How To Get Ahead In Hollywood (aka Maybe Those Roadshows Did Have Some Practical Value After All)
Posted by Shawn L on March 31, 2008
Surely this is one of the strangest aftershocks of the so-called ”Mitt Moment.”
Over the past several weeks and months, I’ve noticed an interesting trend: news reports in which young starlets confess to being a former Mormon. As a general rule, I have little to no interest in the rare intersection between our faith and celebrity. I’ve never speculated about the religious affiliation of Lionel Ritchie or Steve Martin, I swear (but did you hear about Rick Schroeder . . .) Apart from Brother Mitt, I cannot imagine why the long-since-abandoned faith of Hollywood movers and shakers is of general interest. And when stars talk about Mormonism, it generally never rises above Roseanne’s snide comments that “[t]he Mormons are the most fundamental of all the fundamentalists on earth.. they put the MENTAL in fundamental…” (emphasis in original).
This recent spate of stories, however, evidences a welcome change in tone. Perhaps the most widely-distributed stories deal with Katherine Heigl, star of TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and last summer’s comedy “Knocked Up.” Ms. Heigl (pictured above) — who apparently now smokes like a chimney — and her family converted to the Church when she was 7 years old. In a recent story, Ms. Heigl claimed she gave up activity in the Church because she “got really lazy.” However, rather than dissing, demonizing or dismissing Mormonism as a relic of her youth, Ms. Heigl took the time to pay us a compliment: “I still love the theology of the Mormon religion and I think it is a wonderful way to grow up.” This isn’t only instance where she has spoken highly of the Church. Here’s just one more example: In an interview with Glamour magazine (which does not necessarily look kindly on those of faith, other the Kabalah), Ms. Heigl said:
“I am really supportive of the Mormon church and so profoundly grateful for the childhood I had. It’s hard work to grow and change and be honest with yourself about your mistakes, and I think the Mormons handle that beautifully. The faith I grew up with has influenced every decision I’ve made in my life — well, except for the bad ones! . . . . I’ve always thought I would raise [my kids] Mormon because I had such a wonderful childhood. In today’s world you look around and the decisions 14-year-olds are making about sex just horrify me: I wasn’t thinking about any of that as a kid. So I’d like to give my children the same sense of security and ease.”
Two other actresses who have outted themselves as Jack Mormons are Amy Adams and Eliza Dushku. Ms. Adams, who received an Oscar nomination for her work in “Junebug” and who starred in last year’s “Enchanted,” grew up in a large Mormon family, but left the Church at age 11 when her parents divorced. While Ms. Adams doesn’t speak much about her time in the Church, she did have this to say in a recent interview with Time Out Chicago: ”Well, we stopped practicing at some point, but before that it was just somewhere you went on Sunday. I didn’t think of it as different. But there are values and teachings I take with me: don’t lie, observe the Golden Rule. I can’t even yell at a New York taxi driver without feeling like I have to apologize for losing my temper. “
Ms. DusHku, known to geeks worldwide as Faith from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” is a bit more interesting. To begin, she is the daughter of noted Mormon feminist and author Dr. Judith Dushku, a founder of Exponent II (see here for a profile in the Boston Globe). Plus, Ms. Dushku once told a reporter she had been “kicked out of Mormon girls’ camp for talking about seeing two men kiss.” In that same story, Ms. Dushku tells how her Mormon grandmother called Michael Ovitz to complain, “My 17-year-old granddaughter is naked on the television!” You can see video of Ms. Dushku talking about her “Mormon Posse” at the most recent Sundance Film Festival here.
So, what is the spiritual and eternal significance of all of this? Beats me. Its just refreshing — in the midst of the beating we have been getting in the press as a result of the Romney campaign — to hear someone, even if jits just a couple of actresses, saying a kind word in our defense. But sorry Sister Heigl, I still can’t bring myself to watch your show; I’m an “ER” man.