BH Interview: Movieguide Founder Bullish on Hollywood's New Found Religion

Hollywood denizens are typically eager to receive any award or honor--as long as it's not a Razzie. That wasn't the case for one industry employee, according to Ted Baehr, Movieguide's founder and publisher.

Baehr tells Big Hollywood about a director who told him he'd rather not be honored by Movieguide's annual Faith & Values Awards for his pro-free enterprise feature.

“Don't put me up for this award. I don't want any of my friends to know,” Baehr recalls the person telling him.

That admission reflects the industry's uncomfortable attitude toward conservative-leaning fare, but Baehr says he sees many more positive signs that faith-based, pro-American content is gaining traction.

Not only has interest in Movieguide's annual awards gala tripled of late, he points to general progress being made with faith-friendly features. When Movieguide began, if a film or TV show included a priest character he'd likely have a knife in his hand at some point. Last year, Baehr points to movies like Snow White and the Huntsman for featuring the main character reciting the Lord's Prayer to Men in Black III including a goofy but respectful version of Amazing Grace.

Even James Bond in Skyfall speaks of the Resurrection.

Movieguide's annual awards pay tribute to these kinds of productions. Tony Award winning actor Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds) will co-host the 21st annual gala with his daughter, actress Gia Mantegna. The event, to be held Friday night at the Universal Hilton Hotel in L.A., honors family-friendly, spiritually uplifting entertainment.

The event also features the release of Movieguide's annual Report to the Entertainment Industry which tracks trends regarding Hollywood content.

Not every industry trend is heading in a spiritually positive direction, Baehr warns. He says that while the amount of foul language heard in movies is decreasing, that language is on the rise in television programming.

He's much more sanguine about the upcoming, big-budget Biblical tales like Noah, director Darren Aronofsky's film starring Russell Crowe in the title role. Baehr's sources tell him the film will be “incredibly redemptive” and “God-centered.” Another reason why films like Noah may not abandon faith as much as some Christians fear comes down to raw numbers.

His group's annual entertainment reports show faith-based films, be it micro-indies such as Fireproof or major releases like The Passion of the Christ, earn plenty of cash.

Films with patriotic values, like The Avengers, also triumph over projects that don't embrace the country's core principles, and Baehr says it's not difficult to understand why.

“People want affirmation in what they believe in … the average person has a tough life. They want to see good triumph over evil,” he says.


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