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John Newton, Apostle Paul & Intelligent Design head for the big screen

Thanks to a list of links on Christianity Today’s Reel News, we get a heads up on several films destined to bring God-talk to the open spaces.

First, there’s Variety’s notice about The Heart of Man, a project in development focusing on the 18th century antislavery crusader John Newton (whose best known for writing the hymn Amazing Grace). According to Variety, Mandalay Integrated Media Entertainment and Prelude Pictures (which helped with advance ticket sales to faith orgs for The Passion) have optioned Lisa and Eric Rice's script about Newton, “who was shanghaied into the British Royal Navy, went AWOL, was captured, became a slave himself and took over a slave ship before beginning to campaign for the abolition of slavery.”

The same article reports that the same partnership is developing Rabbi Paul (yes, the Apostle Paul) as well as a “family comedy” entitled Our Father, “based on a story created by the late John Candy about a priest transferred from Beverly Hills to Detroit.” According to Variety, “The Mandalay-Prelude partnership is aimed at tapping the market for family-friendly features.”

In another article, Variety reports that Paramount has commissioned a screenplay based “on last year's court decision ruling that a Pennsylvania school board didn't have the right to force teachers to teach intelligent design.” Writer Ronald Harwood reportedly is using as his benchmark, "Inherit the Wind, the play and film that told the story of the famous Scopes trial, which allowed evolution into (Tennessee) classrooms in the first place. ‘Our aspiration is to make a film that powerful ... We have a highly emotional case that divided a town right down the middle, and a judge whose summary was spectacular.’"

Finally, Empire Movies is reporting that Tyler Perry is reteaming with Lionsgate on his next feature, Daddy's Little Girl: “The movie will be a reverse Cinderella story about successful female attorney who falls in love with a janitor - the single father of three daughters - over the objections of her father. Production is being fast-tracked for a June start and a February release.” Perry's previous films—often spoken favorably of among Christian critics—include Diary of a Mad Black Woman and its sequel, Madea's Family Reunion.