Connect with us


Stage blight: Stimulus funds provide hope for shuttered venues | Arts and Entertainment

becker blake



Stage blight: Stimulus funds provide hope for shuttered venues | Arts and Entertainment

Live entertainment venues that went dark last spring with COVID-related lockdowns and lockouts saw some signs of hope in late December with the passage of the coronavirus relief package signed into federal law.

The $900 billion in relief includes the Save Our Stages provision, providing $15 billion to independent venues such as live music stages, movie theaters and museums shuttered by the pandemic.

In June, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced the Save Our Stages Act to provide Small Business Administration grants for independent venue operators affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The grants could provide six months of financial support to keep venues afloat, pay employees, and, the senators say, “preserve a critical economic sector for communities across America.”

The Save Our Stages Act was originally promoted by the National Independent Venue Association, which says 2.1 million emails were sent to elected officials expressing their support for the provision. The relief package is now known as the Shuttered Venues Grant.

“Independent venues were some of the first establishments to close down and will likely be some of the last to open,” Sen. Klobuchar said in a news release. “I refuse to sit by and let the music die, which is why I was proud to introduce the bipartisan Save our Stages Act. This funding will get small entertainment venues the help they need to make ends meet and serve our communities for generations to come.”

Sen. Klobuchar said the Save Our Stages Act was designed to identify independent live venue operators, promoters, and talent representatives to prevent large, international corporations from receiving federal grant funding.

Officials at local entertainment venues are waiting for more information on the program. As of Thursday, an application from the SBA wasn’t yet available for venues.

According to the Wladis Law Firm, where government relations is a practice area, applicants that have lost more than 90% of revenue will be able to apply first, within the first two weeks of the program. During the next 14 days of the program, applicants that have lost more than 70% of revenue will be able to apply.

“There is a potential that we could get some money, but we’re not sure what that’s going to look like and when the money is going to run out,” said Julie R. Garnsey, executive director of the Thousand Islands Performing Arts Fund, which oversees operations at the Clayton Opera House.

That $15 billion could disappear in a hurry, Mrs. Garnsey said.

“When you think about that, there’s a lot of arts organizations nationwide that are going to completely go out of business because of this pandemic,” she said.

According to data from Sen. Klobuchar, 90% of venue owners, promoters, and bookers reported they are at risk of closing without additional financial assistance with an estimated $9 billion in losses should ticket sales not resume until later this year.

Mrs. Garnsey, who hopes to apply in the second round of funding, said that because of canceled 2020 shows, the opera house lost 75 percent of its income last year, but it could have been much worse, if not for loyal patrons.

“Our patrons typically donate every year anyway,” she said. “They still donated last year. We got several new people who came out of the woodwork because their message was, ‘We want to see you open your doors again.’”

Many of the patrons who purchased tickets for canceled shows last year donated the cost of those tickets to the opera house instead of asking for a refund.

“That was pretty huge,” Mrs. Garnsey said. “People really supported us. We’ve been fortunate. I’m so grateful to all the people who have stepped up and helped us in a year that was tough for everybody.”

But the loss of ticket revenue wasn’t the only financial hit at the opera house. Revenue from advertisements in would-be program brochures dried up and four opera house weddings were canceled. After benefitting from last spring’s Paycheck Protection Program, Mrs. Garnsey was forced to furlough her staff of three from the beginning of June to the end of October while she kept working.

“We brought them back with anticipation that we’re going to open our doors, hopefully in the first six months of 2021,” she said. “We do have a season planned with flexibility, knowing we may have to push things back.”

A full 2021 season is lined up, Mrs. Garnsey said.

“We believe our spring performances will probably be pushed into the fall,” she said. “It’s possible our June performances will get pushed back as well. We’re hopeful that by July, we can be more normal.”

But a wild card is guidance, from the state, on allowed crowd sizes at public events such as concerts and sporting events; numbers that are tied to COVID cases. “That’s the biggest frustration,” Mrs. Garnsey said. “Right now, there’s no guidance, not even, ‘We’re going to let you do 25 percent capacity’ or anything like that. That’s one of the biggest frustrations that I think all performing arts centers have.”

But even 50 percent capacity would be a losing proposition for concerts at the opera house.

“We’d have to reorganize our schedule if we’re told we can only do 50 percent capacity, because we’d lose money on every show,” Mrs. Garnsey said. “We know that when it opens, we’ll have to be able to do near full capacity. With the vaccine and being hopeful this surge will settle down a bit, we anticipate that probably isn’t going to be until late June or early July.”

Sally F. Palao, administrator of Ogdensburg Command Performances, said her organization was able to get a few 2020 shows in before the pandemic closed things down.

“We have not had any income since last March,” Mrs. Palao said. “So we would qualify for the first 14 days of the (Save Our Stages) grant period. But they haven’t released anything as far as when the 14 days start, and the actual grant application.”

Like the TIPAF, the OCP has had several patrons who donated the cost of unseen shows last year back to the organization.

“They’re backing us very much,” Mrs. Palao said. “Out of my season ticket holders, I’ve had an 86 percent renewal rate from the year before.”

But as she awaits guidelines on crowd sizes, OCP has delayed the selling of tickets, even though a show has been scheduled: Feb. 27, for “Forever Young,” “an exciting look at the greatest pop, rock, and country hits of all time.”

“We’ll see if we get to do it,” Mrs. Palao said.

The OCP, Mrs. Palao said, doesn’t make a profit on ticket sales.

“Because our mission is to keep theater affordable for an area that is economically challenged,” Mrs. Palao said. “When I book, say a big musical like ‘South Pacific,’ I know that the revenue I bring in from tickets will not pay for ‘South Pacific.’ That’s why it’s important I get donations. I write grants and we do fundraisers to make up the difference.”

The OCP didn’t have to furlough anyone during the pandemic because Mrs. Palao is its only employee.

“The only time I pay people is when we have a show in town,” she said.

Those workers range from a lighting designer to a technical director. Mrs. Palao does the work ranging from office duties, booking and acting as artistic director.

“I have had some very generous people give donations because they really believe in what we do,” she said.

Live shows at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, like those at OCP, aren’t designed to be a main funding source, said LPCA executive director James Lemons. In addition to that “presenting” series, LPCA also has a visual arts and an arts education “pillar.”

“While we took hits in the other two pillars, fortunately those hits weren’t as intense as they are in the presenting ring,” Mr. Lemons said. “Our model is a little different from some other presenting organizations. We don’t rely on that ticket sale income to make profits. We cover our cost through other venues.”

Shows for the 2021 season have been pushed to October, Mr. Lemons said.

“It’s a 50-50 shot whether that happens, or not, depending on where we stand in the summer,” he said.

The LCPA has made it through the COVID crisis without furloughs and had assistance from the PPP to allow the staff of nine to keep working, but from home. But a couple of part-timers were furloughed, Mr. Lemons said.

“Because our income streams are really diversified, and we don’t tend to put all of our hats in the same bucket, we were able to mitigate some of the potential losses,” Mr. Lemons said. “It’s challenging, but we’re making it through.”

Steve Karon, director of the Sci-Tech Museum in Watertown, said the inclusion of museums in the law is in large part due to activity by the American Association of Museums, which he said should be commended for its work.

But the Sci-Tech Center won’t be able to take advantage of it. Mr. Karon said the Shuttered Venues Grant funding only allows museums that have performance or program rooms with “fixed” seating, among other requirements — “basically a specific performance facility with a daily presentation schedule”; something the Sci-Tech Center does not have.

The North County Children’s Museum in Potsdam may be applying for funds in the Shuttered Venues Grant, said director Sharon Vegh Williams.

“I’m waiting to hear more,” Ms. Williams said. “They haven’t ironed out the details.”

The museum closed down in March during the state lockdown and took advantage of the PPP program. It opened back up in September.

Ms. Williams said the museum did well with grants, donations and other funding.

“We were able to meet the needs of the community and fulfill our mission,” Ms. Williams said. “But it’s still a challenge and will be until the pandemic is under control. We feel confident that with the community support we have, we’ll be able to move forward.”

Concert series such as the Norwood Village Green Concert Series aren’t eligible for the Shuttered Venues Grant because the programs are run by volunteers, not paid employees.

“As far as I can tell we are not eligible,” said Joseph M. Liotta, co-founder of the annual Norwood series. “This is not a bad thing, because instead of putting our limited but adequate resources in administration we are able to do more with programming.”

In March, Mr. Liotta suspended the 2020 season.

“We have put our down time to other uses like completing our lighting project and using the new lighting to enhance the outdoor seasonal celebrations like Halloween, and this just-completed holiday season,” Mr. Liotta said. “We’ve also used this time to bring up the standards of the rest rooms on the Village Green in a financially responsible way in cooperation with the village of Norwood.”

Mr. Liotta said “excellent progress” has been made in funding for the 2021 season.

“We have 17 events planned and are ready to present some of them to all of them as the pandemic dictates,” he said. “We’re being conservative and prepared to resume at the same time. As with everyone else, we remain flexible.”

The Orchestra of Northern New York, which also canceled the remaining of its 2020 season last spring, is researching if the organization would be eligible for the Shuttered Venues Program, according to Kathy Del Guidice, ONNY executive director.

Jeffrey A. Szot, owner of JS Cinemas in St. Lawrence County, said the Shuttered Venues Grant program sounds like something that would help his company, but he was seeking more info on it.

“There’s nothing on the SBA website and I’ve talked to some other people in the industry and we haven’t seen any applications or an entry portal anywhere,” he said.

JS Cinemas’ three indoor movie theaters — one in Potsdam, Massena and Canton — have been shuttered since March. The company’s 56 Drive-In in Massena was allowed to open under pandemic guidelines.

Mr. Szot said the company may fall under the grant program’s 90 percent loss range.

“My accountants are reviewing that right now,” he said. “We don’t have a deadline because we can’t find any documentation. That said, having a drive-in open might complicate that 90 percent a little bit.”

Owners of Lowville Town Hall Theater didn’t return phone messages for this report.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Barry Levinson reveals that Robin Williams was ‘struggling’ during making of ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’

becker blake



Barry Levinson reveals that Robin Williams was 'struggling' during making of 'Good Morning, Vietnam'
Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer in Barry Levinson's 1987 hit, 'Good Morning, Vietnam' (Photo: Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)
Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer in Barry Levinson’s 1987 hit ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ (Photo: Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Earlier this year, the internet’s collective mind was blown by the viral rumor that we were denied an NC-17 rated cut of the 1993 Robin Williams favorite Mrs. Doubtfire. That bubble was inevitably burst by the movie’s director, Chris Columbus, who noted that the comedian’s improvised on-set riffing occasionally got R-rated, but never crossed into NC-17 territory occupied by movies like Showgirls. Likewise, Good Morning, Vietnam director Barry Levinson tells Yahoo Entertainment that there’s only one version of his seminal collaboration with Williams… and it’s the R-rated cut that premiered in theaters on Dec. 23, 1987.

“It’s odd in a way, because Robin could certainly go off on any topic at a moment’s notice,” Levinson says of the late actor, who died in 2014. “Certainly, there was more material than we could have ever possibly have used. But I don’t remember language being an issue at all, to be honest with you.” Much of that extra material comes from the movie’s best-remembered scenes, when Williams — playing real-life Vietnam War-era DJ Adrian Cronauer — is seated in front of a microphone, tossing off one-liners and racing through hilarious impressions while his co-stars, including Forrest Whitaker and Robert Wuhl, repeatedly crack up. “I’d love to see what the heck was in those outtakes,” Levinson says. “I haven’t seen any of them since we made the movie.”

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 11: Producer Barry Levinson speaks on stage at HBO Winter TCA 2018 on January 11, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
Barry Levinson at the HBO Winter TCA 2018 press tour (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)

Unfortunately, the director isn’t able to head to the Buena Vista archives to see if there’s any X-rated material: Levinson believes that the defunct distributor — which has since been folded into its parent company, Walt Disney Studios — destroyed the negatives at some point in the recent past. “There was a period where they were getting rid of what you might call the extraneous footage. I think there’s some stuff left from Good Morning, but I know that when I asked about one of my earlier films, Tin Men, they said they had destroyed everything.”

But the movie itself still exists, and will be shown as part of this year’s virtual TCM Classic Film Festival, streaming May 6-9 on TCM and HBO Max. Good Morning, Vietnam is part of the “The Masters of Filmmaking” program, and Levinson will introduce the film and share recollections of its production with TCM hosts like Ben Mankiewicz. “I love TCM, because they highlight certain things in the movie to pay attention to,” the directors says. “It’s one of the few places that actually discusses film.”

TCM has also taken an active role in the ongoing conversation about evaluating the problematic pop culture of yesteryear via series like Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror. And Good Morning, Vietnam has its own moments that play differently today. In one of Williams’s riffs, the actor does an impression of a Black soldier he calls “Roosevelt E. Roosevelt.” Even though Williams doesn’t say anything overtly offensive, the scene could be viewed as an example of the kind of “spoken Blackface” that’s proven controversial on shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Asked whether a moment like that would be harder to include in a contemporary version of Good Morning, Vietnam, Levinson replies, “I think it’s harder to do everything right now in general. There’s nothing about that scene that you would look at and say, ‘Well, this is really offensive.’ Adrian is trying to explain something in the context of what he’s doing.”

“It’s hard to qualify where we are now, in terms of what’s permissible or not,” the director continues. “So you end up with a lot of stuff that just lacks a certain degree of playful humor. It’s probably one of the great confusing eras that we’ve ever entered into, because so many people you talk to say, ‘I don’t know what you can say or can’t say.’ God knows I’m not going to be the expert to explain it all.”

Levinson does think that Williams would have a better handle on how to navigate our current climate it terms of creating humor that’s funny, without being hurtful. “He was always an extremely kind humorist. It’s very seldom that you’d ever see him really attacking anything or anyone. He could talk about the absurdities of the world in a playful way with whomever he’s imitating, whether it’s someone Scottish or someone else. He just enjoyed characters and the nature of [their] absurdity, and he could do it in a way that even when people didn’t quite understand him, they could still enjoy him. He had some connection that was beyond words at times.”

In an extended interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Levinson shared other stories about how Williams’s specific genius shaped Good Morning, Vietnam, and why the comedian was “struggling” during the making of the movie.

Yahoo Entertainment: It’s interesting to reflect on where Robin Williams was in his career at the point where you made Good Morning, Vietnam. He’d been making different kinds of movies like The World According to Garp and Moscow on the Hudson, and this one fused both dramatic moments and wild comedy, setting the tone for a lot of roles he’d do going forward.

Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer in Barry Levinson's 1987 hit, 'Good Morning, Vietnam' (Photo: Buena Vista/courtesy Everett Collection)
Williams as Cronauer in ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ (Photo: Buena Vista/courtesy Everett Collection)

Barry Levinson: Yeah, he was really struggling in terms of films at that time, and was wondering if he was going to be able to make it as a film actor. I think he was nervous about that this movie could be his last shot. He called me one day and said, in his insecurity, “Listen, if the radio stuff doesn’t work, I’m willing to pay for reshoots, and we can redo it.” I told him, “Robin, there’s more here than we can possibly ever use.” I was struggling to get him to believe me that we were on solid ground. So it was a time of insecurity for him, because he hadn’t had the kind of success in movies that he did when he exploded on television with Mork & Mindy. And we all felt a little pressure, because there had never been a film about Vietnam that had any humor in it. We weren’t doing goofball comedy, but he was nervous about that and the fact that he hadn’t had a breakout film.

The arc that Adrian Cronauer has in the movie isn’t entirely dissimilar from his Dead Poets Society character two years later. You can see the seeds of that performance in what he’s doing here.

Yeah, that one is more of a drama, but I think he went into it was a lot more confidence after making Good Morning, Vietnam.

Watching the movie again, I found myself really noticing Forrest Whitaker and Robert Wuhl in the radio scenes, because their reactions seem so genuine. And I’m sure they really were reacting to his jokes in the moment.

Yes, what you see on film is what happened on set. The camera was drifting and picking up things, because it was important to see their reactions to him. It made it more cohesive and more real. There needed to be a looseness to those scenes, and they had to feel spontaneous, but we also had to hold the story beats together. I’ll give you an example of why Robin was so great. We were doing a scene in his English class, where he’s teaching the Vietnamese students. It was stiff and I didn’t believe it — there wasn’t any spontaneity. I said, “All right, let’s take a break,” and went outside in the one hundred degree heat. I saw Robin on the porch and he was sitting in a shaded area with a lot of the extras from the class. They were all laughing as he was talking to them, and I could see them enjoying themselves.

Williams is the head of the class in a scene from 'Good Morning, Vietnam' (Photo: Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)
Williams is the head of the class in a scene from ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ (Photo: Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

When we came out of the break, I went over to Robin and said, “Look, what you were just doing was so much more alive than what we’re doing. So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to give hand signals to the camera guys, and you just start talking. Wander around, pick up the main points of the scene, but let’s not be bound by the script.” Because the key to Robin as a person, and in the film, is that he’s able to relate and connect with people. He was a warm person who could have conversations that would draw everybody in. So I would give a hand signal, he’d talk to someone in the class and we’d build those scenes out of those conversations.

That also happened in the softball game scene. I didn’t want to explain how to play the game; one of the Vietnamese actors was holding a melon, and he asked me, “I’ve seen a softball, and this is not that.” I said, “Listen, I’m not in charge of the equipment — Robin is in charge of the equipment.” And he said, “Well then, I shall speak with him.” I indicated to Robin that he was coming over, and then I gave a hand signal to the camera guys and they filmed it as it was going on. And what he’s talking to Robin onscreen is literally for real: he doesn’t think that the equipment is correct for what we’re going to do and that’s just a real sequence. But it also serves the film, because you’re getting the personality of these people, as opposed to lines that they’re trying to say. It was Robin’s ability to connect to people that I think really served the film. Otherwise, I do believe it would have been much more of a mechanical piece of work.

Apparently, there was supposed to be a sequel called Good Morning, Chicago that would have taken place during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. What happened to that film?

I can’t remember the specifics anymore. Robin and I were talking about it, but I don’t know exactly what happened. In this business, a lot of things you talk about never happen! I would have liked to have revisited the character, although I don’t know what setting it would have been in. The Chicago convention would have been interesting. It’s a character you could have taken down the road and played with more, for sure.

Speaking of never-made sequels, did you ever consider making a follow-up to Wag the Dog? That film was so prescient at the time, and it would be fascinating to see what the characters would make of our current political climate.

Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro in Levinson's 1997 satire, 'Wag the Dog' (Photo: New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection)
Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro in Levinson’s 1997 satire, ‘Wag the Dog’ (Photo: New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection)

I can say this: the initial reaction at that studio when we did that film was not exactly positive. It was like, “Oh boy, we have a satire here.” They were not so thrilled about it. [Laughs] So the movie came out and did well, but I don’t think anyone was like, “Oh yeah, we’ve got to do more of this.” That never came up, at least to me. But it was a fun piece to work on, and it turned out great. It’s nice when you do something that people continue to reference in some fashion. Sometimes you hit on things that have a little staying power.

It’s also the 30th anniversary of Bugsy this year, which is famous for being the movie where Warren Beatty and Annette Bening met. Did you have a sense of the chemistry they’d have when you cast them?

Annette Bening and Warren Beatty met and fell in love during the production of 'Bugsy' (Photo: TriStar Picturs/Courtesy Everett Collection)
Annette Bening and Warren Beatty met and fell in love during the production of ‘Bugsy’ (Photo: TriStar Picturs/Courtesy Everett Collection)

I’ve told this story before, but it’s true: I met Annette for lunch, and afterwards I called Warren and said, “Look, I met with Annette Bening. I think she’s really terrific and you should meet her.” So he met her, and the next day he called me and said, “I’m going to marry her.” That was the first line out of his mouth! I laughed and said, “All right, let’s make a deal with her,” just ignoring that comment and taking it as “Yeah, she’s great for the role.” Then we made the deal and during the course of the movie they get closer and married sometime during post-production! It’s all pretty funny.

After Good Morning, Vietnam, you collaborated with Robin again on Toys in 1992. What’s the thing you miss most about him now?

He was an incredibly special talent, and also a very special individual. Even if he had never been in movies, you would have a great relationship with him if you met him. I always remember the days where we’d be sitting around, just talking about things. The curiosity that he had, and his sensitivity to things in life in general is what made him that special in that regard. And there are a couple of moments of his in the movie that I think are extremely effective. I really like the scene with the Louis Armstrong song, “It’s a Wonderful World.” At the end of it, there’s a quietness from him that allows for this introspective moment. I know some people might say, “When is that? What is he talking about!” But that’s the moment that sticks in my head.

Good Morning, Vietnam is currently streaming on HBO Max; the TCM Classic Film Festival runs May 6-9 on TCM and HBO Max.

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

Continue Reading


Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s Screen Media

becker blake



Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Reports Q4 and Full Year 2020 Results Nasdaq:CSSE


6-Part Series Will Have World Premiere on June 3, 2021 as a Crackle Original Series

Series from Creator and Rising Docu-auteur Dexton Deboree and producers DLP Media Group, Falkon Entertainment, RTG Features, Interscope Films, and Waffle Iron Entertainment

Features Guest Appearances from Moneybagg Yo, Carmelo Anthony, A’ja Wilson, and More

COS COB, Conn., May 05, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Screen Media, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. (Nasdaq: CSSE) company, announced today the acquisition of all North American and European rights to the new docu-series, Promiseland, which chronicles the rise of Memphis Grizzlies star and reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Ja Morant. The first three episodes will be available to watch for free on June 3, 2021 exclusively on Crackle as a Crackle Original series, before the final three episodes are released later in the month.

The six-part series, created and directed by Dexton Deboree, founder of Falkon and visionary behind the award-winning feature film, Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1, chronicles Morant’s rapid ascension from an unknown high-school prospect and overnight small college standout to the top tier of the NBA.

Through never-before-seen footage, audiences will witness Morant as he endures the turbulent and unprecedented 2019-20 season, battles against all odds, wins Rookie of the Year honors, and fights for a playoff berth. The series highlights the newcomer’s coming-of-age story during the most unusual season in NBA history, which includes navigating a global pandemic, a slew of doubters and disbelievers, and the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement and outcry for racial injustice reform.

“I’m used to being doubted and to facing challenges,” said Morant. “There were a lot of ups and downs and unknowns in my rookie season, but I just did what I always do – kept my head down, kept training and stayed ready. In the end, I won Rookie of the Year, but I know this is just the beginning of my story. I’m thankful I could share what goes on behind the scenes and do it on my own terms. It’s been great working with Dexton and everyone involved. I’m excited about sharing this series with fans on Crackle.”

Production on the series began on the eve of Morant’s first regular season game, continued throughout the shutdown intimately at home with his family during quarantine, inside the NBA Bubble through the pandemic, and climaxes on their final game of the season and back home for the Rookie of the Year presentation. The series features a curated soundtrack from Interscope Records, an original hip-hop-inspired score from Steve “Swiff D” Thornton, a theme song written and performed exclusively for the series by Memphis’s own Moneybagg Yo, who currently has the No. 1 album in the country, A Gangsta’s Pain, and guest appearances by current NBA star Carmelo Anthony, WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins, Grizzlies stars Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke, as well as Morant’s entire family and coaches from throughout his life.

“We are constantly on the lookout for high-impact series and movies we can launch as Originals on Crackle,” said Screen Media in a statement. “Ja is one of those rare talents that simply defines ‘high-impact’ and we know fans will thoroughly enjoy riding shotgun with him throughout his incredible rookie year.”

“Promiseland is a fantastic show for both sports fans and families, as we see a promising young athlete embark upon superstardom through hard work and thanks to the support of his family,” said Crackle Plus President Philippe Guelton. “This Crackle Original epitomizes our collection of sport docu-series that not only inspire and entertain our viewers, but makes Crackle a desirable platform for advertisers.”

“My life’s purpose is to tell stories that truly inspire the world,” said Mr. Deboree, founder and CCO of Falkon. “This series does that and so much more. My initial inspiration really stemmed from this idea of intimately, authentically and viscerally experiencing what a young athlete actually goes through as their dreams unfold in real time. We’ve seen and heard so many biographies on legends of the past sharing a look back on their life, but never the actual manifestation of the dream truly unfolding before our eyes and getting under the hood, beneath the skin and inside the heart and soul of those who are actually experiencing it while it happens.”

Mr. Deboree continued, “In this series we really ride shotgun with Ja as his dream comes true and get to really feel what it’s like as a 19- turning 20-year-old young man watching life unfold in the most magical way. He is a man of faith, integrity, honesty, compassion, humility and all of these really incredible character traits really born from and fostered by his amazing parents and the larger supporting family around him. It’s this idea of positive love and light that is a message and a narrative we need more of in the world, and Ja and his family embodies that. This series celebrates that along with so much more. I’m eternally grateful for Ja and his family for participating and trusting me in the way they did and for being who they are for the sake of the world.”

The series is a joint project from the production teams of Deboree’s Falkon Entertainment, DLP Media Group, RTG Features, Interscope Films and Waffle Iron Entertainment.

The deal was negotiated by Seth Needle, SVP of Global Acquisitions and Co-Productions on behalf of Screen Media and Greg C. Lake of DLP on behalf of the filmmakers. Screen Media is the exclusive supplier of original content to Crackle Plus networks and has provided over 200 hours of original and exclusive programming in the past year.

Screen Media Ventures, LLC, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. (Nasdaq: CSSE) company, acquires the rights to high quality, independent television series and feature films. Screen Media Ventures acquires worldwide rights for distribution through theatrical, home video, pay-per-view, free, cable and pay television, video-on-demand, and new digital media platforms. The company acquires AVOD rights for third party networks and is the main supplier of content for Crackle Plus and other Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. properties. With a library of over 1,500 television series and motion pictures, Screen Media Ventures is one of the largest independent suppliers of high-quality tv series and motion pictures to U.S. and international broadcast markets, cable networks, home video outlets and new media venues. For more information, visit

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. (Nasdaq: CSSE) operates streaming video-on-demand networks (VOD). The company owns Crackle Plus, which owns and operates a variety of ad-supported and subscription-based VOD networks including Crackle, Popcornflix, Popcornflix Kids, Truli, Pivotshare, Españolflix and FrightPix. The company also acquires and distributes video content through its Screen Media subsidiary and produces original long and short-form content through Landmark Studio Group, Chicken Soup for the Soul Unscripted,, and Halcyon Television. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment is a subsidiary of Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC, which publishes the famous book series and produces super-premium pet food under the Chicken Soup for the Soul brand name.

Crackle Plus owns and operates ad-supported VOD networks Crackle, Popcornflix and Chicken Soup for the Soul, making it one of the largest AVOD streaming platforms in the U.S. Crackle Plus has AVOD rights to over 11,000 films and 22,000 episodes of television series. Crackle Plus networks premiere at least one original and one exclusive program each month, differentiating it from other AVODs. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. (Nasdaq: CSSE) owns Crackle Plus and also acquires and distributes video content through its Screen Media subsidiary and produces original long and short-form content through Halcyon Television, Landmark Studio Group, its Chicken Soup for the Soul Unscripted division and APlus Productions. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. is a subsidiary of Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC, which publishes the famous book series and produces super-premium pet food under the Chicken Soup for the Soul brand name.

Dexton Deboree is the founder of Falkon, a creative company born at the intersection of advertising & entertainment. As a multi-dimensional creative hybrid, Dexton has worked on such multi-faceted projects as Grammy-nominated James Bond’s Quantum of Solace, Emmy-winning TV special Yes, Virginia, and award-winning brand campaigns for Jordan Brand, Nike Basketball, Football & Sportswear, ESPN, Major League Baseball, Sonos, Rémy Martin, Major League Soccer, Wilson and other select world-class brands pro sports leagues and top-tier athletes. He wrote, directed and produced the feature documentary film and now cult sneaker doc classic, Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1, which premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and is currently available on Hulu, TIDAL and most digital platforms around the world. He’s currently in various stages of development and production on a range of high-profile projects, premium docu-series, scripted TV series and feature films including projects with Serena Williams, Carmelo Anthony and his Creative 7 banner, Michael Strahan and SMAC Entertainment, rising NFL star Juju Smith-Schuster and NHL great PK Subban, among others.

Dedicated to premium, visually-compelling story creation and production, and founded by 10-time Emmy Award-winning Executive Producer and media executive Michael Hughes, DLP Media Group brings a “sports mentality” to three distinct content categories: long form, branded entertainment, and live & event. The Peabody Award-winning content group’s credits include three films in ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, along with a team who has produced content for and with partners ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, Amazon, Netflix, A&E, NFL Media, VH1, and many more.

RTG, which stands for “Respect the Game,” is a film and TV production and financing studio. With basketball storytelling as its priority, RTG focuses on original development, along with adapting articles from SLAM’s 230-plus magazine issues into both scripted and unscripted multimedia projects ranging from feature films and television to documentaries and podcasts. RTG Features is part of JDS Sports’ investment portfolio which spans venture capital and private equity, and includes: SLAM, Five-Star Basketball, Streamwise, 1091 Pictures, 19nine, VidMob, Transmit, Dibbs, ReadyUp, Framework Ventures, and more.

Interscope Films, a division of Interscope Records, was established as an avenue for music artists to create and exist in the alternate medium of Film and Television. Interscope Films was reimagined in 2019 to produce and finance content, pair artists with award-winning storytellers, and bring their creative visions to life. Initial projects include Teen Spirit starring Elle Fanning, and the Billie Eilish documentary, The World’s A Little Blurry, which premiered on Apple TV+ in February.

Waffle Iron Entertainment (WIE) is dedicated to developing, producing and distributing premium sports entertainment that inspires more athletes* (if you have a body, you are an athlete) to move every day. The focus of WIE is to tell stories that exemplify the values of sport. Told through diverse creatives in film, television and digital productions, content is designed for broad audiences and deep fandom communities.

This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements are statements that are not historical facts. These statements are based on various assumptions, whether or not identified in this press release, and on the current expectations of management and are not predictions of actual performance. Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those risks set forth in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020. If any of these risks materialize or our assumptions prove incorrect, actual results could differ materially from the results implied by these forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof and the Company expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the Company’s expectations with respect thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any statement is based.

Taylor Krafchik
(646) 776-0886

Kate Barrette
RooneyPartners LLC
(212) 223-0561

Amanda Haynes –

Prodigy PR
Erik Bright –
Jason Kasperski –
310.857.2020 x 700

Continue Reading


Kim Kardashian is still crying over The Duke leaving Bridgerton

becker blake



Kim Kardashian is still crying over The Duke leaving Bridgerton

Refinery 29 UK

The Gender Critical Movement Used Us For Their War On Trans People

For Ky, taking testosterone wasn’t ever “a lifelong decision”. At the age of 20, she started to take the hormone to get more masculine features. While she liked the physical effects, she didn’t like all of the social changes. After a few years, Ky started to wish she could be seen less as a trans man and more as a genderqueer woman. In her mid 20s, she decided to stop the treatment. “I medically transitioned when I was 20 but I always had a more complicated experience of gender. I fell somewhere between the definitions of trans man and butch,” she says. Ky is now 35 and identifies as a transmasc butch dyke, and uses she and her pronouns. For seven years she was known as a ‘detransitioner’, someone who undergoes a social or medical transition to change gender and then decides to stop or reverse the transition. From 2012 to 2019, Ky publicly renounced her transition, telling people her decision to live as a man was a mistake. It was during those seven years that she joined a group of campaigners who used her decision to reverse her transition to spread hateful messages about transgender people. This group of campaigners is varied, with splinter groups and enmities within it. Those who are part of it often refer to themselves as ‘radical feminists’ and are commonly known as ‘gender critical campaigners’. Ky is US-based but the gender critical detrans movement is prevalent across the UK too. The movement plays a major part in accelerating transphobic rhetoric online and in the media. Ky left the gender critical movement and has chosen to share with Refinery29 her rare insight into the realities of the anti-trans groups to help others understand how the movement uses people who have detransitioned for personal gain. DashDividers_1_500x100 Ky is one of a small but known group of people who once considered herself detransitioned. No one is sure of how many detransitioned people live in the UK. A recent study scanned patient assessment reports created between August 2016 and August 2017 of more than 3,000 patients at a national gender identity clinic for words related to detransition. Around 0.47% of those patients expressed some desire to detransition, totalling 16 patients out of 3,398. Out of the 16 patients, three decided to detransition permanently. Like Ky, not everyone who detransitions regrets their decision to transition in the first place. Some people might detransition because they face a lot of stigma and abuse for living as a trans person in society, or because they do not feel like the binary genders ‘man’ and ‘woman’ describe who they are. Others might have complications with gender reassignment surgery or struggle to deal with the growing costs of transitioning and the administrative burden of changing their name on their birth certificate or other legal documents. It might be that they simply do not feel like it is the right time for them to continue with their transition. There’s little information out there for people who decide to reverse some or all of the effects of a transition. This meant few people could understand Ky’s decision and help her in her time of need, leaving her susceptible to the recruitment tactics of gender critical campaigners. There’s little information out there for people who decide to reverse some or all of the effects of a transition, and an even smaller number of people to turn to for support. This lack of space for nuance meant few people could understand Ky’s decision and help her in her time of need, leaving her susceptible to the recruitment tactics of gender critical campaigners. “I was looking for people who had had similar experiences, or had a more complicated transition story,” Ky tells R29. “I started looking online and then found some blogs by detrans women [which] were pretty much all written by radical feminists.” In her search, she landed on a Yahoo group for detransitioners. She wrote a couple of posts in the US-based group and waited to see if anyone would respond. It was when Devorah, a detransitioned woman, responded that Ky’s life started to shift. “We corresponded via email. She had a lot of transphobic views. She hid them from me at first and then slowly unveiled them over time. She was transphobic but she hadn’t connected with any radical feminists yet. “I’d see these theories about trans people slowly working their way into the messages, growing more and more apparent.” Ky and Devorah met in person for the first time at Michfest, a US all-women music festival known for its attempts to ban transgender women from attending before eventually shutting down in 2015. The pair also met up with four other detrans women who were speaking at a workshop there. Michfest attracted a lot of women who supported the festival’s anti-trans message. When a few of those women heard Ky and Deborah speak at a workshop, they formed a small but enthusiastic reception for them. Upon meeting Ky later on, the women said they were thrilled to hear that she and Devorah had decided to re-identify as women. Like other gender critical campaigners in the movement, the women believed the pair were proof that transgender identities are not real and that transitioning is imposed on traumatised and vulnerable young people who later end up regretting their transition. “I got bullied growing up because I was not what a girl was supposed to ‘be’. When I told some people in the movement that, they were like, ‘Oh yeah, internalised misogyny is why you transitioned,’” Ky says. “Some lesbian feminists at the festival said they were waiting for someone like us to show up so they could say ‘Yes!’ and prove they were right the entire time.” The fact of the matter is that Ky’s decision to transition was influenced by a wealth of factors. Namely, she says, living as a trans man allowed her to explore the masculine aspect of her gender with less scrutiny. It had little to do with internalised misogyny at all. Some of the people who greeted Ky referred to themselves as lesbian radical feminists and explained that transgender men ‘erase’ women and, in turn, lesbian culture. Ky says they perpetuated hateful beliefs that transgender women are ‘fake’ and ‘predators’ whereas transgender men are considered to be ‘sad and lost’, with a past trauma or misogyny they cannot reconcile as a woman. Detransitioners like Ky who are used by the gender critical movement are instructed to fixate on the idea that their transition is a mistake and may be encouraged to fully detransition, or even implore others to renounce their transition and live as a cisgender person again. What was really compelling was this idea that if I joined in, I could finally get over this pain I’ve been carrying. I could finally get over this trauma and feel better about myself. But like life, it didn’t work like that. Ky After speaking to the women she met at Michfest and reading some gender critical literature, Ky started to refer to herself as a ‘detransitioned woman’. “Detransitioned women are seen as ripe for recruitment. They saw us like they see ex-gays dealing with internalised homophobia,” says Ky. “You’re not supposed to call yourself trans, you’re a woman with gender dysphoria.” When Ky became an active member of the movement, she was in a vulnerable spot. “I had recently quit drugs and I was learning to function in a healthy way as an adult. I was embittered because I’d had a bad experience in a queer house share that went wrong. “I think feeling out of sorts in that space and feeling out of place made me easy pickings to be radicalised,” she added. “What was really compelling was this idea that if I joined in, I could finally get over this pain I’ve been carrying. I could finally get over this trauma and feel better about myself. But like life, it didn’t work like that.” DashDividers_1_500x100 Beau, a Cajun writer and director who lives in Seattle and uses he/him pronouns, understands the experience of detransitioners caught up in the movement better than most. Beau, assigned female at birth, was part of a network of UK and US organisations which worked to peddle transphobic views and recruited detransitioners to join the movement. In 2020, Beau became one of the first ex-gender critical campaigners to publicly renounce the movement. In a watershed Medium post, Beau detailed the tactics used by the “cult-like” ideology to radicalise him. “I’m not detrans but I’m in a unique place since I was a trans kid for several years, and I blocked out my experience due to trauma, and am now back to exploring my gender identity,” he says. Beau saw the coordinated social media and recruitment tactics up close during his two years in the movement. To bring detransitioners on board, gender critics “put them on a pedestal and love bomb them”. “The goal is to get trans people to detransition or to never medically transition. Detransitioners get praised and platformed, and they’re used until they’re no longer useful,” says Beau. “At ‘best’, I’ve seen a split among gender critics between wanting to use them as tokens for their cause and wanting them to totally disappear from the discourse.” “They really are just trying to draw vulnerable people in who are traumatised so they can use and abuse them. It’s pretty unfortunate and definitely a pattern,” Ky adds. Beau also says that the movement likes to keep its followers “in a state of trauma” to control them and ensure they won’t leave. He has sympathy for detransitioners who are swept up in the movement, even if they’re spouting anti-trans ideas themselves. “Even gender critical detransitioners in the movement are working out issues. Patience and an attempt to understand would go a long way with both groups,” Beau adds. DashDividers_1_500x100 Ky might have been an active and well-known member of the movement but it didn’t stop her experiencing abuse from other radical feminists. The gender critical movement converges on one important point: trans women are ‘really’ men, who are the ultimate oppressors of women. So while some gender critical campaigners branded detransitioned women as cowed men, others saw them as “representatives of the patriarchy”. Ky, who still presented with masculine characteristics because of her time on testosterone and her gender identity, was an easy target for a movement that didn’t know how to channel its misguided frustrations about the power of cisgender men. “Detransitioned women are not necessarily as physically threatening or dangerous as cis men, so they’re easier targets,” says Ky. “I once heard someone call me a caricature of a cisgender man and that was horrible. Gender critical detransitioners aren’t always supportive of each other because there’s a lot of insecurity.” When Beau decided he wanted to explore his gender identity and use he/they pronouns, he says he was met with a lot of hostility. One member tried to blackmail him, threatening to out him to the people he knew in the movement. “When I wrote about my experiences, one group made and sold a T-shirt to mock me for speaking out as a survivor,” he added. “One old gender critical friend even tried to prevent me from having surgery or medically transitioning. They still want to control you after you leave.” Even though he managed to escape, Beau realised his struggles wouldn’t be over when he severed ties with the group. “These people alienate you from your real life friends and make you a social pariah online, so when they warn that anyone outside the movement won’t accept you, there’s a lot of truth to that,” he added. DashDividers_1_500x100 For Ky, the illusion began to fade when the most powerful members of the movement joined forces with hardcore Christian right groups which supported eradicating transgender identities altogether. In a bid for freedom, she moved to a remote farm to disconnect from the detransition movement, and stayed offline. Even though she had physically distanced herself from the group meet-ups and group members, she struggled to cut off Devorah. “She was pretty abusive,” she says. “I had a lot of my doubts about the detrans movement in private because at that point I was dating Devorah. She turned really controlling and I had to keep a lot of things hidden.” By the time Ky moved to the farm, she and Devorah were just friends. Devorah persuaded Ky to host a detransitioner meet-up at her farm; it was then that Ky knew it was time to leave the movement. “I was with this group, and I did not feel comfortable sharing what I [was feeling] as I came to terms with being some kind of transgender person, and I realised transitioning actually didn’t mess my life up,” she says. “I felt more comfortable with my body but I was sitting with all of these people talking about how horrible transitioning is.” In 2019, Ky cut ties with Devorah and the gender critical detransitioners for good. “I think if I wouldn’t have been in a relationship with her, I would have left a lot earlier, but I take responsibility for my actions,” she says. DashDividers_1_500x100 As former detransitioners like Ky come forward to share their story, they give us a rare insight into how gender critical campaigners in the UK and US weaponise the transgender community to prop up the movement. Now, gender critical campaigners are part of the mainstream in ways a lot of people struggle to understand. Popular anti-trans columnists have gained clout in certain corners of the media, while Twitter is used by gender critical campaigners to recruit detransitioners and proliferate anti-trans messages. “The movement has morphed and mutated in ways none of us could have ever imagined. There’s a series of splinter groups, and enmities inside of those,” says Ky. Ky, who now writes regularly for her blog in support of the transgender community, found during her time in the movement that gender critical campaigners are just as obsessed with gender as the likes of men’s rights groups which use someone’s gender to designate the limits of their ability and their place in the world. As Ky shows, any outliers risk harm and manipulation if they stand in the way. “Detrans people are fed mixed messages. Having a female body is supposed to make you a woman but if you feel anything different than that, it’s a bad feeling and a problem to be solved,” she says. In one poignant post, she summarises what it’s like to be free of any gender binary, and reflects on her time as a vulnerable recruit. “I can finally speak my mind and say what I want without having to worry about detrans women disapproving of me. They can accept or reject me as I am. Every time I write out my truth, I feel myself heal a little bit more and find a bit more space to exist.” If you are an LGBTQ person and you are struggling with issues similar to those raised in this article, you can reach out to MindOut, the LGBTQ mental health service. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Trans Women On The Highs & Lows Of Modern DatingTrans People Self-Medicate Despite The RisksGender Policing Shames Those It Claims To Protect

Continue Reading