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Katie Couric steps in to produce ALS campaign film

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Katie Couric steps in to produce ALS campaign film

As a longtime champion of awareness for both colon cancer and Parkinson’s disease, veteran TV journalist Katie Couric is no stranger to health advocacy. So she was naturally intrigued when she learned, through a 2022 Politico piece by Sam Stein, about ALS patient — and onetime Obama administration lawyer — Brian Wallach and his wife, Sandra Abrevaya, who had become activists for the fatal disease.

Touched and inspired, Couric was eager to help Wallach and Abrevaya, especially when she learned that a documentary about them was being shot. Stein connected her with the couple and, as Couric told The Envelope in a recent video call, “We got together on a Zoom and that’s where the love story began.”

A warm and relaxed Couric enthused about Wallach and Abrevaya and her role as an executive producer on their documentary, “For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign,” directed by Christopher Burke, as she spoke from her Manhattan apartment.

The filmmakers must have been thrilled that you wanted to jump on board. How did you help?

A little financially and also making some [narrative] suggestions, because I think through my cancer advocacy work I’ve become pretty adept at synthesizing complicated medical concepts and making them understandable to the average person.

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So you were involved in the film’s editing process?

I wasn’t in the edit room, but I would give notes about things that I thought worked, on sound bites and when they were placed, just small things like that. Some [suggestions] were taken and some weren’t. [Laughs]

Has your participation in the film changed you, or maybe your approach to advocacy, in any way?

I’ve had the privilege of meeting and getting to know a lot of people who persevere through very tough situations, and I think Brian and Sandra have restored my faith in the ability of a small group of people to change the world — if you are determined and you persevere and you understand how to tackle a problem.

Well, you’ve certainly known how to tackle problems within your own health awareness efforts.

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You have to use whatever power, influence or platform you have, and I think that I, for one, had a platform on national television that could provide a bully pulpit to educate people about colon cancer, for example. Brian and Sandra had an understanding of the political system and how you navigate the behemoth that is the federal government and actually get things done, step by step. And that was their secret sauce when it came to changing the face of the disease.

Given your first husband’s death from colon cancer and your activism on behalf of the disease, Brian and Sandra’s commitment to their cause — and each other — must have really hit home.

When someone you love is sick, there is nothing like the fear and desperation that propels you to do everything humanly possible to change the situation. And I think that’s what Brian and Sandra have done. Watching them interact, watching Sandra express what Brian can no longer say, is incredibly poignant and moving. I think they really embody what we hope to have in a partner.

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Movie Reviews

Clear Cut (2024) – Movie Review

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Clear Cut (2024) – Movie Review

Clear Cut, 2024.

Directed by Brian Skiba.
Starring Clive Standen, Tom Welling, Stephen Dorff, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Metcalfe, Lochlyn Munro, Lucy Martin, Chelsey Reist, Tom Stevens, and Mike Dopud.

SYNOPSIS:

A team of loggers discover a meth cook site in the middle of the forest and are forced to fight for their lives while being hunted by a drug cartel.

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With a title such as Clear Cut, one might think director Brian Skiba is trying to be cutely vague and intentionally jumbling since his narrative distractingly jumps back and forth in time with no grace. The reality is that what the film is trying to do with its story is fairly obvious after roughly the second flashback, executed with such outright poor editing technique (Skiba also performs those duties) that one sits there in shock at the ineptitude when it cuts back to a scene with Alec Baldwin who was recently killed at the beginning.

Dead characters appearing in flashbacks is inherently fine, but watching it play out here is baffling; you could reconfigure the scenes chronologically, and this already lousy film might play better. Alec Baldwin isn’t a recurring presence after that; the movie is just pointlessly like this. At the very least, the not-so-smooth attempt at (I think?) trying to trick the audience regarding what is happening with its central plot could have been avoided. It’s hard to tell since the editing makes everything come across as more confusing than the story is. Furthermore, the fact that I have so many questions about the filmmaker’s intent mostly already proves whatever he was trying to do with structure didn’t pan out. That’s an understatement.

The story itself concerns Clive Standen’s Jack, taking on logging work en route to a job site with his superior and mentor (Alec Baldwin.) Now, if reading this brings about some interest that there might be some positive and earnest deforestation messaging at the heart of the action, let me remind readers that this is one of those super cheaply made Lionsgate VOD entities that somehow slides its way into a few theaters across America. Jack is seeking revenge on some criminals running a meth operation out here in the woods, which also brings up several questions of logistics that the film never bothers to take a stab at answering.

Unsurprisingly, the one cooking up the meth gives the zaniest performance, which basically means Lochlyn Munro is playing clichéd psychopathic redneck running around with a crossbow, murdering anyone who might throw his shady business out of whack. Bringing an inexplicably large amount of money to a deal where the one cooking up the meth lives in a camper, presumably in the middle of nowhere, the leader of the buyers conveniently leaves the money in the back of a truck for Jack to steal and run off with. Stephen Dorff also plays a Park Ranger who gets involved in the two battling sides. The less said about the women who pop up in this movie is probably for the better.

For as much as Clive Standen gives a passable performance regarding both the emotional toll recent tragic events have taken on him and the close-quarters action, it’s also undermined by the film (written by Joe Perruccio) concocting scenarios that tastelessly ramp up that drama. Regarding the direction, nothing here stands out aside from one or two moments toward the end of Clive Standen letting loose some of that bottled-up anger and sadness. There’s a chance that if you show someone the final 10 minutes of Clear Cut, they will wrongly assume you just watched a decent movie. Fortunately, what is clear-cut is that this is anything but worth checking out.

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Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/playlist

 

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Tom Sandoval reversing invasion-of-privacy suit against Ariana Madix: 'I hold no ill will'

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Tom Sandoval reversing invasion-of-privacy suit against Ariana Madix: 'I hold no ill will'

“Vanderpump Rules” star Tom Sandoval is standing down in his legal scuffle against ex-girlfriend Ariana Madix.

Sandoval, whose cheating scandal last year rocked the “Vanderpump Rules” fan base, clarified that he has no intentions to take legal action against his former longtime girlfriend, even though a now-ex-attorney encouraged him to file a cross-complaint in Los Angeles earlier this week. The complaint was part of a larger lawsuit from co-star Rachel Leviss, who sued Sandoval and Madix in February for eavesdropping, revenge porn, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“[Attorney Matthew Geragos] assured me that the action was customary and strictly preventative in these types of lawsuits and urged me to agree to it,” Sandoval said in an Instagram statement Thursday. “The words ‘New Lawsuit’ or ‘Suing’ were not articulated to me.”

Geragos, whom Sandoval said he had “removed” from his legal team since the cross-complaint was filed, did not immediately respond to The Times on Friday.

The cross-complaint was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. In it, Sandoval, 40, accuses Madix, 38, of invasion of privacy. The complaint accused Madix of going through Sandoval’s phone in 2023 without his “authorization or permission.” She allegedly “reviewed images information, data, videos and/or communications,” including the sexually explicit FaceTime footage of co-star Rachel Leviss, 29, that launched the Scandoval cheating scandal.

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Madix also allegedly made copies of the explicit Leviss footage and “distributed the [videos] to Leviss and third parties” without Sandoval’s consent, the complaint said. Sandoval was seeking general damages, legal fees and more.

Jordan Susman, an attorney for Madix, condemned Sandoval and the complaint in a statement shared with The Times earlier this week. He also accused the TomTom restaurateur of trying to “shirk personal responsibilities for the effects his actions had” on Madix.

In a statement to The Times on Friday, Susman said his team is “pleased that Mr. Sandoval has stated his intention to dismiss his cross-complaint against Ms. Madix.”

He added: “This entire lawsuit against Ms. Madix is without merit, and it is only a matter of time before it is dismissed completely.”

Sandoval said in his Thursday statement that he “should’ve done more of my due diligence” and doubled down that “in no way am I suing Ariana,” adding that the cross-complaint is being removed.

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“I hold no ill will or vindictiveness toward Ariana. Now, by removing both the Cross-Complaint and the attorney who recommended it, I hope to get through this case quickly, so that Ariana and I can both finally MOVE ON with our lives,” he said.

Sandoval and Madix had been in a romantic relationship for nine years, but in March 2023, Madix learned that he had been cheating on her with co-star Leviss. Days after People broke the news about the Sandoval-Madix split, both Sandoval and Leviss apologized — in since-deleted Instagram posts — for their involvement in the affair. The scandal spawned intrigue among “Vanderpump Rules” devotees and nonfans alike. It also launched each of the members of the reality TV trio to a new level of national attention — whether they wanted it or not.

A year after “Scandoval,” the tabloid controversy is still following Sandoval, Madix and Leviss — and it seems it will continue to do so well into next year. The trial for Leviss’ revenge-porn case against Sandoval and Madix is set to begin in Los Angeles in November 2025.

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Movie Review: 'Twisters' – Catholic Review

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Movie Review: 'Twisters' – Catholic Review

NEW YORK (OSV News) – Back in the early days of the Ford administration, disaster movies were all the rage. A capsized cruise ship, a skyscraper aflame, airplanes imperiled — the genre ran the gamut of mishaps before fading away at the end of the 1970s.

Two decades later, advances in computer capabilities led to something of a revival, one product of which was 1996’s “Twister.” Director Jan de Bont’s film had separated spouses Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton working through their marital tensions while trying to make a breakthrough in early storm warning.

Flash forward nearly 30 years and a standalone sequel, “Twisters” (Universal), looms on the horizon. While moviegoers need not take shelter from this long-distance follow-up — which is only loosely connected to its predecessor — neither will it transport them over the rainbow.

The main flaw in the production, helmed by Lee Isaac Chung, is its consistent air of Hollywood phoniness. Its main asset is the mostly appealing antagonism-turns-to-love tale that unfolds amid the rising winds.

Haunted by an experiment during a tornado that went fatally wrong, meteorologist Kate Carter (Daisy Edgar-Jones) has spent the ensuing half-decade practicing her craft from the safety of a desk. She’s reluctantly drawn back to storm chasing, however, when her old friend Javi (Anthony Ramos) suddenly appears on the scene seeking her help.

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Javi is out to launch a potentially beneficial new technology. But he’s convinced he can only succeed with the aid of Kate’s expertise and intuition.

Once back on the plains, Kate — who quickly becomes the guiding force of Javi’s team — crosses paths with a squad of apparently reckless thrill seekers led by cocky self-proclaimed “tornado wrangler” Tyler Owens (Glen Powell). Kate and Tyler initially clash, then develop a relationship of mutual respect that eventually deepens into a romance.

Like the burgeoning bond between the principals, the hairbreadth escapes chronicled in screenwriter Mark L. Smith’s script are entirely predictable, the sacrifice of the odd extra notwithstanding. So much so, that viewers may emerge from the Cineplex humming that old standard, “Just in Time.”

“Twisters” does promote compassion for catastrophe victims, making concern for them the moral standard by which its characters are to be judged. And objectionable ingredients are mostly kept out of the mix, so mature adolescents may be given the go-ahead to reap the whirlwind.

Yet human interaction comes in a poor second throughout the proceedings, which are focused instead on the wizardry of special effects. So audience reaction to the picture will largely depend on each patron’s interest in large-scale displays of Mother Nature’s fury.

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The film contains some medical gore, several mild oaths, occasional crude language and a couple of crass terms. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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