Catholic Media Conferences 2008

Just letting you know about these events.

Please visit websites for more information. And please feel free to forward this to anyone you think may be interested.

1) Catholic Media Convention

Toronto, Canada

May 28-20, 2008

Catholic Press Association (USA & Canada) & the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals (SIGNIS- USA and Canada)

http://www.catholicmediaconvention.org/

 

2) Catholic New Media Celebration                             Atlanta, GA June 22, 2008

http://celebration.sqpn.com/about/

Henry Winkler Interview: A Plumm Summer

Happy Days are Here Again in A Plumm Summer

 

A conversation with Henry Winkler

 

In 1966 the F.B.I. was called in to investigate, of all things, a puppet-napping of the star of a children’s television show in Great Falls, MT.

David Brinkley is said to have reported at the time, “Justas coast-to-coast networks threaten to make local children’s programming a thing of the past, we get this report from Billings, Montana. Froggy Doo has been kidnapped. That’s right folks, Froggy Doo, local TV legend and certified puppet, disappeared during a live show in front of hundreds of young fans. And if that’s not strange enough, J. Edgar Hoover himself has sent two agents to Montana to investigate the disappearance of Billing’s favorite frog. I kid you not”.

On April 25 Froggy Doo’s story is coming to theaters in A Plumm Summer directed and co-written by newcomer Caroline Zelder. A Plumm Summer is a low-budget independent film about family relationships with a surprisingly strong cast.

 

A Plumm Summer

 

As the heat of the summer bears down on the Montana landscape, the father of a small family, Mick Plumm (Daniel Baldwin; Backdraft; The Squid and the Whale) must face the impact of his alcoholism and failure to hold a job on his marriage (his wife is played by Lisa Guererro, Sunset Beach) and family.

 

His 5-year old son Rocky (Owen Pearce) has a sunny disposition, but his 13-year old son, Elliott (Chris J. Kelly) is convinced that his dad doesn’t even know he exists. Just when the summer seems too long and boring, the news that Froggy Doo is stolen hits the news. The boys and their friends join together to investigate the mystery of his disappearance.

 

One of America’s favorite stars, Henry Winkler (Happy Days; An American Christmas Carol; Holes; Click) plays Happy Herb, the host of the children’s show. In addition to finding Froggy Doo, Herb must heal a relationship of his own. A Plumm Summer is all about family members seeing each other, recognizing the gift of each person and being open to reconciliation and grace.

 

A Conversation with Henry Winkler

 

       

 I had the opportunity to interview Henry Winkler last week via phone; me from my office in Culver City, CA and Henry on his cell phone driving to work. Henry was born in New York in 1945 and is a Golden Globe Award-winning American actor, director, producer, and author. Henry is perhaps best known for his role as “The Fonz” on Happy Days (1974 – 1984).

 

RP: What did you like best about making A Plumm Summer?

 

HW: Working with children; telling a children’s story. Ever since I was in high school I have worked with children; I was a counselor in an after school program in Manhattan. I realized then that I got along better with children than adults – and this was a film about the world of children. Then there was the fly-fishing for trout in Montana.

 

RP: From your voice it sounds as though you consider fly-fishing almost a spiritual experience.

 

HW: It is completely zen; a washing machine for your brain. You cannot concentrate on anything else. It’s just you the fish and the running stream. You are literally drained of yourself. I was dreaming of bringing the entire Middle East to go fly fishing. It creates so much peace.

 

RP: If it is not too personal, can you describe your inner, spiritual life?

 

HW: I like my religion: I am Jewish. I like the tenacity shown in Jewish history. And I have often thought that since we are created in God’s image when we talk to God and ask him for something we are talking to the highest and best parts of ourselves as well. They say that God only helps those who help themselves. Then there is a saying that inspires me: “If you will it, it is not a dream.” This phrase is the grease for the axel that turns the earth around; this is one of the cornerstones of being alive on this earth, in this universe. It is a truth as opposed to a good thought.

 

When I was younger I went to Synagogue to have my one on one chats with God. I used to knock on the wood of the chair in front of me because I thought there were so many people talking to him at the same that I needed to knock to get his attention. And you know what? My life is blessed. All of the complaining that I do? In actuality I have no complaints.

 

RP: What one quality do you think is necessary for young people who want to become part of the entertainment industry?

 

HW: What’s that one quality?  I would reduce the entire journey, and it is a journey, to two words they would be preparation and tenacity. If you completely integrate these two words they will get you where you want to go. One out of five children has a learning challenge but no one way, shape, or form correlates to how brilliant that child, that person is, if they prepare well for what they want to do and are tenacious about achieving their goals.

 

RP: How important is character in the entertainment industry and in life?

 

HW: This is a great question. I think that character is one of the main ingredients in the choices that a person makes in life. There is an acting axiom that you write in your notebook on the first day of acting class: in your choice is your talent. What you choose to do with your life in this industry will give you either a short term view of your life and career or longevity.

RP: Where are you now in the arc of your career?

 

No matter what I have done in my particular industry, I am always at the beginning. I never kid myself that what I have done matters to the powers that be. It always feels like I am at the beginning. I feel energy and excitement, but it takes a lot of that energy to push that rock [of a new project] up the mountain one more time.

 

RP: How would you describe the relationship between the entertainment industry and the family?

 

HW: In general, I don’t think the media understands the family. The real truth is that if the media trusted the family with the truth instead of moving away from the emotionality of living they would connect better with the audience. The industry always seems to want to dumb down productions but I have seen that children want to be taken on an inner journey. There are exceptions. Take a crazy film like Super Bad – there was an inner truth and a journey and this softens the film’s [distasteful] language. At their heart the characters were real, identifiable people and we cared about them; they grew as people and changed.

 

RP: You seem to get children.

 

HW: We underestimate the child. We are afraid that the child won’t get it, the truth of the story, and will become what he sees. But I know from my own children that they do imitate what they see in the culture but their souls do not become that. My son didn’t become a gangster because he put on the accoutrement of rap – the baggy pants, and all. His soul is in tact. You have to trust that your child is listening to the best of you. Underneath the baggy clothing is the best of that child. 

 

RP: I have read that you are dyslexic and that school was hard for you. How did you get the idea to write a series of books about a character that has learning challenges?

 

HW: I grew up thinking I was stupid so I turned down the idea of writing the Hank Zipzer books the first time by my agent mentioned it. But the second time he brought up the idea of writing [with Lin Oliver] about the adventures and trials of Hank Zipzer many months later, I told myself: I knew this kid, this character; I was this character.

 

RP: What are the books about?

 

HW: They are about this kid at school and they tell about the frustration and the comedy of what Hank faces. They are for grades 3-6. But above all, the books are funny before anything else.

 

RP: What has been the response to the books?

 

HW: The reaction to the books has been more than I ever imagined. I get letters form parents, librarians, teachers, and children from all over the world (the books have been translated into three languages since Niagara Falls, or Does It? in 2003.) I got one letter from a kid that said, “I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my body.” Another: “How did you know me so well?” And another: “Not one word, chapter, or paragraph is boring.” Then parents tell me that “My child is a reluctant reader but has now read five of your books”, well, what could be greater than that?

 

RP: Some people say that peace will be achieved through the arts. Do you agree with this?

 

HW: The arts in school should never be an after-thought. The only way that you can unlock the child is through the arts. The arts present the only way children will know how to unlock themselves. The U.S. is the only country that completely diminishes art in education. The arts are an essential part of education.

 

RP: Why should families see A Plumm Summer?

 

HW: Entertainment is the most magnetic when it is the most humane. There are no special effects in this little movie; instead it is all about the effect of the heart. There are no explosions except the explosion ofthe heart. The relationships between the dad and the eldest son; between the mom and the dad; the bond between the two brothers; the children growing up and learning and having responsibility that summer – and the relationship of my character with his wife is repaired. No matter who you are in the family, there is something for you in this film.

 

RP: What words of wisdom do you have for the faith audience?

 

HW: To be aware of whom you are and to be open to others, to move outside of yourself; this will give you the gift of the world.

 

________

Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP is the Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Culver City, CA, the TV/film columnist for St. Anthony Messenger, a contributor to The Tidings and a media literacy education specialist.

Expelled the Movie

You can find my review at St. Anthony Messenger’s website:

http://www.americancatholic.org/Messenger/Apr2008/Eye_On_Entertainment.asp

While I often will write two reviews for a film, I decided that this was about all I can say about “Expelled.”

If my column length had permitted it, I would have added links to what a Vatican scientist said about “intelligent design” in 2005: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10101394/

And I would really have wished the filmmakers would have included a Catholic perspective (they mention “Catholic” only once in the film), including a reference to St. Thomas Aquinas’ philosophical arguments/proofs from natural reason for the existence of God:

“The fifth proof arises from the ordering of things for we see that some things which lack reason, such as natural bodies, are operated in accordance with a plan. It appears from this that they are operated always or the more frequently in this same way the closer they follow what is the Highest; whence it is clear that they do not arrive at the result by chance but because of a purpose. The things, moreover, that do not have intelligence do not tend toward a result unless directed by some one knowing and intelligent; just as an arrow is sent by an archer. Therefore there is something intelligent by which all natural things are arranged in accordance with a plan—and this we call God.”

Visit http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/aquinas3.html for all five proofs.

The Catholic Church (notably in the 20th century especially) has a rich body of teaching on Scripture, science, and evolution. Here is an excellent article from Catholic Answers that addresses Catholic beliefs and the issues about evolution:

http://www.catholic.com/library/adam_eve_and_evolution.asp

The filmmakers might say that “Expelled” is not about evolution or intelligent design but about academic freedom. Perhaps this is true. It is interesting that evolution/intelligent design is the only area of academic intolerance the film addresses (if I recall well.)

Science, reason/philosophy, and theology are not incompatible. However, one is not the other. They can support each other (St. Thomas Aquinas also taught that philosophy is the handmaiden of philosophy – but he doesn’t seem to have addressed the science that his teacher and mentor, St. Albert the Great is known for.)

At the end of the day, I don’t think the film adds great clarity to any aspect of the evolution/intelligent design debate – though it may raise some temperatures.

To be fair, the film says that the debate they (the filmmakers) have framed will be settled by the evidence – that no one seems to have systematically presented to date. (They might argue that academia doesn’t permit it; but since when do limitations hold back the search for truth?) 

Bring it on.

(Some questions comes to mind: were all those academics really fired for only the reasons noted in the film? What information was left out? Did we get the whole story? What’s motivated the filmmakers? Injustice? And what else?)

Meeting Jesus at the Movies at LMU June 15-17

Summer Theology 2008

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY

Center for Religion & Spirituality

www.lmu.edu/extension/religion (click on Summer Theology)

 

Meeting Jesus at the Movies

Sister Rose Pacatte, F.S.P., MEd in Media Studies

RELX 855.01

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings, June 15 – 17. Sunday class to meet at Blessed Sacrament Parish, 6657 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028; 7:00-8:30 PM.  Monday – Tuesday classes 7:00- 8:45 PM at LMU.  Sunday night’s lecture at Blessed Sacrament is both the first night of the course and also a stand-alone, free-and-open-to-the-public event. (Sunday co-presented with Sr. Gretchen Hailer, RSHM),

http://www.lmu.edu/Page43261.aspx

 

Cinema can provide marvelous opportunities to help ourselves and others meet Jesus in daily life. These very visual and practical presenations will look at a variety of film clips from major motion pictures through the lens of the Gospels and offer suggestions for an authentic experience of cinema divina.

 

Sunday: Meeting Jesus at the Movies  (stand alone)

Monday: Meeting Jesus at the Movies II

Tuesday: Cinema Divina

Tags: ; cinema divina

Desperate Housewives

If you missed last Sunday’s new episode of Desperate Hosuewives (picking up where the Writers’ Strike left off), be sure to catch the re-run this Friday night, ABC, 8pm.

Why?

Here’s the write-up from the website:

“Katherine is unable to keep some of her secrets; Susan’s young, attractive cousin reveals more than expected; a surprise wedding ceremony has its share of secrets. “

But the reason to watch (and if you are in any kind of ministry, to record) is because this episode is all about what faith and worship mean in practice. Lynette, battling cancer, sees Bree and family on their way to church on a Sunday morning, and decides that her family needs to go. Of itself, this may seem trite. But the dialogue, the conversations between the characters, is priceless. Lynette and family go to the Presbyterian church with Bree (though Lynette’s husband was raised Catholic; wait til you hear one of their son’s description of who Jesus us…) but Lynette has questions that the sermon doesn’t answer so she stands up and queries the minister. Bree’s embarrassment makes her dis-invite Lynette so the next week they go to the Catholic Church…. but what has suffered is the friendship between Lynette and Bree – and how this is resolved is what faith in life is all about. 

At the end (this is television, so I get to give away the ending), when Lynette and Bree are laughing and talking again, with a Bible in front of them, they are not reading the Word, they are being the Word. This is not extreme drama; it is ordinary, filled with light, and fine.

If you are engaged in evangelization in any way, this thread of the show will launch many conversations; it will show what any number of lectures and homilies won’t be able to do.

Now, Gaby, the token Catholic who stays Catholic for all the wrong – and right – reasons, is surprisingly well-informed about the canonical status of her marriage … again, the dialogue offers lots to talk about. Her very ineptitude at living her faith evokes conversation about what it means to be who she loudly professes herself to be. (The priest’s knowledge about ritual and canon law seems flawed, but I think Gaby so exasperates him that he goes along. This says as much about his faith as Gaby’s.

The women of Wysteria Lane are not perfect, they are greatly flawed – and seemingly criminal. But they have hearts and souls and it looks like the writers are back on track with the heart and humanity, truth and consequences apsects, of the show.

This episode is about asking questions and asking and asking, even when it makes others socially uncomfortable. Lynette may not be seeking next week, but this week she is. In their own ways, all the characters on DH are.

If the tornado episodes re-run, be sure to get them. Again, humanity and heart can emerge even from shows with a bottom drawer reputation in the faith community.

If you have access to the first season of DH, check out the Valentine’s Day episode. The thread about Lynette and Mrs. McCloskey is the epitome of what living faith is all about.

Be surprised.

(And remember that the only consistent thing about television is that it is inconsistent. Not every show delivers, but many do.)

Young@Heart the Movie

Just by chance I got to see this film on Saturday with my sister Libby, visiting from Sacramento. Enchanting, life-affirming, foot-stomping, inspiring, and fun.

The film follows the Young@Heart Chorus from Northampton, MA – median age: 80 – for about seven weeks before they are to go on tour with a new program. Led by Bob Climan for 25 years, the group learns several new songs and deals with life in a way that transcends the sickness and limitations that come to us all as life goes on.

This synopsis may sound as bland as white bread, but both my sister and I laughed and cried – and so did most of the audience at the Landmark on Pico – more than we have in a long, long, time.

This is a documentary that I will watch over and over.

For all those who think Hollywood doesn’t have good things in the pipeline, see this film and bless the Lord and the wonderful people in the film, and all those who made it possible. Young@Heart attests to the universal language of music – and how it can rock your world, filling it with hope, faith, and love.

This is a story for the ages.

Check out a couple of short videos on YouTube.com:

 

Themes to talk about:

Live

Death

Dying well

Hope

The presence of God

Human dignity

Community

The common good

The Last Rites (Anointing of the Sick)

Life-affirming

Optimism

Suffering

Joy

The power of music to bring faith and life together

Praise

Marriage; fidelity

Generosity

The Spirit who gives life

Heart

and so much more….

 

Eli Stone Best TV Show You May Not Be Watching

The more I watch ABC’s mid-season dramedy Eli Stone, the more I like it. (Thursdays, 10pm – but airing a new episode this Sunday as well.)

Eli Stone (Johnny Lee Miller, Hackers) is a San Francisco lawyer with an inoperable brain aneurism that causes very disruptive hallucinations that lead him to do unexpected – and generous – things. His accupuncterist suggests that his visions might be of divine origin and Eli begins to think that God is asking him to be a prophet and do things that make a difference.

Eli Stone is full of humanity and heart yet tackles some controversial issues such as sex education and gay-unions (through the improbable story of two chimps that suffer when zoo officials separate them.)

To be continued