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February 15, 2005     586 Words

Joan of Arcadia Producer Discusses Faith, Fame and Finding God

CINCINNATI—Joan 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.

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.

Hall, 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."

Growing 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 Catholic.

That 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."

Garnering high ratings and a barrel-full of awards—including 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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