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Paradise (2004)

Televangelist Bobby Paradise "saw God" in some space debris when he was returning to Earth as an astronaut. Or at least he was convinced he did by his wife, a Cape Canaveral groupie at the ... See full summary »

Director:

Frank Pierson
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Strathairn ... Reverend Bobby Paradise
Barbara Hershey ... Elizabeth Paradise
Kirk Acevedo ... Manny Marquez
Anita Barone ... Sammi
Vivienne Benesch Vivienne Benesch ... Alison Paradise
Patrick John Flueger ... Luke Paradise (as Patrick Flueger)
James Le Gros ... Matthew Paradise (as James LeGros)
Kiersten Warren ... Grace Paradise
Elaine Stritch ... Isabella
James Gammon ... Old cowboy
Rick Hoffman ... Clark Cavanaugh
Shea Whigham ... Jeremiah Alcott
Richard T. Jones ... Senator Michael Linney
Haley Fife Haley Fife ... Susanna
Maxx Payne ... XL
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Storyline

Televangelist Bobby Paradise "saw God" in some space debris when he was returning to Earth as an astronaut. Or at least he was convinced he did by his wife, a Cape Canaveral groupie at the time Bobby was with NASA. Now they have built up an extensive TV empire. When their proposal to merge with a somewhat tarnished mogul is investigated by the government, skeletons in the Paradise closet come to light and the family either rallies behind or disparages the enterprise. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sexual content and brief drug use
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2004 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Referenced in The Benchwarmers (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Great Subject matter - soapy execution
3 February 2005 | by baker-9See all my reviews

"Paradise" is a pilot for a proposed series on Showtime that didn't get picked up. Certainly the subject matter of the televangelist world has a host of excellent possibilities, particularly for a pay cable channel that can take bigger risks than a commercial TV network.

Unfortunately, "Paradise" comes off as nothing more than a "Dallas" clone with a different setting. And like most pilot episodes, this one spends a lot of time with the necessary job of introducing characters and setting up situations. But the story lines are pretty stale and unimaginative for the most part.

The story centers on Bobby Paradise (David Strathairn), a former astronaut who had a near-death experience after a spaceship landing in the ocean, resulting in a religious conversion (we suppose). When the show opens, he's a major star in the televangelist circuit, raking in millions of dollars and presiding over huge stadium-size crowds at his revival meetings.

But Bobby is also going through a psychological crisis that is hinted at in the beginning, and there's the potential for trouble when he aligns himself with a hedonistic media baron for the sake of reaching more people on TV and radio.

His immediate family participate in his business, led by his wife (Barbara Hershey). His daughter is a bit of a tramp and hooks up with a professional boxer; his older son is the one who tries hard but never pleases Dad; the daughter-in-law wants more of a role but is brushed aside. And then there's the black sheep son who just got out of jail for manslaughter in a bar fight, and is still rejected by Dad.

So you can see that the stage is set for the kind of soapy family dynamics that any viewer of "Dallas" or "Dynasty" will recognize.

And that's too bad, because the subject of televangelism is a great one, with endless possibilities for a hard look at religion, commerce, media manipulation, and political ambition - particularly given the current residents of the White House. This pilot touches on some of this, but you can bet the more interesting dramatic (and perhaps satirical) aspects of this subject would have been brushed aside for more commonplace dramatics.

Even so, there's some fine acting talent on display. Strathairn is a great choice for the role of Bobby: this kind of morally gray character gives him am opportunity to show off his talent for suggesting multiple facets of Bobby at once. The role also lets him play a dynamic, dominating character rather than the more quiet roles people usually associate with him.

Hershey is good in a role that is pretty vague, but would have probably deepened had the show continued. Elaine Stritch adds some necessary vigor and vinegar as her mother, who enjoys all the perks of Bobby's empire, but isn't exactly the pious type.

However, the actors playing the children are a mediocre bunch, including James LeGros who has been good elsewhere.

"Paradise" is truly a squandered opportunity, and based on this pilot, it's just as well that the show didn't go any further.


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