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How Did That ‘Salinger’ Docu Do On PBS? 2 Million Views

By | Tuesday March 11, 2014 @ 4:46pm PDT
Mike Fleming

THIRTEEN/WNET NEW YORKAfter all the twists and turns on the Shane Salerno-directed docu Salinger that began with a January 2010 Deadline reveal that the film had been shot, how did the documentary do? The American Masters version totaled 2 million viewers, including repeat broadcasts and DVR viewers. This was strong considering the film had been released by The Weinstein Company and was in the top 10 of the year’s theatrical docus, and that it was viewable on Netflix at that time. The Simon & Schuster companion book  written by David Shields and Salerno hit both the New York Times and LA Times bestseller lists. And Salerno more than made back the $2 million he invested to make the film, after he made three 7-figure deals with TWC, S&S and American Masters. It didn’t hurt the Salinger estate either, as Catcher In The Rye hit the bestseller charts again, 62 years after its publication in 1951.

“When combined with the incredible sales figures and national social media conversation, it demonstrates the true impact of public television,” said Stephen Segaller, the WNET programming veep in charge of Salinger. “The fact it was the 200th episode of American Masters makes the accomplishment even sweeter.” Read More »

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Hot Video: Tom Wolfe, J.D. Salinger And Charles Portis From ‘Salinger’

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 5:08pm PST
Mike Fleming

salingerTonight at 9 PM, American Masters for its 200th episode unveils the Shane Salerno-directed documentary on the life of J.D. Salinger, followed by Charlie Rose’s interview with the filmmaker who spent a decade and his own money uncovering secrets of the reclusive author. The PBS version of Salinger is 15 minutes longer than the version released theatrically by The Weinstein Company last fall, and here is a fascinating new clip in which Tom Wolfe describes an encounter between Salinger and a young Charles Portis, who went on to write True Grit:

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‘American Masters’ ‘Salinger’ Director’s Cut To Include 15 Extra Minutes Of Revelations

By | Monday January 6, 2014 @ 6:21am PST
Mike Fleming

SalingerBREAKING: WNET’s American Masters will open its 28th season by showing a director’s cut of Shane Salerno’s feature documentary Salinger that will be 15 minutes longer than the theatrical version. The prestige program has promised that the longer cut will bare more previously unseen photos, testimony and secrets about reclusive author J.D. Salinger, including his harrowing days fighting the Nazis in WWII.

salingerAmerican Masters was the first to close a deal for the movie, followed by a book deal with Simon & Schuster and then a theatrical pact with The Weinstein Company. The latter later announced it would work with Salerno to develop a narrative movie about the life of the author of such literary classics as The Catcher In The Rye.

Related: Weinstein Co Plans Feature Film Based On ‘Salinger’ Documentary

American Masters: Salinger airs January 21. I’ve watched this documentary come together over the past five years (back when I saw an early cut) and I didn’t really understand some critical resentment over baring the life of an author who was phobic about his privacy, because, after all, isn’t every worthy biographical documentary invasive? Salinger made its theatrical debut at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, with the book and movie fueled by Salerno’s unearthing of numerous bombshell revelations culled from years of research. These ranged from previously unseen photographs to, most significantly, the reveal that Salinger was in fact writing books from his bunker while he was in seclusion, and that those will eventually see the light of day. Read More »

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Skydance Productions Acquires Shane Salerno Sci-Fi Project In Big Year-End Deal

By | Wednesday December 11, 2013 @ 8:09am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In what might be the last big material sale of the year, Skydance Productions has acquired in a pre-emptive seven-figure deal an untitled science fiction project based on an original idea by Shane Salerno, who is currently co-writing one of the three Avatar sequels for James Cameron at Fox. Salerno will write the screenplay, and Skydance’s David Ellison and Dana Goldberg will produce. Paul Schwake will be executive producer. Skydance confirmed the deal, but would not comment on its size or the film’s logline. “The second we heard Shane’s pitch, we immediately wanted to partner with him on this project,” Ellison offered. “We are thrilled to be on board.”

sal;power_of_dog_1Salerno wrote and directed the feature documentary Salinger, which was released theatrically by The Weinstein Company, and makes its TV debut as the 200th episode of American Masters on PBS. It airs January 21. A book by the same title that he co-wrote with David Shields based on the docu research became a bestseller. Salerno’s also in the middle of several high-profile producing projects including an adaptation of the seminal Don Winslow novel The Power Of The Dog, along with The Lock-Artist and another untitled script being written by Winslow and The Town‘s Chuck Hogan. Salerno is repped by CAA and Robert Offer.

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Weinstein Co Plans Feature Film Based On ‘Salinger’ Documentary; New Footage Coming As Docu Expands

By | Wednesday September 18, 2013 @ 11:05am PDT

BREAKING… Salinger distributor The Weinstein Company said today it is partnering with the documentary’s director-producer Shane Salerno to develop a feature film adaptation of the film. The live-action narrative will focus on the period in JD Salinger’s life between his service in World War II and the publishing of Catcher In The Rye, examining the effects war can have on an artist. Salerno is already signed on to pen the film’s screenplay. Salinger the docu opened September 6 in a platform release, grossing $22,742 per screen. TWC said today it will add new, never-before-seen material about Salinger’s life, his complex relationships with young women, and footage of the iconic author to its 62-city expansion this Friday. Salerno and David Shield’s companion book, also titled Salinger, debuted at No. 6 on The New York Times bestseller list. “This documentary has been an incredible journey and truly epitomizes what it means to be a passion project,” said Salerno in the release announcing the news today. “I’m beyond excited to share more of the fascinating material we discovered in its new special edition, and look forward to continuing my relationship with Harvey and TWC in developing a narrative film about this brilliant, intriguing man.” Added TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein: “Shane has created an amazing documentary about one of the most beloved but enigmatic literary figures of our time. We are glad he was able to take the … Read More »

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‘Salinger’ Hits Bestseller List And ‘Catcher In The Rye’ Gets Second Wind

By | Friday September 13, 2013 @ 6:31am PDT
Mike Fleming

After all the secrecy that went into the deal making for the book and documentary about reclusive author J.D. Salinger, it is all off to a strong start. The book by David Shields and Shane Salerno is debuting in the sixth slot of The New York Times bestseller list. The Salerno-directed documentary Salinger, which launched last Friday in four theaters, finished with a $22,742 per screen, which was tops in the marketplace. Even Salinger’s work benefited: The Catcher In The Rye hit the top ten on Amazon.

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Telluride: Weinstein’s ‘Salinger’ World Premieres To Strong Response On Fest’s Last Day

By | Monday September 2, 2013 @ 11:28am PDT
Pete Hammond

As the 40th Annual Telluride Film Festival winds down, The Weinstein Company has kept a relatively low profile for most of the fest. But TWC caused a stir in offering up the World Premiere and first public screening ever of Salinger, writer/director/producer Shane Salerno‘s riveting and stunning portrait of reclusive author J.D. Salinger. The documentary begins its theatrical run on Friday and will appear on PBSAmerican Masters in January. It should be a certain Oscar contender for Best Documentary Feature, not only for its superb execution but also as an investigative piece that has elicited major revelations about never-before-known Salinger literary works left behind by the author who died in 2010, which are scheduled now to be released to the world between 2015 and 2020.

Related: J.D. Salinger Docu Bombshell: More Books To Be Posthumously Published

The film got a one-time only “surprise” sneak preview (but was tipped over the weekend by Deadline’s Mike Fleming) at the Palm at 9 AM this morning and was followed by an onstage conversation moderated by filmmaker Ken Burns. Salinger historian David Shields, cinematographer Buddy Squires, one-time Salinger muse and friend Jean Miller were in attendance joined via Skype by Salerno and Salinger friend/one-time editor A.E. Hotchner. Early reaction from the packed screening was thumbs up, even for a movie-satiated crowd who have been watching one great film after another since the festival began on Thursday. Read More »

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Harvey Weinstein Giving Telluride Sneak Peek At Shane Salerno’s ‘Salinger’ Docu

By | Friday August 30, 2013 @ 2:53pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing there will be a surprise late entry to the Telluride lineup that was announced earlier this week. There will be a sneak screening of The Weinstein Company-distributed documentary Salinger on Monday, September 2. I’m told that the film’s director Shane Salerno is on the way there with others involved in the film. The Telluride sneak screening, which is the first public showing of the docu, will be followed by a Q&A with the director before he heads to New York for the film’s premiere the following night. Salinger already elicited the bombshell revelation that J.D. Salinger left behind several literary works he wrote in seclusion which he directed be published after his death. There is more where that came from. The film opens in New York and Los Angeles next Friday, and begins broadening to other cities beginning the following week. I could not get confirmation from TWC, but trust me, you can dress for this one.

Related: Telluride: No Jackman Or Gyllenhaal For ‘Prisoners’ Special Screening

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‘Avatar’ Sequels Upped To Three; Fox, James Cameron Set Trio Of Writers To Spearhead

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: James Cameron and 20th Century Fox have upped the number of Avatar sequels they’ll make from two to three, and they’ve set three high-level screenwriters (one is a team) to get the movies in shape to be shot simultaneously. That is easily a recipe for the most expensive set of pictures ever made, and an ambitious production plan not seen since New Line and Peter Jackson made three The Lord Of The Rings films back to back. Back then, Jackson was coming off The Frighteners. Fox at least has the confidence of knowing Cameron’s last two films are the biggest-grossing pictures in movie history, with Avatar at the top by a wide margin. It’s still a gutsy play; it is not unimaginable that three Avatar installments could cost close to $1 billion. The original grossed $2.8 billion.

Cameron has set War Of The Worlds scribe Josh Friedman to write one film; Rise Of Planet Of The Apes‘ Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver to write another; with the third to be written by Shane Salerno, who wrote and directed the upcoming documentary Salinger and who previously worked with Cameron on a remake of Fantastic Voyage at Fox. The writers will collaborate with Cameron separately and co-write three separate movies with him.

The three pictures will be filmed simultaneously with production beginning next year. The release of the first sequel will be in December 2016, with the second to follow in December 2017, and the third a year later. Avatar 2, 3, and 4 will be produced by Cameron and Jon Landau through their Lightstorm Entertainment banner. Lightstorm will work once again with Joe Letteri and his team at WETA Digital on the three films.

The choice of writers came after Cameron and Landau spent weeks meeting with A-list screenwriters vying for the job. They’ve been working with Cameron from his Manhattan Beach studio. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Salinger’

By | Thursday June 13, 2013 @ 2:44pm PDT
Mike Fleming

The Weinstein Company has released its first trailer for Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed documentary that Harvey Weinstein acquired after he and his team were the only film guys to see the film, the morning of the Academy Awards. That happened right after the PBS American Masters team were shown it and bought it for TV and Simon & Schuster editors saw it and bought a companion biography. I saw an early cut of the movie before any of them, before Salinger died. I haven’t seen the film since, but there’s a lot of good stuff in that movie that isn’t revealed here, even from the early version I saw. It has changed as others came forward following the death of the reclusive Catcher In The Rye author. What I don’t know is whether the filmmaker nailed down what Salinger was writing in that bunker of his, work he never released for public consumption. Here’s the trailer for the film that gets a release September 6, ending an odyssey for Salerno, a screenwriter who spent about eight years and $2 million of his own cash to make this:

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Shane Salerno’s JD Salinger Biography Eyes Global Windfall

By | Thursday April 18, 2013 @ 12:24pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: It took Shane Salerno eight years and $2 million of his own cash to make his JD Salinger documentary and book. It’s paid off quickly: The Weinstein Company landed worldwide rights to the movie and will release it during Oscar season September 6, it will air on PBS’ American Masters in 2014, and Simon & Schuster scooped up the 700-page Salinger biography from Salerno and David Shields. All three deals were for seven figures, making it one of the richest-ever pacts for a feature docu. Now comes foreign book sales: I’m hearing the London Book Fair is hot over The Private War Of J.D. Salinger, which is not a companion to the movie but an oral biography featuring more than 100 never-before-seen photos and material not found in the two-hour film. Multiple six-figure advances are on the table in London, I’m told, and Simon & Schuster has already concluded at least one major overseas rights deal for the UK and Commonwealth — with Simon & Schuster UK — before rivals even arrived at the sales confab. The plan is to publish the book in the UK simultaneously with its September release in the U.S. Salerno will speak directly with other foreign publishers next week, and other deals could come from magazine serialization as well as a secondary push following the film’s big- and small-screen debuts. Overall, it’s possible global sales could reach into the several … Read More »

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TOLDJA! Weinstein Company Confirms Worldwide Rights Deal For Shane Salerno Docu ‘Salinger;’ Sets September 6 Release

By | Thursday March 21, 2013 @ 1:52pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: The Weinstein Company finally confirmed what Deadline told you exclusively on February 27: that the studio acquired theatrical rights to Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed feature documentary on JD Salinger, the reclusive author of The Catcher In The Rye. TWC has set a September 6 theatrical release for the film. As Deadline reported, the deal is seven figures, around $2 million, and covers world rights except for the previous deal that licensed U.S. television rights to PBS’ American Masters. This was one of the most unusual deals in awhile, and came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film on the morning of the Academy Awards.

Related:
J.D. Salinger Documentary Acquired By Harvey Weinstein
Secret J.D. Salinger Documentary & Book Revealed

TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after. Salerno and his lawyer Robert Offer made three big deals for the movie, showing it only to parties that made deals, which allowed the filmmaker to avoid any leakage of revelations in the film that might have resulted with a screening for multiple buyers. It was first shown to American Masters, which quickly closed a 7-figure licensing deal to make it the 200th installment of that prestigious series early next year. It was then shown to Jon Karp and his editors from Simon & Schuster, and right after they saw it, they closed a 7-figure publishing deal for a biography that Salerno wrote with David Shields. So the movie has played three times, and resulted in deals north of $5 million, making it one of the richest pacts ever for a feature documentary. It took Salerno eight years and $2 million of his own money to make the movie and the book happen. Here is the official release from TWC: Read More »

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J.D. Salinger Documentary Acquired By Harvey Weinstein

Mike Fleming

Salinger Documentary Harvey WeinsteinEXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company has acquired theatrical rights to Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed feature documentary on the reclusive author of The Catcher In The Rye. The deal is seven figures, around $2 million, and covers world rights except for the previous deal that licensed U.S. television rights to PBS’ American Masters. The plan is to release later this year for Oscar season, and the deal came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film Sunday morning, the day of the Academy Awards. TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after. While everyone was partying over the Oscar weekend, TWC acquired Grace of Monaco with Nicole Kidman and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom with Idris Elba. All three of these films will be in the Oscar season discussion, as will Fruitvale, the film that came out of Sundance with strong buzz, and which TWC also acquired. After two years of winning Best Picture, Harvey Weinstein watched Argo best his two candidates, Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained. Looks like he really, really wants to be in the winner’s circle again.

That validates an unusual sales strategy that Salerno employed on the film with his lawyer Robert Offer. It was first shown to American Masters, which quickly closed a 7-figure licensing deal. The plan is to make it the 200th installment of that prestigious series, early next year. It was then shown to Jon Karp and his editors from Simon & Schuster, and right after they saw it, they closed a 7-figure publishing deal for a biography that Salerno wrote with David Shields.

Now, the documentary distribution rights are being sold to the only distributor that saw the film. I’m told that the entire deal for theatrical, publishing and U.S. TV rights will be north of $5 million, one of the richest pacts ever for a feature documentary.

For Salerno, this completes an eight year odyssey, and he has been made whole after investing $2 million of his own money into the documentary and the book. It also closes the circle for me; shortly after I arrived from Variety to Deadline Hollywood, Salinger passed away. This was not long after I’d seen an early cut of Salerno’s film. I thought it was absolutely fascinating. I haven’t seen it since, and the discretion shown in the dealmaking process indicates there are secrets that were held back. But here is what I said about it back then: Read More »

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Oscar-Nommed ‘A Royal Affair’ Team Boards Epic Don Winslow Novel ‘Power Of The Dog’

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 4:02pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, who scripted the Swedish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and followed with the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee A Royal Affair, have found their next project. It’s a feature adaptation of The Power Of The Dog, the epic Don Winslow bestseller framed around the drug war and a 30-year struggle between a hard DEA agent and a family of cartel kingpins in Mexico.

Arcel will direct, and the script will be written by Heisterberg, Arcel and Shane Salerno. Salerno will produce through The Story Factory. This is the same Salerno who wrote, directed, produced and financed the J.D. Salinger documentary Salinger that earlier this week was licensed in the U.S. for an American Masters broadcast and is being shopped for feature distribution after a companion biography sold in a 7-figure deal to Simon & Schuster. Read More »

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Next Up For J.D. Salinger Docu: Film Distribution Deal To Follow S&S Book Pact

By | Wednesday January 30, 2013 @ 9:23am PST
Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE, 9:23 AM: It has been quite a week for J.D. Salinger. The Shane Salerno documentary Salinger has been shown to only two parties so far, and in both cases, the result was a smashing deal. First to see it was the American Masters team, which quickly paid low-seven figures to license U.S. domestic TV rights and make it the 200th installment of the prestigious program in January. Second to see it were the Simon & Schuster editors, who quickly made a worldwide rights deal on the companion book, The Private War Of J.D. Salinger. Agency sources tell me that deal was closer to $2 million than $1 million for the sprawling book by David Shields and Salerno. It will be published in September, just ahead of the theatrical release.

Next up: the feature distribution deal. I don’t get the impression there will be a big gang bang screening and then an auction; it will be a subtler, more selective process than that. But the goal is to lock in a distributor who’ll give it a nice theatrical play in the months before the American Masters premiere next year, and figure out DVD and those other ancillaries excluding U.S. domestic TV rights. By the time all this is done, it should be a nice outcome for Salerno and the eight years and $2 million he invested to assemble both the film and the book. Read More »

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Hutch Parker To Resurrect James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux Mysteries With Cable Series

By | Wednesday August 1, 2012 @ 8:55am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After two so-so attempts to adapt James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux terrific mystery novel series into features, the New Orleans-based crime saga is being redrawn for cable TV. Fox-based producer Hutch Parker has optioned Burke’s books and is packaging the series. After how well FX and Graham Yost did with Elmore Leonard’s U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens character in the series Justified, cable sounds like just the place for Robicheaux. There is certainly a wealth of material that can be used to paint the picture of the Vietnam vet-turned police detective who works out of New Orleans and whose temper–and imposing size–often leads him to meet criminals on their own vicious terms. Burke started the series with 1987′s Neon Rain, and Simon & Schuster just released his latest, Creole Belle, the 19th book in the series. Burke’s colorful writing brings to life the French Quarter like no mystery writer I’ve read, as he and his hot-blooded, tortured hulking private eye pal Clete Purcell take on the pimps, drug dealers, Klansmen and fat cats preying on the underclass. Burke has also worked his personal outrage with the conditions that caused the disaster of Hurricane Katrina into his prose, and he has won two Edgar Awards for his work and been named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. The two attempts at features were the 1996 Heaven’s Prisoners with Phil Joanou directing and Alec Baldwin starring, and the 2009 Bertrand … Read More »

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Don Winslow Novel ‘California Fire And Life’ Heads For Big Screen

By | Wednesday July 18, 2012 @ 10:36am PDT
Mike Fleming

California Fire And Life MovieEXCLUSIVE: Hutch Parker Entertainment has partnered with producer Shane Salerno to develop Savages author’s Don Winslow’s bestselling 2007 thriller California Fire And Life. The producers will be going out to screenwriters and filmmakers shortly.

California Fire And Life tells the story of Jack Wade, once a rising star cop who fell from grace in a scandal and now makes his living as an arson investigator. His cardinal rule is “don’t get involved”, but when Jack sees the charred corpse of a young woman that has been written off as an accident, he becomes obsessed with hunting down the killer. Both Savages and Winslow’s new novel The Kings Of Cool are on the bestseller list. Read More »

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‘Savages’ Author Don Winslow Hits A Double On Bestseller Lists

Mike Fleming

In my view, there hasn’t been a quality author more underrated than Don Winslow. He hooked me with The Winter of Frankie Machine and Power of the Dog, but various turns in turnaround hell on his movies has made him a well kept secret for close to two decades. While I think that Universal miscalculated by moving the Oliver Stone-directed Savages from its fall berth to last weekend on not enough screens (the films Ted and Magic Mike provided stiff competition in the counter-programming to blockbusters niche that the studio sought for Savages), Winslow’s novel Savages has just gotten back on The New York Times bestseller list, and so has The Kings of Cool, his recently released prequel to the audacious drug tale. Read More »

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‘Savages’ Co-Writer Shane Salerno Options Edgar-Winning ‘The Lock Artist’

By | Thursday June 14, 2012 @ 12:58pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Shane Salerno, who teamed with Oliver Stone and Don Winslow to adapt Winslow’s novel Savages, has acquired film rights to the Steve Hamilton novel The Lock Artist. Published by St. Martin’s Minotaur imprint, the novel won the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Salerno will co-write the script with the author and produce the film. They will look to secure a filmmaker shortly.

The Lock Artist is about a young criminal who doesn’t say much but can open anything with a lock on it. Trained by an eccentric genius and owned by a Detroit mobster, he’s rented out as a lock picker for hire to a daring and outlandish gang of youth thieves pulling jobs in Los Angeles. His challenge is to get out before they get caught, and get back to the woman he loves. Salerno is following the same strategy as on Savages, which Universal releases July 6. He and Winslow developed the novel directly with Stone and then it was acquired by Universal in a multi-studio bidding battle. It took only 11 months from the original option deal until the film was in production, with Salerno exec producer. Salerno and Winslow also teamed to adapt Satori, another Winslow novel that Salerno sold to Warner Bros with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star. Salerno separately brought celebrated crime novelists Chuck Hogan and Winslow together to write a spec script that he’s producing. Salerno also wrote and directed a feature … Read More »

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