Natl Film Title Weekend Gross % B.O. Theatrs Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star Total Gross Change $/Thtr Days --- --------------------------- ----------- ------ ------- ---- 1 Collateral (NEW) 24,701,458 3,188 3 Bryan H. Carroll* 24,701,458 $7,748 (assoc. producer 2nd unit director) 12 The Notebook 1,866,066 -31% 1,255 45 Ryan Gosling 72,227,947 $1,486 (1st billed star) 13 Napoleon Dynamite 1,739,326 +24% 546 59 Jared Hess (writer/director) 12,531,709 $3,185 Jerusha Hess (writer/costume designer) Jon Heder (1st billed star) Aaron Ruell (3rd billed star) Jeremy Coon (producer/editor) Sean Covel (producer) Chris Wyatt (producer) Munn Powell (cinematographer) Cory Lorenzen (production designer) Curt Jensen (art director) Tim Skousen, Brian Petersen (assistant directors) 14 Anchorman: 1,581,228 -49% 1,370 31 The Legend of Ron Burgundy 81,822,691 $1,154 Brent White (editor) 31 Around the World in 80 Days 211,565 +181% 234 54 Perry Andelin Blake 23,172,673 $904 (production designer) 32 Riding Giants (documentary) 154,501 +16% 56 31 Jeff Clark 1,229,019 $2,758 (featured LDS surfer) 34 Bugs! 139,706 -31% 30 514 stars Papilio, 11,813,204 $4,656 a Great Mormon butterfly 36 Saints and Soldiers (NEW) 129,056 26 3 Ryan Little 129,056 $4,963 (director/producer/cinematographer) Adam Abel (producer) Brian Brough (assoc. producer/produc. manager) Wynn Hougaard (editor) J Bateman (composer) Matt Whitaker (screenwriter) Jennifer Buster (casting) Actors: Corbin Allred, Larry Bagby III, Kirby Heyborne, Lincoln Hoppe, Curt Dousett, Ben Gourley, Ethan Vincent, etc. 65 Home on the Range 11,367 -52% 32 129 Roseanne Barr (actress) 49,981,286 $355 (1st billed star) 72 The Young Black Stallion 6,222 +39% 5 228 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 6,479,800 $1,244 75 China: The Panda Adventure 3,458 +44% 2 1109 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 3,841,727 $1,729 79 The Best Two Years 2,022 -11% 2 171 Scott S. Anderson 932,173 $1,011 (writer/producer/director) Michael Flynn (producer) Fred C. Danneman (executive producer) Gordon Lonsdale (cinematographer) Wynn Hougaard (editor) Michael McLean (songwriter, music supervisor) Dave Sapp (line producer/1st A.D./unit production manager) Darin Anderson (production manager) Michael L. McDonough (sound editor) Rebecca Nibley (costume designer) Actors: K.C. Clyde, Kirby Heyborne, David Nibley, Cameron Hopkin, Scott Christopher, Michael Flynn
Within the realm of LDS Cinema, "Saints and Soldiers" opened last weekend, falling just short of a record-breaking opening weekend. Its opening weekend box office total of $129,056 almost topped current record-holder "The R.M." which grossed $130,352 in its first weekend. That means the opening weekend for "Saints and Soldiers" was stronger than opening weekends for such eagerly awaited films as "The Book of Mormon Movie," Richard Dutcher's "Brigham City" and even "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" which opened in 63 theaters in various cities across the country. Look for the film to continue with strong numbers, because this film is good enough that it should have legs. Early predictions have "Saints and Soldiers" grossing as much as $1.6 million in theaters (roughly the same as "The Book of Mormon Movie" or "The Legend of Johnny Lingo") although if Excel is able to put together a nationwide release similar to "The Other Side of Heaven" those predictions might go even higher.
"SAINTS AND SOLDIERS": LDS CINEMA, MADE BY LATTER-DAY SAINTS; PLUS "THE VILLAGE" - I think we have made it clear in the past, but for those just joining us, "Saints and Soldiers" has just one LDS main character, but was made almost entirely by Latter-day Saint filmmakers and actors. The 4 lead actors are Latter-day Saints, as is the director ("Ryan Little"), writers, producers and other key crew members.
Absolutely we hope that "Saints and Soldiers" appeals to a broad audience worldwide, and is embraced by people of all backgrounds.
Is "Saints and Soldiers" an LDS Cinema film? Yes, because it meets all definitions of the term:
1. It is about at least one major LDS character. (Corbin Allred's character, "Deacon", a returned missionary who served a mission in Germany and now is stationed as a soldier there during WWII).
2. It was made by Latter-day Saint filmmakers.
3. It a being released in commercial theaters.
4. It is being marketed significantly to LDS audiences. (It is being distributed by Excel Entertainment, the predominant LDS Cinema distributor, and it is opening in Utah.)
"Saints and Soldiers" is the 17th LDS Cinema film since the release of "God's Army" in 2000.
Here are some exercises, appropriate for use in LDS Cinema classes in public middle schools and high schools throughout the nation:
Q. Is "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" LDS Cinema?
A. No. It meets all criteria except for #1: It has no LDS characters.
Q. Is John Lyde's "The Field is White" LDS Cinema?
A. No. It meets all criteria except #3: It was not released theatrically.
Q. Is the GLBT/LDS-themed feature film "Latter Days" LDS Cinema?
A. No. It was not marketed significantly to LDS audiences. It was marketed almost exclusively to a different religious group: the GLBT market. Also, one might argue that it doesn't meet criteria #2 because the only Latter-day Saint who worked on the movie was its writer/director C. Jay Cox, who is probably no longer an official member of the Church.
Q. Is Blair Treu's "Little Secrets" LDS Cinema?
A. No. None of the movie's main characters are Latter-day Saints (although a minor character, Kurt Bestor, is LDS). Also, the degree to which "Little Secrets" was "marketed significantly to Latter-day Saints" is extremely limited. It enjoyed some significant marketing in Utah, including a premiere, but this really was a nationally marketed movie, released by national, non-niche market distributors.
Q. Is "Napoleon Dynamite" LDS Cinema?
A. No. Although the filmmakers are Latter-day Saints and the main characters live in a predominantly LDS area, the film is NOT marketed significantly to LDS audiences -- it is marketed nationally by Fox Searchlight -- and the main characters are NOT Latter-day Saints.
Q. Is M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village" LDS Cinema?
A. Well, obviously not. But it's an interesting question to think about. Clearly the Pennsylvania-based filmmakers, incl. writer/director Shyamalan's (a Hindu) are not Latter-day Saints. But what if this movie had been made by an LDS writer/director... say Neil LaBute, Blair Treu, Richard Dutcher or Bruce Neibaur... Believe me, without a single frame of the movie being framed, there would be dozens of reviewers who would write of the movie as it all of its characters are Mormons. The village depicted in movie would be described as a turn-of-the-century Mormon village. The images of Mormon pioneers are so widely-recognized and resonate so strongly in the American consciousness, that many people even today confuse Mormons with the Amish, and many people think of Mormons when they see the period dress and period levels cultural and pre-technological conditions depicted in "The Village." For many Americans, nice non-cowboy/non-outlaw people living in settled communities and wearing 19th century garb ARE Mormons. Period.
Richard Dutcher made "God's Army." More significantly in this discussion, he made "Brigham City." Had Dutcher made "The Village" -- same script, same movie -- it would be described widely as a Mormon movie. Even made by Shyamalan, the movie offers considerable food for Mormon thought: In what ways do the Utopian impulses and ideals, with all its inherent benefits and hazards -- mirror the Utopia-building history of the 19th Century Saints, and the organized religious practices of contemporary Saints?
"The Village", while we are talking about it, is also a very "clean" movie... without any of the content that mainstream Latter-day Saint families might find objectionable: It has no profanity or vulgarity that I can recall. It has no nudity, sex, promiscuity, racism, graphic violence, or drug content. I have seen it, and enjoyed it tremendously. I also was completely surprised by its numerous twists.
Some further questions to think about:
Is "Goin' Coconuts" LDS Cinema? This movie pre-dates "God's Army" by 22 years. It seems to be on the edge between categories. It did indeed play in commercial theaters. But are the filmmakers LDS? Well, the key filmmakers really were not. The director, writer and main producers were non-LDS Hollywood types. But the company was also made through the Osmonds' studio and the two leads -- Donny and Marie Osmond -- are Latter-day Saints. Furthermore, Donny and Marie play themselves in the movie, and everybody in the world at that time knew that the Osmonds were LDS, but the movie doesn't overtly identify them as Latter-day Saints. So... Are the main characters in "Goin' Coconuts" actually LDS?
As arcane a question as this may seem, the "LDS Cinema status" of "Goin' Coconuts" is actually addressed specifically by Scott Christopher in the extras reel on "The Work and the Story" DVD. As silly and artistically questionable as "Goin' Coconuts" may be, it actually occupies a significant role historically, as one of the first theatrically-released feature films to be conceived and made by Latter-day Saints in Utah -- not just a Hollywood film brought to a Utah location which incidentally used some LDS cast and crew members.
At the same time, the people behind "Goin' Coconuts" also made the theatrically-released feature film "The Great Brain," based on the novel by half-LDS/half-Catholic writer John Fitzgerald. LDS singer/actor Jimmy Osmond starred in the title role as Tom Fitzgerald, John's real-life older brother. Interestingly enough, although younger brother John identified with his father's Catholic side, Tom - in real life - become an active Latter-day Saint, served a mission, and remained active in the Church throughout his life. So although Tom's character is pointedly non-LDS (living in an LDS community) in the original novels, and non-LDS in the movie, the actual person became an active Latter-day Saint after the time period dramatized in the movie. It's kind of the opposite of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," which is a fictionalized account of famed Mormon outlaw Butch Cassidy's life as an adult, after he was no longer active in the Church he had been raised in.
Although both were made by the Osmonds and both were marketed significantly to LDS audiences (as well as to non-LDS audiences), we do not classify "Goin' Coconuts" and "The Great Brain" as LDS Cinema. These movies occupy a peculiar place between LDS Cinema and completely non-LDS Cinema films.
Is "The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey" LDS Cinema? Absolutely. It was made by LDS filmmakers, released theatrically, and marketed almost purely to LDS audiences. But technically, most of the major characters are not actually Latter-day Saints. Rather, Nephi, Lehi, et al lived some 2500 years before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded. So, technically, they are Jews, or "former-day Saints," or pre-Christian Christians. Perhaps one could say that they are "Mormons" because they are characters in the Book of Mormon. "The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1" technically has an escape clause because Joseph Smith, who WAS an actual Latter-day Saint, is a significant character in the bookend sections of the movie that introduce the Book of Mormon. But what if the movie had dispensed with the Joseph Smith scenes entirely and simply shown the story of Lehi, Nephi and their family? Well, obviously this movie would still have to be classified as "LDS Cinema" because it was made in the spirit and purpose of other LDS Cinema movies, for the same market. If "The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 2" has no characters that are actual post-1830 Latter-day Saints (or if the Peter Johnson 1st Nephi film does this), then we would simply re-write the definitions of "LDS Cinema" to include it.
Ultimately, what is and isn't classified as "LDS Cinema" should not be based on a rigid set of rules, which may seem to be what I have outlined here. The definitions we have outlined are actually meant to be descriptive, not prescriptive. It's like the oft-quoted Damon Knight definition of science fiction: "Science Fiction is what I mean when I point to it."
DETAILED ARTICLE ABOUT "SAINTS AND SOLDIERS" PRODUCTION - See http://www.harktheherald.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=31020
DESNEWS: 3/4 STARS FOR LDS CINEMA MOVIE "SAINTS & SOLDIERS" - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595082106,00.html
LDS HOLLYWOOD ACTOR CORBIN ALLRED ("SAINTS & SOLDIERS"): KEEPING TO HIS VALUES WHILE BEING MOVIE STAR - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595082100,00.html
SLTRIB REVIEW: 3.5 OUT OF 4 STARS - See http://www.sltrib.com/themix/ci_2390579
SLTRIB: 'SAINTS AND SOLDIERS' MOVES LDS CINEMA TO THE FRONT LINE - See http://www.sltrib.com/themix/ci_2390578
KSL 1160 STREAMING AUDIO REVIEW OF SAINTS & SOLDIERS NOW ONLINE - Check out the KSL radio interview about LDS Cinema generally and "Saints and Soldiers" specifically!
THOMAS C. BAGGALEY REVIEW OF "SAINTS & SOLDIERS" FOR MERIDIAN MAGAZINE - See http://www.meridianmagazine.com/arts/040806saintssoilders.html
UTAH BLANKETED BY SAINTS AND SOLDIERS PROMOTIONS; HEYBORNE ON RADIO 1320 AM - Saints and Soldiers promotions are everywhere. I'm sure you've seen the Deseret News articles and there must be some in the Salt Lake Tribune.
Kirby Heyborne was on 1320 AM -- SPORTS talk radio Friday morning. Later in the day, he was heard with fellow "Saints" co-star Corbin Allred on the movie show in KSL radio.
People who don't go see "Saints and Soldiers" are not good Americans. Nor are they good Canadians. (The movie was directed by a Canuck.)
"SAINTS AND SOLDIERS" TRAILER ON APPLE.COM TRAILER SITE!! - If you are one of the many unlucky people outside of Utah who still have to wait to go and see "Saints and Soldiers," at least you can go see the trailer at http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/saints_and_soldiers.html
MORE ON A DYNAMITE WEEKEND FOR NAPOLEON DYNAMITE - Keep in mind that "Napoleon Dynamite" director Jared Hess is not only making waves behind the camera... He is also stealing the show in front of it. Hess has an extended cameo role in the increasingly popular "Pride and Prejudice," now a top-selling LDS Cinema video/DVD. Hess plays the goofy pastor at the Scottish-themed Wee Chapel in Las Vegas where the film has its dramatic climax. Hess also had small parts in "The Singles Ward" and "The R.M." Ironically, with the release of "Napoleon Dynamite" Hess has actually received more press coverage than any other "Singles Ward" actor, including Kirby Heyborne (not counting that film's "official" celebrity cameos such as Steve Young, Gordon Jump, LaVell Edwards, etc).
For Hess's next movie we think he should direct the remake of "The Producers."
EPILOGUE ADDED TO LDS-MADE FEATURE FILM "NAPOLEON DYNAMITE" DURING THEATRICAL RUN - Radical move for movie currently in theaters: "Napoleon Dynamite" adds an entire new section to the film - an epilogue - WHILE the movie is in the middle of its theatrical run.
[Excerpt from the indieWire daily mailing list a couple of weeks ago]: "They're not even waiting for the DVD to add scenes to the quirky hit comedy "Napoleon Dynamite." The filmmakers have created a five-minute epilogue that will be added to the film for its wider release. The scene, which -- like the film -- was written by Jared and Jerusha Hess and directed by Hess in Preston, Idaho, is said to offer "a peek into the future of Napoleon and his friends." It contains a wedding, and as much as we'd like to see Tina the llama in a veil, our money is on Kip and LaFawnda. Fox Searchlight, MTV Films, and Paramount will take the film to 350 screens with the new epilogue attached."
'NAPOLEON DYNAMITE' BLOWS UP BOUNDARIES (AME ARTICLE MENTIONS BOTH BRO. HESS AND BRO. LABUTE) - See http://www.jsonline.com/onwisconsin/movies/jul04/241898.asp
APPARENTLY NOT EVERYONE LIKED NAPOLEON - See the letter to the editor at http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595081647,00.html
DESNEWS LETTER TO EDITOR: SALT LAKER DEFENDS LDS-MADE "NAPOLEON DYNAMITE" - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595082704,00.html
FAMED MORMON ACTRESS FAY WRAY (OF "KING KONG" FAME) PASSES AWAY - See http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/10/movies/10wray.html
BRO. KAY WHITMORE PASSES - One of the biggest LDS names in film was not actually a filmmaker in the sense we usually think about, but he was a great man and a great Latter-day Saint, and deserves some mention. When Bro. Kay Whitmore passed away a week ago he was eulogized in articles published around the world, but particularly in business publications. He was best known to the world at large as the former CEO of Kodak. We know it mostly as a company that makes the film we buy for our cameras, but in the filmmaking world Kodak certainly has a long history of being an important supplier and key player.
MORE DETAILS ABOUT BRO. KAY WHITMORE, ONCE ONE OF WORLD'S LEADING FILM EXECS - See http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=a37QzA86QUFo&refer=us
DESNEWS: 2.5/4 STARS FOR TOM CRUISE MOVIE "COLLATERAL," PRODUCED BY BRYAN H. CARROLL - "Collateral," which opens nationwide today. Bountiful, Utah native Bryan H. Carroll has been attached to the project since the beginning. Carroll was an associate producer for the movie. Directed by Michael Mann with a $60 million production budget, "Collateral" is about an assassin (Cruise) who hails a Los Angeles cab, and then forces the cab driver (Jamie Foxx) to drive him around while fulfilling his assignments in the area.
Carroll was previously the co-producer of the short-lived 2002 TV series "Robbery Homicide Division," but his best known work may be as the editor of the feature films "Major League: Back to the Minors (1998) and "The Phantom" (1996). Carroll has also been an assistant film editor on such films as Ali, Mr. Holland's Opus, Operation Dumbo Drop, Free Willy and City Slickers.
3 LDS CINEMA FILMS RELEASED ON DVD - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595080632,00.html for Chris Hicks' abreviated reviews.
2 NEW JOHN LYDE FILMS SET FOR RELEASE - A single DVD featuring two new short films by LDS filmmaker John Lyde is set for release, and will be shown at the upcoming LDSBSA convention, with release to stores in the next few weeks.
The DVD features Lyde's long-anticipated Gospel/Christian-themes short films "Mariah's Prayer" and "Thy Will Be Done."
"Mariah's Prayer" stars LDS actress Lynne Carr (the investigator woman in Lyde's "The Field is White" and the mission president's wife in Richard Dutcher's "God's Army"). "Mariah's Prayer" also stars Richard Pratt, Maranda Christiansen, Ashley Christiansen, and Abby Christiansen. Plot synopsis: "Mariah has always been afraid of the monster under the bed. She learns that with the help of God she has nothing to be afraid of."
We should note that "Mariah's Prayer" features a musical score composed by Thomas C. Baggaley, LDSFilm.com's co-webmaster. Bro. Baggaley previously scored Christian Vuissa's award-winning short film "Unfolding," among many other projects. His debut album of original music and newly orchestrated classics is "Spirit of the Sabbath," available at fine establishments such as Deseret Bok and LDS Video Store. Baggaley was also the co-orchestrator of "The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey," which was composed by Bro. Robert C. Bowden. I would tell you what project he is about to begin working on this week, but then I would have to shoot you.
"Mariah's Prayer" can be compared to "Citizen Kane," "On the Waterfront" and "12 Angry Men" because it, too, is a film.
John Lyde's previous films include "Hoops" (starring Kirby Heyborne and Michael Birkeland), "The Collectors", "The Field is White", "In the Service of God", and "Missionary: Impossible." Lyde's upcoming feature film "Sons of Provo" (on which he worked as film editor and a cinematographer) is a mockumentary about an LDS boy band and stars Will Swenson ("The Singles Ward") and Kirby Heyborne ("Saints and Soldiers").
DVD RELEASE SET FOR CLASSIC ERIC HENDERSHOT FILM - LDS filmmaker Eric Hendershot's "Tyler, A Real Hero" is set for re-release, for the first time in DVD format. It wil be unveiled at the upcoming LDSBSA convention, and be sold in LDS bookstores around the world soon thereafter.
The video cover for "Tyler, a Real Hero" features more LDS celebrities than "The Singles Ward."
Text from LDS Video Store:
Tyler, A Real Hero (VHS)
Special guest appearance and narration by Steve Young, San Francisco Forty-Niner Quarterback
Written and directed by Eric Hendershot
Produced by Eric Hendershot and Dickilyn Hendershot
Music by Sam Cardon and Kurt Bestor
"Who Will Be the Real Hero" music and lyrics by Michael McLean
Executive producers Richard A. Malott and Richard Malott, Jr.
"My whole family was spiritually enthralled by this powerful film."
-- Stephen R. Covey, Ph.D., famed lecturer/best-selling author
Text from video cover:
Tyler had it all - the cutest girl in town, all-state in three sports and a scholarship to play football and baseball at a well known college. Then suddenly, in one brief tragic moment, his life was changed forever. Forty-Niner quarterback Steve Young tells the true and remarkable story of Tyler Wilkinson and what it takes to become "A Real Hero."
"This film will gather you in, lift you up and change your life forever!"
-- Kieth Merrill, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, director of "Legacy," "Testaments", etc.
"This is a beautifully done film, full of humor, tenderness, inspiration, determination and joy. Tyler is a hero for us all."
-- LaVell Edwards, BYU football coach
Approx. 62 minutes / Color / Stereo / Digitally Mastered
ERIC HENDERSHOT FILM: "TYLER, A REAL HERO" COMPLETE CREDITS AND REVIEW - A review and complete opening and closing credits for the 1993 Eric Hendershot film "Tyler, A Real Hero" have been posted on the LDSFilm.com website at: http://www.ldsfilm.com/docu/TylerARealHero.html
Review and transcription were done by LDS Video Store customer service and sales rep James McCabe, a recent immigrant from Liberia.
I'M RICHARD DUTCHER, AND I'M REPORTING FOR DUTY - Bro. Richard Dutcher gathers his troops and fights back against the Ryan Little/Saints and Soldiers insurgency with "God's Army 2: States of Grace."
Synopsis: "The lives of a street preacher, an aspiring actress, a Mormon missionary, and a young gang banger intersect in this ensemble drama set in present-day Santa Monica, California."
Now in post-production.
The all-new cast features none of the stars from Dutcher's first theatrical release, "God's Army" (2000).
Rachel Emmers .... Holly
Allison Evans .... Doctor
Lucas Fleischer .... Farrell
Brett Granstaff .... Elder Stearman
Jo-sei Ikeda .... Louis
Allen Maldonado .... Rob
Christian Redd .... Carl
Ignacio Serricchio .... Lozano
Ken Glassing returns as Dutcher's Director of Photography. Talented Latter-day Saint actress Rachel Emmers stars as Holly (the aspiring actress, I think). Sister Emmers had small roles in "Out of Step" and "Sons of Provo." In 1996, while a student at Brigham Young University, Emmers received the award for "Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Character Role," for her role as "Alfred" in the stage production "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead."
Our note: Just in case anybody isn't clear... this note was not written by Bro. Dutcher. The headline is a juxtaposition of current political headlines and the military titles of both Dutcher and Little's films. I'm certainly not comparing Bro. Richard Dutcher to Sen. John Kerry. For one thing, Dutcher is the incumbent. If I had to compare Richard Dutcher to a politician... I wouldn't.
But if you were drawing comparisons, you could say that Jon Enos is Dick Cheney, Stin Hanson is Condie Rice, and Nathan Smith Jones is is Michael Moore... but only because he made a documentary (?) about the "president."
LDS CINEMA MOVIE "BAPTISTS AT OUR BARBECUE" RELEASE SET FOR OCT. 8 - The long-awaited feature film "Baptists at Our Barbecue" (also filmed under the title "Eat, Drink and Get Married" has been scheduled tentatively for an October 8, 2004 release date.
The movie stars the fabulous Heather Beers, who had the title role in "Jack Weyland's Charly" and a small part in Clay Essig's "Fortune Cookie." Beers co-stars with Dan Merkley, who was hilarious in his supporting role as Nathan Smith Jones' production assistant (and counselor in his ward's bishopric) in "The Work and the Story."
"Baptists at Our Barbecue" is the film adaptation of Robert Farrell Smith's popular Deseret Book novel of the same title. I have read this book (brilliant and VERY funny and original), I have read the screenplay (also very funny!) and I am very much looking forward to this movie. Of course, I'm also a huge fan of the director, Austrian Latter-day Saint filmmaker Christian Vuissa, whose previous short films "Roots & Wings" and "Unfolding" have won numerous national and local film awards.
Vuissa has been dubbed in the press as one of the "Four Horsemen of the LDS Cinema Un-Apocalypse" the fabled and fabulous foursome who have rejuvenated LDS Cinema with a string of feature films high production quality and entertainment values. We long ago (before filming began) predicted that Bro. Andrew Black's "Pride and Prejudice", Scott S. Anderson's "The Best Two Years" and Ryan Little's "Saints and Soldiers" would all be fantastic, and that critics would rave about these movies. We were right. Three for four so far. The fourth and final film in our "Four Horsemen" prediction is Vuissa's "Baptists at Our Barbecue."
I'm not saying that "Baptists" will be BETTER than "Pride and Prejudice", "The Best Two Years" and "Saints and Soldiers." But I still believe it can stand among those, although those three films have set a very high bar. (If critics do NOT like "Baptists" as much... well, keep in mind that critics expectations have been set even higher recently... and Hitchcock made "Topaz." Regardless of how critics respond to "Baptists," we're all going to want to see it, and Christian Vuissa is a brilliant, talented filmmaker who - based on talent alone - could easily be listed along with LaBute and Hess as one of the top LDS filmmakers of our day.)
HALESTORM'S "CHURCH BALL" WIN A WALK-ON ROLE - Father fighting father and neighbor against neighbor, enduring fiercely in a battle that, if lost, could spell certain doom and eternal embarrassment. For glory. For honor. For crying out loud -- it's just church ball!
In the spirit of the game -- the legends, myths and tall tales surrounding church-sponsored basketball are fighting their way to the big screen, and dragging with them some lucky winners.
* In an announcement Monday, HaleStorm Entertainment introduced a contest that will give away a walk-on role in the highly-anticipated film, "Church Ball," which is scheduled to film in late September. The contest, powered by ChurchBall.com, has already garnered over 1,700 participants -- each vying for a role in the film and several other prizes.
"The response the first three days of the contest was overwhelming," said Stephanie Packer, Director of Advertising for HaleStorm Entertainment. "We're expecting over 30,000 people to enter the contest over the next month and a half."
The "Church Ball" contest is open for anyone over the age of 14 and ends one week before production begins. Participants can enter for their chance to win at www.ChurchBall.com. "Church Ball" is scheduled for a fall 2005 release.
HaleStorm first announced the film in 2002 during the release of their first feature film, "The Singles Ward."
"Church Ball has the potential to be a film that will appeal to more than just LDS audiences," said the film's producer, Dave Hunter. "We've taken a lot of time on this intentionally. This movie could, and should, become a classic."
"The concept is great because it's not just Mormon-specific," said Kurt Hale, president of HaleStorm Entertainment and director/co-writer of "Church Ball." "Church basketball is a part of so many different religions out there. The Mormons just happen to make it (in)famous."
GREAT INTERVIEW WITH WINNER OF 2003 LDS FILM FESTIVAL BEST SCREENPLAY AWARD (ALAN MITCHELL) - Bro. Mitchell beat out original unproduced screenplays by Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game, Folk of the Fringe) and John E. Moyer (The Singles Ward, The R.M., The Home Teachers) and many other GREAT LDS screenwriters. So Mitchell's screenplay must be quite good... Read this interview online to find out how he did it...
Novelist, rancher and prodigal AML-lister Alan Mitchell was kind enough to do an interview for my Mormon literature-themed blog "A Motley Vision."
Alan discusses his LDS Film Festival-winning screenplay, the possibility of another novel featuring Barry Monroe and that whole film vs. fiction thing that caused a lot of discussion on the list last year.
The interview is available at: http://motleyvision.blogspot.com/2004/08/interview-alan-rex-mitchell.html
LDS CINEMA FILM "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE" ODD FOR ACTORS - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595080624,00.html
INCENTIVES CALLED KEY TO LURING MOVIE CREWS TO UTAH - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595078846,00.html
LDS ACTOR AARON ECKHART TURNS DOWN $4 MIL. FOR BASIC INSTINCT 2 - Excerpt: "[Sharon] Stone also retains the right to approve the director and main cast. With [Michael] Douglas now declining to reprise his role (Catherine Zeta-Jones, his wife, may not have been too amused), it is said that Aaron Eckhart, a star of Erin Brockovich, was approved and offered £4 million. But he said no." See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2004/07/20/bfshar20.xml
LDS ACTRESS ELIZA DUSKHU AFRAID OF FLYING - See http://www.teenhollywood.com/d.asp?r=73076&cat=1027
ECKHART WAXES PHILOSOPHICAL ABOUT SCARY MOVIES AND "SUSPECT ZERO" - See http://theedge.bostonherald.com/movieNews/view.bg?articleid=38921
LDS MISSIONARIES TRIGGER SNL ALUM JULIA SWEENEY'S SECULAR RELIGIOUS CONVERSION - See http://www.playbill.com/news/article/87477.html
ROCK BAND CLAIMS TO BE CHILDREN OF LEGENDARY LDS FILIPINO FILM DIRECTOR LINO BROCKA - Non-Filipinos will probably not understand much of this article, which refers to the Philipines' greatest filmmaker, Lino Brocka, who was also the first convert to joint he Church in the Philipines, although he was pretty much not an active Church member after finishing his mission in Hawaii.
2 NEW LDS SCREENPLAYS POSTED ONLINE - When we first forwarded announcements about LDSScripts.com, there was not much there except for an interview with controversial LDS screenwriting instructor Eric Samuelsen (at BYU).
Now there are two screenplays posted there, one by Bro. Samuelsen ("Peculiarities") and one by SLC-based LDS filmmaker Tucker Dansie ("Love Logs On"). Both screenplays focus on LDS characters. Bro. Samuelsen is one of the most critically acclaimed Latter-day Saint playwrights working today. He worked as a script doctor on "Pride and Prejudice," and has consulted on a number of other LDS film screenplays. Nothing he has written has yet been filmed, but a few things have been optioned and are in planning stages.
Tucker Dansie is the director of the documentary about the LDS pop band "Colors," and the concert/documentary DVD "Colors: Up Close & Personal." He has also directed a large number of great short films, including "The Lesson", "The Wooden Bowl" and "Two Dimes & a Nickel."
Anyway, you can read these feature-length screenplays online here:
Of course, if you have any sense at all, you will want to be the first to arrange full funding for the filming of these scripts, so that you can reap all the artistic rewards of seeing them on the big screen, or at least video store shelf.
BRO. IVERSON'S "ROAD SHOW" POSTED TO WEB - LDS screenwriter J. Scott Iverson ("Mr. Krueger's Christmas") has posted to the web his much-talked-about screenplay "Road Show!" about an LDS road show competition set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War.
You can read the entire "Road Show!" script online at: http://www.ldsscripts.com/screenplays.htm
We've arranged to make it a free download... Just for you guys!
It's a great screenplay, by the way, that some of the BIGGEST Latter-day Saint names in mainstream filmmaking and some of the biggest names in LDS filmmaking have been on board to produce and direct, except that financing didn't come through so... the project is available for those who want to invest in it...
Obviously somebody someday will make a great movie about road shows. It's one of the richest veins of untapped cinematic potential in the Church.
You can ALSO read Bro. Iverson's screenplay about a bad guy who is a renegade polygamist named Gadianton Smith: "Extra Pay" on Iverson's own website at: http://www.jsicreative.com/screenplays.html.
HEIMERDINGER PICKS BRIAN BROUGH ("WRONG BROTHER") FOR ZARAHEMLA MOVIE PRODUC. HELP; HALESTORM EXPRESSES INTEREST - From Chris Heimerdinger ("Tennis Shoes among the Nephites") newsletter:
Passage to Zarahemla Update
Many of you have inquired about investing in "Passage to Zarahemla", the movie. Therefore I wanted to report about changes in the movie's budget. After working at length with Brian Brough (Production Manager of "Singles Ward," "The RM," and several other major projects in the area) we've brought down our production budget from about $900,000 to $525,000. This is much more in line with other successful LDS films. Brian is considerably more experienced than the first parties I used to create a budget. My foremost concern, as always, is production quality. These changes make an irresistible difference in ROI (Return on Investment) and leave all my quality concerns intact.
Halestorm has also expressed interest in handling theatrical and DVD distribution (Halestorm, of course, produced "Singles Ward," "RM," and distributed "Book of Mormon Movie" and "Best Two Years.") I won't make a final decision on this till the film nears completion, but it's a nice vote of confidence.
I'm excited about this change. As I've often said, my goal is to make many films--from my books past and future. Therefore, I feel it's imperative that the FIRST film is highly successful.
This information is also updated in the site's Investment Overview. Go to: http://www.cheimerdinger.com/other/passage/Overview1.pdf
We're getting ever closer to being able to start production. Again my sincere thanks for so many faithful website supporters. If more desire to take part, I welcome you. This film will soon be a reality, and it's my website guests who I have to thank.
LIAHONA FILMS ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF "ATLANTIC CITY EXPRESSWAY" - Liahona Films, an independent motion picture and television production company, announces that the 2nd independent feature film from actor/director Jeff Profitt titled "Atlantic City Expressway", is now complete. "Atlantic City Expressway" will be released on Video and DVD Tuesday, August 24th with a pre-order date of August 10th. For more information log onto the movie's official website at www.AtlanticCityExpresswayTheMovie.com .
MORMONMOVIES.COM LOOKING FOR SHORT FILMS BY LDS FILMMAKERS - Mormonmovies.com is looking for short films by LDS filmmakers! We know there are a lot of good films out there that are just waiting for a bigger audience. We are just getting started and really excited. Films must be shorter than 20 minutes running time. We are charging a small submission fee per film per year to pay for hosting and services. For all the details, go to http://www.mormonmovies.com/submit.htm.
Check out MormonMovies.com for theatrical trailers too! We are showing movie trailers and info for LDS feature films. Checkout the latest films, or see a past one that you may have missed.
Spencer Christensen and Tyler Ford Anderson
OSMOND BROTHERS VICIOUS AND SAVAGE AT JULY 24 GIG! - See the letter to the editor at http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595080375,00.html
MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR DOCUMENTARY CONTROVERSY ADDRESSED - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595082437,00.html
DESNEWS LETTER: IS JEOPARDY'S BRO. KEN JENNINGS PROFANE? - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595081638,00.html
DESNEWS WRITER: ALL LDS PEOPLE SHOULD BE PROUD OF JEOPARDY STAR KEN JENNINGS - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595080376,00.html
JOKES ABOUT BRO. JENNINGS: TV/JEOPARDY SUPERSTAR GENIUS - See http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/040804/nyw184_1.html
LDS LETTER WRITER: "THE VILLAGE" IS A "GREAT, WHOLESOME MOVIE" - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595081880,00.html (The Village was written and directed by non-LDS filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, who previously made "The Sixth Sense," "Unbreakable," and "Signs." It is about Pennsylvanians who wear Pioneer Day outfits.)
LDS EX-SHERIFF STARS ON REALITY TV SHOW "AMERICAN CANDIDATE" - Bro. Richard Mack is featured on the upcoming reality series "American Candidate." Perhaps this LDS gun advocate will help dispel those myths and stereotypes about Latter-day Saints being super-nice - stereotypes spread by Ken Jennings, Neleh Dennis, Carmen Rasmussen, Whoopie Goldberg and the new movie "The Village". Is it better to be feared or loved, Machiavelli asked. Or as Bro. Aaron Eckhart told Details magazine when asked what a nice Mormon boy like him is doing in movies like that: "Who said Mormons were nice, anyway??"
Posted on Sun, Aug. 01, 2004
New frontier for 'reality' TV: Politics
By David Hiltbrand
Inquirer Staff Writer
Think those snake-infested atolls on Survivor are inhospitable? The contestants on cable's newest "reality" show are plunged into a far harsher environment: the American political process.
On American Candidate, which debuts at 9 tonight on Showtime, 10 participants compete in a rigorous 10-episode mock election campaign for the highest office in the land.
Each week as they crisscross the country, they are issued an authentic electoral challenge by host Montel Williams.
"They went from retail campaigning in New Hampshire to image and message management on [Washington's] K Street to national media appearances in Los Angeles," says R.J. Cutler, the show's creator.
Whoever fares best on the assignment is designated the front-runner, a status that carries immunity to elimination that week and a variety of bonuses, including access to such high-powered political consultants as Ed Rollins, Carter Eskew and Joe Trippi.
"In some cases, it also comes with a target on your back, as it does in real politics," notes Cutler, who has produced several acclaimed political documentaries, including The War Room, about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, and A Perfect Candidate, on Oliver North's Senate race from Virginia in 1994.
The two people who finish at the back of the pack face off in a debate. Then the remaining contestants vote to eliminate one of them from the race.
The ultimate winner, determined by viewer vote and revealed live Oct. 10, receives $200,000 and a TV platform, as yet undetermined, for addressing the country.
American Candidate has assembled a slate that is remarkable in its diversity - from Richard Mack, 51, a Mormon ex-sheriff and a darling of the National Rifle Association (he cowrote a book with the cheery title From My Cold Dead Fingers: Why America Needs Guns), to Bruce Friedrich, 34, a vegan and a leader of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
"We wanted alternatives to the over-50 white male who is ultra-rich and went to Harvard or Yale and has had a particular kind of life that many Americans don't feel is connected to their own," says Cutler, who selected the players from 1,500 applicants.
Some are conservative, some are liberal. Some have had political experience (Keith Boykin, 38, was director of specialty media in the Clinton White House), some have not (Park Gillespie, 38, is a devout Christian and middle-school teacher in North Carolina). Two are gay, including Chrissy Gephardt, 31, whose father, U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt (D., Mo.), ran in the Democratic presidential primaries this year.
All are extremely passionate about their issues. Their ardent convictions are the juice that enlivens American Candidate.
As a result, the show stands in vivid contrast to the cynicism that often surrounds politics-as-usual.
"Obviously we have a political system that tries to drive voters away instead of attracting voters in," says Rollins, who was manager of President Ronald Reagan's 1984 reelection campaign.
Rollins, who helps the virtual candidates pick their running mates, hopes the show can help reverse that trend. "Any time we see young people talking about why they're interested in the political process," he says, "that's a very positive thing."
The candidates' zeal is quickly tested by the demands of campaigning and the calculated desire to win.
"We started at 7:30 in the morning and ended at 11:30 at night, even on our days off," says Mack, on the phone from his home in Provo, Utah. "It was very grueling. I thought people would quit, but nobody did."
Recently registered as a Libertarian, Mack has a catchy platform: "I called myself Mack the Knife. I'll cut taxes, cut spending, and cut the baloney between the two parties."
Strategy rears its conniving head early in the game.
Facing the first elimination vote, Joyce Riley muses, "Are we going to vote for the person we think might be a threat to us? Or are we going to vote for the best candidate?"
The primary plank for Riley, 55, of Arkansas City, Kan., is better benefits for her fellow Gulf War veterans.
Eight of the 10 episodes have already been shot. As in most reality/elimination shows, uneasy alliances are formed among the contestants.
"Pacts become a big issue as we go along," Boykin says, on the phone from his Manhattan apartment. "The show is very much like real politics. People make coalitions."
It becomes increasingly important for the candidates to attract the broadest possible constituency.
"That's the sticky point," Boykin says. "How do you run an effective campaign without selling out your principles?"
In the end, they discovered that charm often trumps conviction.
"Charisma goes a hell of a long way in running a successful campaign," Boykin says. "If you have an outgoing personality, you can connect with the voters. It makes a huge difference."
Even though this is a made-for-TV election, a surprising number of ordinary citizens were willing to get involved.
For one of the assignments, "in Philadelphia on July Fourth, we had lines half an hour long to get to the voting booth," Cutler says. The episode shot here will be shown in September.
American Candidate may have a harder time recruiting viewers. Before it landed on premium channel Showtime, the series was slated for FX, which ultimately deemed the show too expensive. Basic-cable FX is available in 83.9 million homes, Showtime in 13 million.
The politics on Candidate is strictly grass-roots, but the collision of ambition and idealism it creates is intriguing.
"Running for president, on the one hand, requires an enormous patriotic fervor, and that's exciting," Cutler says. "On the other hand, it requires a certain amount of delusion.
"There's this idea that any boy or girl can grow up to be president. But you have to be deluded to think that you should be that boy or girl," he adds. "And the nexus is a fascinating place."
Preston: Have I mentioned recently that PETA is evil and Bruce Friedrich is the anti-Christ? The NRA is also evil, by the way, but Charlton Heston isn't the anti-Christ. He's just senile.
See also http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29119-2004Jul30.html
BRO. MACK ON "AMERICAN CANDIDATE" WAS PREVIOUSLY LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATE FOR UTAH GOV. - Am I an official member of the Libertarian party? No. I'm not a member of any political party. But I rather like the Libertarian party, and I like Libertarian Latter-day Saints. I think that the Libertarian party in many ways better embodies Latter-day Saint principles and values than the Democratic and Republican parties. Having said that, the same can be said about the Democratic and Republican parties. Each embody portions of Latter-day Saint core values better than the other parties, but no party completely reflects our values. I am a strong proponent of enhancing the strength of third parties, and I especially believe in eliminating legal barriers that penalize or handicap third party candidates and voters. I would love to see an America in which voters could choose from a number of electable candidates larger than 2. "American Candidate" sounds like a great idea for a TV series... maybe a little silly and fringe-laden. But discussion of real-world, substantive political and national issues is certainly a more important, more interesting contribution to the reality TV genre than yet another serving of does she like him or does he like her but does she know he might be in an alliance against her because the black guy told him that she used to be a stripper...
So some were surprised when the cast was announced. Among the 10 candidates were Chrissy Gephardt, the daughter of former House Minority Leader Rep. Dick Gephardt; Keith Boykin, a former special assistant to President Bill Clinton; Lisa Witter, an executive vice president for Fenton Communications, a public relations firm that has represented a host of major players in the left-liberal establishment; Jim Strock, California's former secretary of the environment; and [Latter-day Saint] Richard Mack, who abandoned his real candidacy for governor of Utah on the Libertarian Party ticket in order to make a fake run on "The American Candidate."
DETAILED ARTICLE ABOUT LDS POLITICIAN FEATURED ON "AMERICAN CANDIDATE" REALITY TV SHOW - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595080547,00.html
LEGISLATION ADVANCES PROTECTING RIGHTS OF LDS FILM FILTERING/EDITING COMPANIES - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595078881,00.html
STEVEN FALES' "CONFESSIONS" GETS MANHATTAN PREMIERE - GLBT/LDS actor/playwright Steven Fales has not actually made any films, but we'll pass on this article anyway, as this is a fairly major premiere for him. Fales was the son-in-law of famed Latter-day Saint author, screenwriter and playwright Carol Lynn Pearson ("My Turn On Earth", "A Time To Love", "Cipher in the Snow". Fales was previously married to Sister Pearson's daughter Emily Pearson, who was one of the producers of "The Work and the Story." Both Emily Pearson and Carol Lynn Pearson are characters in Fales' autobiographical play.
MATT DAMON, FRANK MARSHALL, "BOURNE IDENTITY" HEADS TO MORMON COUNTRY - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595078166,00.html
"OCIEE NASH" DIRECTOR RESPONDS TO CRITICAL DESNEWS REVIEW OF HER FAMILY FILM - Once again a non-LDS filmmaker has tried to promote family film with screenings in Salt Lake City, only to be rebuffed by local movie critics.
KSL radio's review: 1 out of 4 stars. Listen to review here: http://movies.ksl.com/phputil/review.php?movie=525
Preston: I don't know anything about "The Adventures of Ociee Nash," but I know it has no LDS characters, and the filmmakers were not LDS, so we don't much care about it or have any interest in it... no matter how well made. Maybe if I saw it I would think it is awesome, but the critics who have weighed in on thus far it haven't liked it. I'm glad if Utah has a reputation as a family-oriented place, such that makers of family films want to test their movies here. But you need more than a "clean" movie. Your movie should star an LDS actor, or use an above-the-line LDS filmmaker, or -- even better -- be a well-made movie. If you're movie isn't going to be very good, at least hire Johnny Biscuit or Rocky Anderson or somebody to be in it - or use SheDAISY or Julie De Azevedo songs - to add local interest. Otherwise why should we care?
For the young, spirited nine-year-old Ociee Nash, nothing could be more exciting than romping through her beloved Mississippi countryside with her brother Ben and her faithful four-legged companion, "Woofer". However, Ociee's idyllic life is thrown into a tailspin when her Papa realizes that because of the death of Ociee's mother, and Ociee's run-in with a mysterious Gypsy, the rough and tumble world of their rural farm is not the place for Ociee to be growing up. Papa decides it is time to send Ociee to Ashville, N.C. where her Aunt Mamie can teach her to become "a young lady". Sadly, Ociee boards the train to Asheville. Once on her way, it's not long before Ociee meets an array of interesting characters: Nellie Bly, Orville and Wilbur Wright (TY PENNINGTON of Trading Spaces in his feature film debut), and even the President of the United States, William McKinley, for whom Ociee inspires a campaign slogan. In Asheville, Ociee and Aunt Mamie quickly find there are two sides to every story. Trading in dungarees for dresses, Ociee tries her best to adjust, but finds herself compelled to hold onto her spirited heart. Ociee befriends the proper young Elizabeth Murphy, but a trip to the creek and a meeting with young Harry Vanderbilt and the creek boys, finds Ociee and Elizabeth in over their heads. Aunt Mamie is more determined than ever that Ociee now conform to her strict standards. However, Aunt Mamie's soft heart is revealed when Ociee invites her childhood friend, Mr. Lynch, over for Sunday dinner. Ociee's true bravery, character and spirit come to the forefront when a fire at the Murphy house threatens the life of young Elizabeth Murphy. A triumphant "Ociee Nash Day" celebration ensues to everyone's delight. Ociee Nash is a child you will want to cheer on for generations to come.
WHOOPIE GOLDBERG TRANSFORMS BAHA'I ACTOR INTO A LATTER-DAY SAINT - For starters, there's Nasim, her [Whoopie's] Iranian handyman (Omid Djalili of Spy Game and The Mummy, who's actually the best actor in the bunch but deserves much better material). His presence allows for American viewers to howl at one-liners about the evil Iranians like they probably did at jokes about the Krauts and the Japs during WW II. So we have an angry Mavis warning Nasim when he tries to set her up on a date: "If it has anything to do with a man, I'm going to kick the Shi'ite out of you." CUE LAUGH TRACK. "You've kicked so much of that out of me, I'm now a Mormon." BADA-BOOM.
Preston: To me this seems like an odd joke, and I'm not entirely sure I get it. Maybe it's just not very funny. I believe the point of "humor" here is that Whoopie's character is so intolerant of Nasim's Shi'ite Muslim faith - which she perceives as being inherently violent, that she has cajoled him into being something that is just the opposite: a Mormon. If this is inferring that Mormons are so peaceful that they are the opposite of violent terrorists, then, sure, I'll take that. Although one wonders whether Quakers wouldn't have been a better punchline. But maybe Quakers are not as funny as Mormons. Maybe New Yorkers in particular perceive Mormons as unusually peaceful. Alternatively, perhaps the humor is simply a play on the word "Shi'ite," which sounds like a four-letter swear word which Mormons don't utter.
Oh, and yes, actor Omid Djalili is a devout Baha'i, one of that faith's most famous actors. But Djalili played a Muslim character - not a Baha'i - on the sitcom "Whoopie." The Baha'i faith originated in Persia, so being an Iranian Baha'i is kind of like being a Utahn Latter-day Saint: It's the most commonly encountered diasporic geographic/ethnic origin in the denomination. Whoopie Goldberg, who is Jewish, made news recently for being fired as ad spokesperson for by a diet product company after she made vulgar comments about Pres. Bush at a Democratic Party fundraiser.
AP WIRE: HBO TO AIR SERIES ON POLYGAMY, EXEC. PRODUCED BY OSCAR-WINER TOM HANKS (WHO WAS PREVIOUSLY LDS) - Actor Hanks was a Latter-day Saint for about 1 year while he was young. I have no idea if that has anything to do with his interest in producing a TV series about polygamists, but it's worth mentioning.
Now to the article: http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595082055,00.html
KSL-TV (UTAH): HBO POLYGAMY SERIES CONSULTING W/UTAH POLYGAMISTS/MORMON FUNDAMENTALISTS - See http://tv.ksl.com/index.php?nid=5&sid=110854
HBO SPOKESERSON: FAMILY IN POLYGAMY-THEMED "BIG LOVE" SERIES IS "NOT MORMON" - "HBO spokeswoman Mara Mikialian said she hadn't seen the pilot, so she couldn't provide many specifics about the show. She said the family would not be Mormon, and the show would be shot in California -- not Utah. It's scheduled to premiere in 2005." (Excerpted from http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2004/08/05/entertainment0911EDT0523.DTL&type=tvradio.
More details: This is what we know. The original script does have mainstream Mormons as well as polygamists. They are not portrayed in a very accurate (or flattering) manner - at least in the script. That the characters are intended to be LDS is clear, with references to "Young Womens" and other uniquely LDS programs. However, the same characters use vulgar language describing sexual encounters with young men and then turn around and talk about serving a mission when they are 21. Such a depiction cannot be meant to portray the young women of the church in a good light.
Furthermore, the series is set in contemporary Salt Lake City, and the fact that it is filmed in California instead of Utah is completely beside the point. For most Americans, everybody in Utah IS a Mormon (which is why some entertainment writers continue to call "Almost Famous" star Patrick Fugit a Mormon, although he has never been a Church member). And even though WE may be dumbfounded by the ignorance of people who in 2004 think that contemporary Mormons are polygamists, there's no getting around the fact that this is a widespread perception. For many people, an HBO series about polygamists will be an HBO series about Mormons. Simply including mainstream Mormon characters (especially ones depicted as described above) will not do enough to alleviate this problem. There is also a common although baseless perception in the world that although the church officially no longer allows polygamy among its members, Latter-day Saints are more than willing to look the other way and are in fact accepting of the practice itself. (Of course, anyone who wants to know how Latter-day Saints REALLY feel about polygamy could just read Jacob 2:27-30 - it's all there in black and white and has been since Joseph Smith translated the book.) With LDS young women depicted the way they appeared in the script, it seems unlikely that the writers (whose writing credits include a number of films for the GLBT community) will be accurate in these other aspects.
"BIG LOVE" AND BYU PROFESSOR'S SCRIPT - From Preston: I very much respect and appreciate the opinions of those who believe the "Big Love" pilot script is vulgar and offensive. They're right, of course. I wouldn't have written that material myself. I won't watch the episode. I don't have HBO. Maybe if I did have cable I still wouldn't watch it.
I think much of the dialogue spoken by the LDS young people in the "Big Love" script excerpt is stupid and unrealistic. But what do I know? I'm 34 years old. My oldest child is eight. The youth in my ward are mostly black, Hispanic, or preposterously wealthy, and most have never been to Salt Lake City. Maybe this is how today's LDS young people in Salt Lake City really do talk when their dialogue is written by gay TV writers.
But before going too far in any one direction defending the HBO show or being offended by it or thinking that something should be done... I'll make a few points. I should say at the outset that, personally, I have no opinion on this matter.
First, it's HBO. What do you expect?
Second, the LDS young people DON'T swear. They DON'T smoke or drink while on their break or talk about getting high. They don't good-naturedly call each other the N-word or say "fer shizzle my nizzle." That's something, I suppose. On the other hand, one of them says her mom was a "YW counselor." Does anybody say "YW" instead of "Young Women"? Maybe I'm just out of touch.
Finally, read the "Peculiarities" screenplay at http://www.ldsscripts.com/screenplays.htm
It is about Latter-day Saint young people and sex. It was written by Eric Samuelsen one of the most decorated playwrights in the Church. Bro. Samuelsen is a devout Latter-day Saint, and a BYU professor charged with teaching many of our most promising LDS writers how to write plays and screenplays. I have a great deal of respect for Bro. Samuelsen and think he is a tremendous writer. I also think he is 100% wrong in some of his opinions on film. (For example, he's got this "death wish scene" theory about films which he can't stop talking about, even though it comes from Bizarro World and doesn't relate to the actual experiences of any actual filmgoer except himself and a handful of people who humor him.) Is the content in the "Big Love" pilot script significantly different than the content in "Peculiarities," particularly when one considers that "Big Love" was written for an HBO audience by non-LDS writers?
MORE DETAILS ABOUT HBO'S "BIG LOVE" UTAH POLYGAMY SERIES PILOT - See http://www.filmjerk.com/nuke/article803.htm and http://www.sltrib.com/ci_2390244.
'DOOM 3' HITS SHELVES - The first "Doom" computer game was created by devout Latter-day Saint game programmer Sandy Peterson. "Doom" popularized the first-person shooter game format, and revolutionized the video game world. It is considered one of the most influential computer games of all time.
Interestingly enough, the creator of the world's very first video game - Nolan Bushnell - is also a Latter-day Saint, although he is not an active churchgoer. Bushnell is the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese Pizza-Time.
CHART: MUSIC IN LDS CINEMA: PROFESSIONAL SCORES MAKE A DIFFERENCE AT BOX OFFICE - Professional film composer Thomas C. Baggaley (LDSFilm.com co-webmaster), who recently advanced to candidacy for a PhD in music at UCLA where he studied film scoring with the late Jerry Goldsmith has prepared a chart titled "Professional Orchestral Scores Make a Difference in the LDS Market."
Thomas says that he hopes filmmakers and investors will see the value of investing in a professional-quality score, and hopefully this will be demonstrated by a higher priority for music in production budgets and (consequently) better results at the box office. The chart and analysis can be viewed online at: