Joan of Arcadia Producer Discusses Faith, Fame and Finding God
CINCINNATIJoan of Arcadia, CBS's hit drama,
is halfway through a second successful season. Each episode has the same
premise: Joan, a seemingly average teenager with a complex family dynamic, is
visited by God, who takes the shape of different people. The show, whose
opening song asks, "What if God was one of us?" is deepened by the spiritual
enthusiasm of its Catholic producer and creator, Barbara Hall.
her successful career and the show that scores in the ratings while tackling
spiritual matters are all featured in St. Anthony Messenger's March
cover story, "Joan of Arcadia: An Interview With Its Catholic Producer."
Sister Rose Pacatte, F.S.P., who writes St. Anthony Messenger's "Eye on
Entertainment" column, sits down with Barbara Hall, a convert to Catholicism,
to discuss her faith journey and her job as a television producer. After
February 21, the article will be found at: AmericanCatholic.org.
who has been an admirer of St. Joan of Arc since early childhood, says that Joan
of Arcadia addresses issues that are universal and timely. "The most
important idea in the show," she says,
"is that everyone is here to fulfill his or her true nature. This has
everything to do with my own beliefs."
up in Chatham, Virginia, Barbara began writing at an early age and went on to
obtain a B.A. in English from James Madison University. Her faith was
shaken, then deepened, after being
the victim of a violent crime seven years ago. "I had a near-death experience
that gave me an understanding of something bigger than myself," Hall says. Her
faith journey didn't lead to Catholic Church right away. Born a Methodist, Hall
frequented an Episcopal church before finding her spiritual niche as a
foundation of faith would serve Hall well when creating Joan of Arcadia.
Having a teenage daughter was equally useful when creating the main character.
"When my daughter was about to come of age, I wondered what it would look like
if God tried to grab the attention of a teenager today," she says. "Would a
modern teenager be able to have the fortitude to follow that calling?" Hall
began to envision what her daughter would say to God: the conversations as well
as the arguments. Thus, the backbone of her show was created.
Joan of Arcadia deals
with many themes but it's mainly about asking questions, and not always getting
answers. "The key reasons I wanted to do the show were to get people talking
about the questions and to come to understand that we are here to fulfill our
true nature," Hall says. "Joan of Arcadia
is a show that deals with asking questions."
high ratings and a barrel-full of awardsincluding the 2004 People's Choice
Award for "Favorite New Dramatic Series"Joan is a hit mainly because it
deals with issues that real people face in life: tumultuous families, everyday
stresses and the search for God. As the show illustrates, God is ever-present.
"I wanted to show that God is available to
everybody," Hall says. "I want to show this informality between God and
us. Some think that God is stuck in some sort of place where we can't
communicate with him. I wanted to destroy that model in Joan. I felt a teenager was the best vehicle for doing that."
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