The director of Blue Like Jazz, a film based on Don Miller's popular book, says that the "Christian Movie Establishment … is out to get us."
That's what Steve Taylor, director of the film that releases next month, wrote in a provocative blog post this morning at the Blue Like Jazz website, a post that also went out to thousands of subscribers to the film's e-newsletter. Taylor claimed that the executive producer of Courageous, Fireproof and Facing the Giants has declared that no one who worked on Blue Like Jazz would ever be allowed to work on one of his own movies. Taylor also wrote that a studio exec requested that the Blue Like Jazz trailer not be shown prior to another Christian film opening this weekend.
Taylor wrote that Sherwood Baptist Church executive pastor Jim McBride—a producer on Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants—had "issued what amounts to a fatwa against Blue Like Jazz when he made it known that nobody who worked on our movie would be allowed to work with them in the future." He also wrote that this "edict" was issued before Jazz had ever been screened.
CT was unable to verify Taylor's claim, but Taylor insisted that two of his "trusted associates" had seen the memo from McBride, which Taylor says came out last May. Taylor says he asked his associates to verify the accuracy of his blog post before it went live; he told CT they both said, "Yeah, it's accurate." Taylor added, "I wouldn't write something like that just based on hearsay."
CT asked Taylor if either of his associates would discuss McBride's edict; both declined, but he re-affirmed that both confirmed that what Taylor blogged this morning was "absolutely" the truth. Taylor said he didn't know why the Sherwood team would want to essentially blackball the Blue Like Jazz team. "I would understand if they had seen the movie and did not like it, or if they had seen a screenplay and did not like it, but there's no way" either of those things happened, he said.
CT tried to contact McBride, an executive producer on Sherwood's movies, but he was unavailable due to a family emergency. CT also tried unsuccessfully to reach Alex Kendrick, who co-writes and directs Sherwood's films, and Steven Kendrick, who co-writes and produces the movies.
Taylor also blogged that a vice president at Provident Films—whom Taylor later identified as Kris Fuhr—requested that theater managers not show the Blue Like Jazz trailer prior to October Baby, which opens Friday. October Baby, a pro-life film being heavily marketed to Christians, is being distributed by Provident—which has also distributed Sherwood's movies and Taylor's first full-length feature, The Second Chance, in 2006.
Taylor wrote that "as a longtime pro-lifer, I certainly support [October Baby's] message. So why would Provident's Vice President go to the extraordinary measure of attempting to get the Blue Like Jazz trailer banned from running in front of their movie?" Taylor wrote that he had gotten a copy of an e-mail that Fuhr had written, and he quoted the e-mail in his blog post:
i think exhibitors are going to try to play the Blue Like Jazz trailer with october baby
this cannot happen - the trailer actually has the words "I hate Jesus" in the voiceover along with a number of images that will be very offensive to catholics
it is in the best interest of theaters to not run the trailer because they are going to have a lot of angry patrons if they do
thanks for your help here
Taylor wrote, "Apparently Provident Films have no qualms when it comes to lying about the content of our trailer ("I hate Jesus"???)."