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1 Daily Page 1 of 8 B.O. Report: Divergent Breaks YA Curse With $56 Million Debut By Pamela McClintock Summit Entertainment s Divergent may not have reached the heights of Twilight or The Hunger Games, but its $56 million domestic boxoffice debut broke the curse that has plagued every other YA film adaptation. Launching a new franchise for Summit and parent company Lionsgate, the dystopian sci-fi adventure benefited from good word of mouth among moviegoers, who gave it an A CinemaScore despite mostly withering reviews. As expected, females made up the majority of the audience (69 percent). Half of the audience was over the age of 25, easing concerns that Divergent would only have appeal among younger demos. And the movie also did big business in male-driven Imax and Premium Large Format theaters, which took in a combined $9.3 million, or 16.7 percent of the overall gross. Divergent starring Shailene Woodley Launching a new franchise for Summit and parent company Lionsgate, dystopian sci-fi adventure Divergent benefited from good word-of-mouth among moviegoers, who gave the film an A CinemaScore despite mostly withering reviews. in the lead role was directed by Neil Burger and based on the best-selling book series by Veronica Roth about a young woman who poses a threat to society after failing to fit into one of five strictly controlled factions. The movie, which cost $85 million to make, doesn t begin rolling out overseas in earnest until April 4. see page 2

2 Page 2 of 8 movie news From page 1 This opened exactly where we needed it to be to launch a new franchise, said Summit/Lionsgate distribution chief Richie Fay. Interestingly, only 50 percent of ticket buyers had read the book, compared to 74 percent for Twilight and 76 percent for Hunger Games. Summit is certainly well-versed in selling YA adaptations, being the home of the Twilight franchise, and Lionsgate is the studio behind Hunger Games. Summit is set to begin production on Insurgent, the sequel to Divergent, in May. It hits theaters March 20, In November 2008, the first Twilight debuted domestically to $69.6 million; four years later, Hunger Games opened to a massive $152.5 million, one of the biggest openings of all time. Other YA film adaptations have failed to make their mark at the box office, including The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Warm Bodies and Beautiful Creatures. Divergent also stars Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer and Kate Winslet. Among the weekend s other new offerings, Disney s Muppets Most Wanted was a dud in its opening weekend, thanks in part to a saturated market for family pics. The sequel, facing competition from holdovers Mr. Peabody & Sherman and The Lego Movie, opened to $16.5 million to come in No. 2, compared to a $41 million launch for The Muppets over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2011, including $29 million for the weekend. Nevertheless, Disney s financial exposure is limited, thanks to a reasonable $54 million budget. And Most Wanted could make up ground overseas. It opened in its first eight markets over the weekend, grossing $1.5 million. James Bobin returned to direct the Muppets sequel, with Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey replacing Jason Segel and Amy Adams as the live-action leads. This time out, Kermit and the gang This week Weekend Box Office Top 10 Movie/Distributor find themselves lured into an international crime caper while on tour in Europe. Most Wanted has earned lukewarm-togood reviews, compared to stellar notices for the orginal Muppets. Audiences gave the movie a B+ CinemaScore. Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis said the opening was definitely disappointing, considering prerelease tracking suggested Most Wanted had every shot at opening north of $20 milion. However, he said there was never a comparison between the first film and the sequel, since Thanksgiving is a concentrated time for family moviegoing. They are totally different propositions, said Hollis. He added that Most Wanted should enjoy strong business in the coming days because of spring break. Peabody came in No. 3 with $11.7 million for a domestic cume of $81 million for DreamWorks Animation and Fox. Also opening nationwide, although on a much smaller scale, was Christian drama God s Not Dead. From Pure Flix Entertainment, the movie debuted to a strong No. 5 with $8.6 million from 780 locations across the country, putting it on par with such films as 2008 s Fireproof and 2011 s Courageous. Based on the book of the same name by Rice Broocks and Daniel Bashta s 3-day gross (in mil) Percent change # of theaters Pertheater average Cume to date 1 Divergent (lionsgate) $56.0 3,936 $14,228 $ Muppets Most Wanted (DiSNEY) ,194 5, Mr. Peabody and Sherman (Fox) ,607 3, : Rise of an Empire (Warner Bros.) ,085 2, God s Not Dead (Freestyle) , Need for Speed (DiSNEY) ,115 2, The Grand Budapest Hotel (fox searchlight) , Non-Stop (Universal) ,945 2, The Lego Movie (WARNER BROS.) ,501 1, The Single Moms Club (lionsgate) ,896 1, rentrak song Like a Lion, God s Not Dead stars Shane Harper as a college student whose philosophy professor forces him to sign a declaration that God is dead. When the student refuses, he s required to prove his position that God exists in a series of debates. The indie pic, helmed by Harold Cronk, also stars Kevin Sorbo, Jim Gleason, David A.R. White and Dean Cain. We couldn t be happier with the huge support God s Not Dead has experienced in our opening weekend, said Mark Borde, co-president of Freestyle Releasing, which is handling the film on behalf of Pure Flix. On such few screens to compete so strongly on a national platform says so much about the film, the filmmakers and the target audience who love this movie. We plan to expand next week to reach out to the tens of thousands demanding to see God s Not Dead in their city. Another film with biblical themes, Darren Aronofsky s event movie Noah, opened in its first two offshore markets to impressive results. The Paramount and New Regency title grossed $14 million in Mexico and South Korea, where it bowed a week ahead of its launch in North America and another 20 foreign markets. Noah is pacing just ahead of Gravity. Winning the weekend at the overseas see page 3

3 Page 3 of 8 movie news From page 2 box office was DreamWorks and Disney s racing movie Need for Speed. The action pic starring Aaron Paul grossed a strong $29.2 million from 55 markets, pushing its overseas total to a pleasing $93.8 million (Mister Smith Entertainment is splitting international duties with Disney). Domestically, Need for Speed is doing less business, earning $7.8 million in its second weekend for a total $30.4 million and coming in No. 6. Worldwide, the film has earned $126.5 million. Among other holdovers, 300: Rise of an Empire remained in the top five in its third weekend, placing No. 4 with $8.7 million for a domestic cume of $93.8 million. Overseas, the Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures title took in another $21 million from 63 markets for a foreign tally of $195.4 million and global cume of $289.2 million. Placing No. 7 in North America was Wes Anderson s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which expanded into a total of 304 locations in its third outing. The film grossed a stellar $7.0 million, and once again nabbed the top location average of the weekend with $23,026. Budapest Hotel, which will expand into additional markets next weekend, has earned a total of $13.2 million for Fox Searchlight. At the specialty box office, Lars von Trier s unrated sexual opus Nymphomaniac: Volume I failed to arouse, earning roughly $132,000 from 22 locations for a location average of $6,000, well behind his previous films, 2011 s Melancholia and 2009 s Antichrist. Magnolia made the movie available first on VOD. Sinclair, East finalize exits from Exclusive By Pamela McClintock Ending weeks of negotiations over their exit packages, Exclusive Media co-chairmen Nigel Sinclair and Guy East are officially out. Marc Schipper, who previously served as COO, has been promoted to CEO of the company, effective immediately. Giant hedge fund Dasym, which owns a majority stake in Exclusive, were unhappy with Sinclair and East s tenure and losses stemming from a hefty marketing spend for 2013 racing pic Rush. It s still unclear what Dasym has planned for a pared-down Exclusive, but insiders say Dasym doesn t have much interest in staying in the production business. Instead, it will focus on monetizing Exclusive s East library and foreign sales arm, run by Alex Walton. Sinclair and East are widely respected in the indie community and have worked together for two Sinclair decades, first at Intermedia and then at Spitfire. And while Rush and historical film Parkland may have been disappointments, Exclusive s success stories include The Ides of March, End of Watch, Snitch and The Woman in Black, a low-budget horror pic that grossed a whopping $127 million worldwide in East and Sinclair, who formed Exclusive in 2008 with Schipper and Simon Oakes, have already launched their own production company, White Horse Pictures (per their exit deal, they are being provided office space by Exclusive). The duo say they will focus on content only. They have taken several projects that were previously set up at Exclusive, including a Julius Caesar origins story. One director that s been asked to read the script is Lee Daniels. Sinclair said the split with the company was amicable, and he disputed the notion Exclusive was top-heavy. This is the end of a journey for us, he said. We were blessed with the support of colleagues, our partners and financial shareholder Dasym, and we built a great company. East said White Horse already has hired five millennials, or creative executives in their 20s and 30s. Their mission is to look for exciting content that surprises, he said. In 2007, Oakes and Schipper bought British horror label Hammer Films with backing from Cryte Investments, a predecessor to Dasym. A year later, again with Cryte s help, they bought East and Sinclair s Spitfire Pictures, which led to the formation of Exclusive. Oakes serves as CEO and president of Hammer. fox s Fantastic Four 2, Wolverine 2 due in 2017 By Aaron Couch Fox is making its Marvel FILM properties a foundation of its upcoming slate and has announced a release date for a Fantastic Four movie before the first has even begun shooting. The studio announced Fantastic Four 2 will open July 14, 2017, while an untitled Wolverine sequel will open March 3, Fox has also slated an untitled Marvel pic for July 13, Fox controls the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, so the mystery 2018 Marvel film could draw from either of those. It s not unthinkable that the project might even be a crossover between the two. James Mangold is returning to helm the sequel to The Wolverine, which earned more than $414 million globally last year. The Fantastic Four reboot recently solidified its cast, with Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Miles Teller taking on the roles of the superhero team. It is slated for a June 19, 2015, release. Fox also announced a release date for Liam Neeson starrer Taken 3, slating it for Jan. 9. An unnamed Ridley Scott film is set for March 4, Fox shifted the release dates for several pics. Matthew Vaughn s The Secret Service has been moved up from March 6, 2015, to Oct. 24; an untitled Vince Vaughn film has been pushed back from Oct. 24 to March 6, 2015; and Frankenstein, starring Daniel Radcliffe, is moving from Jan. 16 to Oct. 2, Borys Kit contributed to this report.

4 Page 4 of 8 legal news MGM Sued Over Home Vid Profits From 1965 Pic What s New Pussycat? By Alex Ben Block Metro-Goldwyn Mayer is the latest studio to be hit with a class-action lawsuit challenging the way home video profits are parceled out. In a lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Joan J. Buck challenges the industry policy of taking just 20 percent of the receipts from the home video release of a movie as the basis for determining the payments to profit participants. Buck s lawsuit says the residuals should be paid on 100 percent of what the studio receives from all post-theatrical release markets. She is seeking additional residual payments from the 1965 comedy What s New Pussycat?, which her late father, Jules Buck, produced. When home video distribution was in its infancy, and studios such as MGM had not yet established in-house home video departments or subsidiaries, the large, independent home video distributors paid a flat 20 percent royalty to the studios from home video sales, says the lawsuit. The studios, including MGM, then paid profit participants based on the 20 percent royalty received by the studios. Jules Buck produced 1965 comedy What s New Pussycat? However, continues the suit, after the studios established their own home video divisions, they continue the practice of only reporting 20 percent of actual receipts to profit participants, as if the profits earned by these divisions were not their own and not subject to eventual disbursement to the profit participants as well. In other words, what became standard practice in the early days of home video paying royalties on 20 percent of total revenues has continued. Buck is suing for breach of contract and other items relating to money she says she is due which has been improperly withheld. At least three similar suits were filed in early 2013 over the same issue. The estates of helmer Colin Higgins (Foul Play) sued Paramount Pictures; the estate of director Stanley Donen (Singing in the Rain, Lucky Lady) sued Twentieth Century Fox; and the estate of actor Charles Bronson (Death Wish, Hard Times) sued Sony Pictures Entertainment. All three lawsuits continue to wind their way through the legal system. The suit by Buck says that anyone who is a gross-profit participant in a movie may join in the class action, which seeks revenues from all domestic and international distribution of their movies. Buck s lawsuit claims she was in the dark about what the studio was doing until recently because she had relied on the reports regularly sent by the studio to represent the full amount due. MGM s accounting practices, says the suit, have allowed MGM to wrongfully withhold a substantial amount of money it receives from home video distribution at the expense of the plaintiff and the class. There was no immediate response to a request for comment from a spokesperson for MGM.

5 Page 5 of 8 tv news Woodard to Play POTUS in NBC s State of Affairs By Lesley Goldberg NBC s Katherine Heigl political drama has found its president in the form of an Oscar nominee and Emmy winner. Alfre Woodard has been tapped to play the leader of the free world in the network s drama pilot State of Affairs, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Described as Scandal meets The West Wing, the drama revolves around a maverick CIA officer (Heigl) who was plucked from the field to become Woodard the president s daily briefer, assuming responsibility for targeting America s most critical threats while navigating the unique lifestyle that comes with such a high-powered job. Woodard will play President Roberta Payton, who hired Heigl s perfectionist Charleston Charlie Whitney Tucker her late son s ex-girlfriend to be her legal briefer. Woodard earned an Oscar nomination in 1984 for her supporting turn in Cross Creek. She s a three-time Golden Globe nominee, winning in 1998 for Miss Evers Boys. The prolific actress has amassed an impressive 17 Emmy nominations and four wins for her work on Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Miss Evers Boys and The Practice. She was nominated last year for her role on Lifetime s Steel Magnolias reboot. Her credits also include St. Elsewhere, True Blood and Homicide: Life on the Street as well as newly minted best picture Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave, Beauty Shop, The Forgotten and upcoming Annabelle. She s repped by ICM and Circle of Confusion. The casting brings Woodard back into the NBC fold after her appearances on Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere and shortlived Geena Davis sitcom Sara. Her series regular roles include ABC s Desperate Housewives and TNT s Memphis Beat as well as CBS Three Rivers. The Following s Alexi Hawley will pen the script alongside Joe Carnahan. Hawley will executive produce alongside Heigl and her mother/manager Nancy Heigl, Bob Simonds, Sophie Watts, Henry Crumpton, Julia Franz and Rodney Faraon. Carnahan will direct the pilot, which hails from Universal Television, Bob Simonds Co. and Abishag Productions. Woodard joins a cast that also includes Cliff Chamberlain (The Mob Doctor), who is set as Brett, a CIA analyst on the president s briefing team. The actress joins a growing roster of African-American leads on pilots this season that includes Viola Davis, Romany Malco, Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Jada Pinkett Smith, among others. Woodard also joins female high-ranking political characters portrayed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Kate Burton (Scandal) and Sharon Stone (TNT s pilot Agent X), all of whom play the Vice President. USA drama White Collar renewed for season 6 By Philiana Ng USA Network is banking on more White Collar in addition to greenlighting two drama series. Veteran drama White Collar has been renewed for a six-episode sixth season, though the NBCUniversal-owned network declined to confirm whether it will be the final season. The network also has ordered to series Rush, from Warm Bodies Jonathan Levine, and Complications, from Burn Notice s Matt Nix, with 10-episode pickups, including the pilots. We are excited to usher in the next generation of USA dramas, alongside our signature returning originals that continue to attract a large and loyal fan base, said USA Network president Chris McCumber. This year, USA will be showcasing more hours of original programming than ever before, including an unprecedented six new series and six returning shows. White Collar s late renewal comes after the long-running drama ended its fifth season with a cliffhanger that left the fate of former con man-turned-fbi consultant Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) up in the air. Ratings have sagged late in its run, but White Collar, from creator Jeff Eastin (Graceland), remains one of USA s most acclaimed series and with the renewal brings it to 81 episodes. While it is unclear whether season six will be the onehour drama s last, previous series on the network have received fitting send-offs most recently last year s swan song for spy effort Burn Notice. Rush is described as a fast-paced Hollywood drama centered on Dr. William Rush (Tom Ellis), who is not your average oncall doctor. He is highly discreet no matter what the ailment, as long as the client can pay his cash-only premium, and the doctor can party with the best of them. Rush has no desire to change his life or how he lives it until an old flame and his conscience begin to stir things up. The production hails from Fox 21 and counts Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo as executive producers. Nix returns to USA following seven seasons on Burn Notice with Fox Television Studios-produced medical drama Complications, which centers on John Ellis (Jason O Mara), a disillusioned suburban ER doctor who finds his existence transformed when he intervenes in a drive-by shooting, saving a young boy s life and killing one of his attackers. When Ellis learns the boy is still marked for death, he finds himself compelled to save him at any cost and discovers that his own life and his outlook on medicine may never be the same. For Nix, the pickup comes two days after FX greenlighted see page 6

6 Page 6 of 8 tv news From page 5 his Billy Crystal-Josh Gad comedy series, on which he is an executive producer. The new drama pickups join the untitled Sean Jablonski escort drama starring The Glades alum Matt Passmore, which was ordered to series earlier this month for a summer debut, as well as upcoming event series Dig with Jason Isaacs and Anne Heche, which hails from Tim Kring and Gideon Raff. The rookie efforts come as USA readies to bid farewell to long-running comedy Psych, which ends its eight-season run March 26 with a live aftershow, replenishing its originals slate, which includes Suits, Royal Pains, Covert Affairs and Graceland. (The network canceled Necessary Roughness last year.) USA also continues to build out its comedy brand, using syndicated acquisition Modern Family as a launchpad, with Sirens in the post-suits slot and the upcoming Playing House and Benched, as well as expanding its presence in the reality space with Chrisley Knows Best. Last Comic standing Sets New Host, Judges By Philiana Ng NBC s revived comedy competition Last Comic Standing has unveiled its new host and judges. J.B. Smoove will take the reins as host of the eighth season 13-episode revamp, with celebrity judges Roseanne Barr, Keenen Ivory Smoove Wayans and Russell Peters. The new effort, executive produced by Wanda Sykes, Page Hurwitz and Javier Winnik, will launch with a twohour premiere on Thursday, May 22, from 9-11 p.m. ET/PT, with the series airing in its regular 10 p.m. Thursday slot beginning the following week. We are ready to bring back the funny with this relaunch of Last Comic Standing, and can t wait to discover the next great stand-up, said Paul Telegdy, president alternative and late-night programming, NBC Entertainment. With Keenen, Roseanne and Russell set as our new judges, J.B. as host and Wanda, Page and Javier at the helm, there will be plenty of laughter all Barr summer. Part of the grand prize on Last Comic includes an NBC talent deal and a halfhour scripted project to be developed by sister studio Wayans Universal Television. The show s return to television comes after a three-year absence on NBC s schedule. A regular summer staple, previous Peters hosts for the competition series have included Jay Mohr, Anthony Clark, Bill Bellamy, Fearne Cotton and Craig Robinson. character Actor Rebhorn Dies at 65 By Erik Hayden and Mike Barnes James Rebhorn, the veteran character actor who played the father of Claire Danes troubled CIA officer Carrie Mathison on Showtime drama Homeland, has died. He passed away on Friday, his agent Dianne Busch confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. Rebhorn was 65. He died from melanoma, which had been diagnosed in 1992, said Busch. He fought it all this time. He died Friday afternoon at his home in New Jersey, where he had been receiving hospice care for a week and a half. Rebhorn also had a recent recurring role on USA Network hit White Collar as Special Agent Reese Hughes, head of the FBI s white-collar crime unit in Manhattan. During his prolific five-decade career, the Philadelphia native also was memorable as the district attorney that sent Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer to jail on the Seinfeld finale in 1998, and as the prosecution s FBI expert automotive witness in the film My Cousin Vinny (1992). Rebhorn also had stints as attorneys on David E. Kelley shows The Practice and Boston Legal and recurring roles on Third Watch, The Book of Daniel, Law & Order and Big Lake. He played the school s headmaster Mr. Trask in 1992 s Scent of a Woman and was President Signoff in 2000 s The Adventures Rebhorn of Rocky & Bullwinkle. Rebhorn s vast film résumé also includes Silkwood (1983), The House on Carroll Street (1988), Desperate Hours (1990), Regarding Henry (1991), Shadows and Fog (1991), Basic Instinct (1992), Lorenzo s Oil (1992), Guarding Tess (1994), Independence Day (1996), The Game (1997), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Snow Falling on Cedars (1999), Meet the Parents (2000), Far From Heaven (2002), Cold Mountain (2003), Real Steel (2011) and The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012). He was a mainstay of the Roundabout Theatre Company and most recently starred as a father stricken with Alzheimer s in Too Much, Too Much, Too Many, which opened in November at the Black Box Theatre in New York. Rebhorn appeared onstage in the original production of I m Not Rappaport in 1985 and in the revivals of Our Town, The Man Who Had All the Luck, Dinner at Eight, Twelve Angry Men and Prelude to a Kiss. He also was seen on the TV shows Kate & Allie, The Equalizer, Wiseguy, Enlightened and 30 Rock. USA Network is deeply saddened about the passing of James Rebhorn, who so brilliantly played Reese Hughes on White Collar, the TV network said in a statement. Our sympathies go out to his family, friends and loved ones. Rebhorn is survived by his wife, Rebecca, and daughters Hanna and Emma.

7 Page 7 of 8 business news Media General to Buy LIN Media for $1.6 Bil By Georg Szalai TV station group Media General said Friday it would acquire LIN Media for $1.6 billion to create what the companies say will be the second-largest pure-play television broadcasting company in the U.S. The combined company will include 74 network-affiliated owned or serviced TV stations across 46 markets and will reach 26.5 million homes, or approximately 23 percent of U.S. TV households, subject to certain divestitures. The deal is the latest in the ongoing consolidation of the TV station business as broadcasters have looked for scale to strengthen them in dealings with networks and pay TV operators and the like. Last year, Tribune agreed to acquire 19 TV stations in 16 markets in a $2.725 billion acquisition that the company said made it the top independent owner of U.S. TV stations. That deal followed Gannett s $1.5 billion acquisition of TV station group Belo Corp., which at the time was the largest station deal in more than a decade and created the fourth-largest station group in the country behind CBS Corp., Fox and Sinclair Broadcast Group. And Sinclair Broadcast agreed to acquire the Allbritton TV stations for $985 million in another large deal. Media General will pay $1.6 billion in cash and stock. LIN Media shareholders will get $763 million in cash and a total of 49.5 million Media General shares. Including debt, the total transaction enterprise value amounts to $2.6 billion. Media General shareholders will retain approximately 64 percent ownership, and the combined company will retain the Media General name. Upon closing of the transaction, Vincent Sadusky, LIN president and CEO, will become president and CEO of the new company. Media General chairman J. Stewart Bryan III will continue to serve in that role. The transaction is expected to close in early It is subject to approval of shareholders and regulators, including the FCC. The companies said they anticipate that station divestitures in certain markets will be required in order to address regulatory considerations. They didn t immediately provide further details. Bryan said the deal will a financially strong organization that will have opportunities for profitable growth greater than either company could achieve on its own. He added: Our two companies share a deep commitment to operating top-rated stations, to providing our local markets with excellent journalism and to engaging in meaningful ways with the communities we serve. The prospects for digital media growth are particularly exciting. This is an exciting and historic day for both companies, said Sadusky. The merger of two highly respected broadcasters with superior television and digital assets creates maximum value for shareholders and provides us the scale, breadth and resources to compete more effectively in the rapidly evolving media landscape. Together, we will be able to better serve our local communities throughout our significant and diverse geographic footprint and further grow our national digital business. De Niro s Tribeca Sells 50 Percent Stake to MSG By Erik Hayden The Madison Square Garden Co. is buying a 50 percent stake in Tribeca Enterprises, which has put on the Tribeca Film Festival in New York since Tribeca Enterprises on Saturday confirmed the news in a statement. The deal values the company at $45 million. Bob De Niro and I have built a brand that supports community, artists, filmmakers and storytellers we are thrilled to be a member of MSG s family of iconic entertainment brands, said co-founder Jane Rosenthal in the statement. Our partnership will allow us De Niro to grow the festival and enhance the experience for our audience and provide more opportunities for the creative and filmmaking community nationally and Rosenthal internationally. Rosenthal and COO Jon Patricof will continue to manage the company. Tribeca Enterprises was founded by Rosenthal, De Niro and investor Craig Hatkoff. This year s festival is set to run April with a lineup that includes 87 films and 55 premieres. It also boasts a new presenting sponsor, AT&T, which took the place of credit card company American Express. MSG, which owns the Fuse and MSG networks as well as the NBA s New York Knicks and NHL s New York Rangers, operates multiple large venues in New York and Los Angeles, including the arena that bears its name and the recently acquired Forum in L.A. We look forward to supporting Tribeca s ambitious vision to honor not only movies, but the future of storytelling while utilizing the tremendous platforms of both brands to drive the value and growth of our respective businesses, said MSG president Tad Smith.

8 Page 8 of 8 God s Not Dead By Stephen Farber A week before paramount s Noah hits multiplexes across the country, a much smaller religious-themed movie is sneaking into a few theaters. God s Not Dead seems unlikely to provoke the controversy that Noah is generating in some conservative religious circles, In fact, the film seems clearly designed as propaganda to counter Hollywood s more typical godless efforts. But is it effective propaganda? Sometimes it is, to be honest, but the pic will speak mainly to those who already define themselves as true believers. God s Not Dead is slickly produced, with a competent cast, and although it sometimes stacks the deck shamelessly in defense of its credo, it does allow a few dissenting voices to slip into the debate. The protagonist, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), is a freshman at the fictional Hadleigh University in Louisiana, who locks horns with an atheistic and dictatorial philosophy professor. On the first day of class, the haughty professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) asks that all students sign a paper affirming that God Is Dead, so that he will not have to spend time arguing with traditional believers. Josh refuses to sign, and the professor reluctantly offers to let him have a portion of three classes to try to win the other stu- Shane Harper s faith is challenged in God s Not Dead. dents over to his devout point of view. While it may be true that some college professors challenge religious conservatives, it s a stretch to believe that such an atheistic pledge would actually be a course requirement anywhere. Nevertheless, when Josh and Radisson begin their debate, it s somewhat refreshing to hear intellectuals like Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins quoted and discussed. Radisson is a pretty one-dimensional tyrant, though it helps that Sorbo gives such a smooth, effective performance. When a third-act revelation provides personal motivation for his fervent atheism, the plot gimmick is pretty tacky. It cheapens the issues to suggest that anyone who doubts the existence of God came to that conclusion because of a personal trauma. Although the heart of the film is this argument between cynic and believer, the pic introduces quite a few characters and subplots, padding the running time film review unnecessarily. We have a journalist with a cancer diagnosis, a brother and sister caring for a mother with dementia and a Muslim girl who defies her overbearing father by embracing Christianity. This last subplot is seriously offensive in suggesting that Muslims are the only religious group intolerant of other faiths. Despite its dubious theology, God s Not Dead is well-paced, even if it makes some editing blunders, like intercutting daytime and nighttime scenes that are supposed to be occurring simultaneously. Harper makes a likable, low-key protagonist, and Sorbo a vigorous antagonist. Trisha LaFache as the stricken reporter and David A.R. White as the college pastor both give engaging performances, and Dean Cain is convincing as a corporate hotshot without much of a belief system. Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame appears as himself, and the movie climaxes with a musical performance by Christian rock group Newsboys. Opened: March 21 (Freestyle Releasing). Production: Pure Flix, Check the Gate Prods., Red Entertainment Group. Cast: Shane Harper, Kevin Sorbo, David A.R. White, Dean Cain, Trisha LaFache, Paul Kwo, Cory Oliver, Hadeel Sittu, Willie Robertson, Korie Robertson. Director: Harold Cronk. Rated PG, 112 minutes. Taking you inside the world of independent film. THR.COM/INDIE

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