Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

The odyssey of Katie Lapp comes to TV…As Chief Content Officer of the Odyssey Networks, the respected developer of faith-based movies, television and online programming,  was there at the beginning as Beverly Lewis’ enormously popular Amish saga known as The Heritage of Lancaster County made its way to television. Beginning with The Shunningthe books tell the story of Katie Lapp, a young woman who was raised by Amish parents but how finds that her true heritage may lie outside the community she has known and loved since infancy. Odyssey partnered with Believe Pictures to bring The Shunning to Hallmark Channel in 2011. The Confession, part two of the trilogy, airs tonight (Saturday, May 11) at 9:00 PM ET.

JWK:  What is it about Beverly Lewis’ Heritage of Lancaster County trilogy that appealed to you?

MD: Very, very well.
MD: Yeah, that’s a great promotion by GSN. The team there is just great. It’s like having an army of P.R. and marketing and so they’ve been terrific and they came up with this idea which I think is just terrific and fun.
MD: Yes! I’m still working on that. I’m hoping that the successful wind that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have started blowing about with their huge blockbuster The Bible will breathe some new life into the miniseries that we developed with Scott Abbott. I have a couple of opportunities that we’re pursuing on that. So, if you could…say a prayer…Hopefully, in a few weeks I might know more. You never give up on these projects. You invest the money (and) you believe in what you’ve developed. You and I have talked before about Odyssey being uniquely positioned in that we (hang) in there with projects. It’s not about high volume and turnover. It’s about doing projects that we think will have a positive impact and, again, harkens to these messages of forgiveness, transformation and redemption. Virtue-tainment.  We stick with things…The Maccabees is one of the greatest stories of the battle of faith that’s never been told on film. With the success of The Bible and some of these other historical pieces that have been done — you’re watching The Vikings doing very well — I think there is an absolute market for this.
JWK: What else is on the Odyssey horizon?
MD: Well, we’re doing some more projects with Hallmark Channel, developing a couple of movies that they have an eye on for airing in 2014…I’m actively looking for material, probably more along the lines of books. We’ve got the rights to a couple of different franchises now that I’m starting to take out as either limited series or series — all of them still with a footprint in the faith market.
JWK: Are you developing any potential ongoing weekly series, such as dramas or sitcoms?
MD: Well that’s exactly where we’re headed. Two of them are sort of in the drama area…I’ve secured the rights to this book that I’ve gotten set up as a feature film and that’ll be our first feature. So, that’s exciting. We’ve got a couple of other things.
JWK: I know that Odyssey is pioneering online development and distribution. Any news there?
MD: Everything is changing so quickly in the online world (as) you look at the success of Netflix and their two series — Hemlock Grove and House of Cards. I think what we’re looking to do right now is really kind of focus in on existing content brands that we’re establishing and look to build out through that. So, (for example), On Scripture, we’re gonna really start to look at ways in which we can take that into the online education market or premium subscriber content market (and) make it more useful and accessible for clergy or even seminarians. We’re really looking at that and looking at different opportunities around Call on Faith. We have a couple of new channels that have gone up on Call on Faith (including) Music and the Spoken Word by the Latter Day Saints. The Salvation Army has a new channel on our digital mobile app. I’ve had the privilege of being able to interview Rev. Ed Bacon from All Saints in Pasadena about his new book 8 Habits of Love. We have a couple of different interviews with Ed. So, we’ve got a lot of good stuff going on.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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