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Berlin: Johnny Depp Seals Deal To Play Whitey Bulger In ‘Black Mass’; Tom Hardy In Talks To Play FBI Pal John Connolly

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Johnny Depp has made his deal to star in Black Mass, hardyThe Lone Ranger --UK Film Premierethe drama Scott Cooper will direct about the Boston crime kingpin-turned-fugitive Whitey Bulger, for Cross Creek Pictures and Exclusive Media. Now, they are in early  talks with Tom Hardy to play John Connolly, the FBI agent and childhood pal of Bulger, who is in prison for tipping Bulger that he was about to be indicted. That led Bulger to go from ruthless Boston crime kingpin to the top of the FBI’s Berlin2014_200most wanted list. Domestic distribution hasn’t yet been decided and there are some territories that Exclusive is selling at Berlin, a task made easier by these casting developments.  Production will begin in May.

Depp was originally expected to play Bulger when Barry Levinson was attached to direct, but the deal fell through over money even though the deal was near $20 million. Deadline revealed last month that talks had rekindled with Depp, and this has now become a blue-chip project, particularly when Crazy Heart and Out Of The Furnace helmer Cooper boarded it. The script is by Mark Mallouk, who adapted the 2001 Dick Lehr/Gerald O’Neill New York Times bestseller Black Mass: The True Story Of An Unholy Alliance Between The FBI And The Irish Mob. Read More »

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Johnny Depp Set For Inaugural Distinguished Artisan Award From Make-Up Artists And Hair Stylists Guild

By | Monday January 27, 2014 @ 2:51pm PST

Johnny DeppLOS ANGELES, Jan. 27, 2014 – Johnny Depp will receive the first ever Distinguished Artisan Award from the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild, Local 706, at their awards ceremony, as announced today by guild President Susan Cabral-Ebert. The awards ceremony, returning Make-Up-Artists-and-Hair-Stylists-Guild-2014-Awards__140114220227-275x275after a hiatus of 10 years, will be held on February 15, 2014, at Paramount Studios. Joel Harlow, Depp’s make-up artist, will present the award. Lifetime Achievement Awards will be bestowed to Academy Award® winners Gail Ryan and Dick Smith. Additional awards will honor nominees for outstanding achievements in motion pictures, television, commercials and live theater. Final ballot online voting closes on February 11.

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‘Out Of The Furnace’ Helmer Scott Cooper In Talks For ‘Black Mass;’ Johnny Depp Talks To Play Whitey Bulger Reignite

Mike Fleming

scottcooEXCLUSIVE: Scott Cooper is negotiating to rewrite and direct Black Mass, the drama about the Boston crime kingpin-turned-fugitive Whitey Bulger, for Cross Creek Pictures and Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s Exclusive Media, with Universal releasing through Cross Creek’s distribution deal with the studio. And guess what? Talks have rekindled for Johnny Depp to possibly play Bulger in the film. You’ll recall he was nearly set last year, but talks fell apart over money.
The subject matter is irresistible. Bulger had risen to the top of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List when he disappeared for a decade before he could be put behind bars. Many felt he could never have gotten that far without the help of John Connolly, an FBI agent and childhood pal of Bulger and his brother William, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate. Joel Edgerton had been in talks to play the FBI pal. Connolly was tasked with bringing down the Italian mob, and he was aided by Bulger, who burnished his own position as Boston crime kingpin by getting rid of the competition for his Winter Hill gang. Connolly was lauded for his work before things went south for him. He eventually was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice for aiding Bulger, who is currently in a Massachusetts state prison for second-degree murder. Read More »

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No Truth To Johnny Depp As ‘Dr. Strange’

By | Tuesday January 14, 2014 @ 1:16pm PST
Mike Fleming

Johnny DeppI’m told by Marvel moles there is really nothing to this rumor about Johnny Depp playing Steven Strange in Dr. Strange for Marvel Studios. The story’s being bannered by Variety online, but don’t dress for it. I’m told that Depp was approached eons ago, and it never went anywhere.

Related: Disney Delays Voyage Of ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean 5′; Eyeing 2016

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Aubrey Plaza, Oliver Platt & Jeff Goldblum Board Johnny Depp-Starrer ‘Mortdecai’

By | Thursday January 9, 2014 @ 10:14am PST

mortdecaiLionsgate and Oddlot Entertainment have added Aubrey Plaza, Oliver Platt and Jeff Goldblum to the cast of Mortdecai, joining Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor and Gwyneth Paltrow in the action comedy based on Kyril Bonfiglioli’s three-novel anthology. Plaza currently stars on NBC’s Parks And Recreation. On the film side she was recently seen in The To Do List and voiced Claire Wheeler in Monsters University. Platt’s films include X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Love And Other Drugs and Frost/Nixon. Goldblum (Independence Day, Jurassic Park) will next be seen in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Plaza is repped by CAA and The Schiff Company; Platt by WME and Edelstein, Laird & Sobel; and Goldblum by ICM Partners and Industry Entertainment.

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Hot Trailer: Johnny Depp In Wally Pfister’s ‘Transcendence’

By | Saturday December 21, 2013 @ 10:38am PST

Johnny Depp stars as an artificial intelligence researcher who uploads his consciousness into the digital ether when his body dies in Transcendence, the directorial debut of celebrated Christopher Nolan DP Wally Pfister. Consider it a companion pic of sorts to Spike Jonze’s kinder, gentler Her, with a touch of Lawnmower Man-esque menace. Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, and Morgan Freeman co-star in the sci-fi thriller written by Jack Paglen, who made the Black List with his script. Nolan and Emma Thomas are exec producers. Warner Bros. releases Transcendence April 17, 2014. Take a look:

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Disney Dates ‘Alice In Wonderland’ Sequel For May 2016; ‘Jungle Book’ Set For October 2015

By | Friday November 22, 2013 @ 12:05pm PST

BREAKING: Alice In Wonderland 2 has been set for a May 27, 2016 release, Disney said today, finalizing a spot on the schedule for the sequel to the studio’s massive 2010 hit that made more than $1.025B in worldwide box office. The Muppets helmer James Bobin takes over from original director Tim Burton and back too is Mia Wasikowska as Alice and Johnny Depp as Mad Hatter. Depp of course is also in Pirates Of The Caribbean 5, which Disney moved off its original May 2015 date and reportedly was aiming it for summer 2016. That would make it the Summer of Depp if those plans are carried out.

Related: Johnny Depp Finalizing ‘Alice In Wonderland 2′

As for Disney’s live-action Jungle Book, that pic now has an October 9, 2015 date. Deadline broke the story that Jon Favreau is aboard to direct what is a priority project for the studio from a Justin Marks script. When Favreau’s deal made Marks was wrapping the latest draft and the studio wanted to begin production next year. Looks like all systems are go now that there’s a date. Disney previously turned The Jungle Book into the classic 1967 animated film and a 1994 live-action feature helmed by Stephen Sommers.

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Warner Bros Taps Aussie Garth Davis To Helm Joel Edgerton In ‘Shantaram’

By | Wednesday October 9, 2013 @ 3:12pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is in early talks with Garth Davis to make his narrative feature directing debut on Shantaram, the adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel that has Joel Edgerton attached to star and Inifinitum Nihil partners Johnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski producing with GK Films’ Graham King. Davis is an Australian helmer who was Emmy nominated for Top Of The Lake, five episodes of which he directed with Jane Campion. The mini premiered at Sundance. This is quite an ambitious move, taking on Shantaram so early in his run as a filmmaker. It’s pretty sprawling stuff. The film has been with Warner Bros since the studio paid $2 million for screen rights in 2004, back when Depp wanted to star, only to see the film stall and fall apart because of the writers strike. Depp recently jump-started the process as producer by personally courting Edgerton. The lead character starts out as an Australian heroin addict who escapes a maximum-security prison, reinvents himself as a doctor in the slums of India and eventually uses gun-running and counterfeiting skills to fight against the invading Russian troops in Afghanistan.

The script is by Eric Roth. Back when Depp was going to star, Peter Weir was once attached to direct. Well they got themselves another Aussie on the Barbie. Sarah … Read More »

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Fox Nabs Family Comedy From Chris Miller & Phil Lord, Johnny Depp And Chris Romano With Put Pilot Commitment

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 4:43pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: For their first sale through their overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV, Chris Miller and Phil Lord have teamed with Johnny Depp to produce Torched, a comedy project that has landed at Fox with a put pilot commitment. The single-camera family comedy hails from Blue Mountain State co-creator/star Chris Romano. It centers on a fast-talking, fun-loving dad, who through his very unique — and sometimes law-breaking — job, strives to give his young son the life he never had. 20th TV, Lord Miller and Depp’s Infinitum are producing, with Romano, Lord, Miller, Depp, Lord Miller President Seth Cohen and Infinitum’s Christi Dembrowski and Norman Todd executive producing. Miller and Lord previously worked with Depp on 21 Jump Street. Read More »

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Disney Delays Voyage Of ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean 5′; Eyeing 2016

By | Tuesday September 10, 2013 @ 2:45pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Disney has moved off its summer 2015 release date with Pirates Of The Caribbean 5, and the studio is now looking to slot it for summer 2016. This will create some jockeying from other studios next summer – Pirates had been slated for a July 10 release and other studios steered clear of that date — but I’m told from insiders this is not a case where they are hoisting a distress flag.

Basically, the studio and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have an advanced outline from scribe Jeff Nathanson, who is writing. They have directors Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, who did a great job with a modest budget on Kon-Tiki, but who are new to the big scale of a film like Pirates. The studio would have to get into production by February, which would mean prepping off the outline.

The decision was made that it wasn’t worth rushing until they are sure the script is right. Why not take the time to do a proper job with one of Disney’s most important tentpoles? The first four films grossed $3.7 billion, and the last installment, On Stranger Tides, crossed the $1 billion mark. Disney has plenty for summer 2015 anyway. There is a sequel to The Avengers and the first of the next three installments of the Star Wars franchise, directed by JJ Abrams. There is also the Marvel pic Ant-Man, and Inside Out from Pixar. Read More »

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Warner Bros Revives ‘Shantaram’, Johnny Depp Taps Joel Edgerton For Lead

By | Thursday September 5, 2013 @ 3:27pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is in talks with Joel Edgerton to star in Shantaram, an adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel that is being produced by Inifinitum Nihil partners Johnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski, and GK Films’ Graham King. Following a couple of stalled attempts to get this movie up and running after the studio paid $2 million for the rights in 2004, Depp himself jump started the process by personally courting Edgerton to play a role Depp once intended to play before the film was derailed by the Writer’s Strike.

Edgerton is being courted for the lead role of a remarkable protagonist who, at the time the book became a sensation in Hollywood, was said to have been modeled after the author in a thinly veiled memoir. He starts as an Australian heroin addict who escapes a maximum-security prison, reinvents himself as a doctor in the slums of India and eventually uses gun-running and counterfeiting skills to fight against the invading Russian troops in Afghanistan. Read More »

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Olivia Munn In Talks To Join Johnny Depp In ‘Mortdecai’

By | Wednesday August 21, 2013 @ 2:55pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: The Newsroom actress soon could be added to the cast of the adaptation of Kyril Bonfigloi’s anti-hero art dealer novels. I’ve learned Olivia Munn is in negotiations to join Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor in the David Koepp-directed Mortdecai. Details are sketchy about Munn’s potential role in the Lionsgate thriller, but it’s doubtful that she’ll be playing the Jock Strapp character, Mortdecai’s long-suffering manservant in the books. Eric Aronson wrote the script for the film from Bonfigloi’s 1970s work with Depp playing the roguish Charlie Mordecai. Besides her role as business journalist Sloan Sabbith on Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin sophomore HBO drama, the former Daily Show correspondent is also in the upcoming Jerry Bruckheimer-produced horror crime film Beware The Night with Eric Bana. Munn is repped by CAA and Mosaic.

Related: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez & Olivia Munn Join ‘Beware The Night’ 

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Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer Blast Critics Over ‘Lone Ranger’ Bomb: They “Slit The Jugular” Of Our Film

By | Tuesday August 6, 2013 @ 3:30pm PDT

Lone Ranger stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer waited until they hit the UK press circuit to explain why the expensive Disney tent pole flopped big time at the summer box office. “This is the deal with American critics,” said Armie Hammer speaking to Yahoo UK/Ireland. “They’ve been gunning for our movie since it was shut down the first time. I think that’s probably when most of the critics wrote their initial reviews.” Hammer minced the fewest words of all the Lone Ranger gang throwing jabs at film critics he said “[jumped] on the bandwagon” and “[tried] to slit the jugular of our film.”

Depp toed the same company line, blaming an imaginary American film critics vendetta for why the Gore Verbinski-directed, Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Western reimagining failed over the 4th of July weekend and cost Disney an estimated $190M loss just a year after its $200M John Carter write-down. “I think the reviews were written when they heard Gore [Verbinski] and Jerry [Bruckheimer] and I were going to do The Lone Ranger,” said Depp. “To round it out as a big group, the American press, the journalists or whatever – yeah, I think the reviews were written 7, 8 months probably before we ever released the film.”

Related: Disney Expects To Write Down As Much As $190M For ‘Lone Ranger’ Read More »

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Disney, Sky To Stage Live UK TV Ad To Stump For ‘The Lone Ranger’

By | Wednesday July 17, 2013 @ 10:25am PDT

Can this stunt help goose The Lone Ranger‘s lackluster box office? Disney and Britain’s Sky are partnering to film a live 3-minute TV ad for the movie featuring stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer at the July 21 UK premiere. The spot will be broadcast exclusively across 11 Sky channels starting at 5:56 PM that day. Calling it a “film industry first” the partners said Depp and Hammer will be interviewed by Sky Movies’ Alex Zane for the live promo. Fans are being asked to submit questions via Twitter to @skymovies using the hashtag #lonerangerpremiere by 12:00 on July 18. The Lone Ranger opened Stateside on July 3 earning about $49M over the 5-day 4th of July holiday. As of July 14, it had taken $119M worldwide in 34 territories. It hits the UK on August 9.

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Johnny Depp Finalizing ‘Alice In Wonderland 2′

By | Friday July 12, 2013 @ 1:41pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Clearly Johnny Depp‘s reps are in publicity overdrive following a week of bruising bad press when The Lone Ranger bombed and his star status was questioned. The purpose, of course, is to demonstrate that Johnny is very much in demand. And he should be despite the public rejecting both his Tonto and Barnabas Collins roles recently. On Monday, Depp was tipped in negotiations for the lead in Lionsgate’s Mortdecai, an adaptation of the 1970s mystery novels. Today comes news that Depp has a ‘new’ multi-year first look deal at Disney to develop film projects he can produce there. Just one problem: my insiders say that deal (which used to be based at Warner Bros) was set and signed back with Disney in March, not recently, and just never announced. What is new is that Depp is in final discussions at Disney for the much anticipated Alice In Wonderland sequel with James Bobin (of the recent Muppets reboots) subbing for Tim Burton as director. Johnny’s turn as the Mad Hatter in that 3D modern classic, of course, made over $1B worldwide grosses for the studio in 2010. Old news is that Depp will reprise Capt Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 dated for Summer 2015 and directed by Kon-Tiki filmmakers Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg.

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Johnny Depp Circles Lead Role In David Koepp’s ‘Mortdecai’

By | Wednesday July 10, 2013 @ 5:46pm PDT

Johnny Depp is in negotiations for the lead role in Lionsgate‘s Mortdecai, an adaptation of the 1970s novels by Kyril Bonfiglioli. David Koepp is set to direct from Eric Aronson’s script. Depp would play the role of debonair art dealer and part-time rogue Charles Mortdecai. As one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, Depp frequently falls in and out of projects. As recently as May 30, he exited the Barry Levinson-directed Black Mass, the story of Whitey Bulger. He’s currently onscreen in Disney’s The Lone Ranger and is wrapping Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence. Koepp and Depp worked together on the director’s Secret Window in 2004 and were teamed to reboot The Thin Man at Warner Bros before that project was put on the back burner.

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July 4th Global Weekend: ‘Despicable Me 2′ Giant $293.2M and #1, ‘Lone Ranger’ Dismal $73.2M For Depp, ‘Let Me Explain’ $17.3M

SUNDAY NOON, 13TH UPDATE: As predicted fireworks blazed at the Fourth Of July box office which headed to $229M domestic through Sunday (+16% from last year) and a new 3-day weekend record for the holiday. But there was only bad news for Disney’s #2 too-expensive The Lone Ranger (3,904 theaters) which opened disastrously Wednesday, remained weak on Thursday, did only $10.6M Friday, and flatlined for $10.7M Saturday. That’s a very disappointing 5-day holiday of $48.9M max. The two-quadrant Western won’t cover its high $215M-$250M cost despite this holiday’s 4x multiple. The Johnny Depp-Armie Hammer starrer’s domestic cume is way below Disney’s initial lowball projection of $65M and the 3rd big-budget bomb of Summer 2013. (Two Sony pics – White House Down and After Earth- also were expensive bombs.) As Deadline was first to report, the studio in August 2011 shut down Lone Ranger for six months after the budget ballooned out of control. Too bad Disney didn’t just scrap the pic altogether. Depp’s worldwide popularity may, repeat may, help overseas where oaters usually don’t excel.Lone Ranger opened day and date in 30% of the foreign landscape but only 4 big markets: Italy and Russia (released July 2) and Australia and Korea (July 4). It made $24.3M internationally for a global cume of $73.2M through Sunday. Ouch!

Far different result for the #1 movie, Illumination Entertainment’s and Universal’s Despicable Me 2 (3,957 theaters) which only cost a very reasonable $76M. It  is the #1 film in the world this weekend, opening atop the U.S. and Canadian box office with a record-breaking estimated gross of $142.1M. The 3D toon posted the biggest 5-day opening for an animated film and the top 3-day animated opening in July (earning $82.5M). Internationally, its gross widened to 6,849 dates in 45 territories to total $151.1M. The combined global cume is $293.2M. This marks Universal’s second biggest international opening weekend ever behind Fast & Furious 6 ($161M). Day after day pic kept overperforming in North America for the 5-day holiday. (“We stood here watching Rentrak and wondering, ‘Could it be?’” a Uni exec tells me.) The new worldwide cumulative easily passed $200M Saturday on its way to $300M through Sunday. Not only is DM2 performing well ahead of the original film globally but also on par with such toon franchise megahits as Toy Story 3, Ice Age 4, Madagascar 3 and Shrek 4.  And the sequel’s opening is among the top animated openings of all time in every market. Pic has 18 more territories to open over the next few months.

Kevin Hart’s concert pic Let Me Explain (876 theaters) from Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment made $3.7M Friday and the studio projects $17.4M for the 5-day holiday. It’s yet another surprisingly strong debut from the standup comedian’s rabid and rapidly growing fanbase in the cheapest film and smallest theater count of the Fourth Of July field from major studios. Studio harnessed Hart’s social media network to plug the pic.

More analysis below. Here’s the Top Ten estimates:

1. Despicable Me 2 (Universal) NEW [Runs 3,957]
Wednesday $35.0M, Thursday $24.5M, Friday $30.5M, Saturday $29.6M
3-Day Weekend $82.5M, Domestic Cume $142.1M
International Cume $151.1M, Worldwide Total $293.1M

2. The Lone Ranger (Disney) NEW [Runs 3,904]
Wednesday $9.6M, Thursday $9.8M, Friday $10.6M, Saturday $10.7M
3-Day Weekend $29.4M, Domestic Cume $48.9M
International Cume $24.3M, Worldwide Total $73.2M
Read More »

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Johnny Depp Now Off ‘Black Mass’ After Salary Spat

By | Thursday May 30, 2013 @ 11:24am PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE, 11:24 AM: Deadline broke news last night that Johnny Depp was teetering toward the exit door on Black Mass, the Barry Levinson-directed story of Whitey Bulger, with Joel Edgerton playing his disgraced FBI pal John Connolly. There was some hope last night that after some hard negotiating, things might turn around and Depp would stay in the movie. I’m now told that’s not going to happen. The financiers, Cross Creek and Exclusive Media, are moving to recast the lead, balking at paying Depp the equivalent of $23 million to headline the indie crime drama. If you remember, Ben Affleck planned to direct buddy Matt Damon in a Bulger picture, but this news isn’t going to help those heavily booked fellas. The Black Mass team — which sold the picture heavily in Cannes — expect to have a new star in place so they can shoot the picture later this year. Read More »

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Cannes: Joel Edgerton Moves From ‘Gatsby’ To Whitey Bulger Tale ‘Black Mass’

By | Wednesday May 15, 2013 @ 4:38pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Big day on the Croisette for Joel Edgerton. The Australian actor just took the bows for the Cannes opening night film The Great Gatsby, and I’ve learned that he’s just closed a deal to star alongside Johnny Depp in the Cross Creek crime thriller Black Mass, which Barry Levinson is directing. The picture is a co-production between Cross Creek and Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s Exclusive Media, with the two entities co-financing and Universal Pictures releasing in the U.S. through Cross Creek’s distribution deal with the studio.

Whitey Bulger rose to the top of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List when he disappeared for a decade before he could be put behind bars. Many felt he could never have gotten that far without the help of John Connolly, an FBI agent and childhood pal of Bulger and his brother. Connolly was tasked with bringing down the Italian mob, and he was aided by Bulger, who burnished his own position as Boston crime kingpin by getting rid of the competition for his Winter Hill gang. Edgerton will play Connolly, who was lauded for his work before things went south for him. He was eventually convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice for aiding Bulger, who is currently in a Massachusetts state prison for second-degree murder. Edgerton gets a meaty role in a story about a … Read More »

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