GATE opens to uplift

New organization promotes positive messages in media

A group of Hollywood creatives are taking a cue from bestselling "Power of Now" author Eckhart Tolle and forming an organization that promotes uplifting messages in entertainment.

The organization is called GATE -- the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment -- and it was founded by John Raatz of the PR firm the Visioneering Group. In an invitation-only inaugural meeting on the Fox lot last Thursday, attending celebrities such as Adrian Grenier, Jackson Browne, Virginia Madsen, Garry Shandling and Billy Zane were urged to make products that deliver a positive message.

"Clearly, these are times of unprecedented transformation, both individually and globally," Raatz said. "Everywhere you look, people are questioning values, identity and meaning. We're intending for GATE to support entertainment and media professionals who realize media's power to effect positive change, and want to contribute to this transformation through their work."

The concept was partly inspired by the works of Tolle, whose Zen teachings have encouraged millions to "live in the present moment." Tolle's books received global recognition after the author appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and the talk-show host conducted a 10-week online seminar with the author.

"We create images that people all over the world see as reality," said Peter Shiao, CEO of the Orb Media Group and one of the speakers at the event. "With that power comes responsibility. This is about delivering rich transformational experiences that people want to pay money for. Transformational media is already upon us every time Barack Obama is on TV. Tonight is about putting a name on this movement -- this is our Constitutional Hall."

HBO executive Scott Carlin noted that even social media devices like Twitter suggest the world is ready for a more inspirational message.

"People are literally Twittering their lives away at 140 characters or less," Carlin said. "It's a massive manifestation of mankind's need to belong."

At the event, Tolle cited instances of inspiring themes in movies. He noted, for example, that war movies such as "All Quiet on the Western Front" that show "the insanity of war" can be transformational, as well as movies depicting spiritual growth of the main character (such as "The Last Samurai").

Tolle recalled the modern classic "Groundhog Day," where Bill Murray's jaded character is trapped in a small town, reliving the same day over and over, until he finally stops resisting the present moment, makes the most of the time he has and accepts everybody around him.

Though Tolle was the event's headliner, many also turned out to see Jim Carrey, whose film last year "Yes Man" embraced a message of spiritual acceptance.

"We live on a planet where we are all really crammed together and yet we do really well," Carrey said. "But when we watch the news and we watch entertainment it's all about conflict. And you imagine that the world is an explosive, horrifying place. It's really non-representative of the way the world is and what the world wants."