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Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

January 1970 Archives

What’s the Best Halloween Movie?

posted by Douglas Howe

There are “scary” movies, and then there are “Halloween” movies, and then there are “scary Halloween movies.” With all respect to well-done “scary” movies such as “Silence of the Lambs,” “Psycho,” “Alien,” “The Shining,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” the original “Nightmare on […]

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A Yeshiva Girl’s First Halloween

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Everyone remembers his or her first time trick-or-treating, getting candy from strangers, and wearing costumes. I know I remember my first time. Mostly because I was 18. Growing up in suburban New Jersey, I always knew what Halloween was: It […]

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Some Halloween Fun: Do the Monster Mash!

posted by mkress

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Absolution: Notre Dame Football-style

posted by Donna Freitas

It’s well known that at the Catholic University of Notre Dame, football is its own religion. The school even boasts a mural of “Touchdown Jesus” on its campus. Notre Dame’s football coach since 2004, Charlie Weis, is a giant of […]

Just in Time for Mid-Term Elections

posted by dali

Interested in some President Bush-bashing? Two new films–one about the Dixie Chicks’ grudge match with the president, and the other a mockumentary about the fictional assassination of the president–were released on Friday. I haven’t seen either, but both are being […]

The Yentl Effect

posted by mkress

Though “The Simpsons” was a repeat last night, it was new to me, and–though I am not sure why this fascinates me as much as it does–I couldn’t help catching what was at least the second reference to Barbra Streisand’s […]

The Culture of Entertainment News

posted by Douglas Howe

There’s a new version of an old mini-series that’s sure to be a ratings grabber for the next week or so. The stakes are high, the subplots are numerous, and the cast features old stars and emerging new characters. As […]

“Conversations With God”: Modern Mystic, or Just Modern Me?

posted by Donna Freitas

“Conversations with God“–the true life story of Neale Donald Walsch, the bestselling author of the book series of the same name–hits screens nationwide this weekend. The books have sold more than 7 million copies worldwide, and the first one sat […]

Stephen Baldwin: “Jesus Psycho”

posted by Kris Rasmussen

I’ve already ranted here once before about actor Stephen Baldwin’s brand of gnarly, extreme sports-themed Christianity, so I feel a little bit guilty about pointing out that the hip, high-class Salon magazine has a new profile on Baldwin–conveniently timed for […]

“48 Hours” Scientology Mystery

posted by Kris Rasmussen

TomKat is probably so busy planning for the big wedding next month in Italy that they won’t even notice that Scientology is going to get another bad rap in the limelight this Saturday night, as CBS’s “48 Hours” focuses on […]

Is There an American Ramadan?

posted by dali

Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, is now over. But Naeem Randhawa’s revealing new documentary, “American Ramadan,” (released this month) continues to chug its way around the world. Its been picked up by local PBS channels, Link TV, and […]

Battle of the Network Stars

posted by Ellen Leventry

The “Show Me” state’s airwaves have been overrun with showmen these past two weeks, leading up to a hotly contested Senate race between incumbent between Republican Sen. Jim Talent, who opposes an embryonic stem cell initiative, and Democratic challenger Claire […]

Still Jesus After All These Years

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Ted Neeley, the former rock drummer who played the title superstar in the movie “Jesus Christ Superstar,” is still on the road, playing Jesus in the original stage musical. In an interview with The Dialog, the Catholic diocesan paper of […]

Finally! A Relevant Campaign Commercial

posted by Douglas Howe

Blogging about negative campaigning could seem as old and trite as blogging about taxes: There’s a sense that it’s never gonna change. We even have news networks whose bias is so pervasive that their negativity (or positivity) about certain causes […]

Is That Anti-Semitic Kazakh Journalist Speaking Hebrew?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Last year, a sketch character called Borat sang a song advising the world to throw the Jews down the well so his country could be free, and in the process he managed to convince the patrons in a country-western bar […]

Spiritual or Theatrical? A Chat with Laura Linney

posted by jmcgee

Laura Marshall (Laura Linney), an extreme religious fundamentalist, is the villain in “Driving Lessons,” a semi-autobiographical comedy written and directed by Jeremy Brock. But is Brock, who also incorporated spirituality into his adaptation of “The Last King of Scotland” (co-written […]

Searching for Magic and Mystery in “The Prestige”

posted by Kris Rasmussen

It’s a little surprising to me that not one, but two movies centered around magical illusion as an art form have made their ways into theaters in the last few months. Edward Norton’s “The Illusionist” came and went rather quickly […]

See Devi Slay the Fallen God!

posted by mkress

Hindu goddesses and saints dressed in tight-fitting leotards and modern clothes, walking the violent streets of modern cities, wielding fantastic weapons and fighting evil and wrongdoers: You’ll find all of this and more in the new Shakti line of comics […]

Vanity of Vanities, Is Baseball All Vanity?

posted by mkress

A few weeks ago, toward the end of a festive holiday meal, the rabbi of my synagogue threw out a light-hearted challenge to us. This was back when both the Mets and the Yankees were still in the playoff hunt, […]

“Jesus Camp”: A Second Opinion

posted by Donna Freitas

The documentary “Jesus Camp” directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady finally rolled around to my neck of the woods (Burlington, VT) this weekend. I was eager to see if the film was as “frightening” as so many journalists and […]

No Flash in the Pancreas

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Full disclosure: I’ve never been much of an Audio Adrenaline fan. First of all the name. Adrenaline is a hormone, a glandular fluid that enters the bloodstream for a short-term or circumscribed effect. It didn’t promise much in the way […]

This Christmas, Give a LIttle Rapture

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Less than a month from now, the video game version of the Left Behind series, “Left Behind: Eternal Forces,” will debut at big-box retailers, just in time for Christmas shopping season. The game, set in New York City, follows the […]

“The Monastery” Rules

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The Learning Channel’s 10-part series “The Monastery” has a couple of advantages over your run-of-the-mill reality show. One is that it is shot at Christ in the Desert, a Roman Catholic monastery in northern New Mexico. TLC’s cameras capture the […]

The Sad Truths of “Flags of Our Fathers”

posted by mkress

We like when things are neatly packaged and easily grasped, one character in Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of our Fathers” tells us: good and evil, heroes and villains. “Most of the time they aren’t. But we think they are.” The movie, […]

Ten Years of Hilariousness with “The Daily Show”

posted by dali

“One anchor, five correspondents, zero credibility.” Now that’s a tagline that speaks to me. “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” celebrated its 10th anniversary this week. What? You’ve never watched “The Daily Show?” You don’t know what you’re missing. Being […]

A Papal Cartoon for the Holidays

posted by dali

What are the odds that Matteo the talking diary, a pen named Quill Simona, and two doves called Piccolo and Fiona will become beloved animated characters just like Bambi, Pinocchio, or Winnie the Pooh? The producers of “John Paul II, […]

David Kuo on Colbert

posted by mkress

Video of last night’s appearance on “The Colbert Report” of David Kuo, Beliefnet’s Washington editor and author of the new book “Tempting Faith“:

Borat: Too Smart for You?

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The poor Anti-Defamation League. The champions of tolerance–sworn especially to fight anti-Semitism–have been reduced by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen to fretting in a press release that the cute, totally ironic anti-Semitic digs in Cohen’s new movie, “Borat: Cultural Learnings […]

Iman to the Rescue!

posted by Donna Freitas

We have a new Superfriend! In The New York Times last weekend, columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote about Muslim feminism (yes, there is such a thing, and Muslim feminism has many followers). What really caught my eye as intriguing, though, was […]

SOS: “Friday Night Lights”

posted by Kris Rasmussen

It’s pretty early in the new television to be speculating about which series will be cancelled, but after only two weeks on the air, the football drama “Friday Night Lights” already might be in danger. The show, which follows the […]

Red and Blue Love (and Sex) on Studio 60

posted by Patton Dodd

I’ve written here before that Harriet Hayes, the evangelical Christian character on “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” is a credible Christian character. It’s a claim I’ve defended to evangelical viewers who think she’s just an excuse for writer Aaron […]

The Onion: “Christian Band Cleans Up Hotel Room”

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Like any serious rockers, Christian musicians have had flings with their keyboard players, divorced their cokehead husbands, and had fans sue them for being too drunk to perform. But as this story from The Onion—still the country’s most reliable fictional […]

If You Simply Can’t Get Enough of “Lost”

posted by Donna Freitas

Then try the latest “Lost” online quiz, this one with a religious twist. It’s pretty extensive, with a total of 101 intriguing questions, and it provides extensive answers. At the very least, it will help you brush up on those […]

“Deliver Us From Evil”: Chilling Story, Wasted Opportunity

posted by jmcgee

Amy Berg’s documentary “Deliver Us From Evil” has powerful and horrifying material to work with: a Catholic priest, the Irish-born Fr. Oliver O’Grady, who admits–right on film–that he molested at least 25 children during his 20-odd years in parishes during […]

The Tigers Roar Into The World Series

posted by Kris Rasmussen

In Michigan our sports culture is typically focused on the Red Wings, the Pistons, and Big Ten football. Rarely is our attention centered on our hapless excuse of a baseball team, the Detroit Tigers. So imagine my surprise when I […]

Esther on Esther: “One Night With the King”

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Say the words “biblical epic,” and certain things come to mind. Charlton Heston, Cecil B. Demille, Yul Brynner. Heavy makeup, especially eyeliner. English accents, for sure. Grandiose sets, costumes, and plot points, at the expense of biblical accuracy. Long speeches […]

Truman Capote’s “Infamous” Life of Artifice

posted by mkress

Is there room for two movies about Truman Capote? That’s the multimillion dollar question Hollywood is asking about “Infamous” (opening in limited release Friday), which tells the story of how the larger-than-life writer researched and wrote his groundbreaking nonfiction novel […]

“Final Days of Planet Earth”–Or, Just Watch to See Darryl Hannah as a Giant Ant!

posted by Donna Freitas

Looking for a good B-movie sci-fi thrill? Well, “Final Days of Planet Earth,” billed by the Hallmark channel as an apocalyptic three-hour movie “event,” premieres this Saturday, October 14th. And of course, when I say good, what I really mean […]

Mel Gibson: It’s All About ‘You’

posted by hrossi

This morning, the first installment of Mel Gibson’s two-part interview on Good Morning America aired, hyped as the first time we would hear the Hollywood star’s own account of the events of July 28, 2006. On that night, an intoxicated […]

The Tao of A-Rod?

posted by mkress

Could it be that Alex Rodriguez has let go of the superstitions that most athletes would have you believe decide their fate and instead hopes to achieve inner peace and self-love through self-help books? One of the more over-analyzed athletes […]

Georgia Mom Wages War on Harry

posted by Donna Freitas

Harry Potter and friends are certainly not strangers to banishment by all sorts of religious groups, including the Vatican. But one Georgia mom, Laura Mallory, is trying to protect her kids by having Harry Potter banned across the board from […]

Woody Allen Interviews Billy Graham!

posted by mkress

From a late-1960s Woody Allen talk show:

‘Battlestar’ Baghdad

posted by Ellen Leventry

Readers of Entertainment Weekly’s cover story on Battlestar Galactica’s third season premiere probably weren’t shocked to read that this year’s series would be colored with shades of occupied Iraq. President Gaius Baltar’s surrrender of New Caprica to the Cylons and […]

No Pity Party

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The trademark Mohawk is looking a little sparse, and age has begun to scrunch further his bulldog features, but Mr. T, who laid claim to the tagline “I pity the fool” a quarter-century ago, is back in a reality series, […]

Are Evangelicals Green?

posted by Patton Dodd

Why are environmental ethics treated with such suspicion among evangelicals? It’s a question that has bugged me for years, but the answer is an easy one: because evangelicals, by and large, vote Republican. I often argue that evangelicals are not […]

Hello MercyMe, Goodbye Audio Adrenaline

posted by shuang

New Yorkers jumped, screamed, raised their hands, and waved their arms at the Nokia Theatre in New York City on Sunday night as MercyMe headlined a concert with newcomer Phil Wickham (whose voice evokes a bit of Jason Wade from […]

“The Departed” Disappoints

posted by Kris Rasmussen

Perhaps no director has spent more time examining the seedy underbelly of modern American culture than Martin Scorsese (“Goodfellas,” “Gangs of New York”), and his newest effort, “The Departed,” is no exception. Scorsese brings his trademark no-holds-barred grit and gloom […]

“Little Children,” Tom Perrotta, & Me

posted by mkress

This is a story of gratitude, and that’s why I am excited about “Little Children.” Not that the story has anything to do with gratitude; it’s a hilarious, biting social satire about suburban boredom and grown men and women acting […]

“Studio 60″ and Evangelicals Unawares

posted by Patton Dodd

If you’re an evangelical Christian wondering about how you’re being perceived in popular culture these days, you might be planning to see “Jesus Camp.” Change your plans. Watch “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” next Monday night instead. “Jesus Camp,” […]

Beatty: ‘Love One Another’

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The re-release of Warren Beatty’s 1981 film “Reds” has put the star in the usual rotation of magazines and TV interviews. My favorite so far is Premiere‘s wonderfully entrancing interview, in which the recollections of Beatty’s friends and co-workers are […]

“Lost” Has Landed

posted by shuang

The third season “Lost” premiere opened with the most shocking five minutes since Desmond’s self-revelation about causing the plane crash. For the first time, viewers see the mid-air crash of Oceanic Flight 815 from the perspective of the Others. As […]

Finding the Spirit of a Dictator

posted by jmcgee

Say “Idi Amin,” and the response will almost certainly be vehement, a furious reference to the thousands killed or a whole-hearted endorsement of the changes he wrought on Uganda in the 1970s and ’80s. You’ll find a more balanced point […]

Courtney Love as “The Virgin”: A Pop Pieta?

posted by Donna Freitas

Madonna has made endless headlines this summer with her controversial crucifixion scene during her Confessions Tour. Apparently, Courtney Love is aiming for a piece of the religious action, too. The cover image of photographer David LaChappelle’s new book, “Heaven and […]

Here’s to the Playoffs!

posted by mkress

Sure, back in April I blogged about my love for baseball’s Opening Day, with all its hope and possibility. And I am sure I meant it at the time. But, 162 grueling games later, my N.Y. Mets are staring at […]

Scientology Gets Nipped and Tucked

posted by Ellen Leventry

Apparently Scientology has just zoomed by Kabbalah in the race to be crowned most scandalously hip belief. Sure, there was the Tom Cruise show of last year, but that was only leading up to the coronation. Having a Scientology storyline […]

You’ve Got a Friend in Anusara

posted by akornfeld

Anyone who has tried Anusara yoga has most likely experienced the “what-the-heck-is-going-on moment”–a state of confusion and panic, which occurs when the instructor and students sing an unpronounceable Sanskrit chant in the beginning (and end) of class. (Anusara yogis refer […]

“Friday Night Lights” Shines Tonight

posted by Kris Rasmussen

“Do you think God loves football?” Well, if you live in fictional Dillon, Texas, where almost everyone worships God and football–not always in that order–then the answer is, obviously, yes. NBC celebrates the unique sports culture of small-town America, where […]

It’s True Spirituality, Live at “Studio 60″

posted by Douglas Howe

After three weeks, here’s my spin on “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip:” It’s about redemption. And it’s awesome. Aaron Sorkin has long been successful in creating compelling and entertaining investigations into the humanity of characters who inhabit noble roles. […]

Oedipus Wrecks

posted by Patton Dodd

Neil Labute is not a writer of tragedy in the classic sense, because tragedy requires a genuine hero, and Labute’s characters inspire only disdain. But his films and plays are undeniably tragic–“In the Company of Men,” “Your Friends and Neighbors,” […]

Previous Posts

Exclusive Sneak Peek from Episode 9 of ‘A.D. The Bible Continues’ featuring Mark Burnett and Roma Downey
[jwvideo vid='BvyIgfYp' pid='GvkPWNBE'] In an exclusive sneak peek from a brand new episode of ‘A.D. The Bible Continues’ executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey share not only what we will see in this coming episode but also a ...

posted 2:46:09pm May. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Grand Canyon University’s Center for Worship Arts Releases First EP Album, Receives Rave Reviews
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZkS1rx_5Hk[/youtube] Grand Canyon University’s Center for Worship Arts has released “Canyon Worship”, its first extended play album, and it’s already climbing Christian music charts for good ...

posted 10:59:32am May. 29, 2015 | read full post »

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 »

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