Chatham's Barbara Hall Sets Entertainment Industry On Fire

By Susan Worley, from The Star-Tribune, Chatham, Virginia, May 5, 2004, p. 3A. Used with permission.

Frances Hurt and Barbara Hall

Author, television and screen writer and producer Barbara Hall (r), a Chatham native, chatted with local writer and historian Frances Hallam Hurt (l) at a meeting of the Wednesday Club last November when Ms. Hall was the guest speaker.

Chatham's own Barbara Hall has made a name for herself in the television, publishing and the entertainment industry and recently added another honor to her growing list of accolades. She has been invited to deliver the commencement address at her alma mater, James Madison University in Harrisonburg.

She will speak to 3,115 JMU graduates and their families and guests at JMU's Bridgeforth Stadium May 8.

Born and raised in Chatham, Barbara graduated from Chatham High School and is a 1982 Summa Cum Laude graduate of James Madison University with a bachelor's degree in English, concentrating in poetry and film.

Of her education at Chatham High, she has been quoted as saying, “Thank God for Elsie Todd.”

Mrs. Todd was her high school English teacher, but apparently much more when it came to encouraging her love of writing and a go after your dream attitude.

Barbara's honors thesis was a book of poetry, which is in the JMU library.

She moved to Los Angeles shortly after graduated and worked as a rock music critic for Music Connection magazine.

Although convinced she would write novels, her writing career took a turn and she wrote for television shows such as Newhart, Anything But Love, A Year in the Life, Moonlighting, I'll Fly Away, Northern Exposure, and Chicago Hope.

She developed and is executive producer of the critically acclaimed Judging Amy, completing its fifth season. Hall flavored Amy, the main character, with a strong woman's attitude and a sense of duty and conscience.

But her latest creation Joan of Arcadia has taken the industry by storm with its riveting question: “What if God was one of us?”

It has created a new awakening in thought through its main character, a teenager — Joan, who is visited weekly by God. The creator takes on many forms — child, woman, man, old, young. Each week God presents Joan with a task that only she can figure out, address, and recognize a solution. God doesn't get involved, people make choices, and God has no ties to religion.

The teme song simplifies life with lyrics of “What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us. Just a stranger on a bus. Just trying to make his way home.” It's simple and puts a new slant on spirituality.

The People's Choice Awards selected Joan of Arcadia as the “Favorite New Television Dramtic Series.” It is also a “Top Pick” of People Magazine and noted as TV Guide's Best Shows.

Barbara has authored four young adult novels and three adult novels. The latest are A Summons to New Orleans and Company, which is in production.

She has received awards for fiction, including American Library Association awards for Best Book and Most Notable Book. Also, she has received the Booklist Blue Ribbon Award and the Southern California Library Association Book of the Year award.

The television industry, her latest conquest, has rewarded her with The Humanitas Award for Television, the Image Award, the TV Guide Award, the Television Critics Association Award and the Catholics in Media Award.

She has received a Writer's Guild nomination, three Emmy nominations, a Producers Guild nomination and several Golden Globe nominations.

She has also received recognition from The Children's Defense Fund, Public Counsel and Women in Film.

Her talent as a musician and songwriter has produced a CD, along with her band The Enablers. Her recordings have been featured on Chicago Hope and on last week's season finale of Joan of Arcadia.

The Enablers perform frequently in Los Angeles.

Barbara lives in Pacific Palisades with her daughter, 12-year-old Faith, and their three dogs. Faith is a singer, an all-star soccer goalie, and a greenbelt in karate.

In her spare time, Barbara knits, studies physics, and is working on a one-act play called “The Speed of Light.”

Barbara is not alone in her talent and success. Sister Karen Hall was the first to take the West Coast by storm before her younger sister got there. Both have carved out places for themselves in the entertainment industry and continue to reach new heights of success.

Barbara and Karen are the daughters of Flo Hall of Danville and the late Ervis Hall.


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