Another Perspective

The God Squad

Mel Gibson has freed Hollywood’s believers.

By 3.29.04

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HOLLYWOOD -- As the domestic box ofice receipts climb near the $400 million mark, Mel Gibson, who only a few short weeks ago was being reprimanded that he would never eat lunch in this town again, is now in the enviable position of not caring if he ever eats lunch in this town again.

Just as his epic movie's character, Mel too has risen from the crucifixion of the elite, and in a moment of artistic irony, has dramatically reset the prevailing winds in Hollywood.

By latest unofficial count, there are four religious epics in serious review around town, and, undoubtedly, scores more being eagerly churned out on laptops from Silver Lake to Malibu. Actors who haven't had a job in years are now surfacing to offer up intimate details of their deep spiritual convictions.

The real kudos however belong to to Tina Turner, Rene Russo, Ben Stein, and Evan Holyfield, and others who for years publicly professed their faith before it became Major Box Office. Likewise for billionaire John Templeton. And,top model Thom Fleming, who, with other young, bold-face names, was attending weekly Bible Study sessions on New York's Upper West Side before it was cool to be reverent.

Louis Rudolph, developer of Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man for ABC, many years ago publicly stated that when his life finally hit a brickwall, he called his rabbi, not his therapist. He followed his rabbi's advice, which was to talk to God. He did and has never looked back. He credits this dialogue for breakthroughs romantically and financially in his life.

CBS's Touched by an Angel will prove to be one of prime time's most successful shows.

Whether it's Deepak Chopra, Uma Thurman's Buddhism, Mrs. Peter Guber's Siddha yoga meditation, or former rapper Run of Run-D.M.C. and brother of Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records, now an ordained minister in New York City, with his enticing message of practical, positive thinking, self-improvement spirituality, the real God Squad has been around for years. But thanks to Mel, it's now in the spotlight and it's front-and-center stage.

Or, if the message is true, maybe it's not just due to Mel Gibson ...

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