Entertainment, Hollywood Update, And Tebow Movie Teaser: Today we’re talking about entertainment and the culture. We believe that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof and because of that we should follow and obey His commands in every area of the culture – including in our entertainment. Today we’re going to hear from a Hollywood producer as well as a couple other guests to tell us about an exciting new movie!

Air Date: 03/12/2019

Guests: Mark Joseph, Robby Tebow, and Jake McEntire

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. Also entertainment and the culture which is the real focus of today’s program.

WallBuilders Live is a program you can find out more about at our websites. We have two of them – WallBuildersLive.com is our radio site, list of stations there, archives of programs over the last few weeks, including those Good News Fridays if you need a little pick me up today me in encouragement knowing that when we work the system it does work. And knowing that when we apply God’s principles there are phenomenal results. Check that out at WallBuildersLive.com for Friday programs called Good News Friday.

Then Thursday programs are Foundations of Freedom Thursday. That’s where we dive into foundational principles driven by your questions. So, send those into [email protected] and then listen to those Thursday programs. Then Monday through Wednesday we usually have interviews and sometimes it’s attorneys that are arguing before the Supreme Court, it might be a U.S. senator, or congressman, or a state legislator, or someone in your community that’s leading in some way in the culture. But we enjoy those Monday through Wednesday interviews.

Today’s is specifically on entertainment. We believe that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof and that we should follow and obey His commands in every area of the culture including in our entertainment. So, we’re going to have a special program today discussing that. Our guest today is actually a producer out of Hollywood, get kind of an update on what’s happening in Hollywood.

And then later in the program after producer Mark Joseph is with us, we’ll have a couple of guys that actually have a movie that has just come out and is in theaters right now. But let’s go to our special guest for today, producer Mark Joseph. He’s a columnist for USA Today, was with Huffington Post for 13 years, covers what’s happening in Hollywood, and good to have you on, Mark, thanks for your time, man.

Are There Bright Lights In Hollywood?

Mark Joseph:

Hey, good to be with you guys.

Rick:

Hey, you’ve been involved in 30 some odd films, even the new Reagan film that’s in development right now, Passion of the Christ, Chronicles of Narnia, a lot of movies we know. So, you’ve been in and around and watching what’s been happening in Hollywood for decades.

We lament Hollywood all the time and blame Hollywood for a lot of things, but are there some bright lights? What do you see in terms of the trends right now out of Hollywood? In terms of faith friendly films? Even just the attitude there? Did they get any kind of a wakeup call with the Oscars this year? Just curious about what you’re observing.

Mark Joseph:

Yeah. Rick, look, I’ve written a lot about this stuff over the years at various publications like Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter, and different places. But this is a really, really, strange business I find myself in it. And what I mean by that is it’s one of the few businesses where we don’t do a very good job of keeping in touch with the interests of the customer.

Imagine if the country was clamoring for strawberry Coke and we at Coca-Cola refused to make strawberry Coke. “We’re going to stick with the original recipe no matter what. We don’t care what any customer says.” That’s kind of the way we operate in Hollywood and it’s really important to remember that basically every week only about 5 percent of Americans go to the movies.

So, and a great deal of that is, frankly, on us that we’re so out of touch with our customers. We’re so out of touch with our consumers. And you kind of get that in sharp focus at the Oscars every year, right, where a lot of the nominees that made films have never been seen by most Americans.

This Doesn’t Make Sense

Rick:

That’s right. Yeah.  

Mark Joseph:

So, yeah, just whenever I make the case or have these conversations with my friends in Hollywood I’m really talking just as a straight business proposition, like it doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep making movies that Americans are not interested in and keep having themes that people aren’t interested in. And it’s really important to get in touch with the customer and the consumer.

The Passion of the Christ was kind of a dividing line in many ways because– I wrote an article about a week before it came out and my colleague, Ralph Winter, and I produced the X-Men movies. We kind of wrote a piece saying, “We see a crazy tsunami coming next week.” And we predicted it might make north of 70 million. Well, The L.A. Times and Variety, who are really good at predicting typically, they predicted 15 to 30 million dollar box office for The Passion of the Christ in those first five days. Rick, and made 125 million dollars those first five days.

Rick:

Wow.

Mark Joseph:

So, it’s–

Rick:

They were only off by a factor of 10. Come on–

Mark Joseph:

That’s right.

Rick:

–not that bad, right?

The UFG

Mark Joseph:

So, this led me to create a term called the UFG which is the unidentified film goer. And, basically, round numbers, about 10 million people showed up for the Passion of Christ, that period of time, who we don’t know who they are because they didn’t normally go to the movies. And I know this because they’re all my relatives, right.

Rick:

Right, right.

Mark Joseph:

I began to call my relatives when I was working on the Passion, I produced the soundtrack for the film and worked on the marketing. But I’d call my relatives and say,  “I’ve got this film, have you heard about this film I’m working on?” And my relatives in the Midwest and the south, they’d already bought their tickets like a month out.

Rick:

You knew from that that there’s something striking a nerve here.

Mark Joseph:

Oh, yeah, yeah. I went back to Mel and I said, “You’re not going to believe this, but my aunt in St. Louis has bought her ticket.” And, by the way, so I’ve made it a parlor game of calling my relatives and one of my aunts had never been to a theater in her entire life ever.

Rick:

No kidding.

Mark Joseph:

So, she hasn’t gone to Bambi, Sound of Music, nothing. This is her first time and she’s bought her ticket. And I said to her, “Why did you do this? And she says, “Well, I heard about it on talk radio.” Okay. I call my other aunt, same thing, she’d bought her ticket, but she hadn’t been to the movie since ET, like ‘81-’82, something like that. So, that’s when I began to figure out that something crazy was coming.

Ignoring the 95 Percent

Mark Joseph:

But the point of all this is, in normal business you have to try to figure out what your customer and your consumer is interested in. In our business, we just focus on what the 5 percent who come all the time are interested in and we ignore the 95 percent.

Rick;

Even taking your analogy with with Coke,  at some point, Hollywood was doing really well with original Coke and films that reflected the values of the country, and decided to do new Coke. And they stayed with new Coke even though the consumers, for the most, part didn’t want it.

Mark Joseph:

Right.

Rick:

So, it’s not just that they’re not giving us what we want, it’s that they changed, they had it for a while, they used to do that really well. And we’re talking decades ago, right?

Mark Joseph:

Right.

Rick:

But, so what is the kind of tone deafness there that they don’t want to listen to the other ninety five percent that could fatten their wallets? They could do a whole lot better, right?

Mark Joseph:

Yeah. Look, I spend a lot of time in Ubers and cabs talking to just average people and I listen. And it’s amazing when you listen, you hear what people are interested in. Part of it is just a group a tribe mentality. We hang out in *, and Malibu, and Manhattan, and we just aren’t listening to people in the country. But because they’ve tuned out– how many people do I talk to when I’m traveling to say, “Oh, Hollywood, they’re all crazy,  whatever, we don’t even pay attention to it.”, right? So, the customer is so turned off. But there is a small group of customers that do come every week.

This Is Not The Way

Mark Joseph:

So, really, it’s about– if you’re in business, right, which is supposed to be a business, not a charity, then you really want to be in touch with customers. You want to understand what you’re thinking about, what themes are you interested in,  what gets their attention. So, the Passion is just– the Passion and the Chronicles of Narnia are probably the best examples. And, by the way, Rick, they were marketed in a very mainstream way. I was part of those. We didn’t say, “Hey, come watch the faith based film starring Mel Gibson.” That’s not the way you want to reach normal Americans.

Rick:

Right.

Mark Joseph:

And part of that is I’m not a fan of that label of “faith based”. It just sounds like it’s some kind of weird movie for religious nuts. Well, it’s not. Movies are for normal people. And the average American, many Americans go to church, they have– God is part of their lives. So, I kind of think of it as the reverse. To me, a normal movie is one that touches on elements of faith.

Rick:

Yeah.

Mark Joseph:

And a secular movie is one in which you try really, really, hard to beat the religion out of the story and pretend we’re a secular country. So, I kind of look at it as the reverse. But  you asked about some movie–

Rick:

I like the way you say that. And that also accounts for the negative label of “faith friendly” or “faith family” type movie because there were so many bad ones for so long that if you put that label on it, I’m initially going to go, “Okay, so it’s gonna be cheesy–”

If That’s All There Is

Mark Joseph:

Right.

“–it’s going to be low budget, it’s not going to work very well.” There have been a few that have had that label that weren’t like that, but you know what– you obviously know what I’m saying. So, I totally agree with your description there.

Mark Joseph:

I had a funny moment. I wish I could mention his name, but a very, very, prominent film studio person, one of the top progressives in Hollywood, called me into his office. And he was very excited about God’s Not Dead. And he said, “I want to make movies like this. I want to spend two million dollars and make 60.” Well, I can tell what was happening in his head. He was thinking, “These Christians are so stupid that we can spend only two million dollars, put up stars from the 70s, and just make a pile of money off of that because they don’t know any better.”

Rick:

Right, right.

Mark Joseph:

And I said to him– and I like him, he’s my friend. I said, “Listen, I think you’re misunderstanding here. It’s not that Christians want to watch low quality poorly made films that don’t have any stars in them, but they’re so desperate for content that they will if that’s all there is.”

Rick:

Yeah.

Mark Joseph:

So, if I’m dying in the desert and have no food and you put rotten moldy bread in front of me, I’ll probably eat it, but I don’t really want that. So, I said, “Why don’t we make quality films that the faith community will enjoy, but spend the same amount of money you would spend on a typical film that you’d make.” And I could tell he was kind of disappointed because he saw a great business model in that kind of “make cheap movies and then make a lot of money off the Christians” model.

But Christians are getting very savvy and they always were actually.

Rick:

Yeah.

What’s Coming Down The Pike?

Mark Joseph:

But they kind of suspended their normal desire for quality because they were so excited that people were starting to make movies of values.

Rick:

Well, what do you see coming down the pike? Is there– are these big Hollywood studios and producers beginning to think, “Okay, look, there’s a big payday at the end of this if we do it right, and we hold true to those values, and we put the star power in.” And will we see more movies like that?

Mark Joseph:

I think so, I think there are some good things happening, I Can Only Imagine did some decent business last year. I do think that the danger in that “faith based” label, I don’t think that’s very helpful. It limits the film in overseas markets, for instance. So, I Can Only Imagine makes eighty three million dollars in the U.S., but it only makes two overseas and part– a huge part of that–

Rick:

Yeah.

Mark Joseph:

–is that if you’re living in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Japan, you don’t really engage with faith based movies labeled as such. So, that’s a real something that the filmmakers have to be really careful of. And, again, I just don’t– I think–

Rick:

So, where are the ones that– the other side doesn’t– they can make an anti faith film without calling it that. It’s subtle, it’s in the story, it moves people emotionally, it’s well done. Why are we not better at that? At making a film that has the story. You don’t have to see Jesus to teach good principles in a movie, it just tells the story powerfully, and doesn’t get that label. Are we going to figure out how to do that better?

International Curiosity

Mark Joseph:

Yeah. That’s a great question. That’s just part of there is an impulse that runs through the Christian community to withdraw and create labels that drive away those who don’t already believe. I just I come back to, again, with Narnia and the Passion, these were movies that were presented to the public as if it was for everybody.

Rick:

Yeah.

Mark Joseph:

And interesting on the Passion of the Christ, our research had about 52 percent of the audience were sort of non churchgoing people on a regular basis. So, the notion that this is only Christian America was not true. There was actually a lot of curiosity about that film and internationally as well.

Rick:

Interesting.

Mark Joseph:

And Chronicles of Narnia. Same thing. We really gave our viewers a chance to breathe. And even if you didn’t– I always thought that half the audience of Narnia believed that the Aslan was Jesus and the other half just thought he was a cute lion.

Rick:

Right, right.

Mark Joseph:

And you kind of have to give your audience a chance to have an interpretation. But we look at– we do have a tendency to be too preachy. And look, I think some of your listeners are probably fans of Ronald Reagan and Jesus Christ and not to be sacrilegious, but those guys were both storytellers.

Rick:

Right?

Mark Joseph:

Think about Jesus telling a parable. And today we would say, “Well, could you please explain who is who in that parable? But He didn’t. know.

Trust The Art To Do The Job

Rick:

That’s right.

Mark Joseph:

He told the parable and He wanted you to go home and think about it. So, I do think that we have to get back to that idea of storytelling. And sure, there are times when you want to be obvious about things, but there are other times when you just want to tell the story, and let your audience really think about it, and let the spirit move them. Art moves people in interesting ways and you’ve got to trust the art to do the job, the story to do the job.

Rick:

Have you seen kind of in this, even generationally, not to demean and overuse the term “millennial”, but even with young people coming up that want to be difference makers, is there a– I’m seeing some of them, a small number, but some of them, that are saying, “Hey, the arts is a great place to impact culture in a positive way and I’m going to get really good at that craft and go that direction.”

And if you’re seeing that, where is it coming from? And to listeners right now that are saying, “I always wanted to be in that arena, but I thought it was all the bad guys and I want to be one of the good guys.”, where would you encourage them to go? So, that’s kind of a three part question – are you seeing it and if so from where and where can we send people that want to be in that arena?

Mark Joseph:

I do. And look, part of it is just people don’t really realize that for the last 50 years evangelical Christians in particular were really discouraged from going into the arts. As they were going into politics before 1980.

Rick:

Yeah, yeah.

It Needs Light!

Mark Joseph:

And the idea was politics is so dirty that you shouldn’t be there. Or Hollywood is such a bad place, you shouldn’t be there. I just always thought the opposite. I think if a place needs– if a place is like that, it needs good people to go there to help – I always took the opposite approach.

Rick:

Yeah, it needs light.

Mark Joseph:

Yeah, it needs light. But you’re right – get good at your craft. Nobody will– people will be more or less willing to hear what you have to say if you’re good at your craft, if you’re good at the thing that you’re trained to do.

I would say for young people there’s a wonderful program in Hollywood called the Act One program where you can go and get training as a screenwriter, as a producer, whatever it might be. Of course, there is also a number of good film schools where you can go to. But, yeah, get involved.

And, look, at when I was growing up or you were growing up– I don’t know your age, but we had excuses for not being successful at this stuff. But today with YouTube, with social media, if you’re talented you can make it, you can get out there.

Rick:

That’s right.

Mark Joseph:

And it’s particularly true with artists. We haven’t talked about this, Rick, but I wrote a book– I have a book out called Rock Gets Religion: The Battle For The Soul of the Devil’s Music and it really talks about a number of these young artists who have come up.

Justin Bieber is a great example. His mother is a very devout Christian woman and he gets discovered through YouTube. In the old days he would have had to go through the system of being discovered by a music agent somewhere. But YouTube and social media have really allowed artists like him, like Tori Kelly, and others, to really be discovered and they all managed to keep their faith part in what they do as well.

Reagan Movie Update

Rick:

Well, it is a brave new world. Not only like you’re saying for music, but for people that want to make a difference in the movie world as well. And, Mark, I’d love to have you back when we have more time and do this again. And just keep us posted.

By the way, oh, before we go, can we give at least a teaser on this Reagan movie project you’re involved with? This sounds fantastic.

Mark Joseph:

Yeah, yeah. It’s in development and I’m looking forward to sharing it with the world. We– our screenwriter is Howie Klausner who wrote the movie Space Cowboys for Clint Eastwood. He’s a terrific, terrific, writer. And director is Sean McNamara who some of your folks may know from the movie Soul Surfer. We’re working hard on it and getting a good cast together. So–

Rick:

Cool.

Mark Joseph:

We hope to be out in the next year or two and I’ll update you as we go along.

Rick:

Well, excited to hear about it and look forward to having you back, man. Really appreciate your time today.

Mark Joseph:

Thanks so much. Good to talk to you guys.

Rick:

That was producer Mark Joseph. Stay with us. Got a quick break. When we come back we’ll have Robby Tebow with us and Jake McEntire. A movie that they produced is in theaters right now called Run The Race. Stay with us, folks. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.

Red, White, Blue, and Green

Hey friends, a special event is coming to you. It’s called Red, White, Blue, and Green. It’s a stage show. And it’s our opportunity to bring history to life, to bring the Constitution to life, to equip and inspire you and your family, and the people at your church and in your community, to get involved and do more. To be given true action steps on what you can do right there in your backyard to preserve freedom for future generations.It’s going to be a fun evening. We’re going to laugh and learn together and get educated. There’s gonna’ be lots of great music, and presentations, and inspirational stories. It’s called Red, White, Blue, and Green. You can make it happen right there in your hometown. We’re gonna be filming live in Thousand Oaks, California, on the evening of March 23rd, and streaming it all across the nation.

You can be the one to bring it into your community by streaming it to your church, or in your home, or even just watch it individually if you like. Go to ConstitutionCoach.com today and you’ll find out more. ConstitutionCoach.com. The event is on March 23rd. We’re hoping you’ll participate with us and help us restore America’s Constitution.

Rick:

Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Jake McEntire and Robby Tebow are with us to talk about Run The Race, a movie that’s out in theaters right now. Jake, Robby, thanks for coming on, guys.

Robby and Jake:

Thank you.

Rick:

Jake, a 12 year process, man. You’ve been working on this for a while. How’s it feel to be getting close?

14 Years In The Making

Jake McEntire:

Oh my goodness. It’s really, it’s unbelievable. It’s a dream come true. Yeah, it’s actually 14 years now. It’s been wild. But, man, God has been there every step of the way answering prayers.

Rick:

So, that’s from concept, I guess? Is that– when you say 14 years in the making, 14 years ago the idea hit you?

Jake McEntire:

Yes, sir. I was 21 at Dallas Tabish University and just started freehand writing the story, and the script, and–

Rick:

Good school, by the way.

Jake McEntire:

Oh, thank you, sir. And then it moved to getting it copyrighted, and getting it done, and then I made a six minute concept trailer for it in 2012, and then in 2013 it got in the hands of Robby Tebow.

Rick:

So, Robbie, what turned you on about the movie? What got you and Tim excited?

Robby Tebow:

Well, since it’s only about a five and a half, six year, process for me, Jake’s been at it a lot longer. But I say– I watched the concept trailer Jake mentioned and immediately I just felt called to be a part of it. The story impacted me in a way that has only happened a couple of times in my life. But it was just a calling that I felt from my heart to tell the story. And when I read the script it hit me even harder and it was just immediate for me.

Timmy jumped on board shortly after, but it was just one of those things in life where  you feel God press on your heart to be a part of something. And, ultimately, I just wanted to tell a story and tell it in the best way possible to have an impact in our country, and our society. Because I think there’s a need for great content out there and not just content, but content that’s real and that people can relate to. So, that’s what we tried to do.

From Sports To Movies

Rick:

Is this– now, is the whole media thing new to you guys? Coming out of the athletic world into media, have you all done stuff like this before? I do remember a Super Bowl commercial with your mom and Tim, a really good pro-life commercial. That was kind of in the media realm, but other than that, is this a totally new game for you guys?

Robby Tebow:

For me. We shot a documentary that was on ESPN called You’re The Quarterback. We did commercials like that Super Bowl commercial. So, we’ve been in– we’ve done a lot of things in production over the last eight years.

Rick:

So, not new then.

Robby Tebow:

But definitely the first theatrical. We’ve read a lot of movie scripts that had come across our desk over the years, but this– we always said that if we did something we wanted to do it because– for a reason, not just to do it, not just to be in the movie business. But, like I said, to tell a story and to tell it in an impactful the way that– I think in our day and age, my dad has been a missionary for over 30 years in the Philippines and all over the world and it takes– it’s taken him a long time to reach a lot of people. With media these days you can hit a lot of people with an hour and a half movie.

So, I think it was just kind of the example my dad set of just trying to reach people in general, and then using the media outlets now, and also just being passionate about something that you love.

Rick:

Well, let’s jump into the movie itself. Tell us about the story, Jake. Why do you think that the whole idea of two brothers, especially kind of the ups and downs in their lives in the movie, why is that something that resonates so well with people and allows you to get a powerful story across?

Living Run The Race

Jake McEntire:

Well, I think you can relate whether you have a brother, or a best friend, and you’re growing up, and you’re trying to figure out what life’s all about, you’re trying to figure out what you’re calling is, what your purpose is. Man, you’re going to hit obstacles. We’ve had obstacles last 14 years trying to get this movie off the ground. And it’s been a matter of us kind of rallying together as brothers to get this done.  

So, whenever you have a team, it’s just like sports. You start becoming a family, and you start caring about one another, and you start doing whatever you have to do to keep moving a dream forward. So, we’ve been kind of living Run The Race the last 14 years as we’ve been trying to get this movie off the ground. And that’s just something that’s kind of contagious and inspiring.

So, I think if you’ve ever tried to go for anything in your life you’re going to be able to relate and what it’s all about.

Rick:

What’s the take home message of the movie for you guys? What do you hope people take away from the theater?

Jake McEntire:

Well, for me, it is– since I wrote it and I dreamed with it, for people, for young people especially, and everyone actually, to walk away from the movie and just to encourage you to run after your dreams and run after God just a little bit more. To do more investigation on Jesus, and just pursue Him, just run after Him literally. So, for me, that’s what’s moved me to get it going.

Rick:

Robby, what about you?

Because We Serve A Big God

Robby Tebow:

I think the takeaway for me is for people to be inspired, to understand that there’s something out there that’s bigger than your obstacles, and we serve a big God. So, we can dream big and we can have big goals because we serve a big God. And I think a lot of times we get bogged down in the mundane things in life that kind of set us back and it bogs us down.

So, I want people to be encouraged that there’s more out there because we do serve a big God. And we can have big goals, and big dreams, and chase after them.

Rick:

Run The Race in theaters now. Check your local listings. Robby and Jake, thanks so much for coming on and sharing with us.

Robby and Jake:

Thanks, Rick. Appreciate it, man.

Entertainment, Hollywood Update, And Tebow Movie Teaser

Rick:

You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live. You can find out more about us at our websites – WallBuildersLive.com and WallBuilders.com. Be sure and get some of those resources there. And then also consider that donate button. We’re a listener supported program, so it only happens with your help. We greatly appreciate those of you that have come alongside us making a one time donation, or perhaps a monthly donation as well. Have a great day and thanks so much for listening to WallBuilders Live.