Former U.S. Senator and GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum is bringing Christian films to the big screen.
EchoLight Studios said Monday that Santorum, known for his socially conservative views, has been named CEO of the Dallas-based Christian film production company.
Santorum says he has always had an interest in shaping cultural messages and joined the company’s board a year ago.
He believes EchoLight has the opportunity to transform the movie industry by tapping into the demand for high-quality films with a focus on “inspirational and uplifting” Christian messages.
There are a number of smaller Christian film companies. Sony Films has its own division, Affirm Films, which released “Soul Surfer.” Actors such as Mel Gibson and Kirk Cameron have promoted their movies that have Christian messages. Still, the market remains under the radar.
Bruce Goerlich, chief research officer at the industry data tracking firm Rentrak, said that family movies are significant box-office contributors, having grossed nearly $1.3 billion out of the total $10.8 billion box office during 2012. Faith-based TV programming has also drawn viewers. The History Channel quadrupled its usual Sunday night ratings in March with the series “The Bible.”
o o o
NEW YORK — Paula Deen lost another part of her empire on Monday: Smithfield Foods said it is dropping her as a spokeswoman.
The announcement came days after the Food Network said it would not renew the celebrity cook’s contract in the wake of revelations that she used racial slurs in the past. Smithfield sold Paula Deen-branded hams in addition to using her as a spokeswoman. In a statement, the company said it “condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind.
Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen.”
QVC also said it was reviewing its deal with Paula Deen Enterprises to sell the star’s cookbooks and cookware.
“QVC shares the concerns being raised around the unfortunate Paula Deen situation,” QVC said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring these events and the ongoing litigation. We are reviewing our business relationship with Ms. Deen, and in the meantime, we have no immediate plans to have her appear on QVC.”
Several retailers, which sell Paula Deen cookware, were taking a wait-and-see approach.
Sears Holdings Corp. said it “is currently exploring next steps as they pertain to Ms. Deen’s products.” Target Corp. said it is “evaluating the situation.” Meyer Corp., which produces the cookware under the Paula Deen brand, declined to comment.
o o o
NEW YORK — Dr. Mehmet Oz is trying something new: his own lifestyle magazine.
Hearst Magazines said Monday a pilot issue will be published early next year, followed by a second issue, “which could lead to a regular frequency in the second half of 2014.”
In a statement, Oz said the magazine “will provide women with everything they need to feel inspired and live a long, healthy, joyful life.”
Earlier this month, “The Dr. Oz Show” won its third Daytime Emmy Award for best informative talk show.
o o o
LOS ANGELES — It’s marriage, episode II, for George Lucas.
A Lucasfilm spokeswoman confirms the “Star Wars” creator married longtime girlfriend Mellody Hobson in a weekend ceremony at Skywalker Ranch north of San Francisco.
It’s the second wedding for Lucas, 69, who was married to film editor Marcia Lucas from 1969 to 1983.
It’s the first marriage for Hobson, 44, an investment firm president and contributor to ABC’s “Good Morning America.” The two have dated since 2006. Former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley walked her down the aisle.
The Saturday afternoon ceremony was performed by journalist Bill Moyers, who was once a Baptist minister.
Guests included filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard, who said on Twitter that the wedding was “a joy to behold” and Moyers’ service “nothing short of profound.”