The Hollywood I Know

hollywood-650x0Over the last week, I have read numerous reviews, comments, posts and tweets about the movie NOAH. While some of some of them were benign, others were mean-spirited and bitter, spewing forth condemnation about the film, the actors, the filmmakers, those who helped market the film and even anyone who liked the film.

Several of the comments I have seen in these hate-filled discussions concerned Hollywood. While the exact language varied, in essence they said, “You can’t trust Hollywood to tell the truth.” “All Hollywood wants is to make money.” “Hollywood hates Christians.”

I found myself wondering who is this “Hollywood” that they are referring to. It certainly isn’t the neighborhood in central Los Angeles, California. It’s the entertainment industry and, more specifically, the movie industry that falls under the sobriquet of “Hollywood” and lately has been the target of so many venomous comments.

But an industry is made up of people and, over the years I have been an entertainment reviewer, I have had the opportunity of meeting many of these people and have the privilege to call a few of them my friends.

I realize that people often fear what they don’t know. So, I would like to take a moment to introduce some of the people I’ve met who work in the Hollywood entertainment industry.

Like Jonathan. He owns a publicity firm that seeks to bridge the chasm between Hollywood and faith-based audiences. He is an elder at his church and serves on the Board of Reel Spirituality at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Then there’s Ted. He was working with Jonathan when I began reviewing movies in 2003. Whenever Ted calls me for business purposes, it is not uncommon for him to sing a few bars from the 1963 hit, “Hey Paula.” Once, when he learned that I loved Knotts Berry Farm Jelly and couldn’t buy it in Tennessee, he and another co-worker sent me a package of six jars of the jelly.

I met Joahnna when she came to work first as Jonathan’s personal assistant and later was promoted to the position of Director of Publicity. She is a petite young lady with a ready smile and a huge heart. Gary is a great guy who recently began working for Jonathan, although I first met him at various movie junkets when he was a journalist representing a well-known and respected ministry.

Other publicists I’ve worked with in the film industry include Elliott, Tracy and Lesley. They are all great people.

Beyond publicists, I’ve met many journalists who write features and reviews about the entertainment industry. Holly hosts a television program for a major Christian network. Phil has been writing about movies for over 20 years. Sister Rose is a nun with a Catholic order and my go-to person for answers to all things Catholic. Steve is a storehouse of information and stories about the entertainment industry. In addition, there’s Angela, Christa, David, Doug, Greg, Hannah, Joan, Joanne, Kim, Peggy and Peter.

Over the years, through the junkets or over the phone, I have met and interviewed many actors and filmmakers who are believers including Anna Sophia Robb, AJ Michlaka, Bonnie Johnson, Brad Silverman, Catherine Hardwicke, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Deborah Snyder, Denise Di Novi, Diogo Morgado, Cecil Stokes, Douglas Gresham, Erin Bethea, Francine Locke, Gary Ray Moore, James Denton, Jon Voight, Mark Burnett, Michael Landon, Jr., Mike Rich, Mitchell Galin, Nathan Gamble, Nicolas Sparks, Roma Downey, Sandra Williams, Stephen Baldwin, Ted Johnson, Tom Shadyac, Torry Martin, Vanessa Williams. During many of the interviews, these people did not hesitate to share their faith and hope that the movie they were working on would be used as being a tool to show God’s love and message to the audiences.

The bottom line is this: Hollywood is not populated with only nonbelievers who are bent on filling the big screens—and audience’s minds—with lies and filth. Many people working in Hollywood are there because they feel called by the Lord to be salt and light to those around them. Just as you and I are called to be salt and light wherever the Lord places us.