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    Baehr trying to redeem the values of the media

    Dr. Ted Baehr is a man with a mission. This outwardly affable man, with a determination of steel, believes like many others that, “Whoever controls the media controls the culture.” While some have launched negative campaigns, he has quietly gone about his task in a way that is impacting the lives of many media chiefs.

    The son of Robert “Tex” Allen/AKA Theodore Baehr and Evelyn Peirce, both successful stage, screen, and television actors, Ted grew up in New York and followed in his parent’s footsteps, performing in commercials, movies, television, and on stage.

    Then he moved into the field of academics and after studying abroad at the University of Munich, Germany Cambridge University, England and Bordeaux and Toulouse Universities in France, he graduated with high distinction in Comparative literature and as a Rufus Choate Scholar from Dartmouth Colleges. He then received his Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law, where he served as the editor of the New York Law School Newspaper.

    It wasn’t until 1975 that Baehr’s life was turned around spiritually. While he was financing independent movies at Canon films, a friend suggest that he read the Bible, which changed his perspective both professionally and personally. Baehr decided to attended seminary at the Institute of Theology at the Cathedral of St. John The Divine. He accepted a position as the Director of Television Center at the City University in New York and started the Good News Communications.

    Since then, he has been on his extraordinary mission to the media. With God’s help and through his powers of persuasion, the Christian Film and Television Commission has already helped movie companies reestablish family film divisions and has been instrumental in significant programming changes. The late Brandon Tartikoff, former Chairman of Paramount Pat Roddy, former Vice President of ABC News and Michael Medved of PBS’ Sneak Previews, among many others, have said that no one has done a more significant work in influencing Hollywood towards better movies and programs than Dr. Baehr.

    In recent times, he has met on several occasions with media barons like Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch and recently organized a meeting with Jeffrey Katzenberg to organize a meeting with theologians who would be able to give their input on the movie ‘Prince of Egypt.’ Based on the life of Moses, this is the first animated film to come out of DreamWorks SKG, the new studio headed up by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen.

    “In dealing with the early life of the greatest spiritual leader of the Israelites, ‘Prince of Egypt’ has the potential for inspiring or disappointing many religious theatergoers,” says Baehr, who heads up the Christian Film and Television Commission, as well as publishing “MOVIEGUIDE.”

    “The Commission was asked by DreamWorks SKG to consult on the theological elements of both the script and the production to help ensure that families can wholeheartedly encourage their children to see this film.”

    In a letter to Ted Baehr after the meeting, Katzenberg wrote, “Your input was invaluable.” He added, “Your honest and candid comments were very helpful.”

    Dr. Baehr explained why he meets with studio executives. “It is to help them understand the concerns of Christians,” he said, “to help them design entertainment that will avoid the minefields inherent in distributing movies to the American Christian audience.

    “We get many calls about scripts and programs, everything from how to do a baptism to deep theological issues,” he added.

    Explaining why he is so committed to helping changed values in Hollywood, Baehr said, “Never before in history has one group — some 300 key players — had the tools to press so dramatically their interpretation of values, truth and cultural standards on the whole of global society.”

    “It is nearly impossible to underestimate the influential power of film and television,” says Baehr. “While its gross annual budget is a relatively small $55 billion, its product is so pervasive that the average American teenager spends twice as much time watching the screen as going to school. And if the sheer volume of influence were not enough, even more disturbingly, this target audience of young people does not begin to have the cognitive skills to separate reality from fantasy when they are exposed to a celluloid murder rate 1500% higher than reality, and 18,000 references to sex each year.”

    He went on to say, “The raging river of films and television programming has chaotically eroded societal quality in America and is even more aggressively destroying cultures all around the world. Today the worst film and television’s violence and sex offerings are quickly sent overseas, where the shock of the sexual acts attracts hordes of paying customers, and little dubbing is needed for an action hero to kill dozens of enemies in a few moments of special effects.”

    That is why he tirelessly lobbies industry leaders to try to stem that tide and to also point out that family entertainment makes economic sense.

    Baehr noted in 1985 a need to help advise parents — he is a husband and father of four children — and people concerned about morality in movies, so he began publishing MOVIEGUIDE, which reviews all movies from a biblical perspective. “MOVIEGUIDE informs Christians so they can be wise consumers, and presents a report card that includes the motion picture industry,” he said. “The report card has two elements: the written review, which gives them an insight into the concerns of Christians and the economic analysis.”

    Dr. Baehr also presents MOVIEGUIDE on radio heard by approximately 3 million people each week on Christian radio stations in the United States. MOVIEGUIDE is also available on the Internet at:> and on television on TBN, AIN, and many independent TV stations.

    For further information on the Christian Film & Television Commission or MOVIEGUIDE, write: 2510 G Las Posa Road, Suite 502, Camarillo, CA 93010, USA.

    Dan Wooding is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times.) Wooding is also the author of some 34 books, a syndicated columnist and a commentator on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC.

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