Emmy Magazine’s Interview with Kurt Schemper, Korey Scott Pollard, and Gary David Stratton

SERIES INTRO: Soul-Nourishing Practices in a Soul-Deadening World

“The entertainment industry is no different than any other place with lonely people searching for gladness.”  -Emmy Award-winning producer, Kurt Schemper

by Gary David Stratton, PhD • Senior Editor

Emmy Magazine isn’t the most likely place for insight into spiritual formation.

“A writer for Emmy magazine is on the phone for you.”

At first I thought our PR director was pulling my leg. College professors don’t get calls from Emmy magazine.  Not even when you’re a professor moonlighting as the Executive Director of Act One, a community of Christian entertainment industry professionals seeking to train and equip storytellers to enter mainstream Hollywood.  Even though we had graduates writing, producing, and directing on numerous TV shows and more than a few feature films, the entertainment industry press had ever called our offices before.

Kurt Schemper changed all that.  A producer for A&E’s critically acclaimed reality program, Intervention, Kurt had just become the first Act One graduate to win a prime time Emmy Award. The writer on the phone, Libby Slate, was fascinated by Kurt’s connection to a Hollywood Christian community. But, what really impressed her was how the Act One community had lived out our faith by rallying to aid former staff member Rosario Rodriguez after her gang-related shooting while walking in the tawny L.A. neighborhood Libby called home. (Read story here.)

Libby wanted to know if Emmy could do an article highlighting Kurt and Act One’s unique mission in Hollywood.  Kurt and I readily agreed, and director Korey Scott Pollard (House, Grey’s Anatomy, Monk, Nashville, Rizzoli and Isles, Lie to Me, The Middle, Jack Ryan) signed on to represent the Act One faculty perspective.

Kurt posing with his new hardware.

As Kurt, Korey and I prepared for our interview, Korey pushed for us to be ‘really ready’ to express exactly what we wanted to say. Our conversations turned to how difficult it is to thrive spiritually in Hollywood, and interviewer Libby Slate graciously picked up on this theme.

In the course of our conversations Kurt mentioned that one of his college professors at Judson College encouraged him to pursue his calling to Hollywood by quoting Frederick Buechner:

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Kurt’s response was, “My deep gladness is Jesus. The entertainment industry is no different than any other place with lonely people searching for gladness.”

The idea of finding “deep gladness” in Hollywood really resonated with me, especially as I contemplated what a “soul-deadening” place Hollywood can be for many industry insiders. So in my interview, I told Emmy, “We’ve found that the spirituality taught by Jesus is an ideal starting place for guiding industry professionals on a soul-nourishing spiritual journey.”

That language resonated with Emmy readers as well, and soon opened doors all over Hollywood. Now it leads to this new series entitled, “Soul-nourishing Practices for a Soul-deadening world: Finding the Voice of Your Own Gladness in Hollywood and Beyond.”

My hope is that these posts will help filmmakers, educators and other culture makers find their own “deep gladness” through the soul-nurturing practices Jesus taught his first followers over 20 centuries ago. Not mere religious practices targeted at greater self-righteousness, but spiritual practices targeted at nurturing a deeper connection to God.

We officially launched the series earlier, but today I thought you might want to read the original Emmy article. (I couldn’t figure out how to post it directly, so you’ll have to download the article as a pdf.)  Enjoy!

Click to download Emmy Magazine Article PDF

 

NEXT:  Connecting to the Life of God in Hollywood, the Ivy League, and Beyond – Soul-Nourishing Practices in a Soul-Deadening World

Who’s Creating the Movies and TV Programs that will Inspire the Next Generation?, by Phil Cooke, PhD

Part of ongoing series: The Future of Faith in Film and Television.

With a current television schedule filled with vampires, corrupt cops, hypocritical politicians, fathers who act like buffoons, soft-core porn, growing levels of violence, and more – who’s producing programs that will do for this generation of kids the same thing that The Lone Ranger and Adam 12 did for the last?  

by Phil Cooke, PhD • President, Cooke Pictures

RangerSilverThis past week I had two interesting experiences.

First – it was the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Clayton Moore – who played “The Lone Ranger” on television. The series originally aired on ABC from 1949-1957, and was the highest-rated television program on the network in the early 1950s and its first true “hit”. As a kid, I watched it as re-runs, and it was one of my favorite shows. As you may remember, The Lone Ranger lived by a code, and as a kid, I knew the code by heart. Last week, during the news reports of the anniversary, his daughter, Dawn Moore said something remarkable:

“Thirteen years after my father’s passing, I continue to receive fan letters — not just from the United States, but from all over the world. The letters come from policemen, firemen and teachers who say they chose a life of protecting others wanting to emulate the example my father set — not just as an actor, but as a man. What’s his legacy? That he inspired and continues to inspire the notion of offering assistance without seeking acknowledgement or fame. To come to the aid of someone in need. Pretty powerful stuff.”

Second story – On Thursday I spoke at the Long Beach Leadership Prayer Breakfast in Long Beach, California. The audience of about 400 was filled with civic leaders, professionals, pastors, business, and ministry leaders, and law enforcement officials. After my talk, a senior police officer and I spent a few minutes together. He said that he grew up in East LA – a place where cops weren’t welcome. Growing up, he never heard anything good said about the police and as a result, distrusted them completely. But he watched TV, and a favorite program was “Adam 12.” He wondered: “Why aren’t the cops around here like that?”

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LOST Lessons of Leadership 2: Jack’s Position of Power – Service for the Common Good

Part 2 of series, LOST Lessons of Leadership: What ABC’s Hit Series Taught Me About Heroic Character.

Instead of treating leadership like a gun to meet his own needs, Jack is using leadership as a tool to serve others

by Gary David Stratton, PhD • Senior Editor

In contrast to the “asshole” style of leadership evidenced by Sawyer and his gun (see, LOST lesson #1), the first season of LOST open’s with a compelling story of a radically different approach: service. In perhaps the best seven-minute opening in the history of action-adventure television, Dr. Jack Shephard awakens to find himself alone and injured in a bamboo grove on a deserted island. Ignoring his own injuries, Jack rushes to the crash site and jumps into action as a servant leader. He tends to the wounded, brings a woman back from the dead, performs jungle surgery, leads the exploratory party to look for their jetliner’s transceiver, and plunges into the water to save a drowning woman. 

Despite a back story that would cause many to eschew the heroic, Jack functions not so much like a positional leader with the gun, but rather as a servant leader instead for the entire group.  

If you want to see exactly what I mean, you’ll have to sign in to ABC to watch the first ten minutes of the pilot below. (Also available on Hulu.)

The Nature of Servant Leadership

“Servant.”

“Leader.” 

Few words seem more mutually exclusive. Leaders give orders. Servants take them.  Leaders have followers. Servants have masters.  Leaders are powerful. Servants are powerless.  Everyone wants to be a leader. Everyone wants to have a servant.

But are they really so opposite? Jesus told his followers that true spiritual power comes not in seeking a position over others, but rather in a position under them.

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” -Mark 10:43-44

The ultimate test of practical leadership is the realization of intended, real change that meets people’s enduring needs.

How these words must have shocked Jesus’ disciples. They must have shook their heads to clear their ears.  Surely they could not have heard correctly.  A servant in Jesus’ day was the lowest of professions.  He performed the most menial of household tasks.  A slave was lower still.  “He had no rights at law and could demand no privileges …his money, his time, his future, his marriage were all, strictly speaking, at the disposal of his master.”[1]

But there was no mistake: Jesus selected His words very carefully. A servant is someone who lives to meet the needs of his master.  A servant leader lives for the needs of his followers.  The basis for greatness in the kingdom of God is not how many people serve you, but rather, how many people you serve.

The authoritarian leader uses people to help him gain his position of authority. The servant leader uses his position of authority to help him meet the needs of others.  “The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant–first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.”[2] The more needs he meets, the better the servant he is and, therefore, the better leader.

The Power of Servant Leadership

If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.

This is the secret power of a servant leader:  people want to follow them. They sense that she genuinely cares about their well-being. There is something in the very nature of leadership that implies service.  True leaders, those who people follow because they want to not because they have to, always begin with and return to the needs of their followers.  As James MacGregor Burns states in his monumental work, Leadership: “The ultimate test of practical leadership is the realization of intended, real change that meets people’s enduring needs.”[3]

This is the secret to Jack’s leadership. He really isn’t trying to lead.  He is trying to serve. The group gradually gravitated to following him precisely because they realized that he was acting with their best interests in mind. When the group needs medical care, Jack is there. When they need fresh water, Jack finds it. When tensions in the group finally boil over into a fight, it is Jack who intervenes in what becomes one of the most famous speeches of the series:

It’s been six days and we’re all still waiting. Waiting for someone to come. But what if they don’t? We have to stop waiting. We need to start figuring things out. …Everyman for himself is not going to work. …Last week most of us were strangers, but we’re all here now. And God knows how long we’re going to be here. But if we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.” 

The Goal of Servant Leadership

Throughout the rest of season one (don’t get me started talking about subsequent seasons), Jack continues to cast vision for the survivor’s future by inviting them into a story of collective servanthood. He functions as what business writer Jim Collins refers to as a “Level 5 Leader.” Collins studied top companies in order to discern why some were able to grow from being “good” companies into “great,” while others faltered. Not surprisingly, servant leadership was key. In Collins words:

Level 5 leaders are differentiated from other levels of leaders in that they have a wonderful blend of personal humility combined with extraordinary professional will. They are very ambitious; but their ambition, first and foremost, is for the company’s success. [5]

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

Like many Level 5 Leaders, Jack hasn’t sought and doesn’t even want to lead. In fact, it takes Jack more than a few episodes to even realize that he has become the group’s de facto leader.  When he insists to John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) that he can’t lead because, ”I’m not a leader!”  Locke can only reply, “Yet they treat you like one.”

And why not? Instead of treating leadership like a gun to meet his own needs, Jack is using leadership as a tool to serve others. Like Jesus, who took up the tools of a household servant—a basin and a towel—in order to wash the feet of his first followers; Jack uses his medical training and innate leadership skills to wash the wounds, and souls of the survivors of Oceanic 815.

By rejecting the path of lording it over the group and choosing to take a position under the survivors, Jack has become a true servant leader..

But is that all there is to servant leadership? If only it were so simple…

Next: LOST Lessons of Leadership 3: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Authoritarian Leaders Learn to Serve.

 

See also:

LOST Lessons of Leadership: What ABC’s Hit Series Taught Me About Heroic Character.

Paparazzi in the Hands of an Angry God: Servant Leadership in an Age of Self-Promotion

Hollywood Responds to Paparazzi in the Hands of an Angry God

Higher Education Responses to Paparazzi in the Hands of an Angry God

Icons of Heroic Celebrity: TV Writer Chris Easterly Guest Posts on Paparazzi in the Hands of an Angry God

The Paradox of Power: A Cure for the Cancer of Pseudo Celebrity?

 


Notes

[1] Michael Green, Called to Serve (Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1964), p. 19.

[2] James M. Burns, Leadership (New York: Harper & Row, 2010), p. 461.

[3] Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership:  A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness: 25th Anniversary Edition (New York:  Paulist Press, 2002),  p. 13

[4] Sarah Powell, “Taking Good to Great: An Interview with Jim Collins.”  See also, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t (New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 2001).

[5] At least for the remainder of Season 1.

Jessica Rieder, Writer for Leverage (TNT) and Hawaii-Five-O (CBS): Culture Makers Who Influenced the Culture Makers of TV

Editor’s Note: With this week’s wrap of TNT’s long running series Leverage we thought we’d repost our interview with one of the writers who helped Leverage gain such popularity.
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Part one in ongoing series:  Culture Makers who Influenced the Culture Makers of Television.

“I told her I would do anything to work on the show. ‘I will scrape gum off your props. I will empty toilets. I don’t care!” -Jessica Rieder

by Gary David Stratton • Senior Editor

Small-town Wisconsin taught Jessica “to love God, cheese and football (not necessarily in that order).”

Jessica Rieder is one of the bright new stars in Hollywood’s TV writing rooms. For three years on the cable hit Leverage (TNT) and now with the network show Hawaii Five-O (CBS), Jessica and writing partner, Melissa Glenn, have emerged as a creative force to be reckoned with.

Jessica was born and raised in small-town Wisconsin, where she “learned to love God, cheese and football (not necessarily in that order).” In an interview with Kelly Crimmins (TNT) Jessica described her unusual transition to Hollywood. “When I was a senior in college, I worked for my school’s newspaper writing a television column. Bradley Whitford was on the The West Wing… the show that made me want to be a writer. I thought, ‘I have nothing to lose. I am going to fax an interview request to his publicist.’ I assumed I would never hear anything back. Well, two weeks later, he (Whitford) called me personally on my cell phone. Thank God it went to voicemail because I totally lost it!

A random fax to Bradley Whitford landed Jessica her first Hollywood job on The West Wing

“I set up an interview and went out to LA to meet with him. I also met his assistant at the time and told her, I am moving to LA when I graduate and would do anything to work on the show. I begged her, ‘I will scrape gum off your props. I will empty toilets. I don’t care!’ At which point, she said, “You know nothing about television, do you?” A year later I got a call from the Production Coordinator on The West Wing and ended up working as a Producer’s Assistant on the last two seasons of the series.”[1]

When The West Wing ended, Jessica worked as an assistant to the Executive Producer of CBS’s Cane. Then, in 2006 Jessica teamed up with fellow Act One writing program Alum, Melissa Glenn, and things just clicked. The Rieder-Glenn duo were twice named finalists in the Warner Brothers Writers’ Workshop, signed with Creative Artists Agency, and landed jobs as staff writers for Leverage. The rest is history.

We asked Jessica, “Who are the authors, artists, filmmakers, screenwriters, poets, musicians, films, books, plays, TV shows, or any other cultural artifact who have deeply influenced you and will always stick with you.” Then gave her only fifteen minutes to complete their list, to keep it “unedited.”

Jessica’s TOP 15 (in no particular order)

The Beatles

My So-Called Life

Jane Austen

Aaron Sorkin

Pride & Prejudice(the Book and the BBC Miniseries)

Nora Ephron

Rent

While You Were Sleeping

Jason Katims

This American Life (NPR radio program)

Elizabeth Berg

The West Wing

Stylish Hawaii Five-O is one of this seasons top new shows.

Billy Joel

Terms of Endearment

Friday Night Lights (the TV series)

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What’s on your “Fab 15″ list?
Caveat: Your list must be comprised of cultural artifacts–books, shows, sculptures, etc.– that readers have access to. (So you can’t include your Mom, or some other leader no matter how great  a personal impact they had on you.)
Make your list in no more than fifteen minutes and send it to us!
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Read the Complete Series: Culture Makers Who Influenced the Culture Makers of TV  

Sheryl J. Anderson (Charmed, Flash Gordon, Dave’ World)

Dean Batali (That 70’s Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hope and Gloria)

Brian Bird (Touched by an Angel, The Shunning, Not Easily Broken)

Kevin Chesley (The Hard Times of RJ Berger)

Chris Easterly (Unnatural History, The Shunning)

Monica Macer (Lost, Prison Break)

Korey Scott Pollard (Nashville, House, Rizzoli and Isles, Lie to Me, Monk, House, Grey’s Anatomy)

Kurt Schemper (Emmy Award winner for Intervention)

Michael Warren (Happy Days, Family Matters, Two of a Kind, Step by Step, Perfect Strangers).


[1] Leverage Website

Voices from the Edge of Culture: Interview with MTV Writer Kevin Chesley

(Note: This interview was conducted before Hard Times‘ cancellation.)

MTV taught writer Kevin Chesley how to swim with the sharks at the cutting edge of culture. (He even brought one home!)

I can only hope that Randy Elrod‘s posts on edgy artists helped prepare you for today’s interview with Kevin Chesley, screen and television writer extraordinaire. Kevin’s current assignment is writing for MTV’s hit series The Hard Times of RJ Berger, whose Season 2 Premier is TONIGHT at 11pm.[1]

MTV.com describes The Hard Times of RJ Berger as orbiting the “hilariously-hellish lives of a deeply unpopular fifteen year-old (Paul Iacono) and his scheming, sex-obsessed best friend, Miles Jenner (Jareb Dauplaise).

Other than pining after the girl of his dreams, Jenny Swanson (Amber Lancaster), receiving daily beatings from the meanest jock in school, Max Owens (Jayson Blair), …there really isn’t much excitement in RJ’s life. That is, until his anatomical gift is accidentally exposed to the entire school.”

Yes, that is the show’s gimmick — the ultimate revenge of the nerds on the jock value system — and if your goal is to create a morality tale that reaches the youth demographic, then you have to say it works.

Warning: If you loved Rob and Laura Petrie’s twin beds in the The Dick Van Dyke Show, or thought Happy Days was racy, then you’re probably NOT part of the target audience for RJ Berger. (Uh… it follows MTV’s reality sensation Jersey Shore, so what does that tell you?)

'The Hard Times of RJ Berger' premieres TONIGHT (March 24th) at 11pm (EDT and PDT) after the 'Jersey Shore' finale.

It is not your typical “calling,” but Kevin has worked hard to become a respected voice on the cutting edge of culture. An alumnus of both Emerson College and the Act One screenwriting program, Kevin is a founding member of two sketch comedy groups: TROOP! and The Riot Act, and served for many years as the sole Writer’s Assistant for Oscar-nominated screenwriter, Robert Nelson Jacobs (Chocolat, The Water Horse, Extraordinary Measures).

Before getting his first staff writer position at MTV, Kevin sold short-form pieces to The Onion, Showtime, and National Lampoon and performed sketch comedy on stages like the UCB, Comedy Central Stage, and The Viper Room. He also directs The Apple Sisters – a live 1940’s radio show spoof currently in residency at Largo in Los Angeles.

Oh, and he’s also a new dad to the beautiful Lucy Chesley, thanks completely to his long-suffering and gorgeous wife, Heather. (Please pray for her.)

I asked Kevin if he would answer a few questions in honor of the season premier of RJ Berger tonight. He graciously agreed.

Voices from the Edge of Culture: Interview with Kevin Chesley

THW: What is the edgiest thing you’ve ever written, I mean besides RJ Berger?

KC: Just last year, the LA Times hired me to write a false cover for their newspaper featuring a hoax headline that described a city-wide attack by King Kong. (See story.)

Kevin made his "mark" in the LA Times, (and hastened the end of print media as we know it), with an Orson Welles-ish mock attack from King Kong

THW: How did that go?

KC: Well, Universal Studios (who purchased the ad space) likened me to a 2010 Orson Welles.

THW: That’s good.

KC: Yeah, but most readers dubbed me, “The End of Print Media”… which is probably why you’re writing this piece on the Internet.

THW: So that was your fault, huh?

KC: Sorry.

THW: So, then, what is it like working on ‘The Hard Times of RJ Berger?’

KC: It wasn’t lost on me how apropos it was to be working my first staff job on a show about the travails of high school.  While scripting the struggles of teens navigating the murky waters of early adulthood, sexuality, and identity – I was also getting my first taste of catering to network notes, plotting episodes, and just all around trying to not look like an idiot.

THW: How did that part go? I mean, not looking like an idiot?

KC: Not so well.

The tender-hearted RJ Berger (Paul Iacono) with his unrequited love-interest Jenny Walker (Amber Lancaster).

THW: Tonight is the Season Two premier. What was it like getting ready for a second season?

KC: Some of the work I did on Season Two was literally performed in a real high school cafeteria, breaking stories beneath paper banners announcing the theme of the next big school dance.  It couldn’t have been a better setting to display the excitement and fears of dipping my toe into professional screenwriting for the first time.

THW: Fun?

KC: I haven’t been this psyched and bewildered since Freshman Year. Which, to beat an analogy to a bloody pulp, is almost exactly what I’m experiencing all over again.

THW: So who are the cultural influencers we should blame… uh, I mean, credit for making you the writer you are today?

Under pressure, Kevin confesses the influence of comedy writing legends Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd.

KC: Wow! Let me think about that.

THW: Actually, I’m only giving you fifteen minutes to answer.

KC: That’s not a lot of time…

THW: The clock is running…

KC: (A look of deep concentration fills Kevin’s face, kinda like when Yoda raises Luke’s ship out of the swamp.) Ghostbusters, Roald Dahl, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” C.S. Lewis,  The Goonies, Chris Claremont, Anne Lamott, Neil Gaiman, Star Wars (Episodes 4,5,6 only!), Led Zeppelin…

THW: Five minutes…

KC: (Sweat beings to trickle down Kevin’s brow.) Mary Poppins, Alan Moore, Monty Python, J.J. Abrams, H.P. Lovecraft!

THW: Time’s up!

KC: Wow! That happened really fast…

C.S. Lewis, one of the few comedy writers in history to land on the cover of Time (for 'The Screwtape Letters'), helped shape Kevin's understanding of comedy with a purpose.

THW: Any surprises?

KC: There’s almost NO TV on there!

THW: How does that make you feel?

KC: Mortified!

THW: Anything you want to retract?

KC: Looking back on it… No, that’s kind of right… that’s pretty much me… I’d better let you publish that before I start second-guessing everything.

THW: Wouldn’t want that now, would we?

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Please join me in praying for Kevin and other two-handed warriors seeking to make a difference in a culture desperately in need of salt and light.


[1] The Hard Times of RJ Berger regular time slot is 10pm Monday nights.

The Secret Knowledge of Prime Time Propaganda: A Christian Response to Pulitzer Prize Winner David Mamet and Journalist Ben Shapiro’s Warnings Against Hollywood’s Left-Leaning Culture

Two new books destined to help shape industry conversation on faith and culture …for good or for ill. (Videos/Articles from The Hollywood Reporter and the Wall Street Journal below.)

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New books by Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, and TV writer/producer David Mamet, and journalist Ben Shapiro are causing quite a ruckus in Hollywood this week. Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture and Shapiro’s Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV both target the liberal leaning bias of Hollywood.

If Shapiro’s videos in the Hollywood Reporter (below) are any indication of the tone of his book, then his message is going to be a tough sell in tinsel town. Given the overreaction of many to Rob Bell’s promotional videos, I certainly want to extend him the benefit of the doubt. However, sensationalizing the painful truth (and it is true) concerning the historically rough relationship between Hollywood and anyone not ascribing to politically correct dogma might not be the best way to begin a nuanced conversation.

Fear-based, ‘Us versus Them’ rhetoric is the last thing we need just when the conversation between Hollywood and filmmakers of faith is finally getting started. (See, If you Live it, They will Come.. to the Theater.)  Fair treatment of faith themes is growing on the big screen–The Blind Side, Soul Surfer–and even on television. ‘The Good Wife’ (CBS), ‘Justified’ (FX), ‘Friday Night Lights’ (NBC), and Mamet’s own ‘The Unit’ (CBS) have each featured Christian conversions by major characters in recent seasons. Even more socially ‘liberal’ shows such as ‘Glee’ (Fox), and ‘Modern Family’ (ABC) have handled themes of faith, church, and eternal life with sensitivity and sometimes tremendous power. (See, Glee’s Faith Episode.)

The need for reasoned discourse searching for common ground for the common good has never been more critical. Two Handed Warriors was started in hopes of fostering an ongoing, respectful, and nuanced conversation between culture makers and faith builders.  I sure hope this conversation doesn’t screw things up. 

Furthermore, the assumed notion that ‘Christian Spirituality’ = ‘Conservative Politics’ is as dangerous as it is wrong-headed. While nearly all Christians are socially conservative by Hollywood standards, we can be found at all points of the political spectrum. There are things that some conservatives swear by that I just want to swear at. Part of me fears that even mentioning these books in Two Handed Warriors will only add to presupposition that a website devoted to faith and culture is automatically ‘right-wing.’

Still, I can’t help noting that even some of the most ‘liberal’ Christians in Hollywood have expressed many of the same concerns raised by Shapiro and to some extent Mamet. In both direct attacks and indirect snubs, Hollywood has expressed a relatively consistent message that–conservative or not–faith perspectives are generally not welcome. In fact, I can’t help but notice that a significant number of industry conservatives who were willing to speak on the record with Shapiro are in fact dynamic Christians. (See Shapiro’s post Hollywood Hates Conservatives.)

As a number of other historically under-represented groups in Hollywood can tell you, it takes courage to speak up when you are being discriminated against. It’s easier to not rock the boat for fear of retaliation. (Mamet thinks he is already experiencing discrimination in the reviews of his work.)  I applaud the courage of those who spoke to Shapiro even if not his overall sensationalist tone.

So while I have neither read Shapiro and Mamet’s books yet, nor am I certain I will endorse their politics once I do, I believe they will end up shaping the conversation of faith and culture in Hollywood for years come. (Reading group anyone?) I am putting them out there for your consideration in hopes that they will inspire Two Handed Warriors seeking to reimagine faith and culture one story at a time.

 

TV Executives Admit in Taped Interviews That Hollywood Pushes a Liberal Agenda (Exclusive Video)

by Paul Bond in The Hollywood Reporter

In clips that will hit the Internet to promote a new book, producers including “Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman and “House” creator David Shore say Hollywood discriminates against and belittles conservatives.

The Cast of 'Friends'

Some of TV’s top executives from the past four decades may have gotten more than they bargained for when they agreed to be interviewed for a politically charged book that was released Tuesday, because video of their controversial remarks will soon be hitting the Internet.

The book makes the case that TV industry executives, writers and producers use their clout to advance a liberal political agenda. The author bases his thesis on, among other things, 39 taped interviews that he’ll roll out piecemeal during the next three weeks. (See also Shapiro’s post, Hollywood Hates Conservatives.)

The Hollywood Reporter obtained several of the not-yet-released clips, embedded below. Each contains a snippet of an interview, usually some historical footage of the TV shows the interviewee was responsible for and, naturally, a plea to purchase the book, “Primetime Propaganda” by Ben Shapiro and published by Broad Side, an imprint of HarperCollins.

In one video, Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman says that when she cast Candace Gingrich-Jones, half-sister of Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as the minister of a lesbian wedding,

“There was a bit of ‘f*ck you’ in it to the right wing.”

Kauffman also acknowledges she “put together a staff of mostly liberal people,” which is another major point of Shapiro’s book: that conservatives aren’t welcome in Hollywood…

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Enter Stage Right

David Mamet’s Book “THE SECRET KNOWLEDGE” Reviewed

by Andrew Klavan in the Wall Street Journal

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and TV writer/producer David Mamet

In a celebrated 2008 essay for the Village Voice, David Mamet made the startling announcement that he was “no longer a brain-dead liberal.” I think it only fair to mention here that I rejoiced. Mr. Mamet is a terrific playwright, maybe even a great one (“American Buffalo,” “Glengarry Glen Ross”) and a screenwriter of the first rank (“The Verdict,” “The Untouchables”). That a writer of such talent and stature had become a conservative seemed to me to promise some relief from the soporific political conformity of the American arts.

So I rejoiced—and I also sympathized. Breaking free of leftism while working in show business is like escaping from “The Matrix” only to find oneself in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” You wake to a risky but bracing new reality of individual liberty, limited government and free markets and are instantly beset by zombified statist dreamers determined either to make you rejoin their ranks or to destroy you.

For all his high culture work, 'The Unit' (CBS) remains one of my favorite Mamet projects

Mr. Mamet reports that a certain prominent left-leaning newspaper actually panned his first openly conservative play not once but twice for good measure. (Libertarian humorist Greg Gutfeld has introduced a “Mamet Attack Clock” on his late-night cable show to measure just how fast critics will now downgrade their opinions of the playwright’s work.)

Under such circumstances, it is natural that Mr. Mamet would develop the urge to cry out, like Kevin McCarthy in the famous last scene of “Body Snatchers”: “Listen to me! Please listen!” From that urge, no doubt, arises Mr. Mamet’s new work of nonfiction, “The Secret Knowledge.” It is his attempt to explain and disseminate the thinking behind his conversion to the right.

“Liberalism is a religion,” he writes. “It affords a feeling of spiritual rectitude at little or no cost. Central to this religion is the assertion that evil does not exist, all conflict being attributed to a lack of understanding between the opposed. Well and good, but this does not accord with the experience of anyone…”

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When a Star ‘Loses It’ Emmy Roundtable Video: TV Showrunners on how they would handle a Charlie Sheen

Bill Prady (“Big Bang Theory”), Steve Levitan (“Modern Family”), Dan Harmon (“Community”) and others explain how they would handle the “Two and a Half Men” situation.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual Emmy Roundtables don’t begin running until late May, but here’s a little tease of the great discussions we’ve got on tap for this season’s Roundtable Series.

Obviously the story of the year in TV comedy is the unfolding situation on Two and a Half Men, a topic we posed to our Comedy Showrunner panel of Bill Prady (who works with Chuck Lorre on CBS’The Big Bang Theory), Steve Levitan (ABC’s Modern Family), Dan Harmon (NBC’s Community),Jenny Bicks (Showtime’s The Big C), Liz Brixius (Showtime’s Nurse Jackie) and Mike Schur (Parks and Recreation).

See Also:

Learning to Thrive in High Stress Environments

Why We ‘Lose It’ in High Stress Environments

Soul-Nurturing Practices for a Soul-Deadening World

Connecting with God in Hollywood



 

 

 

Hollywood National Day of Prayer Gathering Tonight

“I have found the greatest power in the world is the power of prayer”
-Cecil B. DeMille, Academy Award-winning Producer

Created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress, the National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation.

Tonight believers in the entertainment industry and from local congregations throughout greater Los Angeles will gather at Bel Air Presbyterian Church to celebrate the 2011 National Day of Prayer. Hollywood professionals and men and women of faith from throughout L.A. will gather to ask for God’s blessing upon their efforts in the entertainment industry and every realm of influence in the city. Following the word of the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah they will, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city… Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (29:7).

Tonight’s celebration is sponsored by local churches and faith-based Hollywood arts communities such as The Greenhouse Arts and Media, Beacon Arts Fellowship, and the Hollywood Prayer Network, a non-denominational Christian prayer ministry for the purpose of praying for the people, the projects and the powerful influence of the Entertainment Industry.

Leaders include:

Mark Brewer Senior Pastor, Bel Air Presbyterian Church,
Jozanne Idiga
Poet, Actress, Writer, Westside Shepherd of the Hills
Jason Sobel Rabbi, Ruach LA/Ascend Malibu/Fusion Global,
Dan Baumgartner
Senior Pastor, Hollywood Presbyterian Church
Jesse and Juliette Corti
Actors/Producers
Susana Zepeda Producer
Shawn Bolz Pastor, Expression 58

Events begin at 7:30 PM.  All are welcome.

Biola Media Conference CBS Studios April 30: with Wired’s Kevin Kelly, LOTR’s Sean Astin

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Hollywood’s Premier Faith-Based Entertainment Industry Event

The Biola Media Conference has a rich history of advancing the integration of faith and the arts. Born in 1995 out of a desire to expose Biola University film students to working media professionals, it has grown to become a significant professional resource for Christians in the entertainment field.

The goal for the Biola Media Conference continues to be an impassioned desire to gather the collective wisdom from people of faith who have been working successfully in Hollywood and impart that wisdom to the next generation. Plenary sessions, workshops, panel discussions, a resource fair, and networking lunches fill one of the most rewarding days in the entertainment industry.

Beyond Digital: What Now?

Kevin Kelly, Author and Co-founder of Wired Magazine

Plenary speaker, Kevin Kelly will launch the 2011 Conference theme, Beyond Digital: What Now? Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine, which he co-founded in 1993 and served as its Executive Editor from its inception until 1999. He is also editor and publisher of the Cool Tools website, which gets half a million unique visitors per month. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. Kelly authored the best-selling book New Rules for the New Economy, Out of Control and his latest release, “What Technology Wants.”

Top industry insiders teach a variety of workshops on topics as diverse as Entertainment Law to Church Media to Screenwriting to Acting Visual Effects. Story consultant extraordinaire Bobette Buster will lead a workshop entitled: ‘Hollywood Economics 101,’ Soul Surfer producer Noah Hamiliton will be part of a panel discussing the process ‘Bringing Films of Faith to Screen.’ Scott C. Smith, Academy award-winning digital artist (Pirates of the Caribbean 2), will be part of a workshop on ‘Off-the-shelf Visual Effects.’ (Click here for a complete list of workshops.)

“Access Lunches”– roundtable discussions with industry insiders — add a new element to this year’s conference. Access lunch table leaders include:

Dean Batali – Writing
Brian Godawa – Writing
Travis Mann – Entertainment Law
Scott Smith, Tim Naylor – Visual FX
Charlie Matz, Bub Kuns – Church Media
Dawn Baldwin, Marc Harper- Branding & Marketing
Mark Clayman – Producer
Arthur Anderson – Director
Korey Pollard – Director
Simon Swart – Distribution
Jon Bock – Marketing
Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas' (Flashdance, Basic Instinct, Showgirls) recounting of his journey to faith, Crossbearer,' was the tear-jerking highlight of BMC 2009.

A closing plenary session orchestrated by BMC favorite Phil Cooke (Cooke Pictures) rounds out the day. Phil will mc an inter-active conversation with industry executives Tom Halleen, (Senior VP of Programming, AMC), and DeVon Franklin (VP of Production, Columbia Pictures). A special conversation with actor Sean Astin (Sam in the LOTR trilogy) caps what should once again prove to be a remarkable day. (See Speaker Bios.)

Register Today

The Biola Media Conference is one of the most rewarding faith-based media events in the world. In keeping with BMC’s original vision, it is the involvement of currently practicing Hollywood professionals that makes all the difference in the world. Whether you are an industry pro looking for a day of rich community with peers, or a Hollywood newcomer exploring a calling to the entertainment industry, the Biola Media Conference has something for you!

Sunday is the final day for discounted registration.

Don’t miss it!




 

 

 

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