VARIETY: Larry Poland Builds Bridges Between Hollywood and Evangelicals, by Brian Lowry

Kudos for Larry Poland from Hollywood’s #1 weekly magazine, Variety. Subscribe today.
Artwork by Joel Kimmel for VARIETY
Artwork by Joel Kimmel for VARIETY

Despite his cheerful demeanor, Poland isn’t a Pollyanna about the gap separating media culture from evangelicals. There’s a reason he titled his recent book on the topic “Chasm: Crossing the Divide Between Hollywood and People of Faith.”

 by   

Variety TV Columnist 

@blowryontv

 

Master Media's Prayer Calendars help Christian pray for America's leading media influencers
Master Media International’s Prayer Calendars helps Christians pray for America’s leading media influencers

Hollywood and evangelical Christians don’t exactly have a harmonious history. So it’s always something of a jolt to be reminded that a group of the latter schedules regular prayers for specific showbiz leaders and media influencers — including, in what’s left of June, Warner Bros.’ Sue Kroll, FX CEO John Landgraf, actress Anna Kendrick, and the ubiquitous Kardashians.

The “prayer calendar” (and yes, it’s organized alphabetically) is just one of the innovations arising from Mastermedia Intl., which seeks to engage the entertainment industry and effect change through what amounts to constructive engagement. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the group is led by Larry Poland, who has spent the past 35 years conducting this sort of missionary work, although the mysterious tribe he oversees drives around in expensive cars and tosses around words like “synergistic.”

Kudos for Larry Poland from Hollywood's #1 Weekly
This article originally appeared in the June 22 issue of Variety.

Having “flunked retirement two or three times,” Poland is again seeking to engineer a transition in day-to-day management, one that will position Mastermedia, he says, for the next 30 years. Yet whatever the organization’s future, its past and present under Poland has generally operated in stark contrast with Christian groups that pursue a more confrontational approach — using “anger strategies,” as Poland calls them, like boycotts and protests, which he considers counterproductive.

“I knew instinctively that was not the right way to go about it,” Poland says. “The best way to change content is not to scream and yell at the people who produce it.”

In such a polarized political environment, Poland’s attitude feels particularly refreshing, and it has helped keep doors open that might otherwise have been shut. Part of Mastermedia’s outreach has involved conducting corporate seminars, seeking to educate decision-makers about the spending power of the evangelical market and ways to address the faithful without casually or inadvertently insulting them.

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