|THURSDAY AFTERNOON AT THE TEDDY BEARS!
Seventh Annual MOVIEGUIDE Report to the Entertainment Industry &
Awards Gala Was a "Tremendous Success," Says Publisher Dr. Ted Baehr
PRINCE OF EGYPT, SIMON BIRCH, 7TH HEAVEN, Jim Carrey, Shirley Jones,
Ian Michael Smith, Billy Graham, and VEGGIETALES Take Home Top Honors
by Matthew P. Kinne & Dan Wooding
MOVIEGUIDE's Seventh Annual Report to the Entertainment Industry & Awards Gala was a "tremendous success," says Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of MOVIEGUIDE and host of MOVIEGUIDE TV and MOVIEGUIDE RADIO.
Thanks have been flooding in from many people that the Report and Awards Gala was a blessing and a joy to attend.
Featuring the prestigious John Templeton Foundation's Epiphany Prizes, the Swiss America Awards and the Grace Prizes sponsored by Morgan H. Grace, Jr., this glamorous and Christ-centered gala was held during lunch March 18, 1999 at the Sierra Ballroom in the Hilton Universal Hotel at Universal City, California, right in the heart of the Hollywood dream factory.
The daytime function brought out celebrity recipients, celebrity presenters, writers, directors, producers, and studio executives to hear about the vast Christian audience in the United States. They also heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached and sung and shared in the excitement of the presentation of the crystal Teddy Bear and Papa Bear MOVIEGUIDE Awards, the Swiss America Awards, the Grace Prizes for acting, and the Epiphany Prizes for film and television.
"We had more studio executives than we ever had before," said Susan Wales, one of three executive producers of the Gala. "I'd like to give a special thank-you to the wonderful team who helped put the Gala together. Everyone did a super job in spite of the short time we had to prepare."
As always, the John Templeton Foundation's Epiphany Prizes for Most Inspiring Movie and Most Inspiring Television Program of 1998 provided the climactic end of the evening.
THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, an animated version of the Book of Exodus in the Bible, won the prestigious $25,000 Epiphany Prize for film and 7TH HEAVEN won the $25,000 Epiphany Prize for TV for its "Here Comes Santa Claus" episode, which clearly showed that "Jesus is the reason for the season."
Jim Carrey of SIMON BIRCH and THE TRUMAN SHOW and Ian Michael Smith, who played the faith-filled title character in SIMON BIRCH, won the $1,000 Grace Prizes.
Craig R. Smith, president of Swiss America, presented three Swiss America Awards to THE RIDE by Billy Graham's World Wide Pictures, VEGGIETALES CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR by Big Idea Productions and broadcast on PAX-TV and COMMON GROUND, a documentary by the North American Mission Board about the influence of Billy Graham.
This year, the Christian Film & Television Commission, led by Chairman Ted Baehr, added a MOVIEGUIDE Lifetime Achievement Award.
This award for a lifetime of contributions to family entertainment went to Shirley Jones, star of such movie musicals as OKLAHOMA, THE MUSIC MAN and CAROUSEL and TV's THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY. Her husband, comedian Marty Ingels, was on hand to surprise his wife with the award, saying she is "an All-American icon to family values."
He added, "She is a special person who has given to the world for 40 years."
Two gracious Masters of Ceremonies for the evening, Pat Boone and Nancy Stafford, kept the audience enthralled throughout the ceremony. David Goodnow, former CNN anchor, served as announcer and pianist Peggy Duggesnel provided entertainment and musical introductions and transitions.
Other entertainment was provided by the harmonizing Gospel singing group, The Regents of Southern California, and popular Christian recording artists Carman and Johnny Ray Watson.
** Christ-Centered Movies Do Best
After a sumptuous luncheon of salmon, asparagus, hot rolls, and multi-layered chocolate cake, Dr. Ted Baehr presented his Report to the Entertainment Industry.
Dr. Baehr explained that movies with a solid Christian worldview and content (CC) (average box office: $ 46,202,490) averaged 602% more box office earnings in 1998 than movies with a solid humanist worldview and content (HH) (average box office: $6,579,262). Other statistical charts compiled by MOVIEGUIDE and cited by Dr. Baehr at the Gala proved once again that movies with Christian themes and content profit more than movies with anti-Christian or non-Christian themes and content.
"It is our prayer," Dr. Baehr told the audience filled with Hollywood decision-makers, "that, with each passing year, we will be able to report on increasing industry profits made on films that uplift society and honor traditional family life and God.
"In reality, however," he added, "the bottom line cannot be measured in dollar signs or in stars and pluses. It can be measured only in a society that moves toward goodness, justice and the resulting blessings of God."
** AND THE WINNERS ARE... **
** The Grace Prizes
Following Dr. Baehr's report, the Grace Prizes were issued. Morgan H. Grace, Jr. sponsors the Grace Prize, which exemplifies Ephesians 2:8, "For by Grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast."
This year, two Grace Prizes were presented: to Ian Michael Smith for SIMON BIRCH and to Jim Carrey for SIMON BIRCH and THE TRUMAN SHOW. Each prize is accompanied by a $1,000 cash award. In 1998 and 1997, there was but one prize each year, with Robert Duvall winning in 1998 for his role in THE APOSTLE and Stephen Collins, star of the CBS-TV series, 7th HEAVEN, winning the very first Grace Prize in 1997.
MOVIEGUIDE accepted the award on behalf of Jim Carrey, who could not attend. Ian Michael Smith stated, following his acceptance, that SIMON BIRCH, "is a very important film in showing that disabled people and any kind of person can do big things."
Dr. Baehr said, "It is Mr. Grace's hope that these prizes will stimulate and encourage actors to aspire to spiritual wisdom, knowledge and growth as part of the acting craft. Strong, responsible, spiritually enriching performances can inspire and uplift millions of moviegoers and television viewers with messages that transcend mere entertainment and escape. We believe that great performances must go beyond ethical role-playing or skillful reflections of morality. We look for that quintessential spark of God's grace."
** The Top Ten
The Ten Best 1998 Family Movies, winners of the "Teddy Bear" Family Friendly Awards, were:
1. THE PRINCE OF EGYPT
2. A BUG'S LIFE
3. THE PARENT TRAP
4. EVER AFTER
6. WIDE AWAKE
7. THE BORROWERS
8. MIGHTY JOE YOUNG
9. THE MASK OF ZORRO
The Ten Best 1998 Movies for Mature Audiences, winners of the "Papa Bear" Awards for Excellence, were:
1. SIMON BIRCH
2. A CIVIL ACTION
3. THE TRUMAN SHOW
4. DEEP IMPACT
5. LES MISERABLES
6. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL
7. THE HORSE WHISPERER
9. MEN WITH GUNS
10. THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
The MOVIEGUIDE Award for Excellence in a Foreign Feature or Documentary went to FUMI: A TOOL IN THE HAND OF GOD, from Harvest Time Ministries of Japan.
Also honored in a special tribute called THEY WORE WHITE HATS were three great cowboy stars who died last year - Bob "Tex" Allen, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.
Each Teddy Bear and MOVIEGUIDE award winner was given a statuette of a hand-crafted crystal Teddy Bear designed especially for MOVIEGUIDE by the Glass Guild. The cherubic statue rests atop a marble pedestal with a personalized inscription and commendation for "Cinematic and artistic excellence and positive portrayal of biblical values."
** The Swiss America Awards
Swiss America gave out three prestigious awards at the Gala. Craig R. Smith, president of Swiss America, presented the awards.
"The Faith and Values Award" went to THE RIDE, from World Wide Pictures, as the year's Best Special Feature Film. Dr. Ted Baehr of MOVIEGUIDE and The Christian Film & Television Commission gave a valuable Clay Turner print to the creators of THE RIDE for exemplifying the positive values of the best film westerns.
Mr. Turner has been paralyzed since age 13 and draws by mouth. He has exhibited his western drawings throughout the United States as well as internationally and has won numerous awards. Copies of Mr. Turner's artwork greeted Gala attendees at the door.
"The Kerygma Award" from Swiss America went to VEGGIETALES CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR, by Big Idea Productions, for Creatively Communicating the Good News of Salvation to Mankind, telecast by PAX-TV.
Finally, "The Golden Eagle Award" went to COMMON GROUND, from the North American Mission Board, a documentary on the influence of Billy Graham and his personal ministry, telecast by ABC-TV. Swiss America gives the Golden Eagle Award to the most outstanding redemptive documentary.
** The Epiphany Prizes
The John Templeton Foundation's Epiphany Prizes for the Most Inspiring Movie and Television Program are not just for entertainment value and craftsmanship, but also for uplifting, inspirational, redemptive, and moral lessons.
Nominated movies and television programs are judged threefold. First, judges are asked to determine if the movie or television program is entertaining and well-produced. Secondly, they ask whether the work in question is primarily moral, redemptive and inspirational rather than merely humanitarian. Last, and most significantly, the judges ask whether this original, entertaining movie or television program resulted in "an increase in either man's love of God or man's understanding of God," criteria personally established by Sir John Templeton, originator of the prizes.
"The Epiphany Prizes intend to help people see the infinity of the God who creates the galaxies, all living things and the variety of ways in which the Creator reveals Himself to different people," Dr. Baehr said.
"We hope to stimulate a quest for a deeper understanding of the One True God," Dr. Baehr added. "All people need to have a higher sense of devotion and love for their Creator."
This year's nominees for the Epiphany Prize for television were the North American Mission Board's COMMON GROUND (ABC Stations); "Here Comes Santa Clause" - 7th HEAVEN (the WB Network); THE RIDE - WORLD WIDE PICTURES (ABC and CBS Stations); Barbra Streisand's THE RESCUERS: TWO COUPLES (Showtime); and, Big Idea Productions' VEGGIETALES CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR (Pax Net).
As mentioned above, the winner of the Epiphany Prize for Television was the "Here Comes Santa Claus" episode of 7TH HEAVEN, Aaron Spelling Productions and the WB Network. Executive Producer Brenda Hampton, creator of the series, accepted the award for this increasingly popular family show about a pastor and his large family.
Previous winners of the Epiphany Prize for TV have been religious-themed episodes from TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL and WALKER, TEXAS RANGER. Both are long-running, popular series produced by CBS.
This year's nominees for the Epiphany Prize for motion pictures were DEEP IMPACT (DreamWorks SKG and Paramount Pictures); LES MISERABLES (Columbia/Sony); THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (DreamWorks SKG); SIMON BIRCH (Hollywood Pictures/Disney); and WIDE AWAKE (Miramax).
In receiving the $25,000 Epiphany Prize for motion pictures, Simon Wells, co-director of THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, said, "Winning this prize is a validation that the film has positive values. It tells a story that uplifts people."
Previous winners of the Epiphany Prize for movies have been AMISTAD and THE PREACHER'S WIFE
Judges of the prizes this year were Dr. Ted Baehr, producer Ken Wales, TV critic Julio Martinez, and Dr. Tom Snyder, managing editor of MOVIEGUIDE.
** On the Front Lines
Those who worked on the event understood that they were on the front lines of spiritual warfare, and it was God's Grace that made the Gala a great success.
"We had to put on the Belt of Truth, the Shield of Faith, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Helmet of Salvation, the Sword of the Spirit, and the Boots of Peace," said Dr. Snyder, referring to Chapter 6 of Paul's letter to the Ephesians in the New Testament. "Technical glitches occurred, but we prevailed over the Adversary."
Assisting Susan Wales in producing the Gala were Dr. Baehr's wife, Lili, and Andrew Ettinger, Dr. Baehr's literary agent and professional media consultant. Jim Campbell served as technical producer, and Carolynn Guthrie Barela was the director.
Following the Awards Ceremony, all attendees were given a gift bag, including Dr. Ted Baehr's book THE MEDIA-WISE FAMILY; the MOVIEGUIDE charts showing the economic factors affecting the movie industry and the success rates of the Christian and non-Christian elements tracked by MOVIEGUIDE; the annual edition of MOVIEGUIDE; and, thanks to Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, a handsome copy of THE BOOK, a contemporary version of the Bible.
The next day, one of the Gala producers was called by an honoree who said that she was up all night reading THE BOOK and found it great reading! Another top creative person said they came to Christ partly through a previous Gala.
Dr. Bill Bright, founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ, gave the invocation prayer to begin the Gala.
Speaking of Ted Baehr in a message carried in the awards program, on behalf of his wife Vonette and himself, Dr. Bright wrote, "Congratulations and thank you, for you have served us all well as a positive influence on the motion picture industry. You have devoted yourself to change, and your devotion has made a big difference. Continue to instill morality, decency and family values in the minds of those who are involved in the creation and making of movies."
Craig Smith, president of Swiss America, explained why he believes this event is important.
"We want to support MOVIEGUIDE's efforts in helping Hollywood to produce better movies, so we don't have to see a lot of the garbage that we see on the big screen," he said. "I am convinced that one of the reasons the garbage is there is because of the void that Christians have created by being so busy cursing the darkness. We should be busy lighting lights, and that's what we are trying to do through the MOVIEGUIDE awards."