join the Real World

posted by jmcgee

The other day, a good friend of mine was creating herself a MySpace account as we were talking on the phone. She was joining the MySpace bandwagon, she said, in order to talk to only one person–a guy friend who […]

Slicing and Dicing VeggieTales?

posted by jmcgee

Anyone familiar with VeggieTales, the popular Christian children’s videos, knows the stunning operatic oeuvre of Larry the Cucumber. LarryBoy’s “Silly Songs” are masterpieces of drama and kitsch, boasting such lyrics as, “Oh where is my hairbrush?… Not fair, no hair, […]

This Season, “Weeds” Is High on Religion

posted by jmcgee

As if its premise isn’t shocking enough–suburban mom selling marijuana to maintain her privileged lifestyle–Showtime’s “Weeds” (airing 10 p.m. Mondays) seems set on pushing the envelope on just how raunchy a show can be on cable television. With such a […]

Colbert on the Jewish High Holidays

posted by jmcgee

“7th Heaven” Returns

posted by jmcgee

The best TV family dramas, in my opinion, are the ones that leave us feeling like we knew a family from the beginning to the end of a particularly intense period in their lives. The best of these were “Wonder […]

“Studio 60″ & Those “Crazy Christians,” Part 2

posted by kris rasmussen

Censorship and the religious right will once again take center stage during primetime tonight on Aaron Sorkin’s “Saturday Night Live”-inspired backstage drama, “Studio 60.” At the end of last week’s debut, new network president Jordan McDeere gave writer/producers Matt Albie […]

“All the Kings Men” Fails to Put a Coherent Message Together Again

posted by doug howe

If there could ever be an “accidentally great” movie, the new remake of “All the King’s Men” might be it. On the one hand, it’s a big political action drama that lacks action, lacks drama, and lacks a real sense […]

TV’s Medical Dramas Go Jewish

posted by esther kustanowitz

Single Jewish women (and their mothers) are supposed to experience a Pavlovian drool reaction to the presence of doctors, but I never went thusly gaga, not even for television doctors. And while I do admit that Clooney was cute, this […]

Not-So-Ordinary “Heroes” Debuts On NBC

posted by kris rasmussen

The success of any heroic journey in fiction is based on the premise that the hero is an ordinary person who is endowed with special powers and is sent on a special quest to fulfill his or her destiny. NBC’s […]

Karma Returns to Thursday Nights

posted by esther kustanowitz

“My Name is Earl” kicked off its anticipated second season by pairing two of the show’s most distinctive characters–the eponymous amends-seeking hero, played by Jason Lee and his moustache, and his insufferably white-trash bitch of a wife, played by Jaime […]

A “Fearless” Fighter’s Transformation

posted by

Jet Li’s “Fearless,” opening today and based on a true story, is a film about finding yourself. Jet Li’s character, Han Yaunjia, has one goal in life: to be the best fighter. And throughout the first half of the movie […]

“Six Degrees” is Classic J. J. Abrams

posted by donna freitas

The ever-rising star television series creator and producer J. J. Abrams has done it again: “Six Degrees” (which premieres tonight at 10 on ABC) is riveting, complex, and promises something simple but essential for TV drama: good stories. Reminiscent of […]

John Zorn’s “Genius” Grant

posted by esther kustanowitz

Innovative jazz musician John Zorn is having a good month–he’s won two prizes, though most people only know about one of them. Even hardcore Zorn fans may not know that the jazz musician and founder/CEO of Tzadik Records took the […]

“Jericho” & The End of The World

posted by kris rasmussen

Perhaps the best way to describe last night’s debut of the CBS series “Jericho” is that it is something like “Lost” meets “Left Behind.” The show borrows storytelling devices from both, but with only moderate success. Last night’s pilot introduced […]

Fox Comes Faithfully

posted by burb

The long-anticipated FoxFaith Movies, a division of 20th Century Fox, officially came into being this week, a great triumph for whoever is putting out the new division’s stationery, with little relevance for the rest of us. Fox has been in […]

Whose Cross Is It?

posted by burb

The Russian Space Agency recently turned down Madonna’s bid to get a spot on an upcoming mission. This must come as a disappointment to those Christians who would love to see the pop diva shot into space, once and for […]

Jon Stewart on the Pope Controversy

posted by

Finding a Hero in “Dog”

posted by dena ross

Idol Chatter readers may remember a post I wrote back in January on my love for Duane “Dog” Chapman, the unlikely star of the A & E series “Dog: The Bounty Hunter” and a deeply faithful Christian. The long-haired, leather-wearing, […]

Jewish Books Showdown

posted by rebecca phillips

Which book did you like better–Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America,” or Dara Horn’s “In the Image”? Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Everything Is Illuminated” or Saul Bellow’s “Ravelstein”? This showdown of sorts among contemporary–and in Bellow’s case, deceased–Jewish writers is taking […]

Good Magazine on Newsstands Now

posted by donna freitas

September marks the premiere issue of Good, a magazine founded and funded by Ben Goldhirsh (son of media-multi-millionaire Bernie Goldhirsh). Good is for the “growing number of people tied together not by age, career, background, or circumstance, but by a […]

Thou Shalt Covet?

posted by donna freitas

It may be #10 on the Top Ten list of things Jews and Christians shalt not do, but not coveting thy neighbor’s house, other related property, and just generally not coveting things that are not yours still made the tablet. […]

“Studio 60″ & the Not-So-Crazy Christian

posted by kris rasmussen

Sure, we’re happy to see Matthew Perry return to television, especially alongside those enjoyable “West Wing” folks like Bradley Whitford and Timothy Busfield. But the biggest reason many of us will be tuning in tonight to the premiere of “Studio […]

“Our Lady of Weight Loss”: For Those Seeking Food Forgiveness

posted by donna freitas

Website-creator turned author Janice Taylor brings her food-obsessed, playful, confessional ourladyofweightloss.com to the printed page, with a new book titled the same: “Our Lady of Weight Loss: Miraculous and Motivational Musings From the Patron Saint of Permanent Fat Removal” (Viking […]

A Tribute to Ned Flanders

posted by

With the TV season back in gear, how about a tribute to American’s favorite television Christian?

Graham’s Latest Big Tent Revival Comes To TV

posted by kris rasmussen

Past Billy Graham television specials have focused on issues such as divorce or on cities in ruin, such as hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. But the latest evangelistic crusade, broadcast from Baltimore, asks the question, “Do you know where your children are?” […]

The Piety Divide

posted by burb

Baylor University’s Institute on Studies of Religion is pitching their new report, “American Piety in the 21st Century,” as a testament to how diverse and complex religious feelings in our country really are. The report does show that many religiously […]

Health, Healing & Happinesss for “House”?

posted by kris rasmussen

No character on television represents my own spiritual journey better than Gregory House, protagonist of FOX’s “House.” Flawed yet searching, abrasive in his search for answers, Dr. House has gone through a series of challenges, culminating with last season’s near-death […]

Spirituality & Slayage

posted by esther kustanowitz

St. Francis Church in Macon, GA, is putting a stake through the heart of boring adult education classes, while providing pop culture aficionados with a learning opportunity they can really sink their teeth into. Starting this Thursday, the church will […]

God “Speaks” to Al Franken…

posted by donna freitas

…Or so the comedian-turned-liberal political commentator claims during the initial moments of the documentary “Al Franken: God Spoke,” opening in limited released tomorrow. Hilariously dressed in a Santa Claus-like beard and holding a Ten Commandment-esque tablet–presumably Al Franken’s mode of […]

The Truthiness Factor

posted by

Both Kris and Doug, in their own separate ways, downplay the controversy over ABC’s “The Path to 9/11” miniseries. Maybe it’s just that, unlike them, I am a stereotypical East Coast liberal, but I can’t dismiss Democrats’ complaints over the […]

“The Road To 9/11″ Paved With Controversy

posted by kris rasmussen

Despite protests, petitions, and threats of boycott, the first part of ABC’s mini-series “The Road to 9/11″ aired last night. Many political pundits and liberal media watchdogs were crying foul–even though some of them hadn’t seen an advance copy of […]

Has Kabbalah Failed the Ritchies?

posted by esther kustanowitz

Guy Ritchie, sometimes known these days as Mr. Madonna, recently fell asleep during a Kabbalah meditation service. It’s okay, it happens to everyone–we may not be celebrities, but we understand. We’re all busy, what with our jujitsu and jetlag and […]

Go Beyond the Miniseries Controversy

posted by doug howe

As Kris describes, several of former President Clinton’s advisors and administration officials had put pressure on ABC to cancel–or at least change the story and dialogue–of its 9-11 miniseries, which began last night and ends tonight. I am struck by […]

Islam vs. Christianity: Carell vs. Colbert

posted by

Does Lindsay Lohan Know Her Karma From Her Kabbalah?

posted by sherry huang

“I would never steal anyone’s boyfriend. It’s bad karma, and I’m a big believer in karma–hence the fact that I’ve studied kabbalah. I’m very true to the ‘Treat people the way you want to be treated’ sort of thing.” –Lindsay […]

‘Til Death: We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

posted by burb

Fox’s brainless sitcom, “Til Death,” a comedy about “love, death, and marriage,” starring Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”), has a lot of positive things to say about the institution of matrimony today. None of them, however, are contained in the […]

NBC’s VeggieTales Adventure

posted by kris rasmussen

Starting this Saturday, NBC’s new morning children’s programming will feature a goofy cucumber, a spunky tomato, and some very cute French peas. Yes, Big Idea Productions, the force behind the hugely successful VeggieTales series of videos, recently signed a deal […]

Cheers + Friends = Unhappy “Hour”

posted by doug howe

“Happy Hour” premieres tonight on Fox, and it’s not worth rushing home for. Get some more work done, or tune into a game, or just enjoy whatever real-life Happy Hour you’re coming from. This show’s a dud, at least at […]

Suri’s Appearance Day

posted by

Baby Suri is finally making her public debut. Check it out (and get to see a bit of Katie Couric on her debut day):

Schism in the Jon Stewart Religion

posted by

Recently, I blogged about the website JonStewartisGod.com, (JSiG for short), the homepage for a “religion” based on deifying the popular fake-news anchor. It turns out that, like any religion worth its salt, the Stewartist faith, if I may call it […]

Vatican Exorcist: Harry Potter Is Satanic

posted by donna freitas

The Catholic Church has not ever been silent about its non-love affair with Harry Potter & Company. Concerns about the series creating witch-loving children abound. But to say that J.K. Rowling’s beloved series, which has the world’s children reading like […]

Love in a Time of Terror

posted by burb

The only reason to tune in tonight to Fox’s “Standoff“–from a religion-interested point of view, at least–is to get an update on the state of Hollywood’s relationship with Islamic fundamentalism. The show, about a pair of FBI hostage negotiators (Ron […]

“Hebrew Hammer 2″ to Crucify Gibson

posted by esther kustanowitz

Well, not literally. But when you’re talking about a movie like “The Hebrew Hammer“–the blaxploitation-style Jewish comedy film of a few years ago, which bombed at the theaters but inspired wild fan devotion–it’s not surprising that the sequel would involve […]

“This Film” Rates Some Discussion

posted by kris rasmussen

While the general public is familiar with the MPAA ratings that accompany the movies they watch–G, PG, PG-13, R–and what the ratings mean, it is safe to say that most moviegoers don’t really know, or care, what the Motion Picture […]

Piven: Chained to His Mogen David?

posted by alice chasan

Thumbing through the latest celebrity-strewn Gap ad, part of the company’s new “t-shirt shop” campaign, I found the usual melange of supermodels, iconic rockers, film legends, and rising stars. All looking enigmatic, gazing into the camera, straight at you, saying–what? […]

Faith and Acceptance in “Looking For Kitty”

posted by esther kustanowitz

Against a backdrop of slams at the U.S. government and lectures on how the architectural industrialization and tourist culture is ruining the local flavor of N.Y.C. neighborhoods, “Looking for Kitty” (opening today) is a story of friendship between two men, […]

Previous Posts

A First Look at 'Saints and Strangers'
National Geographic will be releasing a four-hour epic television movie event this fall  that takes a historical look at what life was really like for the pilgrims, and the hardships they faced in the New World. Saints & Strangers will not ...

posted 3:26:22pm Aug. 03, 2015 | read full post »

The Arizona Cardinals Hire First Female NFL Coach
The National Football League appears to be making the same strides toward gender equality by hiring Jen Welter who is the first female NFL coach. The Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians hinted towards the hiring of a female coach back ...

posted 8:52:03am Jul. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Bobbi Kristina Brown Dies at 22
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n5A6ZCXuis[/youtube]Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of the late Whitney Houston, died Sunday at the age of 22. On June 24, the family announced that Bobbi Kristina would be moved to a hospice facility ...

posted 9:47:31am Jul. 27, 2015 | read full post »

“The Great” Hope Hits Theaters Today
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11tsR0kI1ZQ&feature=youtu.be Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Billy “The Great” Hope, a junior middleweight boxing champion in “Southpaw.” Hope had all the riches he could dream of--a solid family and a ...

posted 10:20:53am Jul. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Becky Hammon Makes History Again
Becky Hammon made history again on Monday by becoming the first female coach to win a NBA Summer League Title, as she led the San Antonio Spurs to a championship victory at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League Championship. The Spurs first game ...

posted 8:08:40am Jul. 22, 2015 | read full post »

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