Kelsey Grammer to Star in ‘Jesus Revolution’

Filmmaking is a collaborative art form. If the right team members are assembled for a given project and all set the bar high, the odds of success increase.

However, hard work and sheer desire to succeed are not enough to secure the ultimate goal. It also takes a high degree of skill and natural talent to make for movie magic.

An upcoming project titled “Jesus Revolution” appears to have an exceptional combination.

The script tells the true story of the “Jesus movement,” the 1960s youth-oriented embrace of Christianity that began in a small community of Southern California hippies and ultimately wrapped its arms around the globe.

Little could the affectionately termed “Jesus freaks” have known at the time that they would spark a national religious awakening, one that continues to this very day.

Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn have penned the movie script and Erwin will also direct. This is the same Erwin who directed the hit films “I Can Only Imagine” and “American Underdog.”

Brent McCorkle will co-direct, and Jon and brother Andrew Erwin will serve as producers, along with Kevin Downes, Josh Walsh, and Daryl Lefever.

The movie will feature six-time Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer in the starring role. Kelsey will portray the late great founding pastor of the Calvary Chapel churches, Chuck Smith.

The beloved Pastor Chuck was a valuable mentor to a young hippie of the era named Greg Laurie, who currently serves as senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship. Joel Courtney will portray Laurie in the film.

While on a search for the truth, Laurie meets fellow hippie Lonnie Frisbee (to be played by Jonathan Roumie of “The Chosen” fame). Frisbee is a street preacher.

Laurie and Frisbee team up with Pastor Chuck, who opens his small Southern California church to a generation of young seekers, unexpectedly igniting a spiritual phenomenon of which the Bible is, and remains, the central focus. Contemporary Christian music plays an integral role in stirring the hearts of young people and elevating the worship experience.

Kelsey is joined in “Jesus Revolution” by Anna Grace Barlow (appearances in “Supernatural” and “The Big Leap”). Barlow plays Laurie’s friend Cathe. The lead actor’s experience and recognition from portraying the character of Dr. Frasier Crane for 20 years on two hit television shows, the first of which was “Cheers” and the second being the “Cheers” spin-off “Frasier,” will be of great help to the viability of the project.

“In his iconic performances, Kelsey has a proven ability to connect with audiences in a real, vulnerable way, which will make him a tremendous presence in this film,” Jon Erwin stated.

Kelsey’s movie career includes roles in franchise films such as “Transformers” and “X-Men.”

His inimitable voice can be heard as Sideshow Bob in “The Simpsons” and as Stinky Pete in “Toy Story 2.”

He is the first actor ever to be nominated for multiple Emmy awards for his portrayal of the same character on three different television shows (“Cheers,” “Frasier,” and “Wings”). His trophy shelf includes six Emmy awards (five primetime and one daytime Emmy).

Classically trained, Kelsey studied at Juilliard. Prior to his TV and movie career, his stage performances included Broadway roles in “Macbeth” and “Othello.”

Kelsey also has his own production company, Grammnet Productions, which produced his award-winning television series “Boss,” as well as additional TV programs that include “Medium,” “Girlfriends,” and “The Game.”

The road to all this amazing success has been a highly bumpy one for Kelsey. He was only two years old when his parents divorced. He and his younger sister were raised by his mother and maternal grandparents.

At he age of 12, cancer took the life of his father figure, Kelsey’s grandpa.

At the age of 14, he had to endure hearing the tragic news that his father had been murdered during a home invasion.

In 1975, his sister was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in Colorado.

Five years later his two teenage half-brothers died from a shark attack while scuba diving.

In 2008, he would suffer a heart attack.

And in 2010, a miscarriage would cause further heartache for him and his family.

Having to deal throughout life with the cumulative magnitude of tragedy eventually led Kelsey to seek out ways to alleviate his pain. Like so many others, addictive substances would lure him in. Thankfully, he was able to achieve sobriety once again through faith and rehabilitation.

“I just put [that pain] where it is: in the past. But it’s a pain that you can always stumble into again – it’s with you 24/7, especially in the case of tragic death, and there have been a few of those,” Kelsey shared. “It’s just part of life. Maybe I learnt a little earlier than most, but it’s just the way it goes.”

He describes himself as a “failing Christian.” In his words, “As a Christian, we always fail because we can’t become Christ. But I can try at least to emulate the best qualities, even if I may fall short.”

“Jesus has been a profound influence in my life. I am proud to be a part of this film,” he said.

A man of faith, the actor finds inspiration in his involvement with the “Jesus Revolution” project.

People of faith who await the movie’s release look forward to the same.

The Jesus Music’ Film and the Preacher Men Who Paved the Way

Chuck Smith and Billy Graham are two giants of the Christian world who have already gone to their eternal reward.

Interestingly, these prominent pastors play starring background roles in the tale about the origin of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), a story that is deftly told in the newly released film “The Jesus Music.”

The movie takes viewers back to the birthplace of the CCM genre, from its humble origins to the multi-billion-dollar phenomenon that it is today.

CCM is currently tracked by multiple Billboard music charts, and top-selling CCM artists appear on the Billboard 200 as well.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, numerous leaders of the Christian community had an earnest desire to keep contemporary musicians and their attendant gear away from Christian houses of worship, despite the fact that the songs routinely contained inspirational lyrics.

The actions of Chuck and Billy changed the minds, and ultimately the policies, of many church officials, which ended up opening doors for CCM’s growth.

All things worked together to assist in the creation of styles of worship music that were friendly and familiar to church-goers of all types, but particularly to a younger demographic on a quest to satisfy the soul.

It didn’t take long for new Christian artists to be given radio play on stations across the nation.

Flower children who had been alienated by the dead-end drug scene of the 1960s set out on a search to find life’s meaning.

While on the time-honored journey, some found their way to the then-newly formed Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, which was located in Orange County, California.

It was here that they met Chuck, the founder and pastor, who in his inimitable way would teach them about the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Those who have had their own chance meetings with Pastor Chuck know quite well about his love for surfing, which sprang from his unabashed love of God’s creation.

He had an exquisitely simple and direct way of teaching the Bible to the thirsty, a verse-by-verse approach that appealed to truth seekers.

As Calvary Chapel grew, so did the budding “Jesus Movement.”

Rock, folk, and pop instrumentation became a distinctive part of the Christian revival that was going on.

The famed Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park in Orange County, California would be the site of the first Christian music festival to take place.

Pastor Chuck also launched a record label in 1971 called Maranatha! Music. It featured hymns, worship songs, and a variety of Christian compositions that helped propel the CCM genre.

In 1972 a game-changing music festival called the “Dallas Explo” (meaning spiritual explosion) took place at the Cotton Bowl, with 85,000 young people in attendance.

The festival, which became known as “Godstock,” had on its bill country music superstars Johnny Cash, Rita Coolidge, and Kris Kristofferson.

Billy was the featured preacher for the event, which conferred an aura of legitimacy to the CCM amalgam of rock, folk, and pop music that had previously been ostracized by pastors.

When asked his opinion of the use of CCM in the church, the pastor to presidents noted that when his ministry first began using CCM music at some of his famous Crusades, it received a fair amount of criticism.

“Our goal was to make young people feel welcome so they would come and hear the Gospel—and over the years countless thousands came to Christ,” Billy said.

“As long as the music’s message was clear and biblical, God used it to help open the door to the preaching of the Gospel,” the evangelist added.

“The Jesus Music” film is directed by Jon and Andrew Erwin. The two are the filmmakers who had previously brought the faith-based blockbuster “I Can Only Imagine” to the screen.

The Erwin brothers are also behind the release of “I Still Believe,” as well as the upcoming “American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story.”

“The Jesus Music” features interviews with scores of the genre’s most popular artists, including MercyMe’s Bart Millard, Newsboys’ Russ Taff, CeCe Winans, Rebecca St. James, James’s brother Luke Smallbone of For King & Country, Bill Gaither, Steven Curtis Chapman, Eddie DeGarmo, Michael Tait, LeCrae, Amy Grant, Mandisa, Michael W. Smith, TobyMac, Kirk Franklin, and Lauren Daigle.

[Michael W.] Smith told Forbes. “I think you’re going to have 95-percent of people go, oh my gosh, I had no idea this was the catalyst that spurred the movement in the late 1960s. Vietnam, the drug evolution, civil unrest.”

Throughout the film, artists discuss the life-changing qualities that faith-based music can bring to those who make it, as well as those who hear it.

“This music offers people a sense of hope and a sense of togetherness and a sense of joy, maybe that they’ve not experienced,” musician Joel Smallbone (of the band For King & Country) says in the opening line of the trailer.

[Michael W.] Smith was surprised by the willingness of CCM artists who were interviewed to share personal feelings and experiences.

“Hearing the backstory of other artists … the struggle, the fight. What people have gone through, adversity, how they survived and how they came out on the other side of it,” he said to CBN.

At the Nashville premiere, TobyMac told Billboard, “Whenever you pull back the curtain on anything, things can be exposed — and because I know what’s behind this curtain, I’m happy for it to be pulled back.”

“The Jesus Music” was released this past weekend and is available only in select theaters.