Art Moore entered the media world as a public relations assistant for the Seattle Mariners and a correspondent covering pro and college sports for Associated Press Radio. He reported for a Chicago-area daily newspaper and was senior news writer for Christianity Today magazine and an editor for Worldwide Newsroom before joining WND shortly after 9/11. He earned a master's degree in communications from Wheaton College.More ↓Less ↑
The producer of an upcoming animated Hollywood feature starring the creator of the universe, “The Ten Commandments,” claims Radio Disney censored the words “chosen by God” from a radio ad for the film.
Promenade Pictures founder and CEO Frank Yablans – a former partner of Walt Disney himself – told WND he had no choice but to go ahead with Radio Disney’s version of his ad after paying for the spot.
“I could go to jail for what I would like to do to them,” the studio pioneer said. “It’s just outrageous that in the United States of America they won’t allow the name of God.”
Radio Disney spokeswoman Patti McTeague insists the script change had nothing to do with censoring God. She told WND it was done to make the text understandable and because corporate policy requires including the name of the production company in any ad.
The line “Chosen by God” was replaced in the 30-second spot with the line “From Promenade Pictures.”
Asked to respond to Disney’s explanation, Yablans said, “They’re saying that now because they got caught with their fingers in the cookie jar.”
The non-profit Christian legal group Liberty Counsel announced today it has launched a petition drive to ask Radio Disney to “stop its ridiculous censorship of the word ‘God.’”
Yablans – formerly president of Paramount Pictures where he developed blockbusters such as “The Godfather” and “Chinatown” – said only Radio Disney has chosen to remove “God” from the “Ten Commandments” ads airing on various media outlets. The film opens in theaters Friday.
“If the script was suitable to everyone else, it was suitable to them,” he said.
Yablans, who co-founded Buena Vista Pictures with Walt Disney in the late 1950s, said the legendary Mickey Mouse creator would have fired the person who removed “God” from the ad.
“That’s for openers,” Yablans said. “Better yet, he never would have hired him.”
‘Chosen by God’
In an Oct. 2 e-mail obtained by WND, Radio Disney sales associate Jason Atkinson informed the media representative hired by Promenade, Casey Baker, that the network’s broadcast standards and practices department said scripts for the “Ten Commandments” radio spots should “omit the following line: CHOSEN BY GOD.”
Reached by telephone, Atkinson acknowledged he had heard something about the script change but said he was unsure of the details. When asked specifically about the e-mail he sent, Atkinson said, “I can’t comment.”
Radio Disney’s McTeague told WND that Promenade’s media buyer accepted the change and placed the spot.
“We don’t change the script for anybody,” she said. “We make suggested edits to comply with our guidelines.”
Nothing in the guidelines, she maintained, would require removing a reference to God.
After providing WND with Promenade’s original script, McTeague explained that the line “From Promenade Productions” needed to be included, and by inserting it in the place of “chosen by God,” it would help prevent confusion in the text. The lines before “chosen by God” listed four of the voice talents, she noted, and listeners mistakenly could take that to mean the actors, not Moses, were “chosen by God.”
Furthermore, the Radio Disney spokeswoman argued, a line by an actor portraying the voice of God remained in the spot.
The original script Promenade gave Radio Disney is as follows:
CMP HOME ENTERTAINMENT
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
NARR: ANDY GELLER
MUSIC: SCORE / 24 UNCOMMON HERO
“EPIC STORY – RADIO” (PRE-STREET) :30 v2
NARR: ONE OF THE GREATEST STORIES OF ALL TIME…
IS NOW AN ANIMATED MOVIE EVENT FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY…
NARR: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS!
God: “Moses, give them my message and they will follow you out of Egypt.”
NARR: AN ORDINARY MAN…
AN EXTRAORDINARY CALLING!
Moses: “Let my people go!”
NARR: WITH BEN KINGSLEY…
AND ELLIOTT GOULD!
NARR: CHOSEN BY GOD…
Moses: “On to the promised land!”
NARR: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Now in theatres
CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS
Hear the ad airing on Radio Disney:
‘Set in stone’
Promenade Productions president and COO Cindy Bond said she was told by her contact with the media buyer – Tori Davis of New and Improved Media – that Disney would not play the spot unless the changes were made.
Disney gave no explanation, and Davis, according to Bond, insisted the decision was “set in stone,” and there was nothing Promenade could do but accept the changes.
Bond forwarded to WND an e-mail from Davis that said:
Disney Radio has asked that the following changes be made to the radio spot before they will run it:
1) Remove the line “Chosen by God”
2) Include Promenade Pictures in the radio spot.
How quickly can you make these changes?
After learning of Disney’s revision, Bond asked Davis the status of the ad buy. Davis replied in an e-mail, “The radio schedule is booked and non-cancellable.”
Bond and Yablans agreed the revised version would be better than no ad at all.
“What can you do about it? You can choose not to advertise on the station, but that’s the very audience we want to reach,” Yablans told WND. “I’d rather reach them without saying God and have them watch the movie and rediscover God.”
Davis’ colleague Baker, who received the notice of the changes directly from Disney, told WND he simply forwarded the revised script to Promenade’s hired creative team, informing them that Radio Disney had requested the change.
Davis and Baker told WND they would not comment on Promenade’s contention that Radio Disney was censoring “chosen by God.”
Bond asserted Disney’s explanation is not logical.
“They are covering their hind end,” she said, arguing Disney could have replaced another line in the script.
First in a series
“The Ten Commandments,” a 3D CGI animation feature, is the first in a series of 12 “Epic Stories of the Bible.” Yablans said “Noah’s Ark: The New Beginning” is halfway through production, and “David and Goliath” has just started.
Scene from ‘The Ten Commandments’
The fourth is expected to be “The Battle of Jericho.” Other Bible stories under discussion include Daniel in the lions’ den, Samson and Delilah, the book of Genesis and stories from the New Testament.
Yablans believes the only way to promote “sanity” in Hollywood is “to encourage companies like ours to make these films.”
The impetus for the series, he said, came in discussions with Bond and New Zealand producer Trevor Yaxley. Promenade, a small company with seven or eight employees, is like an incubator, Yablans explained, where “we brainstorm, and hopefully something good comes out of it.”
“We were trying to figure out what we could do to find family entertainment that has moral spine,” he said. “We decided, let’s start where it all started, with the Ten Commandments.”
At first, Yablans said, he and his colleagues envisioned a home video series, but as the project took shape, it became clear it was fit for the big screen.
Liberty Counsel launched its petition drive against Radio Disney charging the network claims to be the “ultimate music environment for kids and families,” but its action “offends families who believe that Moses was chosen by the God of the Bible.”
Preview showings of the “The Ten Commandments” – which took place in 70 churches – were preceded by a three-minute video of Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mathew D. Staver explaining the importance of the Ten Commandments.
The grass-roots marketing campaign was conducted by Motive Entertainment, which promoted Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and the Walden Media/Disney film “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch an the Wardrobe.”
Staver, in a statement from Liberty Counsel, pointed out Radio Disney promotes movies with “references to mythical gods, Tiki gods, Navaho gods and animal gods.”
As WND reported, a new survey commissioned to help promote the movie shows more Americans can name the seven ingredients in a McDonald’s Big Mac hamburger than the Ten Commandments.