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Hot Trailer: Colin Farrell In ‘Total Recall’

By | Sunday April 1, 2012 @ 2:36pm PDT

Sony Pictures posted the trailer today for its new version of Total Recall following the spot’s TV debut during the ABC broadcast of the NBA game between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. Based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” and directed by Len Wiseman, it stars Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho and Bill Nighy.

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Sony’s Crackle Adds Animax Anime Channel

By | Tuesday January 17, 2012 @ 1:02pm PST

Sony Pictures Entertainment’s online video streaming portal Crackle.com has added Animax anime channel to its lineup in  the U.S. and Canada. Animax features an extensive collection of anime content with curated updates and will be available on Crackle.com and via apps for tablets and other moble devices. “We are thrilled to bring new, exclusive anime series and films to Crackle fans, providing the widest distribution of free anime content on mobile and OTT devices,” said Sony Pictures TV EVP Eric Berger. Currently, 25 anime series and eight anime films are available on Crackle such as Blue Exorcist, Blood, Fist Of The North Star, Viper’s Creed and Durarara!!. Animax will also launch new series and movies Kurozuka (U.S. premiere exclusive to Crackle), Initial D, Fate/Zero, Ikki Tousen, Aquarion, Murder Princess, Kaena: The Prophecy, Vexille and Blood: The Last Vampire.

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3D Glasses Shakedown: Will Audiences End Up Paying If Studios Won’t?

Sony Responds To NATO’s Claim That New 3D Glasses Plan Is Myopic

The battle lines are starting to harden around who’ll pay for those lame-looking 3D glasses. I’ve learned that other studios might line up behind Sony’s decision to stop paying the average 50-cents a pair fee beginning in May. Rival studios tell me Fox is on board. “We’re studying our options, but haven’t made any decisions yet,” denied Fox Filmed Entertainment spokesman Chris Petrikin. Remember, Fox was first in line to try to stop paying for glasses back in 2009 when it released Ice Age. But then had to abandon that effort after theaters rebelled. Sony was technically correct today when it said in a statement that “there never has been” a formal agreement stipulating that studios would shoulder the cost of 3D glasses. But it’s easy to understand why exhibitors are stunned by Sony’s stoppage. Because it changes an understanding that’s been in place since 2005 when Disney’s Chicken Little kicked off the 3D movie phenom.

“It is a radical departure from what the practice has been,” National Association of Theater Owners President John Fithian tells me. Now Regal CEO Amy Miles warns that if studios end the practice then it could “result in fewer screens exhibiting 3D films”. That’s bad news for Hollywood, which plans to release 39 films in 3D next year, vs. 36 in 2011. Exhibitors might encourage consumers to bring their own 3D glasses. That may be the future anyway. But BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield says if theaters require payment for 3D specs on top of the typical 3D surcharge ($3.25 to $4 a ticket), then “the U.S. moviegoer will reject this as another way for exhibitors to milk them and further decrease their interest in 3D (and perhaps going to the movies in general)”.

The fight is over glasses manufactured for RealD which it, in turn, supplies them to theaters. RealD’s stock price was down -14.7% today on the Sony news. The 3D tech company won’t disclose Read More »

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Andrea Wong Tapped As President Of Int’l Production At Sony Pictures TV & President International At Sony Pictures Entertainment

Nellie Andreeva

EAfter a year and a half away from the spotlight, Andrea Wong is rejoining the executive ranks with top international positions at Sony Pictures Entertainment. The former CEO of Lifetime, who had been rumored for virtually every high-profile TV executive job that became available in the past 18 months, has been named President of International Production for Sony Pictures Television and President of International for SPE. She will be based in London.

In her SPT position, Wong will head the studio’s international TV production business, reporting to SPT president Steve Mosko. She will oversee SPT’s 15 owned and joint venture international production companies. Wong will shepherd the development of new formats as well as the local adaptations of SPT-owned formats, primarily on the unscripted side. The studio’s library of reality formats, which was boosted by the 2008 acquisition of Dutch company 2waytraffic, includes Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Dragon’s Den and Pyramid. Additionally, SPT has been setting up local versions of its daytime talk show Dr. Oz and some of its library sitcoms, including The Nanny, Married … With Children and Everybody Loves Raymond. It was Wong’s successful tenure as head of alternative and late-night at ABC, where she developed such hit franchises as The Bachelor, Dancing With the Stars and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, that was key in landing her the SPT job, which is skewed heavily towards reality. “Andrea’s business acumen and her role in developing successful unscripted programming like Dancing With the Stars and The Bachelor make her a perfect fit for SPT,” Mosko said.

Wong replaces Kees Abrahams, who is stepping down as president of international production for SPT. Abrahams, former CEO of 2waytraffic, had been overseeing SPT’s international production operations since 2waytraffic’s acquisition. “Kees’ entrepreneurial spirit has been instrumental to the growth of our television production business internationally and we thank him for all of his efforts,”  Mosko said. Added Kees, “I think it is now time for me to pursue some new commercial opportunities, and I wish Sony well.” Read More »

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Sony Pics Promotes Keith Weaver In Government Affairs

By | Monday September 19, 2011 @ 11:27am PDT

CULVER CITY, CA – September 19, 2011 – Keith Weaver has been promoted to the role of Executive Vice President, Worldwide Government Affairs for Sony Pictures Entertainment (http://www.sonypictures.com); it was announced today by Sony Pictures Entertainment’s (SPE) Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel Leah Weil, to whom he will report. In his new role as Executive Vice President of Government Affairs, Weaver will oversee all aspects of the SPE’s government relations and public policy activities as well as community affairs. Weaver has been with the company since June 2002 when he joined as a Vice President in Government Affairs and has served as Senior Vice President since October 2005 prior to this promotion.

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Sony Pictures Ups Pair In Biz Affairs

Sony Pictures Entertainment has promoted Gelena Weissman to VP Head of Business Affairs Administration and Rey Cuerdo to VP Business Affairs Administration. They will oversee and manage development and production deals at Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions. Cuerdo will report to Weissman; Weissman will report to SPE Worldwide Business Affairs & Operations president Andrew Gumpert.

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R.I.P. John Calley

By | Tuesday September 13, 2011 @ 7:33am PDT

UPDATED: John Calley, the veteran Hollywood movie and TV producer whose long career as a studio mogul helped engineer the comebacks of Warner Bros, United Artists, and most recently Sony Pictures Entertainment, has died after a long illness. He was 81. Soft-spoken, cerebral, and collegial, Calley was the polar opposite of the stereotypical image of a Hollywood mogul as tyrannical bully. In a demonstration of how well liked he was by the entertainment community, he was awarded filmdom’s highest honor when he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the inaugural Governors Awards ceremony on November 11, 2009. At the time, the Academy recognized “his intellectual rigor, sophisticated artistic sensibilities and calm, understated manner” calling Calley “one of the most trusted and admired figures in Hollywood.” Unable to attend in person due to illness, he recorded remarks that were projected on a giant video screen, characterizing the life of a film studio executive as, ”You’re very unhappy for a long period of time. And you don’t experience joy. At the end you experience relief, if you’re lucky.” In fact, Calley was very lucky and very competent: few men get the chance to lead one studio in a lifetime. Calley led three studios and left a lasting mark on each one.

“John was unique,” former filmmaking partner Mike Nichols said in a statement. “As a studio head he was unfailingly supportive and didn’t try to do the filmmaker’s job. When he believed in someone he trusted and supported him and when very rarely he had a suggestion it was usually a life saver. In fact that’s what he was: a life saver.”

Said Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman/CEO of Sony Corp, “John was more than a brilliant executive. I’m not sure he would even like that title. He was a wonderful raconteur, up there with Mike Nichols, Michael Caine and Peter Ustinov who could hold your attention for hours with rich anecdotes that capture the human dimensions of his beloved film industry; love’s labors never lost as long as he was there to remember them.”

Said Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment: “He had a steely business mind and the soul of an artist. His sense of humor about the business never made him cynical or got in the way of his passion for movies and directors. John’s taste may have seemed idiosyncratic but his pulse was unerring. Those are the instincts of a one-of-a-kind executive. He never pandered to the audience, he never accepted conventional studio wisdom and he never lost his enthusiasm.”

Born in New Jersey, Calley joined the entertainment industry at the age of 21, landing a job in the NBC mailroom in New York after serving in the U.S. Army. That job led to positions of increasing responsibility in sales, production and programming during the network’s formative years, with Calley eventually becoming director of nighttime programming. From there, Calley went on to become VP of Henry Jaffe Enterprises, where he was responsible for developing and producing musical entertainment for films. He next moved to Ted Bates Advertising as VP in charge of radio and television programming.

Beginning his career in television production in the 1950s producing such classic series as Mr. Ed, Calley would go on to produce for Filmways pics like The Loved One, The Cincinnati Kid, Castle Keep, Ice Station Zebra, Topkapi, The Americanization Of Emily, and Catch-22. While filming Joseph Heller’s novel of wartime insanity, Calley became identified with a seismic shift in Hollywood’s balance of power, as his official biography notes. “The late 1960s ushered in a new generation of younger filmmakers just as the major studios were discovering the vast potential of the youth market. ‘Kids were kings. After Easy Rider, everything was exploding everywhere,” Calley recalled in a 1999 newspaper interview. ‘We were all young, it was our time, and it was very exciting. The founders were no longer in charge … What had been this rigid, immobile structure had completely come apart, and what was left was a lot of freedom.’”

Calley became head of production, president, and vice chairman of Warner Bros from 1968 until 1981 under the leadership of Ted Ashley and Frank Wells and ownership of Steve Ross. That studio entered a critical and financial heyday with such acclaimed films as Dirty Harry, A Clockwork Orange, McCabe And Mrs. Miller, Deliverance, Enter The Dragon, Mean Streets, The Exorcist, A Star Is Born, What’s Up Doc, Blazing Saddles, The Towering Inferno, Dog Day Afternoon, Jeremiah Johnson, Klute, All The President’s Men, Superman, Barry Lyndon, Chariots of Fire, and Woodstock.

Calley became known for introducing a new level of cool quotient to the studio executive suite: he eschewed suits for blue jeans, and fostered friendly relationships with filmmakers from Stanley Kubrick (who for years was one of Calley’s closest confidantes), to Clint Eastwood and Sydney Pollack to Federico Fellini, among many others. While at Warner Bros, Calley was responsible for all of Kubrick and Eastwood’s films. Calley also was responsible for films released under the First Artists, Orion, and Ladd Company banners.

Following his successful tenure at Warner Bros., Calley, an avid sailing enthusiast, entered semi-retirement, spending his time between Connecticut and Florida. In 1989 he returned to independent filmmaking, partnering with his pal Mike Nichols to produce Postcards From The Edge and The Remains Of The Day (which earned him a Best Picture nomination). But then CAA chief Michael Ovitz became a consultant to Credit Lyonnais, the French bank that owned MGM/UA, and Ovitz offered Calley in 1993 a chance to return to the executive suite as President/COO of United Artists Pictures. At the time the studio was moribund, and Calley started putting a eclectic slate of pictures into production so Credit Lyonnais could dress up MGM/UA for a sale: Read More »

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Amy Pascal On Laura Ziskin’s Passing

By | Monday June 13, 2011 @ 10:50am PDT

Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal has released a statement on the passing of veteran producer Laura Ziskin. The two women worked together on many pictures that included the Spider-Man franchise, but their relationship was both personal and professional:

“Laura was my closest friend,” Pascal said. “She was an inspiring warrior who fought every battle, whether it was business or personal, with her trademark brains, guts, and class. She was the creative guiding light for all of us who loved and worked with her. She was also a frustrating perfectionist and that’s why she was simply the best. We are heartbroken and miss her terribly already – as a producer, as an advocate for cancer research, but most importantly, as an irreplaceable friend.”

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MGM-Sony To Partner On ’21 Jump Street’

Bond 23Total RecallThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo… the list of partnered movies keeps growing longer and longer between Sony Pictures and the reconstituted MGM:

LOS ANGELES, CA (May 18, 2011)- MGM will become a financial partner on the upcoming Sony Pictures Entertainment film 21 Jump Street, it was announced today by MGM Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum and Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton and Co-Chairman Amy Pascal. Sony will handle marketing and distribution, while MGM will handle select international television licensing for the film.

21 Jump Street is part of the recently announced agreement between Sony and MGM to explore co-financing opportunities on future motion pictures produced by each of the respective studios for the next five years. They have most recently partnered on the highly anticipated Bond 23, set for worldwide release on November 9, 2012.

Read More »

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Foreign For Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ Goes To Will Smith’s Home Studio Sony (Though Universal Tried Hard)

EXCLUSIVE: Sources tell me that international on Quentin Tarantino’s new Spaghetti Western Django Unchained is going to Sony to co-finance production later this year and distribute sometime in 2012. This after the filmmakers met with every major studio except Warner Bros. Of course, The Weinstein Company is taking domestic. But the surprise is that Universal International didn’t have the inside track since it co-financed and took overseas on Tarantino’s last film, Inglourious Basterds, in a very successful pairing ($201M international for a global cume of $321M). Actually, Universal really wanted Quentin’s latest and tried to really step up. There was a big meeting this past Friday between Universal International and Quentin where the foreign guys went to extraordinary lengths to pull out all the stops. Employees wore T-shirts emblazoned with the languages of all the managing directors of the territories in town. And a bag of handmade scalps was presented to Tarantino — a reference to the ”100 Nazi scalps” from Inglourious Basterds to remind Quentin how well the studio did for that movie last time around. Instead, Django Unchained went to Sony because of its existing relationship with Will Smith, whom Quentin desperately wants to star in the film. “Having Will involved is the key. That’s what the filmmakers want, and they think the best chance of making it happen is at his home studio,” an insider tells me.

UPDATE: Right now, Will is still pondering his role as a slave in the script, which I just read and would be a very risky … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Roland Emmerich’s ‘Anonymous’

By | Thursday April 7, 2011 @ 10:31am PDT
Mike Fleming

Sony Pictures Entertainment has released a trailer for Anonymous, the latest film by Roland Emmerich and a departure from his usual blowing-up-the-world thing. Here, it airs the long-rumored suspicion that William Shakespeare’s plays were actually penned by Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford. The film bows Sept. 30.

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AMC Makes Concession To Fat Moviegoers

By | Tuesday April 5, 2011 @ 10:10am PDT
Mike Fleming

Last year at ShoWest, Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton appealed to theater owners to introduce healthy foods at concession stands to combat obesity in kid moviegoers. This morning, Lynton lauded AMC for listening. Other chains are helping out by making fattening snacks, popcorn and soda so expensive it’s prohibitive expensive to buy them, kind of like cigarettes.

Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Lynton today welcomed the announcement by AMC Theatres (AMC) that audiences will now be able to purchase “smart snack choices” at the company’s theaters.

“I applaud AMC for making healthier snacks available for theatergoers at concession stands around the country. I believe this will be good for business and for public health,” Lynton said.

In March, 2010, Lynton called on theater owners at ShoWest (now CinemaCon) to serve healthy food in addition to their traditional offerings. In his ShoWest remarks, Lynton said, “By bringing healthier snacks into your concession stands, you would be helping our country meet an urgent public health need. Taking this step is also great for audiences and for your business, because people want to see healthier foods in theaters, and when they do, they’ll buy them.”

Lynton announced last year that the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a project of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, had offered to advise theater owners on adding healthier snacks to their menus. AMC did work with the Alliance and said it “modeled AMC Smart MovieSnacks on the Alliance’s school competitive food

Read More »

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Sony Re-Ups Prolific Producer Neal Moritz Through 2015

By | Tuesday March 8, 2011 @ 11:11am PST
Mike Fleming

CULVER CITY, Calif., March 8, 2011 – Neal H. Moritz, founder of Original Film and producer of such high-profile forthcoming motion pictures as Battle: Los Angeles and Fast Five, has extended his first-look development and production pact with Columbia Pictures for three more years, it was announced today by Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures. The extension of Moritz’s deal comes 18 months before his current deal was set to expire and continues a successful partnership and collaboration with Sony, the studio that has been his home since he produced I Know What You Did Last Summer in 1997.

“We have been working together with Neal for nearly 15 years and over that time, we have partnered with him and his team on more than 20 films, most recently with The Green Hornet and Battle: Los Angeles,” Belgrad said. “He is simply one of the best and most prolific producers in the business. He knows what audiences want and is completely dedicated to delivering hits that audiences worldwide consistently enjoy while being fully conscious to bring his projects in on budget and on time.”

“Neal is an important member of the Sony Pictures family and the kind of producer you want in your corner. He has terrific taste for stories that excite the imagination of audiences everywhere. We have established a level of trust and confidence in him that can only come from the kind of long term success

Read More »

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Ben Affleck Eyes Black List Abscam Drama ‘American Bullshit’ As Next Directing Gig

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ben Affleck, whose sophomore directing effort The Town has made him one of the hottest directors in town, has added another possible next directing project to his roster. And this one must be good, it’s #8 on the Black List. The project’s titled American Bullshit, an Eric Warren Singer-script. According to the Black List description, the drama’s described as “the true story of Abscam, the FBI’s 1980 undercover sting operation of Congress to root out corruption which was the brainchild of the world’s greatest con man.” American Bullshit is set up at Sony Pictures Entertainment with Charles Roven and Richard Suckle producing through Atlas Entertainment. Affleck hasn’t committed, but is seriously mulling this among several projects that include The Trade, the Dave Mandel-scripted film based on the 70s wife swap of New York Yankees pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich; and Replay, a Jason Smilovic-scripted adaptation of a Ken Grimwood novel about a 43-year old radio journalist who dies, wakes up in his 18-year old body, and gets to relive his life over and over. The latter two projects are at Warner Bros, were Affleck and Matt Damon have their first look deal. Affleck’s repped by WME.

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‘Social Network’ Crowd Friending On New Project ‘Sex On The Moon’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from their Golden Globe win for The Social Network, producers Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti have made a deal at Sony Pictures to collaborate again on Sex on the Moon, the next book by Ben Mezrich. The book is about a NASA employee who steals moon rocks to dazzle his girlfriend. Mezrich’s Accidental Billionaires was the basis for the script that Aaron Sorkin wrote for The Social Network. Mezrich also wrote  Bringing Down the House, the book that formed the basis for the film 21.

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Hot Trailer: Battle: Los Angeles

Mike Fleming

Sony Pictures Entertainment has released yet another trailer for Battle: Los Angeles, the Jonathan Liebesman-directed alien invasion film. The studio has been offering more and more in a series of momentum building trailers, and the film is getting more and more interesting. It opens March 11.

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The Challenge Of Sequelizing Ghostbusters

Mike Fleming

Every time one of the original Ghostbusters stars promotes a film, they answer the inevitable Ghostbusters III question that fuels a new round of breathless stories that turn out to be apparitions. Ivan Reitman, back as director thanks to his strong original Ghostbusters deal, is the latest to weigh in as he promotes his latest film No Strings Attached. He is getting more mileage telling reporters that Bill Murray doesn’t hate the script than he is talking up the Natalie Portman-Ashton Kutcher sex romp. Here’s what I hear: Reitman and Sony Pictures have no idea if the mercurial Murray will smile on the script they’ve just sent him. Without Murray, the studio absolutely will not make the film, which gives an extraordinary amount of leverage to a quirky actor who leaves financiers sweating until the moment he shows up on the set.

This is too big a project to play games. “The studio won’t even think about forward on a $150 million film unless Bill has a closed deal and a commitment,” said an insider. “It’s too huge a risk to do any meaningful prep, hoping he shows up.”

It has been 21 years since the last Ghostbusters sequel, which wasn’t as good as the 1984 original and didn’t gross as much. Despite that, Sony Pictures Entertainment has tried over and over to scare up a new ghost comedy that would entice Murray and his compatriots Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis for … Read More »

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Kevin James Re-Teams With ‘Zookeeper’ Helmer Frank Coraci

By | Monday January 10, 2011 @ 5:15pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Kevin James is back in business with The Zookeeper director Frank Coraci. Coraci is set to direct the untitled mixed martial arts picture that James will make his next star vehicle for Sony Pictures Entertainment. Deadline revealed the film when it first took shape last fall, with James playing a physics teacher who moonlights as a mixed martial arts fighter to raise money and save the music program his students love. He makes it all the way to the UFC.

SPE was eager to be back in business with James after Paul Blart: Mall Cop turned into a sleeper hit, and The Zookeeper tested so high that Sony slotted the film for released on July 8, 2011.

Allen Loeb wrote the MMA film, and James is producing with Todd Garner. Coraci makes his second film with James after teaming with Adam Sandler on such films as The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy and Click.

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Sony Pictures Exec/Preacher DeVon Franklin Writes Book On His Double Life

By | Thursday December 16, 2010 @ 5:01pm PST
Mike Fleming

The last thing higher-ups from major studios want from their creative executives is for them to go public with their experiences in the trenches. The notable exception is DeVon Franklin, a Sony Pictures Entertainment exec who is writing a book about his journey that will be published next year by Simon & Schuster’s Howard Books. The title, Produced By Faith: Navigating the Road to Success Without Compromising Your True Self, reveals that Franklin isn’t your average Hollywood executive. He’s leading a double life. Aside from his work as Sony overseeing such movies as The Pursuit of Happyness, the remake of The Karate Kid and Hancock, the 32-year old Franklin is also a Christian minister and motivational speaker who has been preaching the word of God since he was 16 years old. His book is designed to show readers how to honor their faith and still succeed in their careers.

Franklin is doing just that in Hollywood. It’s not a coincidence that he gravitates to spiritually uplifting movie projects. Had he been given the script to an R-rated movie like The Hangover, he would likely have passed it to a colleague even though he thought the movie was quite funny. He also has managed to succeed in Hollywood while  preaching at least one weekend a month at Wings of Love Maranatha Ministries in Oakland, where he’s an ordained Elder. He also observes the Sabbath — it’s in the 10 Commandments and Jesus … Read More »

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