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Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

May 2007 Archives

ABC’s ‘Traveler': I’m Already a Believer

posted by Donna Freitas

I’ve already got a new television addiction for the summer months (thank God!). It may not be deep and layered like “The Sopranos” (I’ve maintained the ban on my former favorite HBO series since last season’s horribly disturbing Vito storyline), […]

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Is ‘Who Wants an American Organ?’ Next?

posted by Ellen Leventry

Reality shows have often toed the line between taste and tact–think “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire.” But there have been times when audiences find a concept even too distasteful for their voracious appetites–remember CBS’s cancelled-after-one-airing “The Will,” wherein the […]

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Will Ferrell Hits the Web

posted by Douglas Howe

Will Ferrell just made a new movie for free, and 30 million people have already seen it. What? You didn’t see the trailer? You didn’t hear the build-up? Not much talk about it on E! or Premiere? Welcome to a […]

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Turning Points for Lindsay, Britney, Paris?

posted by Douglas Howe

Lindsay Lohan was arrested again and is back in rehab. Britney Spears is blogging theology and confessions. Paris Hilton is talking about how much she dreads her upcoming jail sentence. Who decided that these women’s tales were newsworthy? I hope […]

Lohan’s Dad: Religion Can Save Lindsay

posted by Kris Rasmussen

With a possibly prophetic word of warning last week, Michael Lohan, dad to wild child Lindsay Lohan, spoke to the London tabloid The Mirror about his daughter’s struggles with substance abuse. Now that Lindsay checked herself back into rehab after […]

“Pirates 3″ is Worth It, for the “Code”

posted by Douglas Howe

I have to disagree with my esteemed Idol Chatter colleague Kris Rasmussen as well as, for that matter, several other reviewers, including CNN’s Tom Charity, Rolling Stone’s Peter Travis, and Time magazine’s Richard Schigel, all of whom offered strongly negative […]

‘Gracie': A New ‘Inconvenient Truth’?

posted by Idol Chatter

Davis Guggenheim, who took home an Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth,” has a fiction film hitting theaters this Friday. “Gracie,” which stars Carly Schroeder as a 14-year-old girl who goes from underdog to soccer champ in the aftermath of her […]

‘Pirates 3′: A Head-Spinning Flop

posted by Kris Rasmussen

If you are content with snazzy special effects, lots of swashbuckling action sequences and lots and lots of Johnny Depp one liners, then undoubtedly you will enjoy the third installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, “Pirates of the […]

‘The Yiddish Policeman’s Union': Novel Brings Jews to Alaska

posted by mkress

Reading Michael Chabon’s new “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union,” you can almost visualize the film noir to which this gripping novel pays homage–the down-and-out boozer of a detective, cracking wise as he pursues the truth; the mysterious murder victim, found dead […]

Dustin Kensrue’s ‘Please Come Home': Johnny Cash Punk

posted by Idol Chatter

Below is a review of “Please Come Home,” the new solo album from singer Dustin Kensrue, frontman for post-hardcore band Thrice. It was the winning entry of a student writing contest at Biola University, a Christian evangelical school in Southern […]

Want to Experience the Hajj?

posted by Idol Chatter

What is it like to perform the Hajj? The only people who can tell this story are the Muslims who have been there. So how can everyone else–Muslims and non-Muslims–get a real sense of what it is like? Sure, documentaries […]

‘Lost': You’re a Good Man, Charlie

posted by shuang

“All these survivors are capable of great sacrifice … in the spirit of the community.”- Executive Producer, Carlton CuseSince the castaways of Oceanic Flight 815 landed on a mysterious island three seasons ago in “Lost“, we have seen ordinary people […]

Kassie DePaiva: It’s Our Life to Live

posted by Paul O'Donnell

There’s Christian theology, full of hope for redemption and miraculous conversions, and then there’s country music. On her witty, bluegrass-inflected album, “I Want to Love You,” (out this week) Kassie DePaiva sings about heartache and being down to your last […]

The Passion of Paris Hilton

posted by Paul O'Donnell

What is it about prison–or just the prospect of it–that makes people find religion? Headed for a 23-day sentence that begins June 5, socialite Paris Hilton has been spotted toting the Bible and the nondenominational meditation “The Power of Now” […]

Who Represents Christianity in Hollywood?

posted by Douglas Howe

Beliefnet’s Dena Ross has a current story and gallery up, a feature on the Christian music artists. “According to Nielsen SoundScan, the Christian/gospel category was one of only four genres that saw its overall album sales grow last year,” she […]

‘American Idol': Christian Music Artist Wins Song Writing Contest

posted by Kris Rasmussen

Furthering the conspiracy theory that Christians are scewing the results of this year’s “American Idol” finale, the song that won this year’s first-ever “American Idol” songwriting contest and sung by finalist Blake Lewis was written by a longtime Christian music […]

The Martin Luther of IHOP

posted by Donna Freitas

For “Onion” fans out there who also appreciate all things religious, you’ve got to read this. This week, “The Onion” has a hilarious faux-story about a man who posted a “modern-day” 95 Theses (think Martin Luther), in the form of […]

‘Heroes': Unconditional Love Saves the Day

posted by Donna Freitas

I spent most of last night’s “Heroes” season finale half-cowering under the covers, worrying that one of my favorite new super-powered friends wouldn’t make it to see another season. It was a nail-biter in other words. Would Hiro Nakamura–television’s most […]

Shrek (Yawn) the Third

posted by Douglas Howe

I really wasn’t too cynical about yet another mega-franchise sequel in this summer’s movie line-up. I wanted to be sure that I saw “Shrek the Third” with a lot of kids in the audience, including a few from my own […]

Master PG: A Rap Label with Non-Offensive Lyrics

posted by Ellen Leventry

TMZ.com and other media outlets are reporting that rapper and entrepreneur Master P is starting a record label with his son Romeo (nee L’il Romeo) “for hip hop artists with street music without offensive lyrics.” Take A Stand Records is […]

D’oh! Idol Chatter Presents Our Favorite “Simpsons” Moments

posted by dali

Don’t tell me you missed it. America’s longest-running sitcom and animated series, “The Simpsons,” aired it’s 400th episode on Sunday–a hilarious showdown between decency guru Ned Flanders and doofus newsman Kent Brockman over an alleged indecent on-air comment. It was […]

Psychiatric Sopranos

posted by Ellen Leventry

There’s an old psychiatrists’ joke that goes: “If you’re a jerk, and you go talk to a psychiatrist about being a jerk, afterwards you’ll still be a jerk. But you’ll feel good about it.” The same might be said for […]

‘Desperate Housewives': Two Weddings and a Suicide?

posted by Donna Freitas

Though I know “Desperate Housewives” mostly as a funny, fluffy confection of marital and familial melodrama, acted superbly by its four female leads, it never fails to remind audiences of its deeper, darker side–and just when you least expect it. […]

Is ‘Mr. Deity’ Blasphemous? Or Just Funny?

posted by Idol Chatter

As a Christian, I can tell you that Christians can have a tendency to take their religion a wee bit too seriously. Not that religion isn’t serious, but it’s also ripe for humor, right? Too often we confuse disrespecting God […]

The Repentance World: The End of Denver

posted by jmcgee

Back in November, I wrote about the developing friendship between two Christians on The Real World: Denver—Davis the Southern Baptist homosexual and Stephen the conservative Christian. Their discord was due to Davis’ homosexuality which Stephen deemed reprehensible for a Christian. […]

A Beautiful, Baleful ‘Betty’

posted by Ellen Leventry

I love Betty Suarez. I admit when I reviewed the “Ugly Betty” pilot oh so many months ago, I was lukewarm, but mostly optomistic about the Salma Hayek-produced show based on the popular telenovela “Yo Soy Betty La Fea.” In […]

Leah Laughs at Lopez Rumors

posted by Ellen Leventry

“King of Queens” star, and prominent Scientologist, Leah Remini is denying that there’s anything to her friendship with music/movie star Jennifer Lopez other than wanting to hang out with “a fabulous girl.” Recent reports not only have Remini trying to […]

Double Sacrifice on “Smallville” Season Finale?

posted by Donna Freitas

I am happy to report at least one bit of good news about the end of Smallville’s Season Six: the CW network finally released to fans their re-ups for next season which include “One Tree Hill,” “Supernatural,” and “Smallville.” Fans […]

What is the Legacy of ‘7th Heaven’

posted by lmarcus

This past Sunday the CW aired the series finale of “7th Heaven,” one of the most successful family dramas in history. At some point, any show that runs a long time runs the risk of veering into soap opera territory. […]

Yolanda King: Melding Acting and Civil Rights

posted by Paul O'Donnell

If you’re reading this blog, you likely have some appreciation for how pop entertainment can impact our spiritual lives–perhaps in our present condition, more effectively than formal religion. Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter Yolanda, who died Tuesday at the age […]

‘Road Rules': Christian Girl Loses Her Religion

posted by lmarcus

I love bad TV. And what’s worse than MTV’s “The Real World/Road Rules Challenge,” which combines three bad TV staples (“The Real World,” “Road Rules,” and people doing idiotic stunts for prizes) into one frothy package? The Challenge also has […]

Who Will Not Replace Jerry Falwell?

posted by Douglas Howe

The fact that Jerry Fallwell’s passing is being treated as a major media event brings both a resounding affirmation of his impact upon the politics of our country as well as the compelling question about who will take his place–and […]

Goodbye “Gilmore Girls”

posted by Kris Rasmussen

Though I resigned myself to the series end of “Gilmore Girls” an entire year ago when creator/producer/writer Amy Sherman-Palladino left the show, I have to say that it was more difficult than I thought to say good-bye to Lorelai, Rory […]

Travolta Takes the Scientology Reins

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Is John Travolta the new face of Scientology? This week Travolta called on the BBC to kill a segment critical of the organization after BBC reporter John Sweeney screamed at a Scientology representative, “like a jet engine,” in Sweeney’s own […]

‘American Idol': The Battle of the Right?

posted by Kris Rasmussen

I have posted before about how I completely avoid “American Idol.” I could care less if booted contestant Chris Sligh was Christian enough or what the world should think about Sanjaya’s hair. But still, Idol mania in the media is […]

The Final Days of Tammy Faye

posted by Kris Rasmussen

The ex-wife of televangelist Jim Bakker, Tammy Faye Messner, has made a name for herself over the years since the scandal collapse of Bakker’s PTL Club for her over-the-top make-up and personality that appealed, for inexplicable reasons, to both certain […]

Sexing Up the Holy Land

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Israel has a difficult relationship with American culture. On the one hand, Israel creates its own culture and doesn’t want to be an America’s clone. And then there’s the other hand, the celeb-obsessed, hypersexualized American pop culture-consuming hand that resents […]

‘Desperate Housewives': Tom and Lynette Reunite?

posted by Kris Rasmussen

While ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” is known for its over-the-top storylines and tawdry sexual affairs, it is an emotional–not literal–affair that has been at the front and center of the show’s final episodes.Lynette and Tom, the somewhat “normal” couple of Wisteria […]

Watch Tonight: What Will the Future Hold?

posted by Douglas Howe

Tonight’s national 6:30 pm time slot features a potentially wonderfully new kind of drama. This one has to do with the future, but there will be no voting, no calling in, and no consolation prize of an appearance on Leno […]

‘Spider-Man 3′: Why So Dark?

posted by Douglas Howe

Spider-Man 3″ took a huge fall this past weekend. Sure, it took in $60 million, but that was a 60 percent drop-off from its opening weekend, which meant the hype and marketing worked great but the movie itself didn’t go […]

’20/20’s’ Failed Faith

posted by Ellen Leventry

You know that feeling of disappointment you get when you tune into your favorite TV show expecting to get a new episode, and it turns out to be a cleverly concealed clip-show? Sure, it’s artfully put together, but you wanted […]

Woody Allen is Our Homeboy

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I’ve been really amazed by how prevalent Jewish expression seems to be in popular culture these days. Of course, I live in New York so Jewish visibility is likely to be high. I was slightly incredulous when that Gap ad […]

Mr. T Celebrates Mothers

posted by dross

Although “insult fighting,”where people verbally abuse each other and their mothers, has been around for ages, it’s been most recently popularized by shows like MTV’s “Yo Mama.” That’s why it’s so refreshing that this classic Mr. T music video celebrating […]

’20/20′: All About Faith

posted by dali

Tonight’s “20/20″ on ABC looks to be a fascinating two-hour special on all aspects of faith and spirituality. The show is known for producing such specials on a variety of subjects, and tonight’s episode covers nearly all “hot” aspects of […]

Unveiling Jacob (or Not) on ‘Lost’

posted by shuang

Wednesday’s “Lost” episode veered deeper into supernatural territory as Locke (and viewers) got their first glimpse of Jacob … or, more correctly, didn’t. After forcing Ben to take him to see Jacob, the supposed Man behind the man behind the […]

Where Celebrities Find Their Spirituality

posted by dali

Where do celebrities find their spirituality? It could be in the garden, on the golf course, or in their singing, performing comedy, or even drumming. A new Beliefnet gallery highlights all the fascinating ways that different celebrities–like “Everybody Loves Raymond’s” […]

Who Needs Faith? Not Atheists…or Kirk Cameron

posted by Patton Dodd

It was no Andrew Sullivan vs. Sam Harris, nor Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson, but last night’s “Nightline” debate (the first in an unpromising new series called “Face Off”) between Christians Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron and atheists Brian Sapient […]

Prophet, Prince, and King?

posted by Ellen Leventry

Even in these trying times, there are many reasons why America is a great country. My favorite is that we are a land of constant reinvention–from personalities to politics, personas and platforms continue to evolve. The most recent case in […]

A “Secret” Experiment with Hilarious Results

posted by Donna Freitas

For anyone else like me who can’t seem to stop making fun of Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret” (OK, so I’ve been obsessively blogging about it–first about the DVD review, again about a New York Times feature, and yes, still another […]

Rabbi Radio is Now Online

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A few months ago, Idol Chatter brought you the news that Beliefnet contributer Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of CLAL–The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and an oft-sought voice on public culture and religion in the public square, was […]

’24′: Brokenness Replaces Heroism

posted by Douglas Howe

A new kind of heroic character trait has emerged on “24:” Brokenness.Brokenness happens far beyond issues of ethics, morals, or even heroism. It’s the occasion of a life event that almost none of us would ever ask for but that […]

Election ’08: A New (Better!) Version of an Old Series

posted by Douglas Howe

One of the newest versions of an old TV series is off and running, and I think it shows signs of being the best its ever been–and the most faith-based as well. Like “American Idol,” the losers will dwindle towards […]

Depression and ‘Sopranos': Old News

posted by Ellen Leventry

I must confess, like many devoted “Sopranos” viewers, I did not return to the show this season. It wasn’t Season Six’s much-reviled metaphysical and spiritual meanderings that deterred me, but the fact that HBO was offering up tastier fare, such […]

Who has Bad Karma? Paris Hilton, or Us?

posted by lmarcus

Over the weekend, I logged onto one of my favorite websites, Go Fug Yourself, to get their take on the most important celebutante-related gossip of the weekend: Paris Hilton being sentenced to 45 days in jail. Sure enough, their top […]

Good Guys Can’t (Usually) Play Villains

posted by Douglas Howe

Time Magazine’s current issue focuses on the many actors who are moving somewhat out of (typical) character to play villains this summer, and reflects on some of the more memorable villains of all time. James Franco will probably be the […]

A Second James Frey-Type Memoir Controversy?

posted by Donna Freitas

Ever since James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” debacle, with Oprah tearing up the author for fabricating large swaths of his “memoir” (not long after praising him in a show devoted to his book), the whole genre has been under […]

‘Waitress’ is this Summer’s Must-See Flick

posted by Donna Freitas

“Waitress,” directed by Adrienne Shelly, is this year’s “Little Miss Sunshine,” and Keri Russell as Jenna, is this movie’s equivalent to Reese Witherspoon’s Golden Globe-nominated turn as Tracy Flick in “Election.” The former “Felicity” star gives the performance of a […]

‘Spider-Man 3′ Inspires–Eventually

posted by Kris Rasmussen

While I am not a big comic book superhero fan, I have always enjoyed the Spider-Man franchise for its unabashed mix of adventure and nerdishness with a touch of humor. And I can hardly argue with the recurring moral theme […]

‘Gilmore Girls': How Will it End?

posted by Donna Freitas

It’s official: After seven seasons the era of “The Gilmore Girls” is coming to an end. Yesterday Variety announced the news, confirming long-held suspicions among fans of the show: “After weeks of talks aimed at bringing the show back for […]

‘House’ Hugely Crosses the Ethical Line

posted by Ellen Leventry

I have a friend who would joke that he and his wife had a second child so that they would have spare parts for the first. While he was clearly being silly, there have been cases in the last few […]

Tribeca Film Festival: ‘Passio’ is No Divine Experience

posted by Idol Chatter

It seems reasonable to assume that a film whose soundtrack is a setting of the Passion of Christ from the Gospel of John will have a religious or spiritual theme. The film “Passio” by Paolo Cherchi Usai, presented during the […]

Damah Film Festival Showcases Spiritual Short Films

posted by Kris Rasmussen

Many feature film directors learned the craft of moviemaking by originally making short films early in their careers. The Damah Festival, one of the most successful spiritually-themed film festivals (which focuses on short films), opens in Los Angeles starting tomorrow. […]

In Mormons We Trust

posted by Paul O'Donnell

We’re all Mormons. That was the essence, anyway, of the first half of “The Mormons,” the Frontline/American Experience documentary that concluded last night on PBS. The film implies that the founding myth about the United States–that Americans were a pilgrim […]

From Santa Angelina to St. James?

posted by Ellen Leventry

Remember the 2000 Oscar’s when Angelina shocked the viewing audience by declaring in her acceptance speech that she was “so in love” with her brother, James Haven, and actually snogged with him? Definitely different. While little was known at the […]

And a Muppet Shall Lead Them

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Politicians? Diplomats? World leaders? Does anyone know what to do with the Middle East conflict? It seems to be the consensus that children in the region learn from their parents and the society that surrounds them–and those messages are hard […]

What’s the Difference Between the Dalai Lama and Nine Inch Nails?

posted by Paul O'Donnell

It’s been obvious for some time that the Dalai Lama has rock-star status. A funny piece in yesterday’s Contra Costa Times gives us the particulars: Organizers of his appearances, often in halls made famous by ’60s musical attractions, face “many […]

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