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FIRST-PERSON: Believers in Hollywood

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (BP)–Although much of Hollywood is governed by dark forces, there are those in that community dedicated to bringing the Light to our world. This past year I have had the privilege of meeting producers, actors, writers and even a publicist who each profess a relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ.

Writer/producer Dave Johnson, along with brother Gary, for example, have two shows running on the PAX cable network. “What we try to do with ‘Doc’ and ‘Sue Thomas’ is apply a spiritual theme to each episode,” Johnson says. “Some are a little more overt than others. But each week we want to touch on some kind of truth in areas we know affect people’s lives.”

Asked about times when he may be frustrated with the entertainment industry, Dave responds with, “There was a point in my life when I was so discouraged that I said to my wife, ‘Let’s go be missionaries someplace.’ She looked at me and with amazing wisdom said, ‘Name me one place on earth that needs missionaries more than where you are right now.’ That moment changed my life.”

Dave and his brother created “Sue Thomas, F.B. Eye” for PAX last season. Inspired by the true story of a deaf woman who worked for the FBI, the lead character manages to be the female equivalent of Doc Cassidy. Entering a world that is foreign to her, she proves her professional ability while also gently demonstrating her spiritual depth.

The real-life Sue Thomas, also a Christian, is happy about the series. “Although the show does not preach, it does present a working woman in an exotic job who lives a Christian lifestyle,” the former FBI agent says.

Doc airs on PAX Sundays at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific; Sue Thomas follows at 9 p.m.

Grace Hill Media is an unusual business nestled in the suburbs of Tinseltown. It’s a publicity firm established to help studios and networks promote their projects to the religious community. Asked what criteria he uses for choosing a project to support, Jonathan Bock, the CEO of Grace Hill, says, “I consider the message. I search to find something of value that uplifts or teaches the viewer as well as amuses him.”

Bock and his staff have been instrumental in alerting Christians to “A Walk to Remember,” a Warner Bros. release featuring a Christian as the lead character. Grace Hill Media also has represented “Radio,” “The Fighting Temptations,” “The Emperor’s Club” and the “Lord of the Rings” series, as well as “Elf,” “The Rookie,” “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “Signs,” among others.

Denise Di Novi is another creative player in the media. A veteran producer responsible for several blockbusters, including “Little Women,” “Message in a Bottle” and “Edward Scissorhands,” Di Novi is a dedicated Christian.

Resentful of the cliché portrayal of people of faith found in countless films and TV shows, Di Novi has introduced three-dimensional Christian characters into several projects, including the primetime CBS series “The District.” And last year she successfully brought Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk To Remember novel to the silver screen.

Young Sarah Drew, meanwhile, an accomplished stage actress and voice of TV’s animated series “Daria,” makes her screen debut playing the coach’s daughter in the delightful “Radio.” The daughter of a minister and wife of a seminary student, Sarah, a devout Christian, told me, “I’ve been able to share my faith with lots of people on the set.”

But the most surprising Christian discovery this past year has been from the world of rap. Hip-hop and gospel artist T-Bone was joyously outspoken when it came to his faith and the purpose of his music. “There is so much negativity in rap music. But what we have to remember is that Satan did not create music. God created it.

“There are so many involved in drugs, in gangs, in pornography, in unfaithful relationships. I want them to know that the fulfillment to that emptiness they’re trying to fill is Jesus. Don’t say He can’t use this music. God can use whatever He chooses. Let’s not put God in a box.”

A good point. Let’s not put God in a box. We need to pray for, and support, those in show business dedicated to serving our Lord. They understand that there are many in Hollywood searching for God’s truth.

And if you lament what other members of Hollywoodland have done to our culture, then be careful what you support, take a stand and, while praying for our political and business leaders, also pray for the entertainment community.
Phil Boatwright reviews films from a Christian perspective. For more information about his work, go to www.moviereporter.com.

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  • Phil Boatwright