Hollywood Still Loving ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is widely recognized as one of the greatest movies of all time. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and took home one Oscar.

The American Film Institute (AFI) includes it on the list of the 100 best American films ever released. And it takes the top spot on AFI’s list of the most inspirational American films of all time.

Believe it or not, the movie was not initially well-received at the box office. But it ultimately became a seasonal must-see across the country, airing every Christmas Eve for decades.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is produced and directed by the great Frank Capra, who considered it the favorite among all of the cinematic works that he had directed.

As a matter of fact, Capra made it a point to screen it for his own family every single Christmas season.

Jimmy Stewart, one of the most beloved film actors in all of history, plays George Bailey, a man who one stark Christmas Eve questions whether his family and friends would have been better off had he never been born.

In his despondent state, he attempts to take his own life. A guardian angel, Clarence, played by Henry Travers, comes to the rescue. The angel shows George the way life would have played out for his wife Mary and for the people of the town of Bedford Falls, without his presence.

It all makes for a magical misty-eyed Christmas movie treasure.

In a 2003 book by Stephen Cox, which is titled “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Memory Book,” the legendary filmmaker indicates that he had a higher purpose in mind when he made the movie, which was “to combat a modern trend toward atheism.” Sadly relevant for today’s times.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” will no doubt air multiple times this year. But there will be a bit of an additional twist to the regular television lineup. A group of Hollywood actors will participate in a special table read of the classic script.

The live table read will honor the late Ed Asner, who passed away last summer. Proceeds will benefit The Ed Asner Family Center, which promotes mental health and enrichment programs to children with special needs and their families.

An all-star cast will be featured. Tom Bergeron will host the event. SNL alum Jason Sudeikis will take on the role of George Bailey. And Sudeikis’s real-life uncle, George Wendt (aka Norm on the classic sitcom “Cheers”), will play Bailey’s Uncle Billy.

The cast will also include Martin Sheen, Rosario Dawson, Kathy Bates, Mandy Patinkin, Ed Harris, Lou Diamond Phillips, Jean Smart, and Mark Hamill.

One memorable line that occurs near the end of Capra’s iconic Christmas movie is delivered via angel Clarence.

“Each man’s life touches so many other lives,” Clarence explains. “When he [Bailey] isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

If you or members of your family haven’t connected yet with this precious part of Americana, put this one under the tree for your Christmas viewing pleasure.

Catch the film as it airs this season on TV, streaming, and on your favorite on-demand platforms.

And believe the words of the angel. Each one of our lives matters.

Mark Wahlberg Teams up with Mel Gibson for Faith-based Film ‘Stu’

Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson are starring in an upcoming faith-based movie titled “Stu,” a biopic on the life of a man who was a boxer, actor, museum manager, and ultimately an ordained Catholic priest.

The main character in the film, Father Stuart Long, was affectionately known as “Father Stu,” hence the movie title.

Wahlberg began working on the project two years following the passing of Father Stu in 2014. The upcoming feature was financed in part by Wahlberg himself and is currently in post production.

Wahlberg plays the lead role, and Gibson plays the part of Father Stu’s dad, Bill Long.

It makes all the sense in the world for Wahlberg to pursue a faith-oriented project. He once told Parade Magazine that faith was “the most important part” of his life.

In reference to this faith, he stated, “I don’t try to push it on anybody and I don’t try to hide it.”

Father Stu’s real life story is an awe-inspiring one.

Although he himself was not Catholic, but rather an agnostic, he nevertheless attended a Catholic institution called Carroll College.

At one point he took up the sport of boxing and was adept enough at it to win the Montana Golden Gloves championship. However, as a result of a jaw injury that he suffered, he was forced to abandon the sport.

He ended up moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and was able to secure work as a movie extra and also did some advertisement spots.

It wasn’t long before he became disenchanted with the entertainment industry and decided to change direction. He began working at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, where he eventually rose to managerial level.

His chosen mode of transportation to and from work happened to be a motorcycle. One day while traveling home he collided with a car and was thrown headfirst into another vehicle in an adjacent lane.

It was there at the hospital that he would have a deeply profound religious experience, which would alter the course of his life forever.

Although at one point in life he had fallen in love with a Catholic Christian woman, as so frequently happens things would turn out quite differently than expected.

Once baptized in the Catholic faith, he began to feel a strong spiritual pull that would ultimately lead him to a priestly vocation. He took the necessary steps to pursue this calling.

While studying at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon, he was forced to undergo surgery to remove a tumor in his hip region. It was determined that he had a rare autoimmune disease called “inclusion body myositis,” which is an inflammatory degenerative muscle condition that causes weakening of the body’s musculature, similar to ALS.

Sadly, there is no effective course of treatment for the disease. By the time of his ordination in December 2007, due to the severity of his symptoms, he was already reliant on crutches to assist him in walking.

The cross he was carrying would become the blessing that would end up enhancing his pastoral capabilities.

As a cleric, Father Stu was simply remarkable.

He served as a priest for six short years, but the impression left on all those who were fortunate enough to be shepherded by him would be an indelible one.

Bishop George Thomas, now at the Diocese of Las Vegas, Nevada, was the bishop of Helena, Montana at the time, where Father Stu was serving as a priest.

Bishop Thomas recalls that Father Stu’s liturgy services were “deeply moving.”

The bishop describes the progression of the disease as well as the toll it took on Father Stu’s health and ability to perform his priestly duties.

He shares the story of a Mass for the students at Carroll College at which Father Stu presided, where the good father “was so weak at this stage that as he reads the Words of Institution [or Consecration] during the Mass, one of the students would take his hand and help lift up the Host.”

While in a rehabilitation facility, Father Stu took it upon himself to become a sort of in-house pastor. People would line up outside his room, waiting for the opportunity to seek his counsel or to receive the sacrament of absolution.

Participating in what would be the last Easter Vigil of his life, his condition was so weakened that attendance was only possible via a gurney. But there was no way he was going to miss the high holy day.

It turns out that Father Stu had another reason for being there, though – his most fervent prayers were about to be answered.

With tears running down his face, he watched as his own mother and father were baptized into his beloved faith.

Six years ago Wahlberg contacted Bishop Thomas to learn about Father Stu’s life and obtain the bishop’s approval for the project.

Bishop Thomas recounts the moment.

The actor’s words were short and sweet: “The Church has been through so much; I would like to do something beautiful for the Church.”

Lecrae: A Bright Light in the Hip Hop Music World

Lecrae Devaughn Moore, publicly known as Lecrae, is a pioneer and leading figure in the growing genre of gospel-hip hop. He is also well known for having secured a great degree of fame in the fields of singing, songwriting, record producing, acting, and filmmaking.

He has sold millions of albums and mixtapes and received numerous awards, including four Dove Awards and two Grammys. His third solo album, titled “Rebel,” was released in 2008 and quickly became the first Christian hip hop album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Gospel chart.

He has plenty of titles attached to his name, including president, co-owner, and co-founder of Reach Records, an independent record label, and co-founder of 3 Strand Films, a film production company.

Most refreshingly, he openly states that he views his music as an art that reflects his Christian faith.

He told the Houston Chronicle, “I try to be authentic… I know my roots are in hip hop, but faith is the bedrock that I stand on, and it’d be difficult for faith to not bleed through my music.”

Interestingly, in 2014 he was one of a number of plaintiffs who sued pop singer Katy Perry, claiming that she had pilfered their intellectual property for her hit tune “Dark Horse.”

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants, including Perry, had used Lecrae’s song “Joyful Noise” without having had permission to do so.

The suit further alleged that Perry had “irreparably tarnished” the devoutly religious message of the original song by associating it with “witchcraft, paganism, black magic, and Illuminati imagery.”

When the case went to trial in 2019, a jury came to a verdict that Perry and the other defendants were liable, and the amount of damages were determined to be nearly $2.8 million. However, Perry appealed, and in 2020 a judge overruled the jury’s verdict.

Lecrae is an advocate for personal responsibility in general, and fatherhood in particular. He even partnered with NBA star Dwayne Wade in a multimedia initiative called “This is Fatherhood.”

He recounts his own conversion story in his autobiographical book titled “I Am Restored: How I lost my religion but found my faith.” It hit the shelves in October 2020.

He shares how he did not know his own father as a youngster. Rather, he was raised by a single mother in South Houston. And although he attended church with his Christian grandmother, he failed to embrace her religious faith.

He told Christianity Today that his father “fell victim to…incarceration and drugs and different issues in his life.”

He also shared that his uncles “were all 10 years older…and were gang members and drug dealers…were some of my role models…”

He suffered “physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse. And so I just had a lot of dysfunction in my childhood.”

Lecrae sank to the depths of dealing drugs for a living. His loving grandmother had given him a Bible, and despite his disbelief in the Holy Scripture he brought it along with him for good luck.

This fortuitous practice ended up playing a pivotal role the day he was arrested on drug charges. After the police officer noticed the Bible, he let Lecrae go free on the condition that the young man would promise to live by the Good Book.

His mother had encouraged him to read his Bible, but he had expressed antipathy for the Word, even ripping out pages and defiantly tossing the book on the floor.

At the age of 17, a cloud of darkness hung over his life, which led him to feel as though he had reached a dead end.

As a result of his grandmother’s influence, he began attending church. A young woman with whom he had attended high school happened to be present. She invited him to a Bible study.

It was here that he would meet his future bride Darragh, who would also go on to become the mother of his three children.

It was also here that he would meet his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Pastor James White was talking about how Christians are purchased through the suffering of Christ. As Lecrae recalls it, White posed the question, “Do you know you have been bought with a price?”

It made him think, “Somebody thinks I’m significant enough to die for me. Someone thinks I’m significant enough to climb up this mountain with a cross on his back, to take nails in his wrists and his feet…for me.”

He sent up a prayer. “God get me out of this, don’t kill me; do whatever you have to do to get me out of this, just don’t kill me,” he pleaded.

As so often is the case, his prayer was answered in a most unexpected manner. While driving on a highway, he took a turn too fast and his car went into a roll. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

The roof and windshield of the car were crushed, and his glasses were pressed into the frame of the car. Miraculously, he not only survived, he was able to walk away unharmed.

The incident convinced him that it was time to commit his life to the one who had paid the price.

Lecrae’s most recent project is the launching of a web series called “Protect The Bag,” the goal of which is to teach financial literacy and provide education to a younger generation of individuals, enabling them to learn how to build and protect their own financial assets.

With regard to the project, he shared the following in a statement: “I am on a mission to spread the word on financial education because when I was growing up, I wasn’t educated about money or budgeting and had to learn a lot about it the hard way.”

The internet series features celebrities such as Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Locket, Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., and former NBA player Kyle Korver.

C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Conversion on Stage and at the Cineplex

Iconic British writer and theologian Clive Staples Lewis, a.k.a. C.S. Lewis, is best known for his literary works of fiction, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” which have been adapted for radio, television, stage, and cinema. However, he is also greatly revered in the academic world, having taught at Oxford and Cambridge.

For Christians and other faith-filled people, though, he is highly regarded as being one of the most influential Christian thinkers and writers on record, particularly for his non-fiction masterpieces “Mere Christianity” and “The Problem of Pain.”

Remarkably, in his early days, and for a sizable segment of his adult life, he was a committed atheist, a belittler of religion in general, and a denigrator of Christianity in particular.

His personal story of how he went from atheist to skeptic to believer is so compelling that a new film, “The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis,” has made its debut, and the movie has been so successful that both the number of screens and showings have been expanded to meet the demand.

The new C.S. Lewis movie is produced by the Fellowship for Performing Arts and distributed by Trafalgar Releasing, a specialist in event-oriented films. In what was originally scheduled to be a one-night only showing, the biopic brought in $2,863 per-screen, which quickly prompted the expansion.

The film is based upon the one-person play “C.S. Lewis on Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert,” which stars Max McLean. The brilliant stage presence has been honing his portrayal of Lewis’s persona for years with performances in 64 cities, on numerous college campuses, and in an extended run in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

McLean is the lead character and narrator of the movie version of Lewis’s story, a film project in which the skillfully written screen adaptation penned by McLean transforms the play into a fully cast cinematic production.

The real life Lewis was no doubt a strong willed individual. When he was four-years-old, his dog Jacksie was hit by a car and killed. In his grief, Lewis took his dog’s name as his own and refused to answer to any other name, including his given one, Clive. The Jacksie nickname eventually contracted to Jack, and it stuck with Lewis for the rest of his life.

After the untimely loss of his mother at the age of nine, he had to endure a strained relationship with his father. Lewis went on to attend a prep school during adolescence, where he fell away from his faith, became an atheist, and developed a fascination with European mythology and, most unfortunately, the occult.

At the impressionable age of 19, he, like many of his peers, would find himself thrust into the brutal trenches of World War I. He served in France, where atheism would sadly be firmly planted in his susceptible mind.

He himself was wounded during the war, and two of his colleagues were killed by a British shell that fell short of its target.

As he later wrote, and as his character gives testimony to in the film, he came to believe that there was either “no god behind the universe, a god who is indifferent to good and evil, or worse, an evil god.”

He nevertheless continued to be haunted by deficiencies within the philosophical reasoning of pure materialism since, within this ideological framework, free will, rational thought, and/or intelligibility must be merely haphazard processes of “random atoms bouncing together in a skull.”

He also vividly recalled a book that he had read at age 16, penned by the Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister George MacDonald. MacDonald’s “Phantastes” is a work that Lewis mystically characterized as having “baptized my imagination.”

He developed a providential friendship with fellow Oxford faculty member and novelist J. R. R. Tolkien of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” fame. They were both part of the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings.”

Inklings founder, philosopher, author, poet, and critic Owen Barfield also had a profound influence on Lewis, so much so that Lewis dedicated his book, “Allegory of Love,” to his friend. He also dedicated his first “Narnia” chronicle to Barfield’s adopted daughter Lucy, and additionally dedicated “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” to Barfield’s son Geoffrey.

It was Barfield, Tolkien, and fellow Inkling Hugo Dyson who slowly nudged Lewis toward a theistic belief system, despite Lewis’s “kicking, struggling, … darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape.”

After a fateful late night walk and conversation with Tolkien and Dyson, Lewis finally surrendered, humbling himself before the Creator.

As Lewis wrote in his book “Surprised by Joy,” “That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

Three years later Lewis moved beyond mere theism, rediscovered the Christianity of his childhood, and completely committed himself to Christ. This took place while he and his brother were on their way to the zoo, Lewis seated in the sidecar of his brother’s motorbike.

“When we set out I did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and when we reached the zoo I did.” Lewis says in the play and the film.

The extraordinary and inspiring story of this powerful pilgrimage to God is tenderly told in “The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis.”

Tickets to the big-screen release are available at cslewismovie.com, and the play can be streamed on the Internet.

Well worth the investment of mind, heart, and soul.

Tim Allen No Longer Buzz Lightyear’s Voice

Tim Allen is an actor-comedian who has taken his fame to stratospheric heights with successful roles in the “Toy Story” franchise, the “Santa Clause” movie series, and numerous other films, including “Galaxy Quest,” “Wild Hogs,” and “The Shaggy Dog.”

He made the scene on the small screen as well with roles that include Tim “The Toolman” Taylor on the ABC sitcom “Home Improvement” and Mike Baxter on the ABC (and more recently Fox) sitcom “Last Man Standing.”

Tim sort of began his career when he accepted a dare from a friend. He took to the stage at a suburban Detroit comedy club.

In the late 1970s, his life trajectory would take a dark and devastating turn, though. He got arrested on drug charges, and after agreeing to a plea deal ended up serving two years and four months in a federal prison.

Following his release from prison in 1981, he moved to Los Angeles. It was here that he became a regular performer at the legendary Comedy Store and began pursuing what would eventually blossom into an extraordinary career in the entertainment business.

Tim’s success really reached a pinnacle in 1994, when he starred in what at the time turned out to be the highest-grossing film for Disney, “The Santa Clause.” He simultaneously topped the New York Times bestseller list with his book “Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man” and additionally held the lead role in the top-rated TV sitcom “Home Improvement.”

What makes it all truly remarkable is that these once in a lifetime successes took place within the span of a single week.

Fast forward to the present and devoted “Toy Story” fans can be seen seriously trying to cope with the recent decision on Disney’s part to exclude Tim from its upcoming “Toy Story” spinoff.

Fittingly titled “Lightyear,” the upcoming movie delves into the origins of Tim’s beloved Buzz Lightyear character.

In all of the previous “Toy Story” films, Tim plays the voice of Buzz Lightyear, most recently starring in 2019’s “Toy Story 4.” He is without a doubt the voice most associated with the endearing character and as such has been an integral part of the “Toy Story” brand for almost three decades.

So from a business perspective, it makes no sense for entertainment executives to avoid using the actor who helped place the “Toy Story” franchise in a position where a spinoff could actually be a feasible option.

Disney’s move to replace Tim’s voice with that of “Captain America” actor Chris Evans has prompted tons of discussion on social media, questioning whether Tim’s removal was politically motivated.

Tim, who is known to have taken right-of-center positions on a number of occasions, may be experiencing a severe déjà vu, because it sure seems like this drama has played out before.

After six successful seasons, his sitcom “Last Man Standing” was inexplicably canceled in 2017 by the Disney owned ABC television network, despite it having been one of the most popular shows on air at the time. It consistently brought in strong ratings in a very difficult time slot, too.

On the show, Tim plays the role of a dad with conservative leanings who retains his manhood in a household filled with females of the wife and daughters kind. The lead character is apparently loosely based on Tim’s own real life experiences as a father of three girls.

Even though questions were raised publicly about the motivation behind ABC’s abrupt cancellation, the network brass was unable to come up with a reasonable explanation for its decision.

As if to underscore what appeared to be an absurd cancellation, Fox television network saw fit to pick up the show and allow it to continue to be aired.

This time around, though, it is Disney division Pixar that seems to once again be making a bizarre business decision, leaving the public to assume it may have been made for the wrong reasons.

Why would an individual with an instantly recognizable voice, who had helped to establish a franchise that had brought in hundreds of millions of dollars, be removed from the spinoff? It truly makes no sense.

In an attempt to explain away the snub, Tim’s detractors have concocted an excuse that the reason Disney has given Tim the cold shoulder is because the film is actually the origin story about the “real” Buzz Lightyear.

Trade magazine Variety explains away the miscasting with the narrative that the spinoff “doesn’t follow the toy-sized, space-faring exploits of Tim Allen’s iconic character. Rather, the 2022 film introduces the ‘real-life’ human astronaut whose adventures inspired the toy line seen in the ‘Toy Story’ franchise.”

Tim has the unique ability to deal with the entertainment industry’s erratic ups and downs, due to something that developed during his maturing process – his faith.

Like so many others, he revealed that he was a reluctant convert.

“For years, I just did not like this idea of God, church,” he said. “(I was) still a churchgoer, but constantly a cynic.”

He discovered a unique manner in which he could approach and actually acknowledge the existence of the Creator. He refers to God as “The Builder.”

He came to the realization that his own existence, and that of the world, wasn’t happenstance.

“Whoever built me, this is too much, too weird that it happened by accident,” Tim said.

He continues to seek guidance from above to determine his life’s direction.

“I always do ask… The Builder, what did you want me to do?” Tim explains. “And I do ask…”

Wise words from a man who keeps on building.

Candace Cameron Bure: A Mom with a Message

Candace Cameron Bure is a highly successful actress, producer, author, and talk show panelist.

Her acting career began at the age of 5 when she appeared in national ads. She soon moved on to television where she had guest spots on major dramas and sitcoms, including “St. Elsewhere,” “Alice,” and “Who’s the Boss?”

She was also a cast member in the film “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

At the age of 11, Candace landed the role that would skyrocket her career. She became one of the co-stars of the 1980s mega-hit television series “Full House.”

Her TV persona D.J. Tanner was the oldest of three sisters in a family in which the mother had tragically passed away and the father was left with the daunting task of raising his children solo. It wouldn’t be long, though, before Dad would have help from two buddies that would step up and assist him in escorting the young ones through life’s travails.

“Full House” would in no way be the end of the Hollywood road for Candace. She would go on to have multiple starring roles on the Hallmark Channel, especially during the Christmas season, as well as playing the main character in the network’s film adaptation of the Aurora Teagarden books.

She had a stint as co-host of the daytime television talk show “The View,” was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” where she secured a third-place win, and had a starring role in a comedy-drama TV series called “Make It or Break It.”

In 2016, she played a grown-up version of her D.J. Tanner character in a reboot of the original “Full House,” titled “Fuller House,” which aired on Netflix for five seasons.

Candace is the daughter of a talent manager mother and a gym teacher father. Her brother is former TV sitcom actor and Christian film pioneer Kirk Cameron, who also gained fame with the 1980s TV sitcom “Growing Pains” as well as the end times “Left Behind” film series.

As destiny would have it, her “Full House” co-star Dave Coulier enjoyed playing ice hockey in his spare time. One day he invited Candace to a charity hockey game in which he was participating. He introduced her to a professional NHL player named Valeri Bure, and a romance ensued. The two dated, quickly realized that they were meant to be together, and married shortly thereafter.

After the nuptials, Valeri sent Coulier a hockey stick that was inscribed with the following words: “Dear Dave, thank you for Candace.”

The Bures’s marriage is one of those precious rarities within the celebrity world. Candace credits her Christian faith for their marital bliss. They have been blessed with a daughter and two sons.

Never hesitant in being forthcoming about her fundamental beliefs, Candace recently shared her feelings about the attitudes that she so often encounters within the entertainment industry as a result of her faith-centered worldview. A TikTok video was her chosen mode of expression.

The video is captioned, “When you’re conservative in Hollywood.”

Lip-syncing to a music video, she mouths, “Is it me? Am I the drama? I don’t think I’m the drama. Maybe I am. Am I the villain? I don’t think I’m the villain.”

On another occasion, she used social media to convey her opinion about the mandates that have been imposed on people to make them take coronavirus injections.

“This is not about what I am against. This is what I am FOR,” she wrote on Instagram. The post was accompanied by a graphic that contained the following message: “I’m not anti-V, I’m just pro-medical freedom.”

Candace encouraged viewers to “Read and understand the distinction.” She then posted a timely line that may serve as an inspiration and may potentially give voice to other moms.

“This mama is holding the line and standing up for freedom,” she wrote, adding, “This should not separate us. We can have different opinions and still respect and love one another. Be bigger than that!”

In the Instagram post, she also shared a series of pictures that were captioned with the words “pro-informed consent,” “pro-immune system,” “pro-early intervention,” and “pro-sunlight, exercise, real food and vitamins.”

Candace has received support in the form of “likes” from several celebrities, including her “Full House” dad Bob Saget as well as “The Wonder Years” actress Danica McKellar.

In 2019, Candace talked with “The Pure Flix Podcast” about the origins of her faith.

She began attending church at the age of 12. Going to a house of worship helped her parents reconcile during a rough patch. Simultaneously, it would introduce a young Candace to the Lord. She would ultimately mature into the fullness of her relationship with God.

“I became a Christian by asking God to be my Lord and Savior at 12 years old … but it didn’t become my own until I was in my early 20s,” Candace said.

After she had children of her own, her priorities changed. She started to read the Bible and attend church frequently.

“It was then that I saw myself as a sinner in need of … Jesus’ saving grace,” she explained. “And I never got that before … because I thought I was such a good person.”

She found herself saying a prayer that still directs her faith walk.

“I prayed that day when literally the light bulb went off in my head,” she said. “I prayed, ‘God, please do not let this fire ever go out from under me.’”

Her prayer was no doubt answered and burns ever brightly for all to see.

Joe Rogan Verbally Spars with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta

Actor, comedian, TV personality, UFC color commentator, and podcast host Joe Rogan has achieved a level of success in life to which very few can lay claim.

His entertainment industry profile reads like a Hollywood dream sheet. He has been a comedy specials creator and host of the popular reality series “Fear Factor.” Most currently, he has put together what may arguably be deemed the most successful podcast in the world.

Back in his early teens Rogan developed an interest in martial arts. His first martial art was Taekwondo. He would go on to earn the title of Massachusetts full-contact state champion for four consecutive years.

At one time he thought he might become a professional kickboxer. Instead he took on the role of stand-up comic, which eventually propelled him to the stage at The Comedy Store in Hollywood.

Rogan had some acting roles too, including being part of the NBC sitcom “NewsRadio” cast. It was here that he would become friends with fellow “NewsRadio” cast member Phil Hartman.

During a discussion between the two, Hartman shared with Rogan that he was experiencing some difficulties in his marriage. On numerous occasions, Rogan tried to convince the SNL standout that it might be better for him if he left his wife.

Hartman failed to accept Rogan’s advice, saying that he wanted to remain in the marriage for the sake of the children. No one could have known about the tragedy that awaited. In 1998 Hartman’s life would end at the hands of his wife.

The loss of his friend deeply impacted Rogan, and he canceled a series of performances that had been scheduled. But time heals and spirits are renewed.

He would later secure the role of backstage and post-fight interviewer for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). An eventual friendship with UFC president Dana White afforded him the opportunity to earn the post of color commentator for the fights. Four times he would be named MMA Personality of the Year by the World MMA Awards.

Rogan started hosting the NBC show “Fear Factor” in 2001. He continued to do stand-up performances even as he carried out his host duties on “Fear Factor,” which went on for six straight seasons, with a seventh season airing years later in 2011.

A very busy man, he would become co-host of Comedy Central’s “The Man Show” in 2003.

At the end of 2009, he ventured into the podcasting world with a fellow comedian named Brian Redban. The title of the podcast would later be whittled down to a single host’s name. It rose to fame and lives on as “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

The podcast features an interview format on a wide variety of topics, with a special emphasis on politics, philosophy, and news. It was first picked up by SiriusXM Satellite Radio and later by Spotify in a record breaking $100 million deal.

Most recently, Rogan became the unfortunate target of the cancel culture crowd.

His crime? Asking questions about vaccine mandates and COVID therapies. And having the gall to have expert guests appear on his show to explain their positions.

After Rogan himself tested positive for COVID-19, he chose to use Ivermectin as part of a therapy to regain his health. CNN anchors, including Jim Acosta, Brian Stelter, Erin Burnett, and Jim Sciutto, went on the attack and attempted to smear and denigrate him.

CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta made an appearance on Rogan’s podcast. It was here that Rogan took the opportunity to confront the guest regarding the network’s false characterization of Ivermectin, which Rogan had used to facilitate his recovery. CNN had labeled the medication a “horse dewormer.”

“It’s a lie,” Rogan said during the interview. “It’s a lie on a news network … and it’s a lie that they’re conscious of. It’s not a mistake. They’re unfavorably framing it as veterinary medicine.”

He asserted that CNN mischaracterized a drug that has been “given out to billions and billions of people.”

Part of Rogan’s appeal is just this – people love his blunt approach.

Gupta quickly found out that Rogan was not going to mince words during the interview.

“Why would they lie and say that’s horse dewormer?” Rogan asked Gupta. “Don’t you think that a lie like that is dangerous on a news network when you know that they know they’re lying? … Do you think that that’s a problem that your news network lies?”

Like a fighter who out-maneuvers his opponent, Rogan further drove his point home, emphasizing that CNN is Gupta’s employer.

“Does it bother you that the network you work for out and out lied, just outright lied about me taking horse dewormer?” Rogan grilled Gupta.

Finally Gupta conceded, using the phrase “they shouldn’t have said that.”

As for Rogan, the round continued with him landing some additional verbal punches.

“Why did they do that?” Rogan asked.

“I don’t know,” Gupta responded.

“You didn’t ask [CNN management]? You’re the medical guy over there!” Rogan pointed out.

The now very uncomfortable Gupta admitted that he should have asked.

It was then that Rogan, having transformed into a media critic, moved the focus to the central issue; that is, the responsibility and credibility of Gupta’s network.

“My point is you’re working for a news organization,” he said.

Rogan added the following flurry: “If they’re lying about a comedian taking horse medication, what are they telling us about Russia? What are they telling us about Syria? Do you understand that that’s why people get concerned about the veracity of the news?”

With that, the interview effectively ended with what in Rogan’s former profession is called – a technical knockout.