God and the Red Carpet

Hollywood is a godless, pinko pleasure dome. Or else it’s the kind of pulpit Jesus only dreamed of. The church never seems to be sure which. In the same breath, Christians denounce the entertainment industry’s degenerate influence on culture while trumpeting the impact of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

No one questions Hollywood’s reach, though. Ninety-eight percent of American households have at least one television. Americans spent $9 billion on movie tickets last year. The rest of the world knows us by our screen stars.

For Christians whose talents might lead them to the entertainment industry, Hollywood is often evaluated like an enemy force—avoid or conquer? If anyone could lead such a charge, it would be Emmy nominated writer-producer David McFadzean. But he suggests Jesus has another plan for the people of Hollywood, one in which awards and box office numbers miss the point. In a writer’s ears, it barely sidesteps cliché: Love your neighbor.

I never intended to come to Hollywood,” insists McFadzean, whose glasses and casual erudition suggest a tweedy English professor more than a purveyor of TV sitcoms. Indeed, by the mid-1980s he had parlayed his expertise as a playwright into a steady gig teaching theater at Judson College, a Baptist liberal arts institution in Elgin, Illinois. A college roommate called and asked for a rewrite on a pilot for TV. “I knew nothing about writing half-hour television,” says McFadzean, who had to be talked into it. “I read the script, and it was really like a one-act play. I didn’t know if I’d be able to write the comedy but I knew I could write the story, structure, and characters.”

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Sojourners Magazine November 2006
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