Three new action-packed dramas from Family Theater Productions manifest three Mysteries of the Rosary
An angry, hurting son and an alcoholic father have a barroom brawl flying over tables. A shot rings out on the steps of a high school as another student has been senselessly killed. A Vietnamese student, refusing to fight back, fends off the karate attack of another student with a flurry of defensive martial-arts moves.
Unfortunate slices of life? Action sequences of a feature film? Would you believe it? They are scenes from Family Theater Productions’ three new, half-hour TV dramas – part of its Manifest Mysteries series – linking Mysteries of the Rosary to contemporary stories about teens, their families and some of the pressing social issues they face today.
The new dramas show how three teens overcome challenges they face and learn valuable lessons of faith, sacrifice, understanding, forgiveness and love.
These dramas, which were filmed on location in the Los Angeles area during late July and early August, will have a public premiere screening Oct. 28 at the 600-seat Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Theater in North Hollywood. They also are expected to be broadcast on to-be-determined commercial and/or cable networks and channels at later dates.
The dramas are:
*/The Haunted Heart/*
Bitter and abused by his alcoholic father, David Lowe, 17, (Ben Crowley) is about to be expelled for his constant fighting. He has one last hope – he must agree to be “tutored” by his eccentric teacher, Mr. Hopkins (Kevin Dobson, /Knots Landing/, /Kojak/).
Through the intervention of his mentor-teacher, David learns the meaning of sacrificial love and how to give it – after a violent bout with his dad that lands him in jail. The story relates to the Crowning of Thorns and, thus, the suffering Christ endured in his passion and his love for us who are all “undeserving.”
It was directed by Brian Jones, who directed “The Eggplant Lady” and previously three feature films and 12 television programs. It was written by Zena Dell Schroeder.
Grief-stricken Taylor Manning, 17, recalls the events that led up to the murder of her twin brother Kyle in a school shooting, primarily because of his passion for helping troubled teens through a jail outreach program. With the help of substitute teacher Mr. Dubois, Taylor starts getting past her anger and pain and decides to “make a difference” in the lives of others.
She paints a mural to pay tribute to students that have been killed nationwide in campus shootings and to encourage students to stop the violence. And she gets involved in the teen jail outreach program. This drama relates to the Ascension of Jesus and his timeless message of forgiveness, love and compassion.
It was directed by Craig Ross Jr., who before this project had just finished writing and directing a feature film “Blue Hill Avenue,” which has already won several awards. */Taylor’s Wall/* was written by Cheryl McKay.
*/The Secret of the Horse/*
Skilled in Vietnamese martial arts, Victor Tran, 16, must learn to harness his anger and resist fighting so he can remain in school. If he’s expelled again, the family will have to move and his handicapped sister, Bernadette, 14, who has a bright future as violinist, will lose her place in a prestigious music school. But a kid at school continues to try to provoke Victor to fight, he must learn the meaning of real strength – before it’s too late. This story of strength and sacrifice for others relates to the Scourging of Christ at the Pillar.
The director was Cleve Nettles, whose last directorial project was a feature film, */All Over Again/*, starring Robert Loggia and Craig T. Nelson. */The Secret of the Horse/* was written by Tom Fuchs and Christopher Sariego.
“These dramas may be Family Theater’s best work,” said Father Wilfred Raymond, CSC, National Director of Family Theater Productions. “They will be attractive to networks and other broadcast outlets and to teens and their families. They are high drama, realistic, action-packed, showing how teens can relate their experiences to particular experiences of Christ, who also had to face and endure violence and did so nonviolently for the love of others, including his perpetrators.”
Sister Judith Ann Zielinski, Family Theater’s Director of Television Production and Development, and executive producer of the three dramas, assembled and supervised the creative and technical team of more than 70 persons. She was inspired by the comments and actions of the cast and crew during production.
“Many expressed that they loved what Family Theater was and were impressed with the inspirational elements of these scripts,” Sister Zielinski said. “Some passed up work on other higher profile films destined for network television to work on these dramas, and others said if we did more of these shows, they would pass up work on other films to work with Family Theater again.”
Dawn Karen, producer of Family Theater’s “The Eggplant Lady,” produced the three programs. A 24-year veteran in film and TV production, Dawn was the production manager and line producer for 48 episodes of “Sweet Valley High” on the Fox Television Network.
Michael Mandaville, another Hollywood production veteran, was Unit Production Manager. He served in that same role for “The Eggplant Lady.”
Monika Moreno, Family Theater’s director of the Angelus Awards, contributed, along with Sister Zielinski, to script editing. Also, Monika, Sister Zielinski and Father Raymond worked with the scriptwriters for six months, especially regarding how the scripts related to the particular Mystery of the Rosary.
Like their six predecessors, these dramas are not only geared for TV broadcast but for junior-and-senior high religion classes, confirmation preparation programs and youth groups. They will be offered for sale through Holy Cross Family Ministries catalog and at our exhibits at catechetical, educational and other religious conferences. They can be pre-ordered by calling 1-800-299-7729.