Thursday, January 7, 2010

Amy Adams a Mormon?

You remember all those rumors about famous people who are Mormon -- like Steve Martin and famous actors.

The Toronto Sun reported this week that talented actress Amy Adams -- she was fantastic in the movie Doubt and solid in the movie Julie and Julia acting opposite of Meryl Streep and holding her own -- was born into a Mormon family that left the church after a divorce.

Interesting tidbit.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sherlock Holmes and Mormons

I thought it worth mentioning as Sherlock Holmes makes a renewed place in the cinema this season that there is a long tie-in between Mormons and Sherlock Holmes.

The first Sherlock Holmes mystery, A Study in Scarlet,, features Mormons -- including Brigham Young, as villains.

Such portrayal was par for the course in 19th century fiction. Many novelists, including Zane Grey and Jack London, wrote stories with Mormons as villains.

If there are more adventures involving Sherlock Holmes at the movies, and such is clearly intended, I wouldn't expect Mormons to crop up, thankfully, but one never knows.

Note, based upon a comment -- and the comment was right -- I have modified this post. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

She read the apology.

As Diane Sawyer takes over for Charlie Gibson at ABC, arguably the best remaining network news operation, tobacco comes to mind. (Jake Tapper and Brian Ross, for example, are aces at that network.)

I felt the need to mention that it was Diane Sawyer who agreed to read ABC News' infamous apology to Philip Morris in the 1990s for the tobacco story the network aired and resulted in a huge legal settlement -- and also likely opened the door powerful tobacco regulation today.

Some have argued that ABC apologized for something it didn't do -- all in the run-up to Disney's acquisition of the venerable network. Click here for an excellent, balanced overview of this story. As it shows, the facts around the story are controversial.

That a journalist's primary commodity is integrity, to read an apology for something not done, would be, therefore, to call into question that primary commodity.

For what it is worth, Bogdanich, a gem of a human being, is now at The New York Times and has won three pulitzers, including for this powerful series. He may be America's greatest investigative reporter today. He was not fired for the story -- in fact, ABC increased his salary and issued a press release after the settlement. He also worked at 60 minutes on tobacco.

It is ABC's decision to hire the hard-working, talented Sawyer for this position, but it deserves to be remembered that she read the apology on the air in deciding whether to watch her or not.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

48 hours piece on adoption

This week, the CBS News documentary series, 48 hours, did a powerful piece on a series of Samoan adoptions that likely involved fraud.

I comment on it because many of the principals in this alleged scam were evidently Mormon. One wore a BYU hat in a photo. He was clearly portrayed as a villain in the piece. Yet, no where was the Mormon connection made very explicit. As such, I give credit to CBS News. The news network had the chance to tie into much of the worst of Mormon stereotype involving race and supposedly deceptive practices and refused to do so.

Like any good Mormon, I am appalled by what has happened here and the religion of these people had nothing material to do with what happened.

Alas, I also recommend to viewers that they read the documentary to go online and read the deeply personal criticism of CBS by the adoptive families in the comments log that follows the piece.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wow ....

Blatant disrespect for divergent beliefs among those various denominations calling themselves Mormon was evident in the U.K. this week in its newspaper, The People.

A news brief reporting on a change in immigration law said the following:

"Muslim and Mormon immigrants are to be barred from bringing their HAREMS into Britain."

No where did the article say anything about LDS beliefs having outlawed polygamy or that polygamous "Mormons" represent a tiny minority. If anything, this shows that the old connection between Mormons and Muslims, has not died in international reporting and is another evidence that the international press is far harder on Mormons than the American press.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A new report on Prop 8

The Heritage Foundation has issued a new report on the discrimination faced by supporters of Proposition 8. It is a powerful assertion of vicious anti-democratic approaches to an important issues. A worthwhile read for all Latter-day Saints and those interested in civil society.

In defense of the press, many of the stories in the report were reported by the news media.

Read the report here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sad News in New England

A vicious, stabbing, random murder in New England involves a young suspect who is Latter-day Saint, who reportedly had been considering a mission. A horrific crime that seems to have no explanation.

The heart-wrenching nature of this tale must have caused many broken hearts. I have read a few reports about this and see nothing too bigoted in the coverage of Mormons -- indeed, one article seemed to blame that fact that the young suspect had a hard time fitting in, almost as though the community somehow shared some blame for this atrocity, assuming the young man is guilty of what is alleged. While such a linkage between a Mormon missionary and murder is frustrating, but isn't the fault of the press.

Alas, what often riles Latter-day Saints is when the press reports that a suspect is Mormon, but not the religion of other suspects. I am not very troubled by this, actually, for two reasons:

First, as Latter-day Saints, we wish to be seen as examples, as a light on a hill and a peculiar people. If we are to wish that, we should accept the other parts of it, when our members go wrong.

Second, as a Mormon and journalist, I am aware of times where journalists haven't identified Mormons in print, even when there might be nominal news value in doing so. I am aware of a time or two when such coverage may have hurt the church, actually, but wasn't printed as a connection. So, to be fair, journalists generally do follow professional norms in ways that readers don't always understand.

So, no need to complain of the linkage here. It seems relevant to this story -- how could a good kid go bad?

Beyond that, one of the great challenges of being a peculiar people who has suffered persecution, can be a kind of group-think and sense of persecution that can lead to lashing out and pain to others. It can be dangerously isolating. As an LDS member, this sad story again demonstrates the need we have in using care, especially around our teens, in telling the stories of Mormon persecution.

God bless the families involved in this travesty.