"Your head is like a gas tank. You have to be really careful about what you put in it, because it might just affect the whole system" (from the film I've Heard the Mermaids Singing). That being the case, it makes sense to me that the first step in protecting your family from non-biblical influences is to Know Before You Go.
For the past twenty years I have been reviewing films from a Christian perspective - offering the synopsis and content so families could make informed decisions as to their suitability. Being a movie buff, I also suggest video alternatives - films with the same theme or style as the new pictures, but without the material many may consider objectionable. The most endearing films, like parables, nourish the spirit as well as entertain. I delight in bringing such movies to the attention of my readers.
After spending much of my adolescence and early adult years as an actor in school and community theater, then summer stock, I returned to Los Angeles from Colorado Springs, where I was doing dinner theater. I found work in commercials, including one for McDonald’s “Welcome to McDonald’s” was my big line. Then came a television break. I began doing extra work on daytime television. Kathy Epstein and I did YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU together in college. When I moved out to L.A., she introduced me to the producer of DAYS OF OUR LIVES. The next week I was doing background work on that show. You may know Kathy Epstein by her married name, Kathy Lee Gifford.
That show led to commercials and bit parts in several other television programs. It didn’t take long, however, for my interest in an acting career to wane. I had been playing lead roles in plays such as THE RAINMAKER and HARVEY. Now, I was struggling to get five lines in films I wouldn’t even go see. What’s more, I found the showbiz community, as a whole, to be anything but sympathetic to my walk with Christ.
Disillusioned with the industry’s direction, I decided to focus on producing plays for churches. But after doing nearly seventy productions and twelve films for the church market, I completely lost the desire to act. Not that the acting community misses me much. I was competent, but De Niro had nothing to worry about.
Seeking an artistic outlet, I began publishing a monthly pamphlet called CHRISTIAN TV NEWS in 1981. We were attempting to promote the new Christian networks, such as CBN, TBN, and ACTS, among others. But after six years, and two scandals in the Christian television community (both situations starring guys named Jimmy), I decided to sell the business.
After working as the assistant producer for Vision House Films, a Christian film company, I found myself still searching for an artistic outlet. I sought counsel from a writer friend, Bill Myers of MAGEE AND ME fame. I can remember to this day what Bill said. “Phil, what are your interests?” There was a simple answer: My relationship with Christ and being an avid movie enthusiast.
I still had outlets through Christian bookstores all over the country, so in 1987 I decided to distribute another monthly guide, this one entitled THE MOVIE REPORTER. We sold ads in the guide to pay our salaries and for its publication. Along with the synopsis and content, I came up with a concept that made my guide unique. I listed Video Alternatives to the new releases. That became such a positive portion of the guide that Barbour Publishing asked me to do a book containing reviews, along with the video alternatives: THE MOVIE REPORTER: HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD VIDEO EVERY TIME. (No longer in print, but I’m working on a new book.)
Since forming The Movie Reporter in 1987, I have written about Hollywood for such organizations as ibelieve.com, CBN and Crosswalk.com. From ‘97- ‘02, my reviews ran on Larry Burkett's Money Watch & Money Matters, and from ‘95- ‘02 I did a weekly radio review program on KDAR out of Oxnard, CA. I am syndicated in several Christian publications and in 2006 I became the editor/reviewer for Preview OnLine.
A native of Southern California, I have lived in Illinois, Portland, Oregon, Tulsa and Colorado Springs. Presently I reside in Kansas City, occasionally flying to either coast for press junkets and a view of the ocean. I love the Pacific Ocean, so what do I do? I move 1,500 miles away from it. Well, that’s a tale for another day.