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Russell Wolfe, Producer of ‘God’s Not Dead,’ Dies at 50
Russell Wolfe, prolific producer of faith-based films such as recent hit “God’s Not Dead” through his Pure Flix studio, died May 27 in Scottsdale, Arizona of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
Russell produced and co-starred in 2014’s “God Not Dead,” which grossed $60 million dollars. He was diagnosed with ALS during the film’s release.
He continued to work during his illness, producing the sequel “God’s Not Dead 2,” planned for a spring 2016 release.
Wolfe was a co-founder of production company Pure Flix, which has produced and distributed nearly 100 faith and family properties. Among the other films he produced and acted in were “What If…,” “In the Blink of an Eye” and “Me Again.”
He is survived by his wife, Alysoun, and their two children.
- Variety Staff
Empire Sets Season 2 Premiere Date
Oh, and Anika, this is a premiere date!
Fox has officially marked the calendar for the hotly anticipated Season 2 kickoff of its hip-hop soap opera Empire — Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 9/8c.
RelatedFox Fall Schedule: Scream Queens Takes Tuesday Crown, Sleepy Rises on Thursday, X-Files Held ‘Til January
Series star Taraji P. Henson first spilled the cookies beans via Twitter; the EmpireWriters handle confirmed the news.
The castings (though no details on their roles) were announced at Fox’s’ annual Upfront presentation earlier this month. »
Box Office: ‘San Andreas’ Shakes Up $3.1 Million Thursday Night
Cameron Crowe’s “Aloha” generated a modest $500,000 at 2,275 locations in preview showings on Thursday night, in line with expectations that the Sony comedy-drama will open with in a range of $8 million to $12 million.
Warner Bros.’ 3D “San Andreas,” depicting a massive earthquake in California, is expected to take first place by a wide margin this weekend with about $40 million at 3,777 locations. Village Roadshow Pictures co-financed and co-produced “San Andreas” with Warners for $110 million with much of the movie shot in Australia to take advantage of government incentives.
Johnson plays a helicopter pilot seeking his daughter — portrayed by Alexandra Daddario — in the aftermath of the mega-quake. “San Andreas” is directed by Brad Peyton, who also helmed Johnson in New Line’s “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. »
- Dave McNary
Channing Tatum and Sony to Make ‘Two Kisses for Maddy’
Channing Tatum has set up the tear-jerker memoir “Two Kisses for Maddy” at Sony’s TriStar label to produce and possibly star through his Free Association production company and Temple Hill Entertainment.
The father-daughter drama is based on Matthew Logelin’s memoir “Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love,” which centers on his marriage, the death of his wife 27 hours after she gave birth to their daughter and his experiences of raising his daughter as a single parent.
“Two Kisses,” which took its title from the kisses Logelin gave his daughter each night, landed on the New York Times bestseller list when it was published in 2011.
The project was set up in 2012 as a Lifetime movie with Marta Kaufman and Denise Dinovi as exec producers but did not go forward.
- Dave McNary
James Marsden, Thomas Middleditch Tapped for Animated Comedy ‘Henchmen’
The movie is a Bron Studios production in association with CW Media Finance, with Adam Wood directing from is own script. Producers are Bron Studios’ Aaron L. Gilbert and Luke Carroll; executive producers are Jason Cloth of CW Media Finance and Bron’s Brenda Gilbert.
Wme Global is handling sales of the film outside Canada, while eOne Canada will distribute in Canada.
Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”) is voicing Lester, a new recruit to the Union of Evil, where he is assigned to a motley crew of blue-collar workers led by a fallen henchmen (voiced »
- Dave McNary
Jessica Chastain and Amy Schumer to Costar in Weinstein Comedy? Yes, Please
In Fall 2014, Weinstein sealed the deal on "Plus One," a female-driven comedy written by April Prosser and produced by Gloria Sanchez Productions, which is dedicated to women-led film and TV projects, alongside executives Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Now, it's confirmed that Jessica Chastain will star in this comedy about a woman, Rachel, who comes out of a long-term relationship only to realize all her friends have married off and there’s no one single left to go out with — except Summer, the loud, sexually over-sharing wild card who is now Rachel’s only option for a wing woman. Read More: Amy Schumer Says “If You’re Against Feminism, You’re a Crazy Person” According to The Tracking Board, the studio wants shameless, filter-free and unapologetic comedian Amy Schumer to costar. (It's nobody's guess which role she'd play.) That's because Schumer is everywhere these days. She is unabashed »
- Ryan Lattanzio
10 Stories You Might Have Missed: Chris Pine may romance a DC Comics super hero
Wonder Woman may have found her man. Chris Pine is in talks to co-star in Warner Bros.’ upcoming big screen take on the DC Comics superheroine, according to Variety. And now nerds everywhere have been inspired to write Captain Kirk/Diana Prince fan fiction. The “Star Trek” actor would play love interest Steve Trevor, who has a long history with Wonder Woman in the comic books. The character’s first appearance was 1941’s “All-Star Comics” No. 8 when his U.S. Army plane crash-lands on Paradise Island, home to Diana and her fellow Amazons. Gal Gadot of the “Fast and Furious” franchise is playing the title hero. Set to direct the film is Patty Jenkins (“Monster”). Also in this week’s edition of 10 Stories You Might Have Missed: Disney pulls the plug on a long-awaited sequel, Ryan Seacrest lines up his next TV hosting gig, Netflix renews another series, and Iggy Azalea cancels her summer tour. »
- Emily Rome
Screech From 'Saved by the Bell' Convicted of Two Misdemeanors in Stabbing Case
Port Washington, Wis. (AP) — TV actor Dustin Diamond was convicted Friday of two misdemeanors stemming from a barroom fight, but a Wisconsin jury cleared the former Saved by the Bell actor of the most serious felony charge. The jury's verdict came just hours after the 38-year-old actor testified that he never intended to stab anyone in the fight last Christmas Day. He had pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of recklessly endangering public safety, plus two misdemeanors — carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct. Diamond, who played the character Screech on the popular 1990s show,
- The Associated Press
Put Down That Thong, Girl: Granny Panties Are (Apparently) Coming Back in Style
Are young women everywhere saying no to constant wedgies? For years, ladies have succumbed to butt floss because thongs were all the rage in the underwear world, and saved the granny panties for laundry day. But it looks like times are changing. The New York Times reports that there's been a shift in undie trends with younger women recently, claiming that females nowadays are preferring more coverage when it comes to their underwear. "Within millennial and Generation Y consumer groups, it's considered cool to be wearing full-bottom underwear," Bernadette Kissane, an apparel analyst at the market intelligence firm Euromonitor, said to Nyt. "Thongs have had their »
‘Empire’ Live-Stream Event: Cast Performs, Producers Join for Q&A (Video)
The cast and series producers behind Fox’s “Empire,” which tells the story of the raucous musical Lyon family, held a live-streaming panel and performance event on Friday from Los Angeles. Cast members participating included Taraji P. Henson, Trai Byers, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Gray Kaitlin Doubleday, Grace Gealey and Estelle. Co-creators and executive producers Lee Daniels and Danny Strong and executive producers Brian Grazer and Ilene Chaiken also attended and answered questions about the coming season. Also Read: 5 'Empire' Takeaways From Show's Star Terrence Howard and Creators at the Code Conference Highlights of the event: “I just feel like watching »
- Deborah Day
Chris Pratt Hilariously Shows Off the British Accent He Picked Up From England's Version of Jersey Shore: Watch Now!
To be honest, Chris Pratt could have just sat quietly for two minutes and we'd be urging you to watch—but this is actually really extra-cute! During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show that will air June 6 on BBC America, the Jurassic World star was asked just how much of a fan he was of the so-called scripted reality show The Only Way Is Essex (aka Towie). And at first Pratt tried to blame his wife for his viewing habits, but it became pretty obvious that he was hooked too. "We love that garbage TV back in the states, my wife is crazy about it!" Pratt explained the kinship they felt with Towie, which he described as England's version of the Jersey Shore. "We shot Guardians of »
Watch the Disturbing Trailer for Rashida Jones’ Porn Documentary ‘Hot Girls Wanted’
A provocative new Netflix documentary has just bowed on the streaming service, offering a disturbing inside look at the amateur porn industry and the young women who populate it.
“Hot Girls Wanted,” produced by Rashida Jones, takes viewers inside the world of young adult film stars after the camera stops rolling. In his Sundance Film Festival review, Variety’s Geoff Berkshire wrote that the film “will shock and outrage audiences in equal measure.”
“I was terrified, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I could tell him no,” one of the girls admits in the newly released trailer.
“The film was created to not only expose this appalling business but to serve as a warning to teens and parents that good opportunities, particularly online, are never what they seem,” Netflix said in a statement.
- Mannie Holmes
Trista Sutter Reminds Us That the Bachelor Franchise Does Result in Lasting Love...Sometimes!
Hey, don't forget about Trista Sutter! In the wake of the latest Bachelor bombshell that dropped earlier this week when sweethearts Chris Soules and Whitney Bischoff "mutually and amicably decided to end their engagement" roughly six months after Soules popped the question (in real life, not when the finale aired), the original Bachelorette is sticking up for the franchise. We were deep in a Ben & Jerry's binge mourning the loss of Prince Farming and his soon-to-be princess when the show's creator Mike Fleiss took to Twitter to reminisce on just a few of the success stories that have come out of 19 seasons. "3 weddings in 2 years ain't bad, »
Dane Cook is a real 'Troublemaker' on Showtime [Exclusive Video]
"It was that epiphany moment," admits Dane Cook when asked about the theme of his latest stand-up comedy special "Troublemaker," which aired on Showtime last fall. "The title came from talking to a couple some months after they had seen me working on this chunk of material," he recalls during our recent video chat (watch below). "At the time, I hadn't really figured out what the theme was going to be, I just knew there was a lot of stuff that was going to be really caustic about our insecurity in relationships, especially in a tech world where we can constantly spy on and keeps tabs on one another." -Break- Jon Stewart shocks viewers by departing 'Daily Show' later this year He reveals, "this couple broke up after my show, pretty much immediately … and one of them mentioned something about being a troublemaker. I was like "alright, that's it", I »
Pierce Brosnan’s ‘Survivor’ Premieres for Free With Hoopla App
Streaming app Hoopla is bringing first-run VOD movies to library patrons of for free, with choices like the brand-new Pierce Brosnan-Milla Jovovich actioner “Survivor” and recent day-and-date VOD release “Welcome to Me,” starring Kristen Wiig.
Hoopla Digital allows patrons of dozens of libraries across the country access to hundreds of free movies, mostly library titles such as Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” “Tracks” and “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” as well as TV shows such as “Marco Polo” and numerous childrens’ programs.
The service also offers music and ebooks. Libraries pay Hoopla a fee for each time a library patron streams a title, while the users can stream on any device, free of charge, for up to three days.
“Survivor” is also opening in a small number of theaters — just in case moviegoers don’t happen to have a library car.
- Reece Ristau
Tyler Perry to Host Obama at Exclusive DNC Fundraiser
President Barack Obama is returning to Los Angeles for another DNC fundraiser, this time hosted by actor Tyler Perry. Obama will be in town on June 18th for the exclusive gathering at Perry’s Westside home. Tickets per person range from $2,500 (for those who want to listen to the president’s remarks) to $33,500 (which includes dinner with Obama.) In an email sent Friday, Democratic fundraisers included a 22-page attachment touting 236 accomplishments Obama has made in office. They range from “reforming Wall Street” to “enhancing civil rights.” "That's why Democrats in all 50 states are
- Tina Daunt
Dinesh D'Souza's Film Partner Sues 'God's Not Dead' Producers for $10 Million
John Sullivan, co-director of Dinesh D’Souza’s popular documentary films, is suing the producers of God’s Not Dead claiming that he and actor Brad Stine originated the plot of what became one of the biggest Christian films of the modern era. In a lawsuit filed Friday against Pure Flix Entertainment and co-founder David A.R. White, Sullivan and Stine allege they co-created and wrote a comprehensive original treatment for a faith-based film similar to what eventually became God’s Not Dead and negotiated its production with Pure Flix, which then cut the two out of the equation. God’s
- Paul Bond
Disney Pulls Plug on ‘Tron 3′
Disney decided to put the brakes on development of “Tron 3,” the latest installment of the cult favorite that originated in the 1980s, because the studio could not find a place on its crowded slate as it looked all the way into 2018, according to an executive at the studio.
The team that had been coming together to make the film got word Friday that Hollywood’s top studio would not go ahead with the film in the foreseeable future, despite the franchise’s popularity and the fact that the 2010 version “Tron: Legacy” made nearly $400 million worldwide at the box office.
“We had never greenlit the movie, but it was in development for some time,” said one Disney executive, discussing the sensitive decision to table the project. “Things in the queue got ahead of it and we have such a big slate out in front of it, we started to think, »
- James Rainey
Disney Unplugs ‘Tron 3’ Starring Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde
Disney has come to its senses and elected not to move forward with “Tron 3,” which was gearing up to start production this fall in Canada under the direction of Joseph Kosinski. Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde were slated to return to star and Kosinski had been courting Jared Leto and Olivia Munn to co-star in the big-budget sequel. The cancellation of “Tron 3” comes on the heels of “Tomorrowland” underperforming at the box office last weekend. Brad Bird‘s original film cost Disney $180 million and grossed a disappointing $42.7 million over the four-day holiday weekend. Also Read: Joseph Kosinski Attached to. »
- Jeff Sneider
Lena Dunham Totally Bites It for Hillary Clinton (Photo)
Way to sink your teeth into politics, Lena Dunham. Dunham, the star of HBO’s “Girls,” made her preferences in the 2016 presidential election known on Friday, posting a photo on Instagram with a Hillary Clinton campaign bumper sticker. To be precise, the sticker was gripped between her pearly whites. Must have been tasty. Also Read: New Yorker Defends Lena Dunham's Controversial 'Dog or Jewish Boyfriend?' Article “Had the pleasure of visiting campaign headquarters in my very own Brooklyn!” Dunham wrote. “Didn’t find the grande dame herself but this bumper sticker is pretty dope… “ “Getting excited,” Dunham added. »
- Tim Kenneally
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