Christian Retailing

Funny woman Anita Renfroe delivers high-seas laughs Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 02:25 PM America/New_York

Latest comedy DVD recorded live during a cruise

ImNotHighMaintenanceBest-selling author and speaker Anita Renfroe offers her humorous observations on topics such as kids, vacations and accidental cell-phone dialing in her upcoming home-video release, I’m Not High Maintenance, Just Low Tolerance (622306019397, $14.99) available June 24 from Crown Entertainment.

The release was recorded live in a crowded theater on a cruise ship event, offering a unique setting, but also presenting its own particular circumstances. 

“Although the sea was calm during the first part of taping, occasionally, during the second half, I had to take a step back,” Renfroe told Christian Retailing. “You could see the curtains moving a bit.” 

The location provided a chance for Renfroe to discuss taking vacations with family and the difference in the way men and women pack for a trip. 

“Guys always talk about women packing, but we have a lot of different options to consider, like what color we might feel like on a given day,” she said. “Guys don’t pack emotionally.” 

Although not limited in her appeal to women, Renfroe admits her comedy is flavored from personal experiences. She hopes that all viewers will appreciate the observations she makes. 

“My comedy is female-slanted because I’m female,” she said. “I would rather people laugh because I’m talking about something familiar to them, not because they think I’m clever or hip or happening. I love the fact that laughter allows us to unite rather than highlight our differences.”

On the new release, Renfroe also offers an updated version of her hit “The Mom Song,” complete with rapping, and other songs about topics as diverse as fiber and the Psalms of David. 

The Psalms tune is “about this fictional company, House of David Publishing, where I talk about how David, when he wrote the psalms, didn’t realize he would be ripped off by all these worship leaders,” she said. 

Renfroe draws inspiration from her own life experiences, which she fleshes out before sharing with audiences. 

“Most of the time, a one-liner turns into five minutes of comedy when I think about it,” she said. “These are things that just keep happening in life. Humor is universal.” 

To order I’m Not High Maintenance, visit or call 866-791-0504.

‘Acts of God’ tackles difficult question of pain and suffering Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:47 PM America/New_York

Former Southeast Christian pastor Bob Russell calls his new movie ‘very realistic and heavy’

ActsofGodFour intertwined stories tackle the question of God and human suffering in the Acts of God movie (9781939622181, $14.99, April 15), featuring nationally known pastor and speaker Bob Russell. In the film, seven people are pulled together unexpectedly through a terrible accident and their honest struggle as they ask God why it happened. 

“The concept originated with City on a Hill Productions in Louisville, [Ky.],” Russell told Christian Retailing. “They have done so much great work and Trinity Broadcasting approached them [saying] that they would like to have a movie about why God permits so much suffering in the world. City on a Hill then approached me and asked if I would work with them on this.”

Russell, who also plays a part in the movie, uses the story of Joseph in teaching DVDs and a companion book coming from Moody Publishers to explore the topic of suffering. He’s quick to point out the movie should not be thought of as “entertainment,” but that he hopes it will provide some comfort to those who have experienced pain. 

“This is a very realistic and heavy film,” he said. “It’s not just a feel-good or hokey movie. People going through suffering don’t need a theological [discourse]. They need personal touch. They need to know they’re not alone, that someone else came out the other side and still believes in God.”

The film was screened in theaters prior to its DVD debut, and reactions have been positive.

“People have come out of the movie and they say ‘Thank you, I had a son who was killed in an auto accident,’ ” Russell said. “It is so real and so down to earth I think it’s going to help people.”

Besides giving solace to those who have experienced suffering and are dealing with questions of faith, Russell said the film’s other purpose is to give Christians “ammunition” for defending their faith. 

“The number-one question nonbelievers have is, ‘If there is a God, why is there suffering?’ ” he said. “Some churches are reluctant to deal with this because they don’t have all the answers, and this movie doesn’t have all the answers. But we have to believe that God’s Word is true, and God’s Word will prevail.”

Acts of God tops off a full line of ministry resources released in February. The components—a small group study, participant’s guide and pastor’s kit—may be used individually or together in a campaign.  

Visit or for more information. To order, call 502-245-2425, ext. 23.

VeggieTales characters set sights on final frontier Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 04:46 PM America/New_York

Latest episode will appeal to moms and dads trying to teach children to share and care

VeggiesinSpaceBoldly going where no Veggie has gone before, Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato hit light speed in the newest Veggie Tales release, Veggies in Space: The Fennel Frontier (820413137397, $14.95), arriving in Christian stores March 8 and at general market outlets March 11. 

The episode follows the crew of the USS Applepies, including Captain Cuke (Larry) and Mr. Spork (Bob), as they confront the selfish Luntar the Looter, a space pirate. It also includes the appearance of a new character, Ziggy, as the crew learns a valuable lesson about sharing and caring for one another. 

Mike Nawrocki, the voice of Larry and co-founder and executive vice president of Big Idea Entertainment, told Christian Retailing that the lesson of the DVD is based on Luke 3:11. 

“It’s a topic a lot of moms find helpful, the biblical perspective on sharing,” he said. “We wanted to incorporate it in the show. With each show, we offer a nugget of truth and this one is, ‘When you have enough to share, you have enough to spare.’ ”

 The episode features plenty of laughs, as the VeggieTales characters parody science-fiction epics such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Veggies in Space also features special music from Christian artist Jamie Grace, who delivers the closing credits song, “Enough to Share,” and “Asteroid Cowboys,” an addition to VeggieTales’ “Silly Songs.”

“It’s so much fun to have these songs that appear within the show and doing a fun pop version of those songs,” Nawrocki said. 

In addition to sing-along features for the songs, the DVD includes other bonus features such as a “Build your own spaceship” activity, interactive Veggie trivia and a discussion guide for parents to use with their little ones. There is also a behind-the-scenes video with Jamie Grace.

A few months ago, the VeggieTales brand celebrated 20 years of delivering biblically based fun for the young and young at heart. The original Veggie DVD, Where Is God When I’m Scared?, released in December 1993. 

“It really is amazing,” Nawrocki said. “We felt there was a big need to create shows that were very entertaining and helped parents pass along values to their children. We had no idea that it would last 20 years. We wanted to incorporate biblical values in our shows, remind kids that God made them special and that God loves them very much.”

Nawrocki said it’s a new experience now meeting fans who watched videos as children who are now introducing their own kids to Bob and Larry. 

“It’s really neat for me to see that next generation,” he said. “We just take this responsibility very seriously and look forward to the next generation.” 

While Big Idea continues to look ahead with more DVD releases such as the upcoming Celery Night Fever and Beauty and the Beat, Nawrocki is “hopeful” to do another theatrical release one day in the vein of Jonah or The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, and he’s grateful for VeggieTales supporters for creating a lasting legacy of fun, biblical lessons. 

“Every time we tell a story, we try to tell it well to incorporate the message, wrap the story around with great music,” he said. “The passion we have for storytelling has helped us last all these years. And we’re very thankful for our fans.”

To order Veggies in Space, call Word Distribution at 800-876-WORD (9673).

Hallmark Channel series features novelist Janette Oke’s fiction Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 04:54 PM America/New_York

Family-friendly feature-length western from Michael Landon Jr. based on popular cable TV show

WhenCallsTheHeartWhen Calls the Heart: Lost and Found (818728010740, $19.98) comes from the new Hallmark Channel TV series When Calls the Heart, based on Janette Oke’s best-selling books and produced and directed by Michael Landon Jr. A feature-length film based on the first two episodes of the show—which debuted to more than 3 million viewers and placed second for the night on all of cable television—released to stores on DVD for home-viewing last month.

The series tells the story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to high society before receiving her first assignment in a mining town. Lori Laughlin also stars as Abigail Stanton, a newly widowed housewife who must take up coal mining in order to provide for her family. Elizabeth charms most everyone in Coal Valley except Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) . He believes Thatcher’s wealthy father has doomed the lawman’s career by insisting he be assigned in town to protect the shipping magnate’s daughter. Living in a 19th-century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive on her own.

Landon has been in the film business for 25 years, earning two of the highest-rated films in Hallmark Channel history and having produced several notable releases well received in the Christian market.

Brian Bird, co-founder with Landon of Believe Pictures, serves as writer and producer of When Calls the Heart. Bird’s most recent projects include Gametime, a two-hour television pilot for NBC, the film adaptation of Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning and the T.D. Jakes-produced movie Not Easily Broken. He also was co-executive producer and writer on Touched by an Angel.

To order When Calls the Heart: Lost and Found, call Word Distribution at 800-876-WORD (9673).

Prodigal daughter aims for stardom in Hollywood Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 11:07 AM America/New_York

Christian retail exclusive content for ‘Grace Unplugged’ ponders faith-and-success question

GraceUnpluggedA daughter’s dreams of musical stardom lead her to a faith crossroads in Grace Unplugged, releasing Feb. 11 (031398181712, $24.99, Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions). 

Written and directed by Brad J. Silverman (No Greater Love), the film was produced by Russ Rice, Larry Frenzel (Courageous), Chris Zarpas and Robert Norton and executive-produced by Mark Burg, Larry Mestel and Dan Heffner. 

Amanda “AJ” Michalka (Super 8, The Lovely Bones) stars as Grace, along with James Denton (Desperate Housewives), Kevin Pollak (A Few Good Men), Michael Welch (Joan of Arcadia) and Shawnee Smith (The Secret Life of the American Teenager). 

In the film, Grace has higher hopes than singing in her church praise band. When her father (Denton) is offered a chance to relive his glory days as a pop singer, which he gave up when he became a Christian, Grace decides to take the option and run away to Los Angeles. But, as she climbs the ladder of success, she finds it harder to reconcile her faith with the new choices in her life. 

With music being the key theme, the film also offers appearances from Christian music stars Chris Tomlin, Jamie Grace and American Idol finalist Pia Toscano. Michalka, one half of the duo Aly & AJ, is featured on the film’s soundtrack, along with Tomlin, Grace, Colton Dixon, TobyMac, Josh Wilson and Shawn McDonald. 

“We love Grace Unplugged, an entertaining story of a talented teenager rising in the music industry who gets a chance to achieve her dreams, but realizes in the process the importance of family and her faith,” said Jason Constantine, Lionsgate president of acquisitions and co-productions. “While the story is specific to the world of music, the themes are universal to every family in this inspiring movie.”

When the film was shown in theaters in October, it received an A- from Cinema Score with 62% of viewers indicating interest in the DVD release.

The Christian-retail exclusive DVD release includes more than 40 minutes of additional content, including the featurette “Lights, Camera, Worship,” with a panel discussing whether or not a person has to abandon the faith in order to be successful. Other bonus content includes a “Behind the Music” featurette, bloopers and a making-of documentary. 

Visit or call 800-877-4443 to order Grace Unplugged.

DVD New Releases February 2014 Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 11:09 AM America/New_York

UphillBattleBridgestone Media Group releases Uphill Battle ($19.95) on Feb. 3. The 90-minute faith-based drama follows Erica Stratton, a woman recovering from a painful divorce working as an accountant. When she meets Michael, her ability to trust again is tested. The movie received five Doves from the Dove Foundation for ages 12 and up. It stars Shelby Smith, Nathan Petty, Keegan Steele, Aura Kenney and Chris Steele.


LoveologyJohn Mark Comer is featured on the new Zondervan video study Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. and the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female ($26.99), releasing Feb. 4. Through five sessions, the author speaks about relationships from the Garden of Eden until today, addressing some of the most frequently asked questions on relationships. Comer relates God’s original purpose for marriage and covers topics such as love, sex, romance and singleness. A study guide is also available.  


ActsOfGodStudySuffering is the topic explored in Acts of God Small Group Study, releasing this month from City on a Hill Studio. The cinematic, six-episode series offers insight and hope as Bob Russell, founding pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., relates the story of Joseph to the suffering people experience in life. The study, available for $69.99, includes the DVD, leader’s guide, leader’s DVD tutorial and participant’s guide. A pastor’s DVD kit will also be available March 6 for $19.99.