Hollywood Gets Religion at Movie Guide Awards


HOLLYWOOD -- Hundreds of celebrities came out to celebrate faith and family friendly movies and TV shows at the 22nd Annual Movie Guide Awards in Hollywood.

With the Oscars just a few days away, Hollywood is getting a touch of religion. Two new studies show movie-goers prefer films with a Christian worldview.

These movies are getting more attention and praise.

'Two Cents' from the Stars

"I'm a huge fan of those type of movies and TV shows and I want to see them pushed more to the forefront than have or be in a smaller award show," comedian and master of ceremonies Bill Engvall said.

Actress A.J. Michalka received her honor for the inspirational movie "Grace Unplugged."

"I want people to feel like they can make great, legitimate beautiful stories that really have a great message that families are going to not just be entertained by but also maybe talk about it in the car on the way home. To me that's the biggest thing," Michalka said.

Actor and Disney star Jacob Latimore starred in the film "Black Nativity," a story about keeping your faith and family even in the tough times. It's a message the young actor says is needed now more than ever.

"We have a lot of people that are lost in this world and we can insight people and reassure people on certain messages through movies, through film because they're really just life on the screen," he said. "I think 'Black Nativity' definitely played a part in that."

'The Bible' Influence

"The Bible" series won the ratings and hearts of America when it aired on the History Channel last year.

It also scored big at this year's Movie Guide Awards.

Roma Downey, co-creator with her husband Mark Burnett of "The Bible" project, won the Grace Award in Television for best actress for her role of Jesus' mother. 

"I think ... the success of the Bible series really got the attention of the nation and certainly of our industry," Downey said.

"One hundred million people showed up and I think it was really extraordinary. And now we're seeing lots of other faith-themed films coming down the pipeline so I think that's very encouraging," she said.

Willie Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" agreed. The popular show was given the Faith and Freedom award for TV.

"I think we see it, we see it in our numbers," he said. "I was speaking with Mark about 'The Bible,' between that and 'Duck Dynasty,' there was a whole lot of people that tuned in, so hopefully we see that catching on."

"We see more and more things that are positive come out. We're happy to be part of it," he said.

Actress Holly Robinson Peete said demand for wholesome entertainment is growing.

"I just think that family movies are so important. I'm not sure why Hollywood is not getting the message that we need something every Friday when movies open up. We need something we all can go to as a family together," she said.

'Alone yet not Alone'

Perhaps the night's biggest highlight came when 64-year-old quadriplegic Author Joni Eareckson Tada performed the song "Alone yet not Alone" from the Christian film of the same name.  

The true life movie tells the inspiring story of two women and their journey of faith and survival during the French and Indian War.

Tada's rendition of the song had also received an Oscar nomination. But huge backlash resulted in an investigation into why the little known film received such recognition.

The Academy later pulled the nomination, accusing composer Bruce Broughton of using his influence in an email as a former Academy governor to get the nomination.

The Academy president said sending the email crossed the line because it gives the appearance of an unfair advantage.

Broughton said that's ridiculous and all he did was ask others to consider the song.

"If you actually read the rules, you can go on the Oscar.com website and read the rules, I didn't really break any rules," he said. "What I admit to doing was sending some emails to people who I thought would overlook the song."

"They don't agree with me on what I did and that's basically what it is. As far as the rule breaking, you know all of the songs that are nominated and all the songs that weren't nominated have tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars of promotion," he added.

"Our assignment when we were doing it was to write a song that's inspirational as Amazing Grace before Amazing Grace ever existed. We tried to make it simple, universal, and just timeless and memorable," Dennis Spiegel, the song's lyricist, said.

Many see the Academy's move as bigotry against the song and message. Other members of the Academy, including famous film composer Hans Zimmer, said the ruling is unfair.

But Tada is taking it all in stride. She said she is hopeful that good will come from the controversy surrounding the song.

"Well when I heard the nomination was rescinded my first thought was, 'Oh, come on. Really?'" she said. "But God's purposes are working out because some of this controversy I think might be drawing more attention to the song and even to the film than had it just sailed through to the Oscars."

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