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Walmart and Procter & Gamble Invest in Family Movies for Television

 

This week I had a chance to view the made-for-TV movie The Jensen Project, scheduled to air on NBC on Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8/7c. It's a drama with a sci-fi twist about an über genius couple, Claire and Matt Thompson, who once worked for a top-secret firm that is involved in creating nanobots -- tiny robots that have the ability to heal virtually any disease or -- in the hands of an super villain -- could be used to rule the world.

When things go wrong at the company, Claire (played by Kellie Martin from Life Goes On) is begged to return after a 16-year absence. But there are far deeper reasons why the cutting edge researcher has buried herself into her job as a college instructor. Overcoming these personal issues will be difficult, but when her husband Matt (Brady Smith) agrees to give up his job as a physician and also return to their former workplace, Claire succumbs to the request.

What they aren't expecting is the involvement of their 16-year-old son Brody (actor Justin Kelly). Highly intelligent, but not always wise, the teen uses his knowledge of sound waves for various experiments -- including sampling his mother's voice so he can phone the high school and excuse himself from class. However, after joining with his parents, Brody not only discovers more positive uses for his skills, but also finds a beautiful young woman (played by Alyssa Diaz) who also works at the lab.

Also starring LeVar Burton, the movie presents a fun story with action and some cool songs from popular artists. Even better, there is no foul language, no sex (other than a very mild romantic interest between the two teens) and reasonably tame violence that should make the film suitable for virtually any age -- especially with parents present.

Sponsored by Walmart and Procter and Gamble (the companies' logos appear at the head and tail of the film) the movie is part of a "family movie night" series that began with Secrets of the Mountain (which aired in April and is re-running on July 10, 2010 on NBC) and is also leading to yet another family oriented film titled A Walk in My Shoes, due to air later in 2010.

In a news release, Marc Pritchard from Procter & Gamble says, "We were touched by the hundreds of thank you letters and the outpouring of support we received for 'Secrets of the Mountain.'" Adding P&G is pleased to present The Jensen Project, Pritchard explains that, "Our ongoing partnership with Walmart furthers our commitment to serve consumers and provide entertainment that brings families together."

Stephen Quinn at Walmart also says, "We continue to work directly with parents to query them on the content they are seeking to share with their families. 'The Jensen Project' is intended to appeal to family members of all ages and we look forward to working in concert with P&G to offer even more high-quality family programming."

Of course hearing that a huge organization like Walmart is committed to listening to what parents want to see on television is certainly music to any PTC member's ears. And, from my personal monitoring of the company, I believe they are concerned about the media kids are consuming. For example, in a 2008 Federal Trade Commission "Secret Shopper" report, Walmart consistently ranks as one of the most effective retailers at preventing the sales of R-rated and unrated movies to underage patrons. They score even higher in their ability to stop kids from buying M-rated video games.

I encourage parents to watch The Jensen Project on July 16. If you can't see the broadcast at that time, the movie will be available for sale exclusively at Walmart the next day (July 17) in a bonus pack that includes the soundtrack on a CD. Finally, if you love the movie, let these companies know you want more. I believe they are listening to you!

 

Rod Gustafson

 

Join the PTC on Twitter at http://www.parentstv.org/twitter.


Besides writing this column for the Parents Television Council, Rod Gustafson authors Parent Previews® - a newspaper and Internet column (published in association with movies.com) that reviews movies from a parent's perspective. He's also the film critic for a major Canadian TV station, various radio stations and serves on the executive of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness. Finally, his most important role is being the father to four wonderful children and husband to his beautiful wife (and co-worker) Donna.


Parenting and the Media by Rod Gustafson

The Parents Television Council - www.parentstv.org


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