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Hollywood “Obsessed” With Human Torture, And Other TCA Highlights

By | Thursday July 24, 2014 @ 8:23am PDT

Hollywood “Obsessed” With Human Torture, And Other TCA HighlightsThe TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014 has wrapped its 16-day run. Here is what we learned:

Most Searing Description Of Hollywood
David LaChapelle, who famously became a photographer for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine in his teens, has been called The Fellini of Photography, and has photographed the likes of Hillary Clinton, Lady Gaga, Tupac Shakur, Madonna, Eminem, Warhol, Lil’ Kim, Elizabeth Taylor,  Leonardo DiCaprio, and Muhammad Ali, was asked yesterday to discuss the “ebb and flow” of depictions of sex and nudity; he’s featured in PBS’ American Masters broadcast The Boomer List.

lisademoraescolumn__140603223319“Growing up in New York City, when I was very young, pre-AIDS, it was very hedonistic, and sexuality was, you know, the revolution. I remember working at [Studio 54] and straight guys would say they were bi, to pick up girls because it was cool. And then, AIDS happened, and everything changed. Things got very, very conservative and segregated. Now…we are sort of in this Dark Ages where the body is considered shameful…yet violence, and torture, and these films — the Saw series, The Hunger Games2014 Summer TCA Tour - Day 16you look at Netflix, what’s going on, and every other new show is extreme violence, and this is our entertainment. We applaud that. And our kids are playing these video games, but yet the human body is somehow shameful. And God forbid a kid sees a nipple, you know.”

TV programs such as HBO’s Sex And The City (Kim Cattrall also was a panelist), he said, have “been replaced by so much ultra-violence in this torture form. I find that really interesting because all our popular culture reflects the society in which it was created. So what does that say about us? Why are we so obsessed with watching other human beings suffering? We don’t get enough of it on the news that we — that’s our entertainment, too? I think that’s the real pornography. That’s the real evil, and that’s the real darkness.”

Most Changed Executive
NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt — last Press Tour’s Mr. Flat Is The New Up — spoke happily this tour about Up Being The New Up: “We had a pretty great season so far this year. We’re No. 1 in the demo. We’re the only network up, year to year, almost 10% to date. Even if you take the Olympics out of our numbers, we would still be No. 1 for the year…We’re also leading in the 25-54 demo, and all key adult female demos as well. We also had a huge growth in total viewers where we’re running No. 2 season to date. In fact, we’re up 27% year over year, which is our strongest performance this far into the season in eight years.”

Biggest News
CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves, telling reporters after his Q&A for the network’s new Thursday night football that he’s interested in buying CNN should Rupert Murdoch prevail in his bid to by the cable news network’s parent Time Warner and spin off CNN. “We’ve always talked about doing things with CNN in the past… It’s something I’m sure we’ll look at if it becomes available,” Moonves said. Last month, when CBS took the final step in the spinoff of its billboard company, “that was our intent, to get rid of billboards and potentially buy more content,” Moonves said, adding, “We’re in a very advantageous position.”

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No Cannes Do: Why Spike Lee Nixed ‘Do The Right Thing’ Silver Anniversary For Black Fest Fete

Mike Fleming

spiThe 2014 Cannes Film Festival marks 25 years since Spike Lee brought Do The Right Thing to the Croisette in a premiere that left some journalists labeling it a powder keg and predicting a trail of racial violence for its U.S. release. Lee was invited to celebrate the anniversary in Cannes Classics, but business commitments kept him home. Lee instead is throwing all his chips into the comparatively obscure American Black Film Festival, which moves from Miami to New York next month. There, he’ll celebrate the silver anniversary and launch his new film, Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus, and he is hoping hard that distributors will come. Lee, who 28 years ago made his feature debut on the seminal indie She’s Gotta Have It, has since made films of every shape, size and genre, way more of them memorable (Malcolm X, Inside Man) than forgettable (Oldboy). We spoke to discuss why he selected ABFF to launch a new film made at the tiniest budget level since his debut, and it turned into a long discussion of how a filmmaker evolves when he is determined to make movies his way. I found our exchange so entertaining I wanted to share it with Deadline readers. Much has changed since Lee blazed on the scene with a lively visual style and subject matter that evolved from playful to provocative. So it somehow seemed emblematic of change last night that Lee, always identified as a Brooklynite die-hard Knicks fan, did part of this chat while trying to direct a cab driver taking him from Manhattan (where he now lives) to Brooklyn, the only place you can watch a New York team play basketball right now. “If you write where I’m going, make sure to say I’m there to root for Jesus Shuttlesworth, because I’ll always be a Knicks guy. I’m not there for the Brooklyn Nets. And please tell those distributors to come and see my film.”

shutDEADLINE: Jesus who?
LEE: Jesus Shuttlesworth. Ray Allen. That’s the character he played for me in He Got Game 16 years ago. I’m there to root for him.

DEADLINE: From its crowdfunding origins to your decision to unveil at the New York-bound American Black Film Festival on June 22, Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus seems an unlikely place to entice distributors that go shopping at Cannes, Telluride, Toronto and Venice. Why was the American Black Film Festival the right place to launch?
LEE: I had obligations here that prevented me from being at Cannes, and it just didn’t work out for Do The Right Thing and Cannes Classics. And I don’t want to wait until Toronto for Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus. You get a distribution deal in the fall and it takes another four or five months to position the film for release. I just don’t want to have this film sitting on a shelf, waiting, waiting, waiting. I’m friends with Jeff Friday and it’s a big move for that festival to come to New York. I am a New York City filmmaker. They already asked to commemorate Do The Right Thing, and they were looking for a closing-night film. I said, let’s do it. Read More »

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‘Gosnell’ Tops $2.1M To Become Biggest Indiegogo Campaign Ever For Film; 3rd Most Crowdfunded Pic Ever

By | Friday May 9, 2014 @ 9:48am PDT

GosnellGosnell, the crowdsourcing project for a TV movie about the abortion doctor convicted for murdering babies born alive, just reached its $2.1M goal on Indiegogo – four days early. It now becomes the highest crowdfunding campaign for a movie (a telefilm) ever done on the crowdsourcing site, and is the third-highest crowd funding movie project ever. Veronica Mars still holds the record with more than $5.7M collected, and Zach Braff’s is second with $3.1M for Wish I Was Here. Both of those were done on Kickstarter. Gosnell has 23,500 donors.

Related: ‘Gosnell’ Crosses $1M On Indiegogo

The Gosnell telefilm, which will be produced by Phelim McAleer, his wife kermit-gosnellAnn McElhinney and Magda Segieda through McAleer’s Hat Tip Productions, will now hire a director. “We will be bringing in an experienced team skilled in TV drama,” said McAleer. The telefilm is about Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia physician convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for horrifically and mercilessly killing babies of botched abortions who were born alive by driving a scissors into their necks and snipping their spinal cords. It is believed that the practice went on for years. The case rocked Philadelphia and the nation in 2010, and he is serving a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole. The story is often used by both sides of the abortion argument to push their individual agendas. Read More »

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Spike Lee To Adapt His Feature ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ As Series For Showtime

By | Monday May 5, 2014 @ 5:26pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

She's_Gotta_Have_It_film_posterEXCLUSIVE: Spike Lee is revisiting his debut feature, 1985′s She’s Gotta Have It, on the small screen. Showtime has put in development a half-hour series adaptation that updates the film, with Lee set to write and attached to direct. The project is taking a new, contemporary look at the characters and will spike leeexplore Lee’s unique and provocative points of view about race, gender, sexuality, relationships, and the gentrification in Brooklyn. Showtime is a fitting home for the project as the pay cable network has built a whole slate of half-hour series that straddle comedy and drama in the tone of She’s Gotta Have It.

Lee made his breakthrough with She’s Gotta Have It, which he shot in 12 days during the summer of ’85 on a budget of $175,000 (watch the trailer below). The film, starring Tracy Camilla Johns as  a young, sexually independent Brooklynite who juggles three suitors (Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Lee), ended up grossing $7,137,502 at the U.S. box office. It helped usher in the American independent film movement of the 1980s and paved the way for other black filmmakers. Lee is repped by ICM Partners.

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Spike Lee Signs With ICM Partners

By | Monday January 27, 2014 @ 5:30pm PST
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Spike Lee, Spike Leeone of the stalwarts of New York filmmakers who helped put modern indie filmmaking on the map, has signed with ICM Partners. The move comes less than two weeks after his agent Billy Hawkins exited CAA, and ICM has just made the signing known to staffers. The agency jump comes 25 years after the release of Do The Right Thing, the Lee “joint” that landed Oscar nominations for Original Screenplay and put the helmer on the path to such vital films as Jungle Fever, Mo’ Better Blues and Malcolm X, which drew two more Oscar nominations. The move marks a return to the ICM fold, his home before moving to CAA.

Lee is as busy as ever now, and is in postproduction on Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus, a vampire pic for which he raised money via Kickstarter. His fundraising efforts on the site drew almost $1.3 million — and like the old days he pounded the pavement for the project, including appearances on ICM-Partners-logo__131003031105-275x105__131010003006 (1)CNN and CNBC to promote his campaign, saying, “I’m bringing people to Kickstarter who never even heard of Kickstarter.” He’s also working on another feature docu after successes in the genre with pics like 2006′s Hurricane Katrina tale When The Levees Broke. He also is at work on the docu Go, Brazil, Go, about that country’s economic rise. (Lee was nominated for his second Oscar in 1998 for the documentary feature 4 Little Girls.) Read More »

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Spike Lee Heads To Sirius XM Radio For Next Joint

By | Wednesday January 22, 2014 @ 12:50pm PST
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Spike Lee’s Agent Billy Hawkins Exiting CAA

By | Wednesday January 15, 2014 @ 12:45pm PST

In addition to Spike Lee, CAA motion picture lit agent Billy Hawkins repped the likes of Iron Man scribes Art Marcum and Matt Holloway as well as Josh Boone, who is helming Fox’s The Fault In Our Stars starring Shailene Woodley. We’re being told Hawkins is departing to join a tech startup in LA, essentially heading back to his pre-CAA roots as an investment banker. He is still at the CAA offices and is assisting in transitioning his client roster, so it sounds like this is an amicable parting of ways. Hawkins joined the agency in 2002 as an assistant and went through the agent-trainee program before being promoted.

Related: Jack Whigham Tapped To Co-Run CAA’s Motion Picture Talent Unit

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Specialty Box Office: ‘Mandela,’ ‘Philomena’ Holiday Pushes Pay Off For TWC; Spike Lee’s ‘Oldboy’ Bombs (UPDATED)

By Deadline’s Brian Brooks and Jen Yamato.

Specialty Box Office Mandela OldboyThanksgiving weekend yielded a box office bounty for The Weinstein Co. and a turkey for FilmDistrict and Spike Lee in a holiday weekend with slim competition from indie comers. TWC made a pair of bold moves, opening awards hopeful Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom on 4 screens to a strong $100,306 take averaging $25,076 per screen; the drama starring Idris Elba as South African president Nelson Mandela built up word of mouth on the fest circuit at Toronto, Mill Valley, The Hamptons, Chicago, and AFI Fest. TWC also seized the chance to bump last week’s Judi Dench-starrer Philomena from 4 theaters to 835 theaters and the pic subsequently broke into the Top 10 with a $4,538 average and a $3.789M weekend. Dench stars alongside Steve Coogan in the true story of a woman searching for the son she gave up for adoption decades earlier, Spike Lee Oldboy Bomba heartwarming family tale that was primed for holiday viewing. Alas, Thanksgiving weekend wasn’t quite so kind to FilmDistrict’s Oldboy which in its own bloody way is also about the ties that bind. Spike Lee‘s remake of the brutally violent Korean thriller from Park Chan-Wook, stars Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sharlto Copley in a vengeance saga with extreme twists and turns not for the faint of heart. It took in a paltry $850K on the weekend, averaging $1,458 in 583 theaters.

In other openers this weekend, IFC Films’ doc The Punk Singer bowed to a $24K gross in three locations from Friday to Sunday. The company noted that the doc “sold out multiple shows in New York and LA for its debut. The documentary on punk singer icon Kathleen Hanna will roll out to the top 10 markets in December. And Vitagraph opened Caught In The Web in one location. It was a slow start with a $330 gross.

IFC Films added three additional theaters for Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? in its second frame, grossing just under $20K for a $3,390 PSA. The feature averaged $10,620 in its opening last weekend in a trio of locations. Read More »

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Hot Teaser: ‘Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth’

By | Sunday October 20, 2013 @ 12:58pm PDT

Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, filmed during the ex-champ’s one-man stage show and directed by Spike Lee, premieres November 16. Here’s HBO‘s official trailer:

Related: Mike Tyson And Spike Lee On HBO’s ‘Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth’

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Spike Lee’s Kickstarter Passes $1.25M Goal

By | Friday August 16, 2013 @ 1:30pm PDT

Spike Lee has exceeded his $1.25 million Kickstarter goal to crowdfund his next joint, about humans who are addicted to blood (“Funny, Sexy and Bloody. A new kind of love story – and not a remake of Blacula,” he wrote when the campaign launched). Lee’s Kickstarter has hit $1.29M with four days to go, marking the third-biggest film project to date on the fundraising website behind the Veronica Mars movie’s $5.7M and Zach Braff’s $3.1M. Lee’s success marks a subtle shift in the burgeoning era of celebrity Kickstarters, which routinely have earned scrutiny from critics who accuse them of stealing limelight from smaller campaigns — a backlash Wish I Was Here producer Stacey Sher called “excruciating.” But while Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas and Braff mostly appealed online to established fanbases to raise their budget dollars, Lee waged an unabashed PR campaign in traditional and broadcast media, including an appearance on CNN, to promote his fundraiser. “I’m bringing to Kickstarter who’ve never even heard of Kickstarter,” he said in an interview last month.

Related: Spike Lee Offers Courtside Knicks Tix To Crowdfund New Film

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Russell Simmons Pulls Controversial ‘Harriet Tubman Sex Tape’ After YouTube Channel Launch

By | Thursday August 15, 2013 @ 12:16pm PDT

Russell Simmons Harriet TubmanControversy over a comedy short helped Russell Simmons launch his new YouTube channel All Def Digital yesterday. But a firestorm of complaints over Harriet Tubman Sex Tape, in which the abolitionist has sex with her master in order to blackmail him into creating the Underground Railroad, led Simmons to pull the video today and issue an apology. “In the whole history of Def Comedy Jam, I’ve never taken down a controversial comedian,” said Simmons in a statement. “When my buddies from the NAACP called and asked me to take down the Harriet Tubman video from the All Def Digital YouTube channel and apologize, I agreed.”

“I’m a very liberal person with thick skin,” he continues. “My first impression of the Harriet Tubman piece was that it was about what one of actors said in the video, that 162 years later, there’s still tremendous injustice. And with Harriet Tubman outwitting the slave master? I thought it was politically correct. Silly me. I can now understand why so many people are upset. I have taken down the video. Lastly, I would never condone violence against women in any form, and for all of those I offended, I am sincerely sorry.” Read More »

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FilmDistrict Shifts ‘Oldboy’ Release To Thanksgiving Weekend

By | Monday July 29, 2013 @ 4:29pm PDT

FilmDistrict is moving Oldboy‘s release to a crowded Thanksgiving Eve, November 27, about a month later than its initial October 25 date. The Spike Lee-directed film now will go up against two Weinstein Company pics: Grace Of Monaco and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. Also set for release that weekend are Fox Searchlight’s musical Black Nativity, Buena Vista’s animated Frozen, Open Road’s Homefront and the Relativity thriller Out Of The Furnace.

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Spike Lee Responds To Crowdfunding Critics: I’m Not Bogarting Kickstarter

By | Saturday July 27, 2013 @ 6:29pm PDT

Like the celeb crowdfunders who came before him, Spike Lee attracted some criticism when he launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $1.25M for his next joint. Lee hits back at the haters in a new interview: “I’m bringing to Kickstarter who’ve never even heard of Kickstarter. I’m talking a lot of people of color who’ve never made a pledge on Kickstarter:”

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TCA: Mike Tyson And Spike Lee On HBO’s ‘Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth’

By | Thursday July 25, 2013 @ 4:41pm PDT

Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson‘s one-man stage show that was shot by HBO and directed by Spike Lee that premieres later this year originated in Las Vegas as a much different project, Tyson told the TCA gathering this afternoon. It originally had him backed by a rock band, Tyson noted, before Lee got involved and moved the show to Broadway for two weeks of shows last summer. “Spike changed it to just me,” he said, “though I liked it with the band a lot too.” The show — called Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth – finds the long-troubled and controversial fighter recounting his life’s highs and lows, from his boxing career to his time in prison. While a clip shown from the special made it appear that Tyson was speaking extemporaneously, in fact he’s following a script that was crafted by his wife. It was shot during two of the Broadway performances. While Tyson has had plenty of experiencing performing in entertainment projects, mostly in cameos, the boxer said today that doing his one-man show “felt like second nature.” He was happy to get the gig because it’s helping to pay the bills. “I didn’t know how I was going to be able to do it,” he admitted. Tyson also said he found parallels between emoting onstage and throwing his fists in the ring. “The only difference is I don’t have to go to the hospital after I perform,” he deadpanned. In both cases “it’s like being in a war.” Read More »

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Spike Lee Offers Courtside Knicks Tix To Crowdfund New Film; Steven Soderbergh Among Early Backers

By | Tuesday July 23, 2013 @ 12:40pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Spike Lee‘s gotten some Kickstarter love from fellow filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, whom Lee revealed backed his project to the tune of $10K – AKA the “courtside Knicks seats” level of donation. “I can confirm that Steven indeed supports his fellow filmmakers, especially when that support leads to courtside seats for the Knicks,” Soderbergh’s manager Michael Sugar tells me. Lee’s still got 28 days left to raise his goal of $1.25M.

PREVIOUS, 7:01 AM: Spike Lee has joined the likes of Zach Braff and Veronica Mars in going the Kickstarter route to get funding for a film that might not otherwise exist. Lee just started the clock on a 30 day attempt to raise $1.25 million for an untitled movie about human beings who are addicted to blood that he calls “funny, sexy, and bloody (and it’s not Blacula).” While most Kickstarter solicitations promise crowd funders little more than a seat at the premiere and some tchochkes of negligible value, give Spike credit for digging deep for his biggest benefactors. For bidders who put up $10,000, Lee promises to take each of them to dinner, and that person will then sit beside Lee in his wife Tonya’s courtside seat at a New York Knicks game. That has become a storied, and sometimes infamous spot at the world’s most famous arena, as Spike is to the Knicks what Jack Nicholson is to the Lakers. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Spike Lee’s ‘Oldboy’

By | Wednesday July 10, 2013 @ 1:08pm PDT

Josh Brolin, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson, and Elizabeth Olsen star in Spike Lee‘s remake of the brutal Korean pic about a man out for vengeance against the mysterious enemy who imprisoned him for 20 years. FilmDistrict will release Oldboy on October 25. Check out the redband trailer debut:

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HBO To Film Mike Tyson’s Spike Lee-Directed One-Man Show For Debut This Year

HBO has bought TV rights to Mike Tyson’s one-man show, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth. HBO Films will film the show in July for debut on HBO later in the year. The stage production features “Iron Mike” recounting his life’s highs and lows in his signature candid style. He opens up about his troubled youth, landmark boxing career, key people in his life, controversies, time in prison, self-examination, family and new beginnings. Tyson recently wrapped a 10-week U.S. tour of the production, which debuted in Las Vegas in spring 2012 and ran on Broadway last summer, with filmmaker Spike Lee directing. Lee and Tyson — who also collaborated on the HBO pilot Da Brick, a drama series inspired by Tyson’s childhood that the premium network passed on last year — are among the exec producers, as is Kiki Tyson, who also wrote; Jon Kilik; and James Nederlander.

Related: Mike Tyson In Memoir Deal For ‘Undisputed Truth’

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FilmDistrict Shifts ‘Oldboy’ Release Date

By | Thursday May 23, 2013 @ 10:33am PDT

The Spike Lee-directed remake of Park Chan-wook’s cult Korean classic will now see its wide release on October 25, 2013, after FilmDistrict originally slated it for October 11. Oldboy will now bow opposite Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 5, which already had the date. Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen and Sharlto Copley star in the revenge pic, which was originally part of Park’s Vengeance trilogy that included Lady Vengeance and Sympathy For Mister Vengeance. That latter movie is also getting a U.S. remake, with Silver Reel and Lotus Entertainment announcing in Cannes that they are partnering with di Bonaventura Pictures and CJ Entertainment for an English-language version from a script by Broken City‘s Brian Tucker.

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Cannes Briefs: Radiant Films Goes ‘Wild’; Image Acquires ‘ ZoZo’; ‘November Man’ Firms Cast; ‘Heat’ Sales Hot; ‘Oh Boy’ & ‘Child’s Pose’; Spike Lee Finds ‘Gold;’ Image Feels Domestic ‘Shiver’; More

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Radiant Films International has acquired international rights to the comedy drama Wild. Written and directed by Vivienne DeCourcy, the movie stars Ella Greenwell and Tom Hughes. It tells the story of Mary Reynolds, a visionary young garden designer who puts everything on the line in order to compete in the Chelsea Flower show. Hughes stars as Christy, an idealistic environmentalist, whom Mary enlists to help her compete at the Chelsea, the Olympics of gardening. Wild is funded by Green Earth, the Irish Film Board, RTE and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. It will shoot in Ireland and Ethiopia over the coming months. Pic is produced by Treasure Entertainment and Crowe’s Nest in Ireland, together with Green Earth in the US. Rebecca O’Flanagan and Rob Walpole will produce from Treasure, with Sarah Johnson and Chloe Kassis Crowe exec-producing. Jay Cohen from the Gersh Agency is handling U.S. rights. Read More »

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