With NBC’s “The Book of Daniel” debuting tomorrow night, the Episcopal Church is weighing in on the drama–which centers around an Episcopal priest and his troubled family–via a blog of its own, cleverly titled “The Blog of Daniel.” Idol Chatter owes the Church a thank-you for focusing one of the blog’s early postings on a piece by yours truly that looks at the controversy over the show.
In related news, said controversy continues: Two NBC affiliates are refusing to show “Daniel.” And they’re probably not the only ones who will say no to it.
And, for one last shameless self-promotional plug: You can check out our reviewer’s assessment of the show here, or read my feature on the show–with quotes from the stars–here.
The bestselling non-fiction author alive has lost his television show. The Trinity Broadcasting Network, the nation’s largest Christian broadcaster, has suspended “The International Intelligence Briefing,” starring Hal Lindsey, whose apocalyptic book “The Late Great Planet Earth” has sold some 30 million copies and served as the template for the “Left Behind” fiction series. Lately most of Lindsey’s intelligence (as well as his most recent book) has worked to equate Islam and terrorism. As TBN has extended its reach overseas, including to the Middle East, it blanched at Lindsey’s insistence that the only Muslims who rejected violence had yet to read the Qu’ran.
At first, TBN said Lindsey’s show was being preempted by Christmas programming. Only later did a TBN executive admit that Lindsey’s program “placed Arabs in a negative light,” a waffle that has contributed to the idea among the most conservative Christians that TBN, operated by Christian broadcasting pioneers Paul and Jan Crouch, has lost both its moral compass and its stomach for conservatism. (“Is this the end of TBN?” asks one blogger.) Lindsey countered yesterday by quitting TBN, but his widespread support, and his plans to find an outlet for his new show, “The Hal Lindsey Report,” suggest a feud may be brewing in Christian media circles.
I’ve been told by just about everyone and their mother (quite literally) that HBO’s “The Sopranos“–starring James Gandolfini as New Jersey mafia boss Tony Soprano and Edie Falco as his wife Carmela–is the best show on television. Better than “The West Wing”? I have to say, I can’t imagine that’s possible. But after many years of resistance and despite the violence and contsant trips to the Bada Bing (a strip club they love to hang in, so not my thing), I decided to take the plunge and take part in HBO’s “Countdown to the Sopranos.” Starting in December, HBO released Season One to On Demand viewers, followed by Season Two yesterday, and so on and so forth until March 2006, when the long-awaited new Season Six finally airs (fans have been waiting almost two years now).
And I have to admit, now that I’m a little more than halfway through Season One and racing to watch all 13 episodes before getting too behind on Season 2′s release, I’m hooked. I’ve decided I’m in it for the long haul, between the utter complexity of Tony Soprano’s character–good-guy/caring family man/guy who’ll “wack” just about anyone who gets in his way–and the growing tension between Carmela and Father Phil, her confessor and the local parish priest, and all the hilarious Italian references and commentary that anyone growing up in an Italian family can’t help but recognize and love (that would be me). A total of 65 episodes, I figure there will be plenty of time between waiting for new episodes of “The West Wing” and the start of “24″ once again on Fox to catch up.
One of the highlights so far is in Episode 9, “Boca,” when Tony thrills at a moral milestone in his life: He resists doing serious violence to a man who is hurting his daughter Meadow and her friends–and instead turns him into the police. Perhaps there’s hope for Tony yet.
It’s no joke: Heath Ledger–in the new movie “Casanova,” playing the absolute antithesis of his role in Brokeback Mountain–actually utters the line, “What would Casanova do?” in an attempt to give an aspiring lover-boy advice and inspiration about how to get women into bed. Whether the allusion to WWJD is intentional or not is unclear, but I laughed out loud in the theater when Ledger delivered it.
Unlike Kris Rasmussen, my fellow blogger who reported going 0 for 2 in Christmas week movies (disliking both “Rumor Has It” and “Cheapter By the Dozen 2“), I had a bit more success. “Casanova” is a fun farce with a fantastic cast (Oliver Platt, Sienna Miller, Lena Olin, Jeremy Irons, and did I mention Heath Ledger?). Since legend has it that Casanova was quite the lady’s man of 18th-century Venice, and his name is known to us only by way of his fame as a seducer, you’d think the movie Casanova would be all about sex, sex, sex. But it’s not. Though there are certainly allusions to a good deal of sex, this movie is more about the romance that Kris complains is lacking in so many recently released movies. And a good deal of ridiculousness, swordfighting, and other fun things to watch on the big screen.
So if you’re looking for romance, Casanova gets an A in my book. (Getting to watch Heath Ledger on screen as a romantic lead for 105 minutes also gets an A as well.)