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Home Arts & Entertainment Originally published March 21, 2012

The Undershepherd: The Black Church Movie Everyone Needs to See!

by Andrea L. Young
Special to the AFRO

    Russ Parr (Courtesy Photo)
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Hold onto your hats and seats as Russ Parr, nationally syndicated radio show host and movie producer, takes you on a ride through the prevailing ills of the Black Church. Parr, a trusted filmmaker in Black Hollywood, spills the jarring secrets of good vs. evil in the Black Church through this mouth-dropping drama revealing how ministers and church members battle power, money and infidelity.

The lead role, an ambitious, charismatic minister overcome by greed and ego, is played by Isaiah Washington, on fire as minister Lawrence “LC” Case, who uses the pulpit to further his own agenda and ultimately leads people astray. In competition with LC is Roland, LC’s best friend, played by Lamman Rucker. Roland struggles to get his own grassroots ministry off the ground and is not as successful as LC.

In this real-world drama, characters LC and Roland struggle to pursue their dreams of becoming the successor of their 80-year-old pastor, Dr. Ezekial Canon, a character role played by actor Bill Cobbs.

See this dynamic, tell-all church thriller at Parr's VIP reception at Copper Canyon and Red Carpet Screening at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring, Md. Tuesday, March 27. Cast members expected to attend the events include: Isaiah Washington, Lamman Rucker, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Clifton Powell, Robinne Lee, and Malinda Williams. Net proceeds from "The Undershepherd" VIP and Red Carpet events will go to the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts.

AY: Was there any personal curiosity in your choice to write and produce "The Undershepherd?"
RP: There’s a story here, a lot of things that are being ignored (in the Black Church) and no one is being held accountable.

AY: How real are the issues between the good preacher and the bad preacher?
RP: I wanted reality. There are a lot of very successful “bad” people. What I’m trying to do is show the reality of what goes on in the church. We have a lot of secrets in our community, and there are a lot of secrets in those church walls.

AY: What makes this movie so different that it will drive people to the theaters?
RP: The story is enveloped within the church, making it more controversial than it seems. "The Undershepherd" deals with money, power and infidelity. This movie is not an indictment of the Black Church. It’s an indictment of man, of who we place on that pedestal sometimes, just an ordinary human being with flaws. You can’t let them get to the point where they are so powerful that they think for you.

AY: Does God get the glory in "The Undershepherd"?
RP: Absolutely, the bad guy does not prevail. That is God. Dark comes to light.

AY: What was it like to work with Isaiah Washington?
RP: No disrespect to any actor, however, Isaiah is the most talented actor I've ever worked with. He (Isaiah) was phenomenal and took my script to the next level. No one could have played this role better than Isaiah did.

AY:
What is your goal for this film?
RP: I would like to go theatrical and be successful. I wrote the film in 15 days and shot (the film) in LA in 15 days. I am taking more risk with a Black drama than a Black comedy. I’m a radio show host, comedian, and movie producer. I’m not a 1-trick pony.

AY: Who do you expect to support "The Undershepherd?"
RP: This isn’t your regular Black Church movie. People that are not that engaged in their church aren’t going to like this movie because they won’t understand it. However, 85 percent of our audience goes to church. In the original script, Roland didn’t exist. I’m not holding the church responsible — this is not the church’s fault, this (LC) is a God-created man who uses the pulpit to further his own agenda.