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Idol Chatter

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“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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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A Prayer for Andre

posted by doug howe

The only thing America loves more than a winner is an underdog. Andre Agassi has been the former AND the latter… twice. Monday night, I had to stay up past midnight to watch him win a 4-set match in the […]

Tom Cruise: I’ve Found the Villian, and It Is I

posted by doug howe

Forget “Shame on Tom.” How about “shame on us.” In reading several articles and blog pieces–including Idol Chatter’s reliable Kris Rasumussen’s–I think almost everyone has missed the real point. Tom’s exit from Paramount wasn’t due as much to his behavior […]

“Justice” Isn’t Blind, But Thin

posted by doug howe

The “Law” side of “Law & Order” meets “CSI” and “Boston Legal” in Jerry Bruckheimer’s new TV series “Justice,” debuting tonight on FOX. While Bruckheimer’s countless action movies have became more intelligent over time, this show seems to be more […]

I Want My MTV?

posted by doug howe

MTV celebrated its 25th anniversary last week, but I couldn’t figure out what they were celebrating. I find myself singing the Dire Straits’ classic lyric, “I want my MTV,” because my MTV–or, at least, good MTV–hasn’t been seen in a […]

Welcome to Football Television Nation USA

posted by doug howe

There no longer is a Sabbath Day in Football Television Nation USA. Am I the only one who remembers a time when the colleges played on Saturday, the NFL played on Sunday afternoon, Monday Night Football was a special treat, […]

Mel’s Sins–and Ours

posted by doug howe

A lot has been made of Mel Gibson’s recent indiscretions and its bearing on the national cultural character assessment. Whether it is media hype, national fascination, authentic character examination, or passing conversation, it has become the job of many to […]

The “Lather” Pack?

posted by doug howe

A little indie movie called “The Lather Effect” is making the rounds in art houses and is screening at the L.A. Independent Film Festival. It’s a small movie in the true spirit of independent film. Its director (Sarah Kelly) has […]

Cleaning Up the Cussing: It’s About Time

posted by doug howe

At first, it sounded like an unfair bureaucratic issue. Paula Kerger, the new President and CEO of PBS, has been speaking publicly about her fear that PBS may face fines for violating the “fine print” of FCC laws in its […]

“24” Rolls On, Even During Hiatus

posted by doug howe

Last season’s “24” ended months ago and next season’s series won’t start until January. I’m not sure there’s another show on TV that could retain an audience over that long of a hiatus, but perhaps one reason it works is […]

James Taylor a “Wuss”?

posted by doug howe

Blender magazine has named James Taylor the #1 “wuss” ever. According to the magazine, J.T. is accused of initiating “an era of confessional, listen-to-my-troubles singer/songwriters” and turning “self-examination into a hallmark of the baby-boom generation.” J.T.? A “wuss”? You’ve got […]

“Click”-ing on Sandler Can Be Spiritual

posted by doug howe

Of the two time-travel related movies available this July 4th weekend–and sans the existence of a wonderful July 4-ish movie like “National Treasure” or “Independence Day”–here’s why I highly recommend “Click” over its play-with-temporal-reality competition, “The Lake House.” First, I’m […]

Aaron Spelling: Crowd Pleaser, Crowd Shaper

posted by doug howe

With the amount of TV that most of us watch, it’s inevitable–much as we try to resist or deny it–that the small screen shapes our worldview and our national conversation. To that end, a significant cultural leader passed away this […]

Pink Floyd’s Latest “Wall”

posted by doug howe

A British singer borrows an American president’s phrase when painting graffiti on Israeli property that is characterized by Palestinians as a land grab. I’m not sure what I am more struck by: the scope of history, politics, music, and culture […]

The Real Reality TV

posted by doug howe

While an avalanche of “reality TV” shows fill our airwaves, I’m still glad for seasons like this, when the truest reality TV—sports television—has a large presence. Rarely is that presence greater than the once-every-four-years season of World Cup soccer, the […]

What’s Your Most Inspiring Film of All-Time?

posted by doug howe

The American Film Institute is conducting another one of its “ballots,” this time searching for the Top 100 Inspirational Films of All Time. It’s called “100 Years… 100 Cheers,” and serves as an addition to prior efforts listing the best […]

“I’ll have Yo-Yo Ma, Britney, and a Grande Mocha”

posted by doug howe

If you’re like me, the worlds of spiritual reflection and cultural relevance often meet at Starbucks, where I go for anything from solitude and reflection time to business meetings or reunions with friends. So I’m a Starbucks lover, but I’m […]

Here’s Where “The Da Vinci Code” Gets Personal

posted by doug howe

“The Da Vinci Code” is finally here. The P.R. machine that had Tom Hanks and his “Da Vinci” ‘do at the Oscars and trailers running for a year has succeeded. The reviews are out. Ministries around the world are spreading […]

“The West Wing”: Boring Finale, Awesome Legacy

posted by doug howe

“The West Wing” will go down in television history as one of the most wonderfully relevant shows and enduring DVD buys, even if its series finale was, dang it, such a bore. I enjoyed reading Michael Kress’s blog piece about […]

Obnoxious Civility

posted by doug howe

This week’s Boston Legal again took several shots at the George W. Bush administration, especially on the topics of abortion, womens’ rights, Bush’s random out-of-step-ness with society, and our alleged patriarchal approach to foreign policy. It got me–a Bush-loving Republican–to […]

On the Indigo Girls, Methodists, Lesbians, and Love

posted by doug howe

One of Beliefnet’s news stories this weekened was about Emily Saliers, a lesbian who is one-half of the singing group The Indigo Girls. She was invited to be a speaker at the United Methodist Women’s Assembly this past weekend in […]

On “Mission: Impossible III”–and Seeking a Real Hero

posted by doug howe

Just before going to see Mission: Impossible III, I caught glimpses of the teaser trailers for both Superman and Casino Royale (the newest 007 sequel). That turned out to be a good thing, since these trailers gave me something to […]

Springsteen’s Seeger and More

posted by doug howe

I’m a Bruce Springsteen fan who’s had some fine spiritual reflections—and many moments of enjoyment—courtesy of Bruce’s music and writing. Usually it happens when the E-Street band is behind him, so I wasn’t necessarily excited about his new CD, “We […]

Go See “United 93″

posted by doug howe

Most docudramas, miniseries, and movies “inspired by actual events” are too long, too dramatic, and stray too far from the facts. “United 93” isn’t one of them, and I must disagree with my colleague, Michael, who wrote that he didn’t […]

Sequel Summer! (What a Shame)

posted by doug howe

May is about here and with it comes the kickoff of the summer movie season, which looks like it will be far different than last summer, when May’s bombs and semi-bombs included “Kingdom of Heaven,” “Monster-in-Law,” and “Kicking and Screaming,” […]

Time for a TV Turn-off?

posted by doug howe

You may not think of yourself as a rebel, but if you’re watching TV this week, you’re working against the efforts of Robert Kesten and his team at the TV-Turnoff Network, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that’s behind “Turn Off Your […]

Welcome to Church: Here’s Your Earplugs!

posted by doug howe

Several news outlets reported this weekend that Episcopal churches are piping in U2 music as part of their services–even their liturgy–in an effort to preach the message of ending global poverty. “As the electric guitar in the U2 anthem ‘Pride […]

A Display of Mastery–of Biblical Proportions

posted by doug howe

The Masters golf tournament may not command the television ratings of the Super Bowl and March Madness, but it still qualifies as one of the cultural sports holidays that many Americans gather around and observe religiously. During Sunday’s final round, […]

Heeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Jay and Paul!

posted by doug howe

All of the wires, websites, and blogs that are talking about Paul Newman’s appearance on last night’s “Tonight Show” are missing what I thought was the most powerful part of the evening. Paul Newman ate dog food, discussed his charitable […]

Not Basic and Not Much Instinct

posted by doug howe

There was something redeeming—or at least potentially redeeming—about the first “Basic Instinct” in 1992. One or two tantalizing scenes could not have been enough to drive all of the $350 million it made, nor would they have sustained celebrity status […]

Don’t Be a Stupid Girl (or Guy)!

posted by doug howe

Imagine getting the family together for some nice evening TV and watching a music video showing: • A girl pulling a string on her sweater to immediately enhance her breast size;• A girl in a tanning booth looking gross, then […]

Practical Polygamy on “Boston Legal”

posted by doug howe

ABC’s “Boston Legal” regularly raises ethical and moral questions, and this week’s topic was polygamy. Two sharp and attractive clients babysit each other’s kids and share groceries, lawn equipment… and Ray Anderson. “We’ve done nothing wrong, there is no victim […]

A Little Ethics Before “West Wing” Ends

posted by doug howe

“The West Wing’s” great run is on its last leg, but producers are making a run to the finish, which will include special guest appearances (Jon Bon Jovi’s on next week) and cameos from the show’s former stars. I was […]

Different Thumbs for Clooney, Altman

posted by doug howe

I usually like what fellow blogger Kris Rasmussen has to say, but had to disagree with her praise of Robert Altman and pan of George Clooney when it came to Oscar speeches. She called Clooney’s “the worst, most self-aggrandizing speech […]

Nine Big Moments–and the Missing One

posted by doug howe

As the cameras intrude further and further upon what used to be private Oscars night moments, we the audience get to witness fewer and fewer (truly) authentic moments. It’s an increasingly scripted evening, which is why some of my favorite […]

Colbert and Campolo

posted by doug howe

After reading about “The Colbert Report” and its penchant for luring distinguished public figures into making complete fools of themselves, I tuned in last night, and who was the guest? None other than a Beliefnet favorite, Tony Campolo, a nationally […]

Time to Pray on ’24’

posted by doug howe

At this point in Season Five of “24,” The president of the United States has been brought to a place of asking his chief of staff to pray with him. The chief of staff balks, saying “This is a personal […]

Law & Order in the Journey

posted by doug howe

Whether its prime time or not, weekday or weekend, holidays, sweeps period, or any other time of the year, it doesn’t take long to see that cop shows and court shows are very popular these days. “CSI,” “Cold Case,” “Law […]

Bracelet: Conviction or Convenience

posted by doug howe

Ellen Leventry’s blog entry regarding Sasha Cohen’s Kabbalah bracelet was an interesting piece that brings up an interesting issue that should be seriously debated—or at least reflected on—in our culture: the difference between religion, spirituality, superstition, karma, luck, faith, and […]

When the “Good Guys” Do the Killing

posted by doug howe

My wife and I viewed two movies this weekend, and we saw a lot of killing. “Firewall” is the new Harrison Ford release. In it, he’s the “good guy” and kills a lot of the “bad guys” who are holding […]

Current Reality in Living Black & White

posted by doug howe

Trivia time: Guess where these words about current events came from: • “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.” • “You can’t convict people by rumor, hearsay, and innuendo.” • “We can not defeat terror abroad without confronting it here […]

Putting a Spear Into Selfish Spirituality

posted by doug howe

“End of the Spear” is the story of how Jim Elliot followed the spiritual promptings within him –and set in motion an unexpected series of events. In short, he and some buddies believed they should give their lives to reach […]

The Real Questions of ’24’

posted by doug howe

Watching this season of ’24’ continue to unfold, I’m moved to continue the debate I’ve been having with fellow Idol Chatterer Donna Freitas on the show and its hero, Jack Bauer. (Read my original posting here, and her response here.) […]

Life (Really?) From the Golden Globes!

posted by doug howe

Two wonderful signposts on the spiritual pathway are humor and humility, both of which were present and on display at this year’s Golden Globes ceremony. They were characterized by Joaquin Phoenix’ quickly famous line, “Who would have ever thought I’d […]

Rites of Passage: Brutal… or Just Shorter?

posted by doug howe

Saturday night at 9, the National Geographic Channel’s “Taboo” series presents a look at “Rites of Passage” from around the world. Tune in, TiVo it, or have someone record it. Here’s why: This show visits different cultures from around the […]

’24’ & Its Murky Hero Return to Fight Another Day

posted by doug howe

“24” returns to Fox this Sunday after a loooong lay-off, and it’s about time. “24” is the kind of dynamic and necessary post-modern good vs. evil story that we need, because most of us have little tolerance for easy feel-good […]

“Daniel,” Jay, and Jesus

posted by doug howe

From Jay Leno last night, referring to Jesus’ occasional appearances as a character in NBC’s “The Book of Daniel“: Tough year for Jesus. Last year, He was the superstar leading character of the biggest movie of the year, “The Passion […]

Culturally Acceptable Prayers?

posted by doug howe

It was a tragedy that coal miners were trapped in Tallmansville, West Virginia, and an even greater tragedy that news spread of 12 survivors when in fact there was only one. Whenever hard things happen, it is heartwrenching and I […]

Is the World Ending? Join the Left Behind Prophecy Club and Find Out

posted by doug howe

The world is closer to its end… or so suggested the press release set to Beliefnet by the Left Behind Prophecy Club (associated with, and intended to increase sales of, the highly successful “Left Behind” series). It pointed to such […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Previous Posts

Dr. Ted Baehr Ranked Among the Top 50 Christian Leaders in America
Newsmax just released their annual list of the top 100 Christian leaders in America who make a real impact on modern lives. Included in their list is Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of the family-friendly Movieguide. His position ranks ...

posted 9:53:33am Apr. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Super Soul Sunday: Ageless Living with Oprah and Dr. Christiane Northrup
Oprah talks to Dr. Christiane Northrup, New York Times bestselling author and pioneer in the field of women’s health and wellness, for a conversation about empowering everyone to trust their inner wisdom, following your heart’s desire and ...

posted 10:14:42am Apr. 23, 2015 | read full post »

The New ‘Jurassic World’ Trailer is Here, And It Doesn’t Disappoint
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJJrkyHas78[/youtube] Jurassic Park fans: this may just be the sequel you've been waiting for. The new Jurassic World trailer, released this week is jam-packed with action and full of surprises ...

posted 9:09:39am Apr. 21, 2015 | read full post »

Meet Vera, a main character in the upcoming show “The Messengers.”
Meet Vera, a main character in the upcoming show “The Messengers.” In The CW’s new drama “The Messengers,” Shantel Van Santen plays Vera, radio-astronomer whose son was kidnapped seven years ago. Vera has struggled since losing her ...

posted 12:24:16pm Apr. 17, 2015 | read full post »

‘Little Boy’ is a Story for Everyone
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_BdzqsIX6A The question this father and son always have for each other during their adventures is "Do you believe we can do this?"  The answer is always "Yes, partner." If you’re a big fan of a movie ...

posted 5:01:43pm Apr. 13, 2015 | read full post »

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