16 items from 2014
Exclusive: Veteran network exec and producer Teri Flynn has joined Mark Ciardi’s Aspire Entertainment as Chief Content Officer and Evp, where she’ll help develop content for the new multiplatform production company alongside founder and CEO Ciardi. Aspire opened up shop recently after the Secretariat and Million Dollar Arm producer split from Mayhem Pictures, where he and partner Gordon Gray specialized in inspirational sports features. The strategy at Aspire will follow a similar creative goals while opening new avenues to digital content and international audiences.
“I looked around a year ago realized it was a fast-changing world,” Ciardi told me. Aspire will stay in traditional features and television while also emphasizing digital content geared toward platforms like Netflix. The company will focus on sports-themed content as well as look for stories sourced from emerging markets under former pro baseballer Ciardi, who formed Aspire with Tom Duterme and venture capitalists »
- Jen Yamato
The separation is amicable, according to an individual close to the producers.
The duo have a first look deal at Walt Disney Studios, where they have been since 2002. Mayhem and Gray will continue to be based at Disney. Ciardi is taking on a different producing venture at another company, but the details are still being finalized.
Mayhem’s past projects include “The Tooth Ferry,” “The Rookie,” “Invincible” and “Secretariat.” It is currently working on the track drama “McFarland USA” with Kevin Costner and the fantasy drama “Fallen.”
- Brent Lang
Reviewing a new TV show usually comes out to about 50 percent analysis of what's there, 50 percent psychic projection of what the show might become past the episode(s) you've seen. With comedy, the balance tilts heavily towards the psychic end of things, because so few comedies start out strongly, and you have to make an informed guess as to what mediocre pilot will turn out to be great like "Parks and Recreation," and what will settle for being crass like "2 Broke Girls." Even having more episodes beyond the pilot isn't always a help. Back in January, for instance, Comedy Central sent out the first two "Broad City"s to critics. They were clever and seemed to have a distinctive voice, but it was a busy time of year, and I moved on to other things. Then my friends kept raving about it, I watched the rest of the season over the summer, »
- Alan Sepinwall
“McFarland USA,” based on a true story, centers on a coach in a predominantly Hispanic California town who creates a high school track team that overcomes social and physical hurdles to become champions during the 1980s.
Two other films have already been dated for Feb. 20 — Relativity’s “Jane Got A Gun,” starring Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman, and Open Road’s “The Gunman,” starring Sean Penn, Javier Bardem and Idris Elba.
Costner recently starred in another sports drama — Lionsgate’s “Draft Day,” which delivered middling returns with about $29 million domestically.
- Dave McNary
50 to 1
Directed by Jim Wilson
Imagine, if you will, a horse race that starts and finishes in a blink of an eye. We see your choice winner bucking behind the starting gate. His chances of winning are slim to none, fifty to one in fact. You may not know anything about the horse, but you like the sound of his name on the program, and figure you can make some nice cash from a long shot. The gate opens and your horse bellows out the door. Immediately cut to the first bend and he is trailing behind the team. Now, immediately cut to the last and he strides to the finish line by a large margin. Victory is yours, but to what fulfillment? Sure you’re happy that your horse won, and heck, you might have made a serious winning. You probably »
- Christopher Clemente
The London Indian Film Festival (Liff, July 10-17) and The Walt Disney Company are delighted to announce that Madhur Mittal, the star of Million Dollar Arm, will participate in an exclusive Q&A alongside producer Mark Ciardi at the film’s UK Premiere at Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue on July 14. Million Dollar Arm, which also stars Jon Hamm, Suraj Sharma, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton is the London Indian Film Festival’s Centrepiece Gala.
Now in its fifth year, the London Indian Film Festival is the largest South Asian film festival in Europe. The festival opens with Sold, »
- Stacey Yount
Sarah Paulson has tweeted a photo of her character in the upcoming new season of "American Horror Story". Centering around a circus-style freak show, the actress will play Bette and Dot, a woman with two heads. [Source: Twitter]
Point of Honor
Amazon Studios and ABC Signature are finalizing a pilot order deal for "Point Of Honor," a Civil War event series from both "Lost" co-showrunner Carlton Cuse and "Secretariat" director Randall Wallace. Cuse and Wallace co-wrote the script, with Wallace set to direct.
The story follows a fictional family from Lynchburg, Virginia who find their lives and family fractured by the commencement of the Civil War. 'Honor' was set up at ABC several years back but never progressed. [Source: Deadline]
- Garth Franklin
Amazon is close to making a pilot order for former “Lost” showrunner Carlton Cuse and “Secretariat” director Randall Wallace's Civil War drama, “Point of Honor.” Individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap that the streaming video service is in final negotiations on the pilot order, which will be co-produced by ABC Studios’ division ABC Signature and Amazon Studios. “Point of Honor” follows a fictional family from Lynchburg, Va. as they weather the challenges of the Civil War. Also read: USA Slate Includes Projects From Jodie Foster, Jessica Biel and Carlton Cuse Cuse and Wallace co-wrote the script. Wallace is set to direct. »
- Jethro Nededog
You’d think any movie that an all-powerful deity had a hand in would be awesome, right? Turns out, not so much. There’s barely even a story here. I’m “biast” (pro): always want to love Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly
I’m “biast” (con): total atheist
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Heaven is for real? Proven by a movie?! Well, no. At best, this cinematic sermon almost humbly acknowledges that even Christians know their fairy tale about a heaven of fluffy white clouds and Jesus in a bathrobe sounds like, you know, a fairy tale that is hard to accept at face value. At worst, it’s a shameless money grab by a family in desperate financial straits cashing in on the fantasies of their little boy. I don’t see how either option — or »
- MaryAnn Johanson
The UK’s biggest and best celebration of pop. culture, McM London Comic Con returns to ExCel London on 23-25 May for a long weekend packed with special guests, sci-fi, movies, videogames, comic books, eSports, online video, anime and cosplay. Here’s a taste of what will be on show.
Special guests meeting fans, presenting panels and signing autographs at the show include: Orphan Black star Dylan Bruce (Arrow, 24: Conspiracy, Unstoppable). Falling Skies’ Drew Roy (Secretariat, Hannah Montana), Connor Jessup (Blackbird), Seychelle Gabriel (The Spirit) and Luciana Carro (Battlestar Galactica). Game Of Thrones’ James Cosmo (Braveheart, Highlander), Julian Glover (Star Wars, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade) and Josef Altin (Eastern Promises). Nikita, Kick-Ass and How I Met Your Mother star Lyndsy Fonseca. Once Upon A Time’s Meghan Ory (Intelligence) and Beverley Elliott (Unforgiven). Henry Winkler, famous for playing iconic character The Fonz on Happy Days. »
- Phil Wheat
Baseball season is upon us, and so is Disney’s new homerun Million Dollar Arm, which opens this Friday. Recently, Wamg attended a press day where star (and fellow St. Louis Cardinals fan) Jon Hamm joined co-star Lake Bell along with real-life inspirations for the film Jb Bernstein and Rinku Singh to talk about the new summer baseball flick in a small press conference. Also participating were producers Gordon Gray and Joe Roth. Check it out below.
Based on a true story, sports agent Jb Bernstein (Jon Hamm) finds that business has changed and things aren’t going well for his career. In a last ditch effort to save his livelihood he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next great pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a major league baseball star, Jb travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “The Million Dollar Arm. »
- Melissa Howland
Chicago – It would be easy to dismiss “Heaven Is for Real,” given that it is based on the visions of the afterlife by a child, that just happens to coincide perfectly with Christian doctrine (Jesus, Angels, etc.). But there is more to this film in the sincerity of its spirituality, and it succeeds with that inspiration.
The key was establishing a viable authenticity to the atmosphere of the vision, and get the right cast to deliver it, which director Randall Wallace (“Secretariat,” “We Were Soldiers”) was able to accomplish. He creates a hometown America that is part of the scenario, a luxurious and spacious hinterland of unyielding peace. The juxtaposition of the otherworldly garden of the boy’s vision with the wonder of earth creates a “heaven” that is for real, if we open our eyes. That spirit of simplicity becomes the kingdom.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Despite its hopelessly silly title, the handsome and humanistic “Heaven Is for Real” is poised to become the biggest Christian crossover hit since the “Chronicles of Narnia” franchise. That's because director Randall Wallace (“Secretariat,” “We Were Soldiers”) offers a soft sell on Reverend Todd Burpo's truth – that his then three-year-old son Colton met Jesus during a life-saving operation, as related in his best-selling non-fiction book. Wallace smartly leaves room for skeptics of Burpo's account to maintain their doubt; what matters most is that audiences understand the film character's reasons for choosing to believe his son's vision/dream/delirium. Also read: ‘God's Not. »
- Inkoo Kang
After the contentious likes of “Noah” and “God’s Not Dead,” Hollywood’s season of Christian-themed cinema continues in relatively innocuous fashion with “Heaven Is for Real,” a bland, earnest yet appreciably restrained adaptation of Midwestern minister Todd Burpo’s inspirational bestseller about his young son’s miraculous glimpse of eternity. Audiences not inclined to suspend their disbelief, let alone take a leap of faith, will have no use for the film’s corn-fed sincerity or its clean-scrubbed celestial visions. Still, it’s something of a relief to report that the movie isn’t quite the vomitous bucket of spiritual saccharine the ads would suggest, and those willing to engage may be pleasantly surprised by some of its understated virtues: a carefully open-minded appeal to skeptics, a wry sense of humor that wards off sententiousness at key moments, and a fine cast of name actors (led by Greg Kinnear) who »
- Justin Chang
Christian moviegoers already turned God's Not Dead into a surprise hit this year, and even more should flock to Heaven Is For Real, a movie made on a bigger budget and drawn from a best-selling book about a young boy's near-death experiences of the afterlife. This picture from Braveheart screenwriter and Secretariat director Randall Wallace is unlikely to convert any skeptics, but if they wander into the multiplex, they’ll find that that the prettily photographed sermon goes down easily. The low-pressure approach of the filmmakers is very much the same tactic taken by small-town pastor Todd
- Stephen Farber
Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book of the same name, Heaven Is For Real brings to the screen the true story that has inspired millions across the globe – that of a little boy’s extraordinary, life-changing experience, and his father’s search for the courage and conviction to share his son’s discovery with the world.
Academy Award® nominee and Emmy® Award-winner Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine) stars as Todd Burpo, a small-town businessman, volunteer firefighter and pastor struggling to make ends meet in a tough year for his family. After his bright young son Colton (newcomer Connor Corum in his feature film debut) is rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, Todd and his wife Sonja (Kelly Reilly, Flight, Sherlock Holmes) are overjoyed by his miraculous survival. But they are wholly unprepared for what happens next — Colton starts to matter-of-factly recount what he says was an amazing journey to heaven and back. »
- Movie Geeks
16 items from 2014
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