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Tag: Religion (31-40 of 48)

'The Ten Commandments' on Easter weekend: Good call, ABC

Confession time: I’m not religious and I’m not not religious. I don’t spend as much time as I probably should reflecting about The Big Things on Easter Sunday, and yet I feel guilty about that…so that’s something, right?

Anyway, last night I was snacking on some Cadbury Creme Eggs with the remote in my hand, flipping through the channels after the Duke-West Virginia game turned out to be a bust. That’s when I stumbled onto ABC, which was airing a holiday film that is to the Easter/Passover season what It’s a Wonderful Life is to Christmas: The Ten Commandments.

'Saving Grace' season premiere: Heaven-sent?

saving_grace_l.jpg Image Credit: Erik Heinila/TNT I like shows with surprising settings, where religion isn’t a punchline, and friendships seem organic and normal. I like shows about bad behavior. I like shows with a sense of humor. I like shows about women. Unsurprisingly, I like Saving Grace, even if last night’s season premiere was a bit too on-the-nose. As far as setting up the final run, though, “Let’s Talk” set a very clear tone: It’s showdown time. READ FULL STORY

Raj Patel refuses to humor the Colbert Nation by pretending he really is the messiah

On last night’s Colbert Report, Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing, spoke to Stephen via satellite to unceremoniously deny that he is the second coming of Buddha. A religious group called “Share International” headed by a man named Boston Creme Doughnut claims Patel is a form of the Messiah they call “Maitreya” — due to his age, skin tone, travel habits, and speech patterns. Stephen just thinks it’s because Patel got the Colbert Bump when he was a guest on the Report in January.

Is anyone getting “The Human Fund” vibes from “Share International”? And if not Raj Patel, who else could be the second coming of Buddha? Their birthdays don’t work, but my two best guesses are below.

“Hey buddy.”

'The Real World D.C.': They debate about real issues! They don't use the hot tub (sorta)! Civilization could yet survive!

If nothing else, I’m fairly certain last night’s premiere of The Real World: Washington D.C. made MTV history: No one used the hot tub! No, actually, it’s even more shocking than that: As anyone who suffered through watched the subsequent Real World: DC Aftershow knows, the cast of eight did in fact pile into the hot tub on their first night, but MTV, for some glorious reason, chose not to air it on the actual premiere. Penance for endless shots of Jersey Shore‘s Snooki and Snooki’s thong hot-tub-grinding on every breathing man on that show’s season premiere, perhaps?

Granted, anything is going to look like Proust next to the walking cartoons on Jersey Shore. But after weeks of barely tolerating The Situation et. al. hosing up so much oxygen in the pop-culture universe, I could scarcely believe I would ever witness a straight, atheist, African-American dude and a bisexual, Christian, white dude debate whether God exists on an MTV reality show.

In truth, it’s been practically a decade since I really cared about The Real World. (Ready to feel old? This is the 23rd season of The Real World. The show was airing on MTV before some of the people on this season were likely potty trained. There. We all feel really, really old now.) The last even halfway redeemable cast by my estimation was on the New Orleans season in 2000, but I’m also 30 (old!), so I don’t think MTV so much cares what I think anyway. Still, these eight people not only managed to behave as if they hadn’t long ago tequila blasted away their remaining grey matter, they honestly managed to hold my interest for an entire hour, and I never once cowered behind my couch in abject fear for my nation’s future. So who makes up this unlikely octet? Let’s discuss them in the order we met them: READ FULL STORY

Celeb-studded Bible audio book: Dylan McKay as Judas? Holy moly.

Better watch your back, Mel Gibson — there’s a new star-studded Bible in town: A 79-CD audio version, in fact, with quite the illustrious cast. There are a few obvious choices — ahem, Jim Caviezel as Jesus? — but a lot more unexpected ones: Jason Alexander as Joseph (as in technicolor dream coat), Lou Diamond Phillips as Mark, Harry Hamlin as Nehemiah, and my favorite, Luke Perry as Judas. Dylan McKay! Is Judas! The mind boggles. Also, Marisa Tomei lends her voice to Mary Magdalene, which is somewhere on the sublime border of “what the hell?” and “actually…yes.”

Poor Sean Astin gets the shaft as Elihu, who’s just a supporting character in the Book of Job, and despite what we know about his real-life fathering skills, Jon Voight provides the voice of Abraham. Unfair! British actor Martin Jarvis is the voice of God Himself, but Michael “You’ll Always Be Asher from Gilmore Girls to me” York does the most work as the narrator for the entire thing.

This doesn’t make me any more likely to listen to a 98-hour reading of the Bible, PopWatchers, but it does make me want to assemble a dream cast. Sarah Michelle Gellar as Jael, anyone? (Biblical ass-kickin’ heroines in the ha-us!)

'Legion' trailer: Cool or crap with a Paul Bettany cherry on top?

I can see the Hollywood meeting now: ”What would be better than Paul Bettany as the one man who could save a diner full of thugs? Maybe if Paul Bettany was the Archangel Michael, and the thugs all had wings…” Behold this gloriously NSFW trailer for Legion:

Oh, angels…why can’t you just get along and not wage war on everyone with guns and swords and stuff? READ FULL STORY

Showtime's 'Revelation': Who's excited for a scripted drama about...religion?

According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 39 percent of Americans say they attend religious services at least once a week, and 58 percent say they pray at least once a day. But we don't see a ton of religious practice on television; the most openly devout fictional family on prime time now is probably the Simpsons (or maybe the Henricksons). So color me excited for Revelation, Showtime's upcoming drama about an "unconventional minister" and his teenage kids, who relocate to Texas following his wife's death.

I'd be pumped for anything from David Janollari and Craig Wright — their mutual previous credit is Six Feet Under, so I trust them to create a thoughtful, unique family drama. But I'm particularly excited to see some religiosity play out on TV because I think it's underexplored — most religious people aren't 7th Heaven's Camden family, you know? I remember seeing the pilot for Friday Night Lights and being so struck by scene where the Panthers say a prayer with the pee wee kids. I can't remember seeing other characters pray on TV before, and it obviously stuck with me.

(skip ahead to 3:15)

I don't feel a huge need to have my beliefs reflected on television or held by my favorite characters, nor would I particularly seek out proselytizing. But drama comes from high stakes — hence all the cop and doctor shows — and faith, your position in a chaotic universe, an ultimate set of values or eternal choices, an idea of what comes before and what comes after? What's higher stakes than that?

Are you with me, PopWatchers? Do you wish more shows approached religion or had religious characters? And are you excited for Revelation?

'Kings': Why Syfy should bring it back from the dead

I missed last night’s premiere of the newly minted Syfy Channel’s Warehouse 13 — though judging by Ken Tucker’s take, I didn’t miss much — in favor of catching up with a couple of DVR’d episodes of Kings. You remember Kings, don’t you? That fantastic NBC show that reconceptualizes and recontexualizes the story of David, he who slew Goliath? The one that has Ian McShane melting a hole through the screen with sheer acting luminescence? The one nobody watched and is now being unceremoniously burned off on Saturday nights?

That Kings. So, as I was sitting there, basking in the plummy, almost Arthurian dialogue and the stentorian production design, I had an epiphany: Why doesn’t Syfy pick up Kings? Given that part of their whole name-change raison d’etre is to be able to program beyond the sci-fi spectrum, they could do far worse than roll the dice on a show as well-produced as this one.

Yes, I know, there is the whole “Kings had less viewers than my honeymoon video” problem. I firmly believe that isn’t the show’s fault; it’s NBC’s. They had no idea how to market Kings, so they mismarketed it: all those mysterious butterfly posters and trailers that told you nothing about the show besides that it was pretty and it had McShane in nice suits. Was it science fiction? An alternate reality? A soap opera? All of the above? John Rogers, executive producer of TNT’s Leverage, summed up the misfire — and missed opportunity — quite succinctly: “After years of the cultural Right bitching and moaning about how Hollywood doesn’t provide for them, NBC could have gone to every evangelical church in America and said ‘We’re serializing the story of King David in a modern, very relatable way. Here you go, a multi-million dollar series, in prime time, based on a Bible story. You’re frikkin’ welcome.'”

That’s still money left on the table, Syfy. Money that could be yours. The stink of failure would fade, in time, and you’d be left with one of the best shows on television, one that could fill the sucking vacuum left by Battlestar Galactica, and you could sell those DVD sets to church congregations, Sunday schools, and synagogues until kingdom come.

Just look at this clip; listen to the words, watch McShane work like the devil himself, and wonder why you don’t deserve more of this on TV:

Did you know about Kings while it was on? Would you watch it if someone levied some confidence behind it?

'Angels & Demons' + Catholic League = $$$$$

Ronhoward_lIf Ron Howard were ever to bump into William Donohue, president of the Catholic organization that has railed against Howard’s Robert Langdon films for being anti-Catholic, I hope the director will have the grace to say… "Thank you." Back in 2006, Donohue and his Catholic League spearheaded the protests against the cinematic adaptation of author Dan Brown’s conspiracy thriller The Da Vinci Code. The Tom Hanks-starring film went on to gross only $758 million worldwide. Every film should be so contested.

Maybe that’s what Howard had in mind when he penned a provocative essay for yesterday’s Huffington Post, defending himself and his upcoming sequel, Angels & Demons, against charges of anti-Catholicism. Though Donohue had recently criticized the film, the hubbub and response was relatively muted compared to 2006’s fracas. Similarly, it appeared as if Angels & Demons might just slip quietly into theaters unmolested. No more. Within hours, Donohue responded to Howard’s essay with a statement, calling Howard “delusional” and accusing him of “hating Catholicism.” And now we suddenly find the Web abuzz with discussion of Howard’s upcoming film.

Well played, Mr. Howard. Donahue might be your biggest critic, but he’s also your greatest publicity tool.

Do you think the Catholic League will have any impact on the success of Angels & Demons this time around? Do you think Howard really felt compelled to defend himself in The Huffington Post, or was his essay part of a grander strategy to promote his film, by any means necessary?

addCredit(“Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic”)

Vanessa Williams comes a-wassailing!

Just because we who are filling up PopWatch on this Christmas holiday—that’d be me and Michael Slezak!—idolize Vanessa Williams, we’re including a holiday performance of hers on the blog today. It’s our favorite Ugly Betty diva’s Christian-tinged performance of both "Mary Had a Baby" and "Go Tell it on the Mountain" on NBC’s 1993 Christmas special, David Foster’s Christmas Album. Of note: The fact that she looked nearly the same 15 years ago as she does today. She’s admitted to Botox in the past, but it’s rather uncanny. How can she be so fabulous?

But back to the performance… it’s rather demure and controlled at first, but don’t let that fool you. Watch it all the way through—at about the 3:40 mark, the gospel choir parades in to give back-up to Vanessa and it’s a blessedly joyful Christmas fandango from there on out!

PopWatchers: Do you remember this performance—or is it new to you? Is Vanessa—gasp!—lip-synching? Did this get you into the holiday spirit at all? (Of course it did!)

More Vanessa Williams love from EW:
All About Vanessa Williams
‘Ugly Betty’ BItes: Willy goes hunting
‘Ugly Betty’ Bites: Willy, Lohan, and Regis
‘Ugly Betty’ Bites: Willy brings it yet again
1992 EW Cover Story: Vanessa on Top
The Top 25 Entertainers of 2007: Vanessa Williams

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