I’ve been a fan of Jesus People since I first heard about it, and I was delighted to learn that the web-only series will soon be making it to DVD — or rather, the concept is making to DVD. The series has been re-written and re-filmed, and most of the original cast has been retained. What a treat!
The Jesus People online series—a web hit, with more than 500,000 views—tells the satirical story of Cross My Heart, a Christian dance-pop band-in-the-making. The four-person, coed group—an homage to Christian dance-pop classics like Jump 5—includes an aging CCM pop star trying to resuscitate her career after a sex scandal (played by Edi Patterson), a newbie Christian party girl with a wild streak (Lindsay Stidham), a goody-goody fundamentalist with a fondness for God’s wrath (Damon Pfaff), and a token minority member who plays the sympathetic everyman (Rich Pierrelouis). The cast also includes the group’s pastor/manager/entrepreneurial handler Pastor Jerry (Joel McCrary), and an impressive array of guest stars from across the comedy spectrum, including SNL‘s Victoria Jackson, The Office‘s Kate Flannery, Will & Grace‘s Tim Bagley, and Waiting for Guffman‘s Deborah Theaker.
Most of the cast from the web series returned for the feature film version, as did director Jason Naumann and writers Dan Ewald and Rajeev Sigamony. For the most part the story is the same as the online version, just expanded a bit, giving a more embellished, Behind the Music background to Cross My Heart’s rise from a fledgling music group to a superstar CCM success story. Where the web series concludes with the band shooting its first music video, the film shows Cross My Heart further along in their career, with a hit environmentalism/apocalypse-themed song—”Jesus Save the World”—catapulting them to the big time.
What I didn’t know — but did suspect — is that the creator of the series is a Christian himself, and he has this to say about his motives.
“I want Jesus People to be the Christian Monsoon Wedding—something that explores a community’s faults, but also what is beautiful about them,” he says. “It’s a very self-reflexive film. Each character is about a different fault that needs to be examined.”
If you haven’t taken the time to watch Jesus People, and if you’re a little thick-skinned, then by all means have a look. You will thank me you did 🙂