Category Archives: Hollywood Inspirational

Kevin Sorbo Takes to Role as Inspirational Force

sorboKevin Sorbo is pleased with the real-life role he’s taken on – as an inspirational force and example of someone who’s come back from serious illness.  The actor who rose to fame as the mighty Hercules came out a couple of years ago with his frank memoir, True Strength: My Journey From Hercules To Mere Mortal And How Nearly Dying Saved My Life — disclosing the full extent of his battle back from three strokes and an aneurism that left him physically weak and with permanent blind spots in 1997.  The paperback version of the book came out a few months ago, and to his surprise, “I’ve actually gotten more attention from the paperback than I did when it originally came out,” Sorbo admits.

As a result, he finds himself being approached “not only by stroke survivors, but people who’ve battled cancer, come back from car crashes, whatever it may be.  People tell me that this book inspired them to really find their own true strength.”

Once having done his utmost to hide his condition from the public, he now concedes, “It was a fight to get back, I’ll tell you. I told my wife many times, you know, if it wasn’t for my support I don’t know how I would have done it, but I had great people around me and I also believed in myself and had a strong will.”

Sorbo is cohosting “‘The View’ Friday (3/8), “so I’m hoping we can talk about these things,” he says.

He will definitely be talking about his two latest projects — his March 23 “Shadow on the Mesa,” a Hallmark Movie Channel Original movie Western, and his newly-released on DVD “Abel’s Field” movie that he also produced.

“I love doing Westerns it’s my third Western with these guys,” he notes of the Hallmark project.  “It’s a great old classic Western, with two families fighting over some land — a Hatfields and McCoys type of situation.  Gail O’Grady plays my wife and she’s not so nice in this one.  She’s been having an affair with Greg Evigan, who is the bad guy who tries to take over my property.”  Meredith Baxter is also in the cast, and Wes Brown of “Deception” plays Sorbo’s son he knows nothing about, who’s tracking him down intent on killing him in revenge for his mother’s death.

“I wish I could do more Westerns,” he tells us.  “They used to play very well overseas, but that’s not so much the case anymore.  I don’t know what happened there.”

He has movies and how they play very much on his mind, with a slate of six film projects of his own in development.  As soon as Sorbo finishes his promotion tasks for “Shadow on the Mesa,” in fact, he says he’s heading to Arizona for huddles with potential investors.

His “Abel’s Field” movie, with Samuel Davis as a teen struggling to overcome a terrible home situation, was five years in the making, and Sorbo was aboard for two and a half of those years helping bring the film to fruition.

“We shot it in Texas, put some of it together, and Sony – who I did ‘Soul Surfer’ with – loved what they saw and picked it up for distribution, which was awesome.”

There is a mentoring aspect to the film, in that “the character I play is pretty much thrown in a situation with a teenage kid who’s thrown in a situation with me.  At first we don’t want to deal with each other at all, but eventually we become friends and mentors to each other and ultimately that helps lead him lead his own life.”

Mentoring, of course, is a subject close to the actor-producer’s heart, as Sorbo’s Fit for Kids program continues strong.  “The mentoring started back 15 years ago, in my ‘Hercules’ days,” he recalls.  “It was something I’ve always wanted to do, and we’ve created the Number One after school program in the States, with a 98 per cent graduation rate for kids in the program and we’re very proud of that.”

As far as his health these days, “Oh, I’m feeling good, yeah,” he says with a smile.  “The stroke happened in 1997, and it took six years for me to fully recover but I went on and did the last year of ‘Hercules.’  I did 110 episodes of ‘Andromeda,’ and I’ve done about 40 movies since then, so I think I’ve proven I’m back in good health.”

Not too surprisingly, Sorbo says he has another book percolating.  Write on.


Roma Downey, Mark Burnett — Touched By The Bible

Regardless of the response to Roma Downey’s and Mark Burnett’s 10-hour History Channel treatment of the Bible when it premieres next March, the project already stacks up as one of the most profound experiences of the couple’s life.  The actress immortalized by “Touched By An Angel” tells us they began filming in Morocco in February “and are just back.  We produced it together.  The opportunity for us to work together as husband and wife has been extraordinary.

“I know it’s epic, and I think it will be the must-watch event of the spring,” she adds.  “You’ll see the Red Sea parted with the latest special effects that are available.  We have Hans Zimmer creating the score…We have Noah, we have Abraham, we have Moses.  We have Jesus walking on water.  We have scenes coming to life in the extraordinary ways.  Yes, it’s going to be a faith journey, but it’s also going to be really exciting and dynamic television.”

In the course of the production, exec producers Roma and Mark and company were out in heat and sand and “all of that.  The climate was extreme.  When we started it was cold, then it was boiling — in excess of 110 degrees.  We were caught in dust storms.  And of course, during the filming, Mark was back here a lot because he as a few other things going on,” she says of the husband she clearly adores, whose many productions include “Survivor,” “Stars Earn Stripes,” “The Apprentice” and “The Voice.”

Roma had other things going on as well — including a role in the Bible series.  “I am on camera as Mary, the mother of Jesus.  We have a young actress of course playing Mary during the nativity and the early years of Jesus’ life, and 30 years go by.  An early version of the script referred to that as Young Mary and Old Mary and when I stepped into the role, I said, ‘You know, could we have Young Mary and Mother Mary?'” She laughs.  “Oh, vanity.  It was  more than I could deal with.”

She and Mark are well aware they’re treading on controversial ground, no matter how their Bible depiction is done.  “But you have to step out there,” she says.  “We are stepping out together and I’m sure people will hurl what they want to hurl.  But it is being made with full hearts. We’ve had scholars and theologians help. We’re not pretending to be biblical experts. We brought experts in once the scripts were created to take a look at the scripts to make sure we were accurate and true to the Bible, but obviously we’re making a movie, and so we breathed creative expansion into that.”

She’s hoping the TV event will attract the faithful and the Bible illiterate alike.  “I think it’s going to bring the Bible alive in new and exciting ways to a lot of people.  I think it’s really going to touch another generation,” says the actress. Covering Genesis through Revelation, the series is scheduled to conclude on Easter Sunday next year.

AND:  Roma just smiles and closes her eyes when we ask about the chances for a “Touched By An Angel” reunion movie.  It’s not on her radar, to say the least.  But she does continue her close friendship with fellow “Angel” angel Della Reese.  In fact, “She was just here at our home yesterday for lunch,” reports Roma, who lives in a spectacular seaside mansion in Malibu with Mark and their family.  The posh digs are a long way, both literally and figuratively, from Mark’s and Roma’s similarly humble backgrounds — in London and Derry, Northern Ireland, respectively.

The executive producer of the “Little Angels” animated children’s video series notes, “Clearly, there’s a theme going on in my life.  I don’t have to work.  I’m very blessed , very fortunate.  So my passion, my purpose is to be involved with things that uplift and open people’s hearts and raise their consciousness.”

For J.R. Martinez, The Inspiration Continues

“Dancing With The Stars” winner J.R. Martinez received the American Red Cross Spirit of Inspiration Award the other night in Santa Monica, adding to the military man-turned-actor-speaker-dancer-author’s many accolades.  Between traveling to speaking engagements and putting the finishing touches on his November-release Hyperion book – Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength and Spirit – J.R. hasn’t had much time for dancing.  And, considering he and his beloved Diana Jones are expecting their baby daughter’s arrival next month, he’ll soon have even less time.  J.R. gives a moving account of how faith and love brought him through his harrowing Iraq war experience and journey to stardom as the May cover subject of Guideposts magazine.