Recently I attended the International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta, Georgia. The array of new uplifting books, entertainment for children and powerful movies that I encountered for release was a pleasant surprise. Parents that have been concerned about the adult subject matter that has taken over the airwaves have a lot of new family-friendly programming to look forward to.
As I scouted the huge World Congress Center — where the event was being held — I discovered many creative projects that are as professional as any Hollywood production. Some did have Hollywood connections, such as Doonby, which I’ll review shortly. Talented producers, directors, writers, actors, crews and marketing pros are coming out of the woodwork from the four corners of the United States, as well as other countries. They have passion and commitment for their work and their message.
Linda Vista Pictures, based in Florida, has come up with a unique Indiana Jones style action/adventure DVD series for tweens and teens: Samuel L. Collins and the Search for Biblical Truths. It stars 14-year-old Samuel L. Collins. In each half-hour episode, Samuel pursues top-secret clues to solve encrypted cipher codes that reveal biblical truths. Young viewers can become actively involved as they are invited to solve clues throughout the show. Plus, in separate contests on the website www.SearchForBiblicalTruths.com they can qualify to win the $10,000 Grand Prize.
The first episode was shot in exotic Singapore. Future shows will be filmed in Bali, Berlin, India, Egypt and a few cities in the USA. This high-tech gadgetry of Mission Impossible is directed by Roshie Jones, and along with the producer John Collins and writer Kristie Collins, they wear their designated acting hats as well. And let me add… Sam is perfectly cast for this “crack the case” role, as well as his sister Katie, who rounds out the ensemble.
We now move from Sam L. Collins to Sam Doonby. The first night there I had to choose between the screenings of Breaking the Press, directed by Andrew Stevens, or Doonby, starring John Schneider. Since I had participated in an event several years ago with Schneider, and it was also a chance to reconnect with star Jennifer O’Neill, Doonby won out. What a brain-teaser! Towards the end I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Listen to me! When it finally hits you — it’s a punch you will never forget!
Sam Doonby, a mysterious and handsome drifter, steps off an interstate bus and quickly becomes the talk of a small town. After finding work at Leroy’s Country Blues Bar, his musical talents make him a small-town star, attracting the attention of Laura, the beautiful but spoiled daughter of local doctor Cyrus Reaper.
Do not let that scenario fool you — it’s much more complex! Sam always seems to be in the right place at the right time to prevent major disasters from happening in the town. Soon jealousy and suspicion drive the townspeople to question Sam’s sudden appearances and motives. When his girlfriend Laura starts doubting him, he quickly vanishes. His disappearance results in painful revelations for the townspeople, especially for Doctor Reaper and his family. Enough said — go see it!
Doonby (“A story worth telling, a life worth living”) is written and directed by Peter Mackenzie; starring John Schneider, Jenn Gotzon, Ernie Hudson, Robert Davi, Jennifer O’Neill, Joe Estevez and Will Wallace. Look for a fall (2011) release (Doonby.com).
[Part 2: Review for the movie Courageous in theaters September 30, and the merging of Wal-Mart with Proctor & Gamble for family entertainment.]
Note: NBC’s Family Movie Night will air Who is Simon Miller? on Saturday, August 6, at 8/7c.