Can Christianity find a place in Hollywood? Christians in the movie business face a high level of pressure to hide their faith, despite the recent resurgence of Hollywood interest in spirituality. Sarah Price Brown of Religion News Service found an inside-Hollywood story that reminded me of some of the work going on in journalism. Since the only free link I could find to the story was a truncated version on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's website, I will summarize and provide the money quotes from the article that appeared as a three-quarter-page blowout in The Washington Post Saturday religion section, with three photos and a jump.
LOS ANGELES -- It's hip to be spiritual in Hollywood these days, as long as you're not religious. The way the fashionable set sees it, Scientology and cabala are in, Christianity is out.
But a new program to train Christians to be film and television executives is trying to reverse the trend.
"We're not here to fix Hollywood as much as we're here to fix the church," said Barbara Nicolosi, executive director of Act One, which runs a three-month program that places Christians in entertainment internships and hosts lectures by industry professionals.
Hollywood has turned the movie industry away from its roots, Brown writes, when movies were first played in churches a century ago. Today "immorality, sex and violence" dominate and people of faith have turned their backs on the industry.
Now there is a boot camp for Christians who want to work in Hollywood.
Realizing that it would not be enough for Christians to write screenplays if no one made them into movies, Nicolosi launched the executive program to train would-be Hollywood decision-makers.
Out of about 60 applicants, Act One chose 15 students to participate in its first executive seminar in Los Angeles. By day, participants go to work at internships at movie studios, production companies and talent agencies. By night, students learn about story development, finance and budgeting, leadership and ethics from visiting speakers who work in the entertainment industry.
Brown interviewed people in the industry who range from a consultant on the Da Vinci Code film to a former Billy Graham movie producer turned horror moviemaker.
According to those interviewed by Brown, it's not Hollywood that needs to change itself, but the church that needs to wake up and change Hollywood. Act One raised about $600,000 from a group of foundations, and it hopes to start a program that will teach pastors how to commission good art.
This article gave me a sense of deja vu. You could substitute the words â€œHollywoodâ€ and â€œmoviesâ€ with â€œjournalismâ€ and â€œthe mediaâ€ respectively and youâ€™d have an article dated sometime ago (tmatt would know the history much better than I) about a handful of groups interested in getting Christians into the field of journalism. I would know because it was one of these groups that gave me my first big boost in writing and reporting (and tmatt was one of the excellent instructors).
Have these groups been successful in journalism and will this group be successful in Hollywood?