Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Forget the Oscars… Introducing the Beliefnet Film Awards

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What was the best spiritual film of 2005? I’m not talking about the latest “Left Behind” flick, or even “The Gospel,” but rather: What big, mainstream film offered both the highest-quality filmmaking and a meaningful, thoughtful spiritual message? That’s the question we’re trying to answer with the first-ever Beliefnet Film Awards. We’ve put together a panel of experts–including several of the regular Idol Chatter bloggers whom you know and love–to debate the options and vote for a winner. But we’re also looking for your input and your vote, so speak up and let us know what you think.

But, wait, there’s more: In addition to naming a Best Spiritual Film of 2005, we’re also going to name the Best Spiritual Documentary of last year and a Lifetime Achievement winner.

Click here to see all the nominees, read what our panelists say, and cast your vote. And remember–if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the winners when it’s all over. So let us know what you think, before it’s too late.

What Becomes a Legend, but Not a Clarkson

posted by burb

Why is it that James Legend thanks God for his Grammy and it fits him like his Valentino tuxedo, while Kelly Clarkson awkwardly sputters something about “Jesus, God and everybody who has supported me” and it sounds like a parody of someone who just won best casserole at the church fair? It’s got to be the same reason Kanye West takes “Jesus Walks” to the mic and the top of the charts while U2 has to dance coyly around Bono’s apparent fascination with Christian thought. Invariably, black musicians’ relative ease with spirituality is attributed to the intact connection between church music and popular music in the African-American community. From Aretha to Cece Wynans, African-American singers don’t have to choose between gospel or rock. But is this a stereotype cooked up by armchair ethno-religionists? Or is John Legend just cooler than Kelly?

In related news, the chattering classes are noticing that Clarkson managed to thank Jesus, but not “Idol.”

New Line’s New Nativity Play

posted by kris rasmussen

When Hollywood goes looking for someone to helm a new feature film on the Virgin Mary and her life with Joseph prior to the birth of Christ , who do you think is considered to be the most qualfied? Mel Gibson? Nah. Too obvious. Perhaps Ralph Winter ( X-Men), who’s overtly Christian and a super-successful film producer? No, according to yesterday’s edition of the “Hollywood Reporter”, the best artistic choice to direct the next religious epic on the big screen is Catherine Hardwicke, a director whose sole semi-successful film credit is “Lords of Dogtown,” a movie about the skateboarding culture of Venice Beach back in the ’70s.

Supposedly, New Line Cinema, which is producing the film, has said it is hiring Hardwicke because they want a strong female perspective to be embodied within this project. The script is said to follow the journey of Mary and Joseph as their love, faith, and beliefs are tested. Given Hardwicke’s success with a ’70s-era story, I’m wondering if this new movie will also have some groovy tie-dye, an awesome Led Zeppelin/Black Sabbath soundtrack, and an ” I am not a crook” bumper sticker for good measure.

Making Peace With Kanye West

posted by dena ross

Although there was an all-star lineup of performers at last night’s Grammy Awards, there was little surprise—for me, anyway—when the winners were announced. For those who read my blog entry yesterday, you’ll allow me a moment to gloat that that four out of my five “Who will win” picks were on target. (I was off on Album of the Year. I’ll do better next year.)

But in truth, I don’t really watch the show, year after year, to root for my favorite artists. I just really love the musical acts.

Take Bono’s performance with R & B singer Mary J. Blige of U2’s hit, “One.” The song’s message—that we’re all one and we’ve got to share the love and “carry each other”—is timeless, but it seems a heck of a lot more relevant now than it was back in 1991, when the song was first released.

As projectors circled the stage with the word “one” lit up in different languages, Bono and Mary held hands and belted out the lyrics. It was very heartwarming—until I noticed Mary trying to upstage Bono by singing louder and louder. I thought it was pretty funny. I mean, I thought we were supposed to be “one,” Mary?

Another interesting moment occurred right after Mariah Carey sang her hit, “We Belong Together.” As cameras panned to Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher, who was on stage to present the next award, Teri exclaimed, “I feel like we’ve all just been saved!” That made me gag. If Diva Mariah’s voice—which I’m convinced is just screeching, passed off as music—is going to “save me,” I’ll start packing up the sunblock for a extended vacation in hell.

Oddly enough, I felt the most genuine moment of the night was Kanye West and Jamie Fox’s performance. Dressed as members of a marching band, with drummers and cheerleader dancers behind them, the duo sang, “Gold Digger,” off of Kanye’s award-winning album, “Late Registration.” And as they did, I was lifted and inspired by the sound of the background vocals and beat of the drums, and I was captivated by the dancing. A little less by the lyrics, but that’s a whole other issue.

Since Kanye’s rise to popularity with “Jesus Walks,” he’s been the artist I love to hate. And, although many consider Kanye to be one of the most egotistical artists out there (myself included), I have to give credit where credit is due and say that he is one of the best live entertainers I’ve ever seen. He’s talented, energetic, and committed to success.

So I guess this year, the best part of the Grammys wasn’t seeing some of my favorite singers perform live, or even being able to brag to my friends that I’m a modern-age Nostradamus. This year’s Grammys will go down in history, for me at least, as the night I made peace with Kanye West.

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