Review: ‘How Do You Spell God?’

Executive producer, Sheila Nevins; producers, Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Amy Schatz; director, Kent; writer, Barry Harman; camera, Joel Shapiro, Alex Rappoport; editor, Scott Doniger; art director, Shanya Tsao; sound, Bernard Russo, Gary Silver; supervising music producer, Spencer Proffer; animators, Maciek Albrecht (Ink Tank), Santiago Cohen (Ink Tank), Ben Duga, Irra Verbitsky, Tom Snyder Prods., Debra Solomon, Michael Sporn Animation. Voices: Maya Angelou, Zanes Carney, Griffin Dunne, Roger Caras, Deepak Chopra, Fyvush Finkel, Rabbi Marc Gellman, Monsignor Thomas Hartman, Joe Mantegna, Hayden Panettiere, Chris Rock, Fred Savage, Marlo Thomas, B.D. Wong, Alfre Woodard. Charming special for younger grade-school kids explores thorny questions about faith, God, good and evil, and should open up dialog about these issues between parents and their kids. The filmmakers have posed all sorts of deep philosophical and theological questions to a diverse array of grade-schoolers: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, just about every religion in the U.S. And the kids respond articulately and in a manner that is precocious without being precious. Interspersed among the interviews are expertly done animated segments based on well-known children's stories that deal with faith and God. This type of programming has more to do with the true meaning of Christmas than with all the screaming ads from toy stores and the like. Christmas is threatened because Santa Claus can't deliver gifts. As "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" taught us 30 years ago, Christmas, and the attendant spirit of goodwill to all men, happens even without the ribbons and colorful paper. Carole Horst

Executive producer, Sheila Nevins; producers, Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Amy Schatz; director, Kent; writer, Barry Harman; camera, Joel Shapiro, Alex Rappoport; editor, Scott Doniger; art director, Shanya Tsao; sound, Bernard Russo, Gary Silver; supervising music producer, Spencer Proffer; animators, Maciek Albrecht (Ink Tank), Santiago Cohen (Ink Tank), Ben Duga, Irra Verbitsky, Tom Snyder Prods., Debra Solomon, Michael Sporn Animation. Voices: Maya Angelou, Zanes Carney, Griffin Dunne, Roger Caras, Deepak Chopra, Fyvush Finkel, Rabbi Marc Gellman, Monsignor Thomas Hartman, Joe Mantegna, Hayden Panettiere, Chris Rock, Fred Savage, Marlo Thomas, B.D. Wong, Alfre Woodard. Charming special for younger grade-school kids explores thorny questions about faith, God, good and evil, and should open up dialog about these issues between parents and their kids. The filmmakers have posed all sorts of deep philosophical and theological questions to a diverse array of grade-schoolers: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, just about every religion in the U.S. And the kids respond articulately and in a manner that is precocious without being precious. Interspersed among the interviews are expertly done animated segments based on well-known children’s stories that deal with faith and God. This type of programming has more to do with the true meaning of Christmas than with all the screaming ads from toy stores and the like. Christmas is threatened because Santa Claus can’t deliver gifts. As “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” taught us 30 years ago, Christmas, and the attendant spirit of goodwill to all men, happens even without the ribbons and colorful paper. Carole Horst

How Do You Spell God?

(Sun. (22); 7:30-8 p.m.; HBO)

Production

Executive producer, Sheila Nevins; producers, Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Amy Schatz; director, Kent; writer, Barry Harman.

Cast

Voices: Maya Angelou, Zanes Carney, Griffin Dunne, Roger Caras, Deepak Chopra, Fyvush Finkel, Rabbi Marc Gellman, Monsignor Thomas Hartman, Joe Mantegna, Hayden Panettiere, Chris Rock, Fred Savage, Marlo Thomas, B.D. Wong, Alfre Woodard.
Camera, Joel Shapiro, Alex Rappoport; editor, Scott Doniger; art director, Shanya Tsao; sound, Bernard Russo, Gary Silver; supervising music producer, Spencer Proffer; animators, Maciek Albrecht (Ink Tank), Santiago Cohen (Ink Tank), Ben Duga, Irra Verbitsky, Tom Snyder Prods., Debra Solomon, Michael Sporn Animation.
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