There really is a GMC channel, hidden away somewhere on satellite (Channel 188 of Dish, 338 of DirecTV) and digital TV. It has reruns, some of them good ("Cosby Show") and most OK; it also makes its own family-friendly movies.
The latest film arrivs Sunday (March 11) and is pleasant enough. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
Life seemed to prepare David A.R. White
for the pulpit.
He was a Kansas kid who grew up as a
Mennonite – “one step above the Amish,” he says. His dad was a
preacher who sent him to th Moody Bible Institute in Chcago.
“My entire family had met and
married … there and graduated from there,” White recalled. “My
dad was hoping I would be an evangelist.”
Instead, he became an actor. Two
decades later, he's full-circle – playing a preacher in a
drama-comedy movie on what's called a “faith-friendly” cable
That's the phrase used by Brad Siegel,
vice-chairman of GMC (formerly Gospel Music Channel). “We are the
only network (with) a consistent, high-quality, positive, uplifting
experience,” he said.
Viewers who find GMC – usually via
satellite or digital cable – will see reruns (“Waltons,” “Cosby
Show,” “Dr. Quinn,” etc.) and gospel music, peppered with the
occasional movie and gospel play.
“I had been talking to Brad about
what the network was looking for,” White said. “He said something
like an inter-racial comedy.” And that sort of summarized White's
He had seen exactly one movie
(“Grease”), when he dropped out of Moody and moved to Los Angeles
to be an actor. He was 19, blonde-ish, from a town of 2,000 near
Dodge City; for six years, he rented a room with a black family.
“It's like the first time I found out about grits. (I'd) never
heard of that.”
Most would-be actors soon retreat home,
but While landed a dozen episodes of “Evening Shade,” playing the
friend of Burt Reynolds' son. He's had a fair amount of roles ever
For GMC, he came up with th idea of
playing the Rev. James White, living in obscurity with his wife and
kids – Lily, Emma and Cooper. (Yes, her name is Lily White; this is
not always subtle humor.) He's sent to a small church, surprising its
Scattered in support are:
– Ray Wise, who played Satan in the
“Reaper” series. Now he plays an evangelist. “After playing the
devil for two years, this was a real change-of-pace,” he
– Jackee Harry, whose “227”
comedy is rerun often on GMC. She plays the widow of a previous
pastor. “She's bossy,” Harry sad, “such a stretch for me.”
– Bebe Winans, who performs late in
the film. “He's an amazing gospel singer,” said Anna Margaret, a
singer-actress who plays White's disenchanted teen daughter.
All combine to make life complicated, a
feeling White understands.”I kind of feel like my whole life is a
fish-out-of-water story,” he said.
– “Brother White,” debuts 7 and 9
p.m. Sunday, GMC
– Reruns at 9 p.m. Monday (March 12),
9 and 11 p.m. Friday (March 16)