Former Today Producer Debuts HBO Doc on Rise of Manic Evangelical Leader

Tonight at 8 pm, HBO will premier Hard as Nails, the first feature-length documentary of former Today Show producer David Holbrooke.

The doc focuses on the hardcore ministry of a hyper-charismatic 29-year-old un-ordained Catholic minister named Justin Fatica, who travels the country, using somewhat unorthodox methods to attract legions of angsty teenagers to the word of God. At one point in the doc, Mr. Fatica blindfolds teenage participants, who then carry around heavy wooden crosses while others haze them, a la the Romans berating Christ.

Such tactics have earned Mr. Fatica both a large following among young, atypical parishioners, as well as critics within the Catholic Church.

In a recent interview with HBO.com, Mr. Holbrooke said: "This is a very uncertain world we live in, between 9/11, a crumbling environment, and the advance of technology. The rise of evangelicals has come about because if you look at the 20th century, it was the most sped up century we have ever had–cars, planes, radio, television, computers, space age; just astonishing developments in one century."

"And with Justin and the Hard as Nails ministry, what I see is that kids feel a little lost," added Mr. Holbrooke. "There are so many choices between the YouTubes and MySpaces and I think they really don’t know how to feel grounded. And here comes something tangible that makes them feel better about themselves, and they grasp it."