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

Your chance to tour The Vatican MuseumsIf you never have been able to visit Rome and have wondered what it would be like to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, or if you would like to make a return trip to Rome, now’s your chance via SpectiCast, one of the fastest growing event cinema marketing and distribution companies in the world. In partnership with Fathom Events, The Vatican’s Museums 3D will be debut in U.S. theaters on December 10 in both 2D and RealD 3D formats. The film employs a team of 40 professionals using cutting-edge 3D cinematic techniques to bring audiences up close analysis and perspectives on the works of artistic masters like Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio and Salvador Dalì. In addition to the feature film, theatergoers will be treated to an exclusive 22 minutes of “behind the scenes” insight from Vatican Museums’ Director Professor Antonio Paolucci and the film’s director, Marco Pianigiani. I was invited to a preview and both films are fascinating and Highly Recommended.

Tickets are available at participating theater box offices and online at and The event will be presented in more than 500 select movie theaters around the country through Fathom Event’s Digital Broadcast Network and the SpectiCast Network. (Theaters and participants are subject to change.) Urgent Note: I have two sets of two tickets to give away. If you’re interested, I need to hear from you by Thursday night via 

UPswing! UP TV, the Uplifting Entertainment network which is now available in 67 million homes across the country, reports that last Sunday’s showing of The Tree That Saved Christmas drew the highest ratings ever for an UP Original Movie. According to Nielsen data, the film’s premiere, plus its encore, pulled in 2.1 million viewers. The holiday romantic drama stars Lacey Chabert as a passionate, aspiring New York writer who fights to save her family’s Vermont tree farm from foreclosure. 

UP President and CEO Charley Humbard says “The Tree That Saved Christmas symbolizes the ‘everything’ that our ‘Everything You Love About Christmas’ schedule stands for…It’s a romantic, heart warming story in which a woman reconnects with her family and finds a higher purpose in life. It’s symbolic of what the Christmas season is all about, as well as the great stories we tell on UP.”   

The  good news for the network comes just as it announces its first foray into scripted series. Ties That Bind, which I’m told is the show’s working title,  is described as  a hybrid police procedural and family drama. Production of the initial 10-episode order is set to begin in February with the premiere targeted for summer 2015. The series is  created and executive produced by Sheryl J. Anderson and Stan Spry of Cartel Entertainment. That’s the team that gave  us The Town that Came A-Courtin’, an UP film that I found to particularly charming.  

Ties that Bind will tell the story of Allison Manchester, a tough and experienced police detective in Atlanta.  Like most working women her hands are already full, balancing a demanding and dangerous job and a family — husband Hank, and teenagers Jeff and Hannah.  But, when she and her partner must arrest her younger brother for aggravated assault, her world drastically changes as Tim is convicted and sent to prison.  Having done the right thing as an officer of the law, Allison now feels compelled to do the right thing as a sister and brings Tim’s two teenagers, Cameron and Mariah, into her home. Having four teenagers under one roof proves to be an additional test of Allison’s strength and patience.  Besides Allison’s challenges at home and work, the series will also focus on the joys and struggles of the teens as they adjust to their new home, their new high school, make new friends and experience love, romance, anger and jealousy. 

“Ties That Bind is series about a family, loyalty and the limits of love,” according to Senior UP Programming V.P. Barbara Fisher, adding “It is just what we were looking for in our first scripted series– an entertaining show with a complicated lead tackling life’s most difficult challenges, while still enjoying romance and wonderful family moments. The lead character, Allison, is relatable to any working woman trying to balance her professional role with that of being a wife and mother.”  

Also, UP will debut its new family reality series Bringing Up Bates on New Years Day at 9:00 PM. The show follows the larger-than-life Bates famil9 (which includes 19 kids).

Based in Atlanta, UP Entertainment also operates ASPiRE, a TV network creating positive entertainment specifically geared toward the African-American audience.


Happy 8th Birthday to The Catholic Channel. Heard on SiriusXM channel 129, the station launched exactly ten years ago today (12/4) and somehow survived having me aboard for nearly two years as the first producer of its morning programming Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd.  My friend Mike Binns, who was our extremely-talented board operator on that show , now produces The Wilkow Majority on SiriusXM’s Patriot Channel. The equally-talented Adam Hamway, who produced our lead-out, is now the channel’s assistant programming director. Since my time there, I’ve interviewed several of Catholic Channel on-air personalities for this blog, including Gus, Fr. Jonathan Morris, Lino Rulli (aka The Catholic Guy) and, most recently, Tom Leopold, the former Seinfeld writer who now co-hosts a weekly show called Entertaining Truth with Tom Leopold and Fr Leo Patalinghug. Nearly a decade after its launch, The Catholic Channel continues to field an impressive array of programming. Nicely done everybody and congratulations! 

Embarrassing Note: An earlier version of this post had The Catholic Channel at the 10 year mark. Mike Binns was kind enough to point out that I was off by two years.  I actually got that date from The Catholic Channel’s Wikipedia listing which I now see that I misread! After a while the years just blur together and it’s been a long day, folks!

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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