Group prays for an end to writers strike

Showtracker Blog: Strike news
Coverage of the entertainment writers' strike

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The ballroom of the Beverly Hilton hotel was the scene of a different kind of Hollywood power breakfast Friday morning, with nearly 700 people praying.

Rather than simply praying at the annual National Media Prayer Breakfast for the entertainment industry to make more wholesome movies and TV shows, those present at the Christian event this year asked God for one more timely blessing: an end to the two-week-long writers strike that has crippled Hollywood.

“We pray that both groups would feel your supernatural guidance to stop blaming and posturing and start peacefully listening and negotiating,” said Geriann McIntosh, senior vice president of administration for Warner Bros. Television. “We pray that you keep everyone that is affected by the strike in your loving care.”

At the fourth annual breakfast, participants found like-minded colleagues willing to engage in the industry’s last remaining conversation stopper: admitting they are Christians.

“Being a Christian in Hollywood is always going to be a taboo,” said Roderick Taylor, a self-described unapologetic Christian and screenwriter of this fall’s Jodie Foster avenger movie, “The Brave One.”

“Hollywood is the most exciting place to be but it’s also the most horrible place for an artist to be,” he said. “It is the absolute capital of human vice and malignant narcissism.”

No need to tell that to Jodi and Ray Benson, both actors, who arrived in L.A. for the prayer breakfast from their new home in Georgia to find their hotel in Universal City overrun with participants in the Adult Webmaster Empire convention, an organization geared toward “voyeurism” and people who “would like to take advantage of some live cybersex,” according to its website.

The Bensons and their two children, ages 8 and 6, were warned by the concierge not to go to the swimming pool and the restaurant and to walk through the lobby quickly -- preferably with their children’s eyes lowered so they wouldn’t see live porn on laptop computers.

“It’s so weird this porn thing is happening while we are also here,” said Jodi Benson, known for voicing the character Ariel in Walt Disney Co.'s “The Little Mermaid.” “It’s so alarming.”

Karen Covell, co-sponsor of the prayer breakfast and founder of the Hollywood Prayer Network, which arranged the event with Mastermedia International Inc, said God’s goodness was desperately needed right now. Her husband lost his job composing music for a TV pilot because production was shut down after the strike began.

“If it goes on for months it will shut down the income for families, and people need to start making tough decisions,” she said. “There is a lot of fear. There is a very current need for prayer. Both sides think they are right. We are praying for it to be fast and fair and dealt with quickly.”

Even CNN talk show host Larry King, who is a friend of prayer breakfast founder Larry Poland, sent a videotaped greeting thanking the crowd for praying for him.

With the event meant to be inclusive of Christian attendees’ Jewish brethren, Rabbi Michael Goldberg blessed the breakfast as he stood on the stage explaining, “Excuse me for walking around, but as Jews, you want to stay on the move.”