Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

July 7, 2019: Unexpected Prophets


From Ray McGinnis


In the film Late Night, Emma Thompson plays a fictional character named Katherine Newbury, an imperious, sharp-tongued late-night TV talk show host for over three decades. The premise is fictional since we don’t yet have any late-night TV talk show hosts who are women. The stuffy Newbury signs off each night saying to her audience, “I hope I earned the privilege of your time.”

She learns that for the past decade her ratings have been dropping. The cable network’s female president decides to drop Newbury’s show and replace her with a younger, hipper, male host.

Having relied exclusively on male script writers for her show, Katherine agrees to hire a woman. Her “hire” turns out to be Molly Patel, a wannabe-comedian who has amused her workmates while doing product control at a chemical plant.

Fifty-something Katherine has prided herself on excellence and keeping great emotional distance from her staff and her audience. Thirty-something Molly, a woman-of-colour, pitches being more personal and authentic as a way to save the show from being tossed in the dustbin.

At first Katherine is outraged and fires Molly on the spot. But she follows Molly to a stand-up comedy fundraiser for cancer. Molly is there since her father died of cancer. Surprising herself, Katherine goes on stage. Initially she is a flop, but she finds her stride by being more authentic. Though Molly is viewed as just a new hire with no experience, she has just the advice to give that Katherine needs in order for her show to rebound.

Katherine became the person she was due to an industry and work environment that require most people to wear a suit of armor in order to survive.

Type: Comedy-Drama
Director: Nisha Ganatra
Film company: Amazon Studios
Release date: June 7, 2019
Starring: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, Amy Ryan, John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy

Focus: Katherine is very high-brow and has no interest in new media. However, she ends up hosting a guest who has gone viral on YouTube with photos and stories about her dog. When Katherine suggests this is shallow subject matter, the guest tells her that she is old-fashioned, and that Katherine needs her more than she needs Katherine. When the social-media influencer walks off the set, the exchange goes viral. Katherine discovers that being smug and condescending isn’t going to save her TV show, or improve her ratings. She recognizes that Molly is right. and that reinventing herself will require that she put aside her tin heart and find a way to connect emotionally with her audience, her TV show guests, and her staff.
Explore…2 Kings 5:1–14

  • Why was Naiman highly regarded? What was his ailment? What prevents him from accepting an invitation to bath in the Jordan? Why does he change his mind? 
  • How has Katherine Newbury survived the television industry over three decades?
  • What is her problem now and how does it prevent her from connecting with her audience and guests?
  • What prophetic voice does Molly offer to Katherine?
  • Where have you noticed unexpected prophets in your life, or in the lives of others?

God of unexpected prophets, just when we think we know everything we need to know, circumstances in life humble us, and we need assistance and advice to take the next step on our life’s journey. We thank you for placing people on our path and helping us grow in the image of Christ. Help us to also be unexpected prophets for others. In Christ we pray. Amen.

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