Protests do work in Hollywood, says
"In these politically correct times, there's no question that the studios and networks and their corporate owners hate being surprised by bad publicity upon release of a film or launch of a TV program," says media news site "And wanting to avoid headaches such as the one Paramount TV suffered through during the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's protracted campaign against the Dr. Laura Schlessinger TV show, the companies are admitting advocacy groups and watch-dog organizations into the Hollywood system like never before." Folks completely outside the film industry have had the chance to make major changes to upcoming films, changing scripts, storylines, and even distribution methods. The Arab terrorists in Tom Clancy's Sum of All Fears will be neo-Nazis in the film version due to concerns from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. A negative screening by folks at the Simon Wiesenthal Center put the kibosh on a distribution deal with Sundance grand jury prize winner The Believer (another neo-Nazi-oriented film). The Japanese American Civil Rights League reportedly got a few scenes cut from Pearl Harbor. The article, by associate film editor Josh Spector, doesn't mention any influence Christian groups have had on Hollywood, but clearly there's some parallels. The big question is whether this kind of vetting will encourage more protests.

Speaking of protests …
The British news media is abuzz with stories and images from Son of God, a £1.5 million ($2.15 million) documentary series on the life of Jesus. The big news is that the filmmakers are claiming to have a more accurate representation of what Jesus might have looked like, based on computer extrapolations of a first-century Jewish skull. "We're not saying this is Jesus' face," says series director Jean Claude Bragard, "but that this is how he is likely to have looked from the scientific information we have." Okay, so the image does do a few things well: short hair, olive skin, but yikes, check out those eyes. Looks more like John the Baptist to Weblog. If they really wanted to shake things up, they could have left the beard off. (According to Christian History magazine, "beards were out of fashion for men in Jesus' day, and most men, especially Gentiles and urbane Jews, probably shaved. Traditional Jews wore beards in accordance with Levitical law. Wealthy Jews likely kept their beards clipped, perfumed, and discreet." Not so much with the BBC's Jesus.) Unfortunately, the rest of the miniseries, which starts airing on BBC1 on Sunday, looks like more of the minimalist hooey so common to the genre. "It dares to ask surprising questions of the traditional Christian stories and comes up with unexpected conclusions," Lorraine Heggessey, the controller of BBC1. She and the director assure that both believers and unbelievers will be challenged, but the examples they give are pretty one-sided. Unbelievers will be challenged by the assertions that there really was a historical figure named Jesus, that people really can sweat blood, and that there are healing pools in Bethesda. Christians, meanwhile, are told that Judas probably colluded with Jesus in his "betrayal," and that Jesus probably never really died on the cross. Claims to Jesus' divinity are reportedly never discussed in the series. (Sigh.) What the BBC really wants to do with this project is to follow up on its hugely successful Walking With Dinosaurs, a series that digitally depicted the life of dinosaurs as if it were a documentary on alligators or hippopotami. (It's one the coolest shows Weblog has ever seen.) But there's a big difference between potentially messing up the mating habits of Ornithocheirus and taking liberties with the story of someone Christians consider God incarnate. (Now that we've has thoroughly ripped Son of God despite having never seen one second of it, Weblog would like to thank the BBC for linking to our site as a reference for viewers of the miniseries.)

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