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Garth Brooks' 'Unanswered Prayers': How the Song Became a Movie

by Pat Gallagher, posted Nov 29th 2010 1:05PM
Unanswered PrayersWhen Garth Brooks co-wrote the song 'Unanswered Prayers' 20 years ago, little did he know the song would make its way to the small screen.

The ballad about infidelity has been adapted by Lifetime in a new made-for-TV-movie 'Unanswered Prayers' (airing tonight at 9PM ET). Ben Beck (Eric Close) and wife Lorrie (Samantha Mathis) find their marriage test when he runs into his old high school flame Ava Andersson (Madchen Amick).

TV Squad spoke to Brooks and Close about turning a song into a movie and how infidelity is a bitch.

Brooks' 'Unanswered Prayers' lyrics point out that after he runs into his old high school flame at a hometown football game, "She was the one that I'd wanted for all times/And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine/And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then/I'd never ask for anything again."

Before the song ends, he recognizes that "She wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams ... I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all."

The movie stays true to the theme of the song, but carries it one step further. We'll only say it involves skinny-dipping in a water-filled quarry.

Close's character, Ben, has to make a choice after his drop-dead gorgeous high school girlfriend comes back to town.. Nostalgic memories and lust make temptation that much harder to resist.

"I will say temptation is always out there," Close told us, referring to his character's shortcomings. "I can't speak for individuals, but I just know that this is a common thing. People face temptations, and I think people are more vulnerable when they're struggling in their own relationships, and sometimes it's easier to just to go that route as opposed to really do the work and to communicate.

"The problem is a lot of times people just don't communicate. They assume that the other person knows what they're thinking or should know what they're thinking ..."

Close, who wed wife Keri 15 years ago, believes marriage takes work, the "work of continuing to keep it fresh and continuing to grow together."

"It's understandable when you're in a relationship with one person for a long period of time, there's going to be times when you don't like each other or you have those thoughts like, 'Man I could just get out of here right now,'" he said. "But then, when you think about the alternative ... I know a lot of people who have been divorced, and it doesn't make their life better unless they're in a situation where they're in an abusive situation or someone has been unfaithful consistently. In those situations, I think you're warranted to move on."

Brooks pointed out that that "fear" of infidelity is a two-way street. "I don't think it only holds for wives myself. I think it holds for spouses in general," he said. "I can tell you being married to an entertainer, an artist, this whole world right now is about beautiful people. If you're basing your worth on your talent, there's 8,000 people out there more talented than you are. I hear the whole thing about the fear in the heart of wives, but I just think it works both ways."

Unanswered PrayersThe movie's secondary plot focuses on Ben's obsession that his son Jesse (Tony Oller) carry out his own dreams by earning a football scholarship. When Jesse reveals he would rather pursue his passion for writing, it creates more turmoil for the Beck family.

Brooks had his own take on parents who try to interfere with their children's dreams of who they want to be. "Anybody who has children, I think this is the world's greatest advice," he told TV Squad. "Get ready for this because even when they're three or four years old, they are going to be who they are going to be. That's it. You can teach them manners, you can teach them morals and everything, but they are going to be who they are going to be. So just run alongside of them, love them, get your hands out if they fall and help them up, but they're runnin' where they're runnin.'

The superstar country artist, who served as executive producer for the project, had resisted sending his original No. 1 song into the hands of film producers.

Garth Brooks"Ever since 1990 when it came out, the West Coast has approached us to making a movie of 'Unanswered Prayers,'" Brooks explained. "But every time they do, they seem to bring a treatment that seems to want to kind of fix it, if that makes any sense. They want to take it somewhere else. And it's like, 'Guys I think this song is pretty universal.'

Tanya Lopez (Senior Vice President, Original Movies) at Lifetime came to me and said, 'Look, this is what we want to do. We want to make a movie of the song. We don't want to change it. We'll bring it into modern times, the song is 20 years old.' So she did that. She kept her word."

Hanky Alert: Bring at least two handkerchiefs to the couch. There will be tears.

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I was unable to see the movie because, as it turns out, I don't get Lifetime.

The song never mentions anything that would lead you to believe infidelity was involved... however, I guess it doesn't count it out, either. In a way, I'm sad to hear that it was included in the movie, but on the other hand, you can't tell the story of what happens in that 3-minute song without adding stuff to it, if you are going to make a full-length movie. If the story basically allows the husband to 'go there' with his old flame, but then in the end he realizes that's not where he belongs and not who he truly loves and he comes to really appreciate the gift of who his wife is... well, I think there IS something to be said for a story like that. Whether the wife can live with what her husband has done and continue to live her life with him, that's something each woman has to work through... some will, some won't. But it DOES happen, I don't see why the movie shouldn't deal with the reality of the mistakes people make.

Having said that... I'm completely disgusted with some of the comments made here that link Garth Brooks' personal life with the song and the movie. And frankly, not one person who did 'go there' has that story right! Y'all need to be careful to keep you mouths shut about real-life stuff that you really don't know anything about. Garth hadn't even MET Trisha before he married Sandy. While there has been WILD speculation, there is no proof that Garth & Trisha had anything other than friendship between them, prior to Garth & Sandy's divorce. Did Garth cheat on Sandy? He has admitted to doing so, but from everything I have seen/heard, that situation was completely unrelated to Trisha Yearwood. I'm not an idiot, I realize that there is a chance that something happened between G & T prior to either one of their divorces... but some of the things stated here are stated matter-of-factly and some of them are just flat-out wrong! Whatever did or didn't happen, Garth did leave 'the road' and did put a concerted effort into saving his marriage with Sandy. Unfortunatley, too much, too little, too late... and she was not able to completely forgive him and move forward in their relationship, so it ended. It was only after the decision to divorce was made that he and Trisha allowed themselves to move forward with a relationship that went beyond their friendship and ultimately decided to marry.

Garth Brooks is not perfect, by any means, but if you're gonna sling the mud, make sure you pick up the right mud and not just some junk you read in a tabloid.

December 02 2010 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DeeDee's comment

I have posted this before and will do it again. I think GB cheats on Trisha Y today. I think this because I'm a man and can see it in his eyes. When he initially met Trish, he was crazy about her, because she was unattainable at the time. That made him want her more at the time. When you look at videos from back then, he had a gleam in his eye when he looked at her. Not today. He looks bored with her and over it, imo. And when he presented the award to Carrie Underwood in Nashville, did anyone else here notice the way he tipped his hat and looked into her eyes, as though he was trying his best to make eye contact with her. I thought it was funny when Carrie blew it off like it was no big deal. She barely smiled at him when he did that. Look, I am a guy, and I know what's up. GB is a typical man; he wants what he can't have and I'll leave it at that. IN MY OPINION, he cheats today. He's just slick about it.

December 02 2010 at 9:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great Movie. I lived in Ashland, VA for 30 years - the town they lived in. Beautiful song.

November 30 2010 at 7:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lindsay Ryan

Even Lifetime gave up...
Lifetime movies are suppose to be the movies that inspire us to have happily ever after. Right now I am watching one called "Unanswered Prayers". I know the whole song by Garth Brooks and when I sat down to watch it I was hoping for what I picture when I listen to that song. I watch this horribly written and poorly acted movies to have hope. A love that conquered all. One that beat that lost High School love and proved you can love better and more. One that chronicles a life of happiness and devotions and makes the past a mere blur. I just figured out that Lifetime has given up all hope for a perfect love.

This movie chronicles a man who is married and his High School sweetheart comes back home after close to 20 years. Instead of not knowing her anymore he lies to his wife (or as men put it "not disclosing" everything) and meets her out for drinks, pool and then goes to her house for dinner and a night of swimming in a quarry and kissed his ex. He got caught. He cheated and lied. He, of course chooses his wife and in a sentimental attempt the other women shows up and tells her that her husband loves her, as in his wife. HE CHEATED HE LIED!! Lifetime can not except love and devotion!

What I think...No shit he loves his wife. Lies are lies. That is trust that is built up after years and he just blew a hole in it. Should a marriage end because of this, no. Does this happen in real life, yes. What happened to movies where it is perfect, where the skank from the past is forgotten and the loving wife and mother prevail? We know what difficulties every day relationships have. Real relationships that new mothers require sleep. Women begin to sag after ten years. Marriages that both parents have to work a mundane job with poor pay just to support one child and a two bedroom home. Why are love stories becoming so real? What happened to Cinderella?

November 30 2010 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Judging from the warm and fun loving person you seem to be Hello Art... maybe someday your spouse will do the same to you? Now the fact that he married Sandy because Trisha wasn't "available" pisses me off right there. The fact also that when Trisha was "available" yet married to someone else makes me wonder what kind of man Garth really is. Maybe he should be in politics. Could you imagine your spouse coming home after 45 years of marriage and saying "Hey when I settled for you I really wanted someone else and now that someone else is available. Let's get a divorce!" How would you feel?? To tell you the truth... I would not buy a postage stamp with his fat face on it!

November 30 2010 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Donna D.

Not that he needs defending, but GB fell in love w/ Tricia Yearwood BEFORE he married Sandy. Yearwood was already married at that time. When Yearwood divorced, Brooks did team up w/ her. Yes, he cheated on his wife. Pretty much like Johnny Cash and June Carter. And that marriage lasted until their deaths. Sometimes we get a second chance at happiness and we should take it. Don't judge him. I am married 45 years myself. Finding one's true love is a blessing.

November 30 2010 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought Garth sang about what life was all about. Work hard, get
married, raise a family, struggle here and there, enjoy the good
times and believe in America. I could relate to him. When I found out
he cheated ...with Tricia no less, my image of him was totally blown.
My wife and I have been married 30 years and counting, 2 great sons. I
know a good thing when I have it.

November 30 2010 at 3:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mrs B

"Unanswered Prayers"......is one of GB's best songs. The song has touched many lives over the past twenty years I am sure. Anyone who had an old high school flame both male and female could relate to this song. There are times in our life when we cross paths with our pasts again either by effort or chance - that does not mean that there will be infidelity. I watched the movie and the story line was good it did not parallel the song. No where in the song is there infidelity. There is only gratitude for the blessings that were in his life. - guess you just can't mess with a classic.

November 30 2010 at 2:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Garth Brooks wrote this song when he was messing with Tricia Yearwood. His wife found out but she did not forgive him so he finally married Tricia. He knows all about infidelity so he should be able to write a good song about it.If he's done it once, he'll do it again....poor Tricia.

November 30 2010 at 12:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Missed 1/2 of the movie..Is it going to play again?

November 29 2010 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Donna D.

I remember when GB recorded this song 20 years ago. I was a big fan of his. I don't believe the song is about infidelity. He met the "old high school flame" at a football game and his wife was with him. They talked and then he realized that she had changed and it just wasn't special anymore. When the old flame walked away he looked at his wife and realized that the right choice was made. I never got the impression that infidelity was involved.

November 29 2010 at 10:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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