In what has to be one of the worst ideas I've seen in recent memory, "Joan of Arcadia" creator Barbara Hall has been given a pilot commitment for an "exorcism themed" program on CBS.
The program will be built, according to the Hollywood Reporter, on wanna-be radio shlock (er, shock) jock Bob Larson. Joe Roth, director of Exorcist III, will also be involved.
Bob and I, of course, go way back. We appeared a few years ago (discussing the Satanic Ritual Abuse controversy) on Larry King Live. My skeptical position then and now was that the SRA myths were being created by a strange mix of urban myth, psychological misbehavior by therapists, and widespread money-making by publishers and talk-show hosts both Christian and secular. Larson countered with dark tales of ritual abuse he assured both King and I were absolutely true. "I've got 'em in my files" he said.
Of course, no evidence emerged then or now from Larson's files. Which didn't stop him from making a career out of busting Satan's chops via exorcisms, many on-air. Larson came to the defense of fellow Satan buster (and alleged ex-satanist) Mike Warnke when fellow author Mike Hertenstein and I investigated Warnke's stories and found his testimony, especially the satanism portions, to be bogus.
I contended Larson was telling some tall tales. Later on, we in fact uncovered his original testimony -- that of having been rock and roller who subverted children into wild orgiastic misbehavior via the (his words) "jungle beat" -- as being pretty much untrue.
An excerpt from that article:
Sharla Turman Logan, who was keyboardist for Bob Larson's high school rock trio, the Rebels, was interviewed by World. Logan, who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, listened as Cornerstone read her this 1974 quote from a Bob Larson book, Hell on Earth:Bob Larson achieved fame at the age of thirteen when his first hit song was published. He had his own rock'n'roll band at fifteen, and performed on radio and television over the next years until his career took him to Convention Hall in Atlantic City.Logan's reaction is swift. "What?! I knew him at thirteen, and I never heard of any hit song." What about Atlantic City? "Convention Hall? Yes, we played there," Logan says. "But it was a Lions Club Convention, one song. We did a parody of `Charlie Brown.' You know, `He's a clown / Charlie Brown.'"
This is Bob Larson's account of the Rebels' effect upon their listeners, from his 1972 book, The Day the Music Died:On Sunday morning it was a church, but on Saturday night the pews were removed, our musical equipment was placed on the platform, and beer was dispensed in the basement as teenagers danced in the sanctuary. It was especially popular because cars could be parked surrounding the building. This provided a convenient bed of immorality during intermission for the release of sex tensions stimulated by the dancing.Sharla Logan heard the same story years before Bob first published it. "I saw him preach in 1965 or 1966, when I was in college at Greeley, Colorado." Logan couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I was offended. I was hurt. None of us ever did anything sexually or even drank. My father went with us to the concerts as a chaperon, and he would have picked up on any sexual stuff. We played at pizza parlors, rodeos, and churches. Everyone came, from little knee-high kids to grandpas and grandmas. But Bob talked about us like we were a bunch of sluts, if you'll excuse me. I was crying, sitting there hoping people wouldn't look at me. At the next intermission, I left."
Others also investigated Larson on various grounds from financial to ethical and were not impressed with what they found.
I realize, of course, that the dollar will be the bottom line regarding TV programming. But CBS... if you go ahead with this one, maybe Christians concerned for reality will have to gather around your offices for a mass deliverance...
"MAMMON! OUT in JESUS' NAME!!"
Hmmm. I wonder if that would work. Maybe I could start a deliverance ministry of my own?
Added: a few links for those who can't wait to read more about Bob's interesting universe...
Bob Larson Ministries (the official page)
Prof. Doug Cowan's Larson page
Canadianchristianity.com's take on Larson
KristianKooks, a site irritated by Larson's antics.