Friday, February 15, 2008

They Should Call These “The Jesuses”

Or if that’s too blasphemous “The Pauls” (I mean he did spread The Word far and wide just like movies do)
Anyway another interesting column by Joel Stein about his trip to The Movieguide Faith and Values Awards nicknamed the Christian Oscars
“The Peter Principle of award shows”

Christians never do pop culture right. Their rock songs are clogged with nature metaphors, their video games are too soft, their Orlando amusement park houses an attraction called "The Scriptorium: Center for Biblical Antiquities." So when I found out about the Christian Oscars -- the nickname for the Movieguide Faith and Values Awards -- I had to see how they'd ruin an awards show. Could their movie stars masterself-congratulations? Act happy for people they don't really like? Could this be the pop culture arena Christians do better than heathens?

Though I expected a small, pious event, I learned there are no small awards shows anymore. Not even on a Tuesday. The red carpet at the Beverly Hilton was so clogged -- "Extra," "Entertainment Tonight," the Christian version of "Extra," the Christian version of "Entertainment Tonight" -- that the fire marshal turned reporters away. There were also plenty of celebrities: Macy Gray, Louis Gossett Jr., Stephen Baldwin, Buzz Aldrin, Lee Meriwether, Jane Russell. This was such a big deal that even dead people came.
Inside the same ballroom where the Golden Globes are held, I was seated at a table full of Dutch and German Christians. To my right was Jutta Renz, who told me she introduced muffins to Germany and is known there as "Miss Muffin." She has written 12 muffin cookbooks, created muffin cartoon characters and, divinely inspired, dashed off an entire muffin-based musical in one night. She's in L.A. for a few weeks looking for an agent to handle her hyphenate talents (her card says "music-media-muffins"). But she doesn't like what she's learning: "An agent gets 10%? I'd rather give it to a good person."

Though the Christian Oscars looked just like any other awards show, there were some differences. The Oscars don't start with a prayer. And they don't have a letter in their program from President Bush wishing them a successful event. I stared at it for a long time, wondering if all his correspondence begins, "I send greetings." I got the feeling that Bush expected that, during his presidency, he'd get to meet aliens.

Also, there's no PowerPoint at the Oscars. Ted Baehr, who runs Movieguide, gives a great slide show, only one frame of which mentioned "cussing." One slide explained that, back in 1985, when he first started his organization, only one movie -- "Trip to Bountiful" -- had faith and values. Now 51.7% of movies do, including "Live Free or Die Hard." The definition might have expanded a little.

Typical award winners simply thank God for deciding that the People's Choice Award should go to them. But at the Christian Oscars, a simple thanks won't do. Bailey Madison, just 8 years old yet accepting one of several awards given to "Saving Sarah Cain," said, "Every morning I wake up and say a prayer to let God shine his light through me." When I was 8, I just wanted God to keep making more "Garfield" cartoons.

Not everyone at the Movieguide awards was part of the Christian right. Some were just looking for attention, even if that meant Christian attention. Asked about her Christian-ness, presenter Adrienne Janic, host of TLC's car show "Overhaulin'," would only say she was "a good person." When I pressed her on her favorite value, she chose "fun." Also, she might not have dressed appropriately. "Did you notice I've got two napkins on my lap? That's because the slit goes all the way up my dress," she said. When she was warned of the long-term implications of wearing that dress to this event, she said, "Oh, I've got a mansion in hell."

But most of the people there really did want to make films and shows with faith and values. Actress Ali Landry, who won an award for the film "Bella," may have once been the hot Doritos girl, but she has become an observant Catholic. "I had a big event in my personal life. Then I reevaluated and started going to theology class, and then I found my husband," she said. That big event was Mario Lopez cheating on her.

God really does work in mysterious ways.

As the show went on, I got a little overwhelmed by the Jesus stuff. And all the well-intentioned attempts to squeak clean the culture didn't convince me that sex and violence in art isn't truthful and cathartic. Shakespeare, after all, would never win a Faith and Values award. But "Alvin and the Chipmunks" did.

Everyone went home with a gift bag that consisted of a Bible. I don't think that book is an answer to the world's problems, but maybe it's better than praying at the altar of celebrity. Though they could have thrown in some face cream, sunglasses and a gym membership. Christians still have a lot to learn.

and here’s Laist’s take on last night's festivites (picture below is of Sr. Verastequi, or as he's now known in my heart "Papi")

Causing the most commotion on the red carpet was Eduardo Verastequi, the star of "Bella," who would shortly walk off with The Grace Award for Most Inspirational Movie Acting in 2007. A small group of women in front of me swooned and reached for their cameras, [Ed. Note- I can understand why!] grabbing him before he even made it on to the carpet and he graciously acquiesced. Hmm - this I had to follow. As I made my way into the swarm of photographers, one excited scribe whispered:

"He's the biggest star in Mexico - huge!"

Inside, Verastequi's film - in which he stars alongside Ali Landry, went on to sweep the Awards, aka "The Christian Oscars". The highlight of the press room was none other than Buzz Aldrin, there for "In the Shadow of the Moon." Elise jumped on her only chance to get up close and personal with an astronaut and quizzed Aldrin about the infamous "Was it a panel flying off or was it a UFO?" conspiracy theory and getting him to say "The Eagle has landed". Only a nonplussed Elise could ask Aldrin, "Didn't it freak you out? 'Cause I would be!" I guess our detour to Trader Vic's, although causing us to miss Macy Gray's "Amazing Grace," provided a little Polynesian liquid courage in the face of the notoriously easily-riled astronaut.

If you still can't get enough here are more pictures

And the winners were
The $50,000 Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Movie of 2007 sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation – “Amazing Grace” from Samuel Goldwyn Films

Other movie nominees: “Bella” from Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate, “I Am legend” from Warner Bros., “In the Shadow of the Moon” from ThinkFilm, “Spider-Man 3” from Sony, “The Ten Commandments” from Promenade Pictures, and “The Ultimate Gift” from Fox Faith/20th Century Fox.

The $50,000 movie prize is equally divided into five categories -- the director, the credited writer(s), the producer(s), the executive producer(s), and the senior motion picture studio executive responsible for production.

The $50,000 Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring TV Program of 2007 sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation – “The Valley of Light,” telecast by CBS-TV, a Hallmark Hall of Fame production

Other TV nominees: The “False Heroes” episode of “Friends & Heroes” from the BBC and “Lost Holiday” and “Saving Sarah Cain” from Lifetime TV

The $50,000 TV prize is equally divided into five categories -- the director, the credited writer, the executive producer(s) or producer(s) responsible for the program, the senior television network executive responsible for broadcasting the program, and the production studio executive responsible for production.

The $50,000 Kairos Prizes for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays by Beginning Screenwriters sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation:

1. "If By Chance" by Guy W. Forest of San Pedro, Calif., $25,000
2. "Stairways" by James G. Rogers of St. Davids, Penn., $15,000
3. "Angels on Earth" by Caroline Friday of Marietta, Ga., $10,000

The Grace Award for Most Inspirational Movie Acting in 2007 – Eduardo Verástegui of “Bella”

Other movie acting nominees: Alice Braga of “I Am Legend,” Albert Finney and Ioan Gruffudd of “Amazing Grace,” and Forest Whitaker of “The Great Debaters”

The Grace Award for Most Inspirational Television Acting in 2007 – Bailee Madison and Abigail Mason of “Saving Sarah Cain”

Other TV acting nominees: Judith Buchan of “Lost Holiday” and Chris Klein of “The Valley of Light”

Best Movie for Families – “Ratatouille” from Walt Disney Pictures

** The Ten Best 2007 Movies for Families **

1. Ratatouille
2. Enchanted
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks
4. Bella
5. The Game Plan
6. In the Shadow of the Moon
7. Shrek the Third
8. The Ultimate Gift
9. Nancy Drew
10. Bridge to Terabithia

Best Movie for Mature Audiences – “Amazing Grace” from Samuel Goldwyn Films

** The Ten Best 2007 Movies for Mature Audiences **

1. Amazing Grace
2. August Rush
3. Spider-Man 3
4. I Am Legend
5. Strike
6. The Great Debaters
7. The Astronaut Farmer
8. Pride
9. Transformers
10. Live Free or Die Hard

The Faith and Freedom Award for Promoting Positive American Values in 2007 – “Bella” from Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate

You think the Passion of the Christ totally swept these a few years ago? And I really don't think the seven second delay would ever be used

Here’s the official site for the 16th Annual "Pauls"

Wow after all that Christ, goodness and purity I'm really in the mood for some Cake & Sodomy

ah- I feel so much better back where I belong- in the gutter, destined for hell

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