The Authentic Story Behind The Forthcoming Biopic

Freda Walters

Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield star as two televangelists who develop a business enterprise empire. Fox Searchlight By Will DiGravio · Revealed on August 13th, 2021 Serious Tales is an ongoing column about the real tales powering flicks and Television set exhibits. It is that uncomplicated. This installment focuses on the real […]

Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield star as two televangelists who develop a business enterprise empire.

Fox Searchlight

By Will DiGravio · Revealed on August 13th, 2021

Serious Tales is an ongoing column about the real tales powering flicks and Television set exhibits. It is that uncomplicated. This installment focuses on the real story behind The Eyes of Tammy Faye, an upcoming biopic starring Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield.


The increase and tumble of two of the most famed televangelists in American historical past. That is the premise for the forthcoming biographical drama, The Eyes of Tammy Faye. The movie, primarily based on a 2000 documentary of the identical title, stars Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield as Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker, who dropped their small business empire following a sequence of crimes and scandals.

Definitely, the movie, directed by Michael Showalter (Wet Scorching American Summer time), is based mostly on accurate activities. The Eyes of Tammy Faye will debut subsequent month at the Toronto Global Movie Competition, and be unveiled for the standard community in the United States on September 17, 2021. To enable you put together for the movie, right here is a search at the actual scandals and folks that brought down a media empire.

Pioneering Televangelists 

Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker grew to become well-known in the 1970s as pioneer televangelists. The two satisfied when pupils in 1960 and soon began traveling the street jointly as ministers. The documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye notes that such operate was common in the United States at the time, and the Bakkers were operating in the tradition of ministers like Oral Roberts.

Immediately after having difficulties to make a dwelling while on the road, they were being invited by Pat Robertson (performed in the movie by Gabriel Olds), an additional properly-acknowledged televangelist, to host a clearly show on the Christian Broadcast Network, then nevertheless in its infancy. The Bakkers experienced discovered results in their get the job done by utilizing puppets to investigate and demonstrate Christianity, and Robertson required the two to host a children’s show for the network. They agreed on the condition that Jim could also host a late-evening present. Robertson, as specific in the documentary, agreed. Jim then grew to become the host of The 700 Cluba syndicated method that stays on the air now. Even so, according to Tammy Faye, Robertson then desired the highlight for himself and took around the present. Robertson hosts the present to this day and is acknowledged for his heritage of bigoted responses.

The Bakkers then left CBN and served launch the Trinity Broadcasting Community. On the other hand, they were before long pushed out of that operation far too. As Rev. Mel White claims in the documentary:

“Jim and Tammy began almost anything that is now highly effective in religious telecasting. But as shortly as they obtained it designed, like at TBN, as shortly as they got folks seeing, as quickly as they obtained the audience captivated, as shortly as they started to get power, they had been variety of enable go.”

A Tv set Empire Of Their Own

In 1974, the Bakkers launched the PTL Satellite Network. They hosted the network’s marquee demonstrate, The PTL Club, from 1974 to 1987. PTL stands for “Praise the Lord.”

As the demonstrate and the Bakkers’ reach grew, they commenced to extend their empire. Tammy Faye became acknowledged for her voice and produced a lot more than a dozen gospel albums in the 1970s and ’80s. In 1978, they launched Heritage United states of america, a concept park dubbed the Christian Disney Entire world, in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

https://www.youtube.com/check out?v=FmJJij0wpP8

The Bakkers thought that Christianity ought to be pleasurable, a watch that harkened back to their early times of puppeteering. They welcomed Christians of all denominations into their church. And compared with other Evangelical leaders, together with her partner, Tammy Faye supported the LGBTQ+ community.

“Gay adult males arrived to embrace [Tammy Faye] as a camp figure, producing her the subject of gender-bending appear-alike contests. She embraced them as very well,” her New York Occasions obituary notes. “She commenced attending gay pleasure events, and in 1996, she became the co-host of a syndicated tv converse exhibit with Jim J. Bullock, an openly homosexual actor.”

And as Out lately wrote:

“The trailer for The Eyes of Tammy Faye even shows times from Bakker’s heritage-producing job interview with AIDS activist Steve Pieters, performed by Randy Havens. Pieters was a gay Christian, and when Tammy Faye interviewed him on The PTL Club, it was a watershed second for AIDS visibility.”

The Empire Collapses 

According to Tammy Faye’s New York Times obituary, at its peak, The PTL Club achieved thirteen million homes. And Heritage Usa grew to 2,300 acres and a value of much more than $125 million. But then it all collapsed.

In 1987, Jessica Hahn, a previous church secretary, mentioned that Jim Bakker had sexually assaulted her in 1980. The ministry had paid Hahn $200,000 to continue being tranquil. Bakker later explained he considered it was consensual.

“The way Jessica Hahn later on described her sexual encounter with Jim Bakker appears quite a lot like rape,” John Wigger, a professor at the University of Missouri, informed ABC Information in 2019. “She afterwards told me that she does not really come to feel at ease talking about it in these conditions, but she also evidently didn’t think that it was consensual.” Wigger is the writer of the reserve, PTL: The Increase and Slide of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Evangelical Empire.

Just after the information broke, Jim stepped absent from his part as the head of PTL. He ceded command to Jerry Falwell (performed in the film by Vincent D’Onofrio), one more evangelist with a history of hateful responses. And just like the Bakkers’ earlier endeavors, Falwell pushed them out of the organization they established. From ABC News:

“At a push conference in May 1987, Falwell mentioned the Bakkers have been no longer in shape to guide PTL, accusing Jim Bakker of getting secretly gay, and claimed that Tammy Faye Bakker made a extensive record of needs in purchase for them to give up strategies to appear again to PTL that incorporated huge annual salaries, two autos, a maid for one particular yr and a furnished house on a lake, among other things.”

The federal government then commenced investigating PTL’s funds and brought criminal fees against Jim. In 1988, he was indicted on 20-three counts of fraud and just one depend of conspiracy and sentenced to forty-5 decades in jail.

Afterwards Years

In 1992, the Bakkers divorced. Tammy Faye married Roy Messner, a megachurch designer, and improved her last identify. She invested her ultimate a long time continuing to sing, showing up on television, and rediscovering her partnership with God. And, as the documentary depicts, she spoke on a regular basis about her several years-very long battle with drug habit. At a single level in the documentary, Messner says her only remaining habit is Eating plan CokeHer life grew to become the inspiration for the 2007 Broadway production Large Tent: The Tammy Faye Bakker Musical. She died that exact same yr at the age of sixty-5.

Just after an appeals listening to, Jim Bakker’s sentence was lowered to eight many years, and he was paroled in 1994. He then resumed his perform as a televangelist and carries on to this day. Final thirty day period, a decide requested him to shell out additional than $156,000 in restitution immediately after “falsely professing a wellness supplement could overcome COVID-19.”

Related Topics: Real Stories

Will DiGravio commenced crafting for Film University Rejects in 2018. He also hosts The Video Essay Podcast and owns a Television.

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