Inside Move: The devil's in the details
Christian Hell House gets H'wood makeover
Bill MaherBill Maher and Sarah Silverman are preaching fire and brimstone
Some freaky side-effect of "The Passion of the Christ?"
Welcome to the Hollywood Hell House.
In the fundamentalist Christian version of a haunted house (as explored
in George Ratliff's 2001 doc "Hell House""Hell House")
visitors are confronted with graphic images of "sinful" behavior,
including abortions, homosexuality and teen suicide, and told the only
way to save themselves is to pray to Jesus Christ.
Now Hollywood has its own Hell House, complete with a rotating cast of
80 actors, strictly adhering to the genuine Abundant Life Christian Center
"I was raised as a born-again Christian and I know how damaging fundamentalism
and literalism are. We wanted to let the Hell House be a parody of itself,"
says Maggie Rowe, a comedy writer-thesp who came up with the concept.
"Just by changing the context, we hope people will look at this in
an intellectual, and humorous, way."
Rowe is producing the project with "Six Feet Under""Six
Feet Under" supervising producer Jill SolowayJill Soloway, actress
Becky Thyre and legitlegit helmer Amit Itelman.
When the House opens on Aug. 27, Maher will play Satan, Andy RichterAndy
Richter plays Jesus and Silverman will be "Chrissy," the abortion
girl. Richter will get a shot at the Satan role, too. Show runs through
Halloween at the Center for Inquiry-West's Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood.
Rowe, who is still religious, says her goal is not to attack Christianity,
just what she dubs "spiritual terrorism." She hopes presenting
Hell House to a Hollywood audaud will give it an ironic spin, much the
way "Reefer Madness" became a cult classic with the very auds
it aimed to criticize.
Curiously, the show even has the approval of Pastor Keenan Roberts, who
sells do-it-yourself Hell House kits online for $300 each.
On his Web site, Roberts asserts, "Our nation needs to know that
much of what they are being fed by the liberal media and entertainment
industries is lies and falsehoods."
Now he's counting on that very same industry to bring his message to that
bastion of all things evil: Hollywood.