A bevy of Hollywood stars was given the
red-carpet treatment at what has become known as the
"Christian Oscars"óthe 8th Annual MOVIEGUIDE(R) Awards
Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry, held on
March 15, at the Hilton Universal Hotel in Universal
Before an audience of stars, celebrities,
filmmakers, and major studio executives, THE WINSLOW BOY
(Sony Pictures), won the prestigious $25,000 Epiphany
Prize for the Most Inspiring Movie of 1999.
The Epiphany Prize for the Most Inspiring
Television Program of 1999 was given to an episode of
JAG called "Second Sight" (CBS, Bellisario Productions).
The John Templeton Foundation sponsors
the two $25,000 cash prizes each year to the best movie
and network television program that is "spiritually
uplifting, inspiring and results in a great increase in
manís love of God or manís understanding of God."
Two veteran actors, Richard Farnsworth
and Chuck Norris, each received the Grace Prize at the
event for the most inspirational performances in movies
and television. Farnsworth took the movie award for his
title role in THE STRAIGHT STORY (Disney) and action
star Chuck Norris took the Grace Prize for television,
for his role in the "A Matter of Faith" episode of
WALKER, TEXAS RANGER (CBS).
Philanthropist Morgan H. Grace, Jr.
sponsors the Grace Prizes.
Farnsworth is the oldest man to receive a
best actor Oscar nomination. He revealed that he turns
down a lot of work because he doesnít care for movies
filled with "sex, violence and four-letter words."
Norris, whose TV program received the
Epiphany Prize two years ago for an episode about the
need for salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, mentioned
from the podium his showís decision to produce a couple
of Christian spiritual dramas each year.
A GLITTERING EVENT
As the stars and celebrities arrived for
the festivities, they waited patiently to be interviewed
and photographed by the large number of reporters and
photographers on hand.
The awards ceremony was taped for
national broadcast by PAX-TV, the seventh largest TV
network, and had a star-studded lineup of presenters.
Actor Tim Reid (SISTERS, SIMON & SIMON and WKRP IN
CINCINNATI) and his lovely wife Daphne Maxwell Reid
(FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR and SNOOPS) hosted the event.
Among those who presented awards were
Patricia Heaton and Doris Roberts of EVERYBODY LOVES
RAYMOND, actress Hunter Tylo formerly of THE BOLD AND
THE BEAUTIFUL, Richard Thomas of THE WALTONS and ITíS A
MIRACLE, TV legends Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows, music
legends Smokey Robinson, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis,
and the host of NBCís MAIN PLACE, Nancy Stafford.
Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of
MOVIEGUIDE(R), the authoritative family guide to movies
and entertainment, handed out his annual "Teddy Bear"
and "Papa Bear" awards to TOY STORY 2 (Disney) for the
best family movie and THE STRAIGHT STORY (Disney) for
the best movie for mature audiences.
JESUS FILM HONORED
The JESUS film was given a special Faith
& Values commendation for extraordinary technical and
In presenting the award to Bill Bright
and Campus Crusade for Christ, the organization behind
the Jesus film, entertainer Pat Boone told the audience
that more people "than any other movie in history" had
seen the film. Pat Boone went on, "This movie,
originally made for and released by Warner Bros., has
been seen by 3.3 billion people in 566 different
languages. Itís a story of one whose life has impacted
the world like no other."
LARRY KING TALKS ABOUT JESUS
A clip was shown of Larry King speaking
on a special Christmas release of the JESUS film in
which celebrities talk about Jesus. "As a talk-show
host," King said, "I have nothing but the greatest and
most profound respect for Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He
was, after all, Jewish; born Jewish, died Jewish. Jesus
Christ was the greatest single individual of both
millennia and He had the most profound effect on mankind
of any individual ever born. If there were one person I
would like to interview, it would be Jesus."
In receiving the award, Paul Eshleman,
International Director of The JESUS Film Project for
Campus Crusade for Christ, said, "Itís 2000 years since
the birthday that we celebrate this year. In the script,
based on the best seller of all time, the Bible, I know
that the words of Jesus will last forever. The words
that give hope, meaning and assurance of life
everlasting. Thank you very much, MOVIEGUIDE(R), for
this award. We are very grateful."
Other Faith & Values Awards included a
special documentary award, a special distributor award
and the Clay Turner Award.
Valerie Red-Horse, the co-director, star
and producer of NATURALLY NATIVE, an inspirational movie
about faith, family and culture, was given a special
lithograph of mouth artist Clay Turnerís "Horse Trading
at Big Prairie" for her fine work in that movie.
Ms. Red-Horse said MOVIEGUIDE(R) honors
both Jesus and her Native American ancestors with this
award. She said she refused to make her movie more
"edgy" and sensational to please secular distributors.
She added that sheís extremely grateful for the award
because itís important for MOVIEGUIDE(R) to continue
honoring Christian movies like NATURALLY NATIVE. Her
movie was also one of the nominees for the Epiphany
Day of Discovery won the documentary
award for its three-part video, THE ERIC LIDDELL STORY.
This documentary tells "the rest of the story" about the
Olympic runner and Christian missionary from the
Oscar-winning movie CHARIOTS OF FIRE who refused to run
Finally, Providence Entertainment
received a special distributor award for releasing
redemptive movies like THE OMEGA CODE and GRIZZLY FALLS.
In 2000, Providence will distribute a major motion
picture based on the very popular LEFT BEHIND novels by
Timothy LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
GOOD GUYS FINISH FIRST
During the ceremony, Dr. Ted Baehr,
founder of MOVIEGUIDE(R), presented his much-awaited
Report to the Entertainment Industry.
"Good guys finish first," he told the
audience. "Movies with good content do much better at
the box offices than others. The myth is that bad guys
finish first, but if you look at the top grossing films,
you will see that that is not true. Even last year, when
I expected this not to be true, movies with strong moral
content had an average of $209 million in the top 25
films. The top 25 films were not made up of the Academy
Award nominees, but rather of films that people went to
see in spite of the fact that the newspapers, and
everybody else, were hyping movies like CIDER HOUSE
RULES, which had only made $23 million when it was
nominated for an Oscar, while TOY STORY 2, which the
newspapers ignored, posted $300 million."
Dr. Baehr also noted, "We are not here to
annoy or to confront you in Hollywood, but rather to
commend you for doing movies that reflect the faith and
values of the large church-going community. All the
movies that we honored this year had strong elements
that reflected the faith and values of the Christian
community. Some of them were quite extraordinary."
Dr. Baehr presented several other
interesting facts about the box office figures for
movies released in 1999. For example, the more sex,
nudity and foul language a movie had, the less it
earned. Also, movies with a strong Christian worldview
earned more than movies with a mild Christian worldview.
Finally, movies that completely met MOVIEGUIDEís(R)
moral and spiritual standards earned eight times more
than those movies which had an anti-Christian, evil or
WHAT THEY SAID
During the event, many of those attending
the gala agreed to be interviewed.
One of them, Billy Davis Jr., appealed to
the Christian community to not "give up on us in
Hollywood." He added, "There are a lot of us out here
who are working as Christians in this field. We are
doing Christian work in the trenches and we are
witnessing to people that most people donít even think
would hear the Gospel. We are on the firing line and we
are trying to bring a lot of the Hollywood people into
the Kingdom. We need your prayers. We canít do anything
Lindsay Felton, an actress on TVís
CATLAINíS WAY, was asked why she supported
MOVIEGUIDEís(R) award program.
"Iíve been coming to the awards gala for
the last three years," she said. "I really enjoy this
awards show. They are so focused on family values and
high quality that all the other awards shows have sort
of balked at over the years."
Chris Buck, co-director of TARZAN, which
also won a "Teddy Bear" Award, said, "For me, I have
three young boys at home, 9, 7 and 3. I knew I wanted to
make a film that they could watch, get something morally
uplifting from it, be fun, be entertained, but also get
a message from it. Itís a subtle goal throughout. We
wanted to make a great family film that everyone could
When asked what the award meant to him,
Jason Clark, executive producer of STUART LITTLE,
another "Teddy Bear" Award winner, said, "I think it has
to do with being able to make movies that the entire
family can enjoy. For me, personally, this means that
maybe this is being embraced by the community as having
a sense of family. It is a movie that I am proud of,
that they can see and enjoy. We had filmmakers on this
movie that were just so happy to be on a movie that they
could take their families to."
Rob Minkoff, director of STUART LITTLE,
added, "What affected me about reading the book, was how
the humans in the story could accept Stuart as one of
them, even though he was a mouse. They didnít really
make much of the fact that he was a mouse. The theme of
tolerance was something that we really wanted to put
across, the idea that it didnít matter what you looked
like, you could be accepted as a member of the family. I
suppose that theme informed all the choices and
decisions of making the movie. Even though the cat
doesnít like Stuart, he has to love him anyway."
Jim Muro, camera operator on THE INSIDER,
which received a "Papa Bear" Award for being one of the
ten best movies for mature audiences, said about
receiving the honor: "That brings to light what Ted was
saying in his opening comments that there are some films
represented here this evening that donít know what their
role is in the Christian community, and I believe this
to be one of the films that he was referring to because,
frankly, it is a film that shares with people how
serious the effect of a corporation is on a family as
well as the rigors of tobacco use and nicotine
"I donít think the film is targeted to
the adult Christian. I believe it is more or less an
expose, the sad story that does occur in the conundrum
of corporate life and lack of integrity sometimes, and
what happens in that arena. As a result, it is nice to
be recognized by MOVIEGUIDE(R). I was a little shocked
that a lot more people didnít say ĎThis film is really
important for you to see.í It just goes to show that
people have a certain amount of ignorance as far as
their health goes. Itís amazing that it is a dark horse
candidate for the Oscars. It has six or seven
nominations. That to me is really amazing. It was
Steve Allen, legendary actor/comedian and
a presenter at the awards gala, was asked why he thought
it was so important to attend the MOVIEGUIDE(R) awards:
"Because the problem of lack of morality
in entertainment is so enormously serious. Television,
especially the comedies, have become increasingly
vulgar. The fact is, TV has become steadily worse in
After the event, Dr. Baehr said, "We are
delighted with the turnout this year. Last year 74
Hollywood executives attendedónot counting actors,
actresses and filmmakersóthis year 102 Hollywood
executives came to the event. People brought their whole
production crew along! People from the industry are
calling us saying they want to work with us and be more
"Through our work," he added, "we try to
accentuate the positive, commend the good and be an
advocate for Christian faith and values."
All in all, March 15 was an evening to
remember. A time when Jesus Christ was honored in
Hollywood, instead of a place where His name is taken in
vain or ignored!