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‘Christians Used To Have A Seat At The Table’: Director Of ‘American Underdog’ On Christian Comeback In Hollywood



Andy Erwin premiered his latest faith-kissed film, “American Underdog,” at what he calls “sacred ground” for a filmmaker – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

Walking in, he spotted an homage to the Biblical classic “The 10 Commandments.” The lobby display recalled an era when Hollywood embraced Christian values with open arms.

That’s no longer the case.

“People of [Christian] values used to be represented in Hollywood quite well,” Erwin says. “We lost our seat at the table.”

The industry eschews overtly Christian tales today, focusing on pop culture brands like Marvel, DC and all things “Star Wars.” When studios deliver faith-based movies now they often reduce, or remove, the spirituality components, witness 2014’s “Noah” or the 2005 biopic “Walk the Line.”

Christian films now flow primarily from the independent realm, with notable titles from the Kendrick brothers (“War Room,” “Courageous”) and Erwin, alongside his filmmaking sibling Jon Erwin (“I Can Only Imagine,” “Woodlawn”).

The duo’s “American Underdog,” depicting Kurt Warner’s rise from grocery store clerk to Super Bowl MVP, brings God back to the big screen. Only the Erwins did so with a delicate touch.

Warner’s remarkable story is prime material for the big screen, and the Hall of Famer never hid how faith made that journey possible. Zachary Levi of “Shazam” fame plays the gridiron great, but his saga’s spiritual component isn’t as overt as, say, a “God’s Not Dead” sequel.

The Erwins knew they had to tell Warner’s story in the most authentic way possible. The quarterback’s story should focus on his courtship of future wife Brenda (Anna Paquin) and how their families came together as a result as much as throwing TD passes and prayer.

“We leaned into those things. It just so happened to be about a Christian … we didn’t shy away from that faith,” Erwin says, adding the film’s themes pack a universal appeal. “It’s relatable regardless of what your beliefs are, redemption and hope, second chances.”

That said, the Kurt Warner story is about family most of all.

“We didn’t want to do a color by numbers sports biopic … what is he really fighting for?” he adds.

Erwin admits some Christian films have lacked the sizzle of mainstream Hollywood fare. 

“As Christians we’ve had a lot of catching up to do,” he says, adding Christians’ ability to tell stories have “atrophied” over time.

That’s changing, witness the serialized tale of Jesus told via “The Chosen,” which earned solid reviews from secular critics. Plus, Sony has an entire sub-studio dedicated to movies of faith, Affirm Films, and Lionsgate brought “American Underdog” to the masses.

And while film critics aren’t typically kind to spiritual stories, “American Underdog” is earning the best reviews of the Erwin brothers’ career.

Andy Erwin is “pleasantly surprised” by those results.

“Maybe they’re something about true stories that really register … optimism is making a comeback,” he says.

The Erwins worked extensively with Warner in shaping “American Underdog,” a process that showed the duo the commitment the NFL great brings to everything he touches. Warner would send the brothers texts at 3 a.m. with feedback and tips.

“That Kurt drive you see in the movie exists in real life, whether it’s winning the Super Bowl or ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” Erwin says. “Here’s there to win.”

Warner impressed upon the Erwins how vital Brenda was to his comeback saga.

“She’s tough as nails, a former Marine who is an aggressive Mama bear,” Erwin notes. She’s also “amazingly loyal and emotional,” facets Paquin delivers in her raw performance. 

“I want the audience to see a part of Brenda that I only get the privilege to see,” Warner told the brothers. 

The Erwins took a curious path to Hollywood. The pair worked at ESPN while still teenagers, contributing to ESPN College Football Primetime and, later, with FOX NFL and the NBA.

They formed their own production company in 2002, focusing on commercials, documentaries and music videos for superstars like Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.

They later turned to movies, directing the 2011 film “October Baby” as their big screen debut. Follow-up features failed to light up the box office until 2018’s “I Can Only Imagine.” That fact-based story, co-starring Dennis Quaid, scored $83 million from a reported $7 million budget.

Erwin has spent most of his career working alongside brother Jon, although the two are pursuing projects independently as well. He credits their divergent approaches to his artistic growth

“We’re dysfunctional at best half the time,” Andy Erwin says. “Jon sees the world and film from a much different perspective than I do…. he makes my ideas better.”

That creative tension, he says, brings out the best in both of them. He calls it “friction with respect, and the best ideas win.”

It’s not hard to spot the life lessons lurking in “American Underdog,” from the power of family to how adversity often makes us stronger. 

“It’s a love letter to dreamers and the idea of hope,” he says. “That breakout moment is right on the opposite side of your hardest struggle … God has a plan.”’

And the film’s timing, released on Christmas day during a pandemic with no end in sight, couldn’t be more appropriate.

“There’s a lot of struggle right now, especially in Middle America. It feels like the decks are stacked against us. Stay true to who you are, fight for what you believe in,” he says.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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Hailey Bieber Details Terrifying ‘Life-Altering’ Mini-Stroke She Suffered And Procedure To Close Hole In Her Heart



Hailey Bieber has spoken out in her “own words” about the “life-altering,” “scariest moment” of her life she had after suffering what she called a mini-stroke, and later underwent a procedure to close a hole in her heart.

The 25-year-old supermodel and wife of superstar singer Justin Bieber took to her YouTube channel Wednesday and opened up about the terrifying experience of being hospitalized last month after she suffered a blood clot to her brain that traveled through a hole in her heart between 12 and 13 millimeters, reported People magazine.

“I had, like, a very scary incident on March 10, basically,” Bieber shared. “I was sitting at breakfast with my husband, having a normal day … and all of the sudden, I felt this really weird sensation that kind of like traveled down my arm from my shoulder all the way down to my fingertips. And it made my fingertips feel really numb and weird.”

“Justin [her husband] was like, ‘Are you okay?’” she added, as she explained that she tried to respond to him, but she “couldn’t speak.” “The right side of my face started drooping; I couldn’t get a sentence out.”

“Obviously, immediately, I thought I was having a stroke,” the supermodel continued. “He thought I was having a stroke. Right away, he asked for somebody to please call 911 and get a doctor.”

Hailey said that where they were, there happened to be a medic who started asking her lots of questions and testing her arms, calling it definitely the “scariest moment” of her life. The model talked about how the “facial drooping lasted for probably like thirty seconds.” Her speech did came back, but her “anxiety” about what was happening just made “everything worse.”

“By the time I got to the emergency room, I was pretty much back to normal – [I] could talk, [I] wasn’t having any issues with my face or my arm,” Bieber explained.

She said scans revealed she had, in fact, suffered a “small blood clot” to her brain which was labeled a “TIA” [Transient Ischemic Attack]. Hailey told her followers it was basically like having a “mini-stroke.”

Doctors still weren’t sure what caused it, but she said it was widely believed it was a combination of birth-control issues, recently having COVID-19, and having just traveled “to Paris and back in a very short amount of time,” calling it a “perfect storm.”

Further testing at the University of California, Los Angeles, revealed Bieber had a Grade 5 PFO [a small opening in the heart that usually closes after birth]. The outlet said the hold measured between 12 and 13 millimeters. She later underwent a procedure to close the hole, and said it went “very smoothly” and she’s recovering.

“The biggest thing I feel is I just feel really relieved that we were able to figure everything out, that we were able to get it closed, that I will be able to just move on from this really scary situation and just live my life,” Hailey shared.

“If there’s anybody that watches this that has gone through the same thing or something similar, I definitely really empathize with you,” she concluded. “And I understand how life-altering and scary it is.”

Bieber, who’s the daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin and Kennya Baldwin, married her husband Justin in 2018.

Related: Hailey Baldwin Credits Christian Faith For Marriage To Justin Bieber

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Wikipedia’s Left-Wing Bias



I love Wikipedia. I donated thousands of dollars to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Before Wikipedia, all we had were printed encyclopedias—out of date by the time we bought them.

Then libertarian Jimmy Wales came up with a web-based, crowd-sourced encyclopedia.

Crowd-sourced? A Britannica editor called Wikipedia “a public restroom.” But Wales won the battle. Britannica’s encyclopedias are no longer printed.

Congratulations to Wales.

But recently, I learned that Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger now says Wikipedia’s political pages have turned into leftist “propaganda.”

That’s upsetting. Leftists took over the editing?

Sadly, yes. I checked it out.

All editing is done by volunteers. Wales hoped there would be enough diverse political persuasions that biases would be countered by others.

But that’s not what’s happening.

Leftists just like to write. Conservatives build things: companies, homes, farms.

You see the pattern comparing political donations from different professions: Surgeons, oil workers, truck drivers, loggers, and pilots lean right; artists, bartenders, librarians, reporters, and teachers lean left.

Conservatives don’t have as much time to tweet or argue on the web. Leftists do. And they love doing it. This helps them take over the media, universities, and now, Wikipedia.

Jonathan Weiss is what Wikipedia calls a “Top 100” Wikipedian because he’s made almost half a million edits. He says he’s noticed new bias: “Wikipedia does a great job on things like science and sports, but you see a lot of political bias come into play when you’re talking current events.”

Weiss is no conservative. In presidential races, he voted for Al Gore, Ralph Nader, and Barack Obama. Never for a Republican. “I’ve really never identified strongly with either political party,” he says.

Maybe that’s why he notices the new Wikipedia bias.

“People on the left far outweigh people on the center and the right … a lot [are] openly socialist and Marxist.” Some even post pictures of Che Guevara and Lenin on their own profiles.

These are the people who decide which news sources Wikipedia writers may cite. Wikipedia’s approved “Reliable sources” page rejects political reporting from Fox but calls CNN and MSNBC “reliable.”

Good conservative outlets like The Federalist, the Daily Caller, and The Daily Wire are all deemed “unreliable.” Same with the New York Post (That’s probably why Wikipedia called Hunter Biden’s emails a conspiracy theory even after other liberal media finally acknowledged that they were real).

While it excludes Fox, Wikipedia approves even hard left media like Vox, Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, and Jacobin, a socialist publication.

Until recently, Wikipedia’s “socialism” and “communism” pages made no mention of the millions of people killed by socialism and communism. Even now, deaths are “deep in the article,” says Weiss, “treated as an arcane academic debate. But we’re talking about mass murder!”

The communism page even adds that we cannot ignore the “lives saved by communist modernization”! This is nuts.

Look up “concentration and internment camps” and you’ll find, along with the Holocaust, “Mexico-United States border,” and under that, “Trump administration family separation policy.”

What? Former President Donald Trump’s border controls, no matter how harsh, are very different from the Nazi’s mass murder.

Wikipedia does say “anyone can edit.” So, I made a small addition for political balance, mentioning that President Barack Obama built those cages.

My edit was taken down.

I wrote Wikipedia founder Wales to say that if his creation now uses only progressive sources, I would no longer donate.

He replied, “I totally respect the decision not to give us more money. I’m such a fan and have great respect for you and your work.” But then he said it is “just 100% false … that ‘only globalist, progressive mainstream sources’ are permitted.”

He gave examples of left-wing media that Wikipedia rejects, like Raw Story and Occupy Democrats.

I’m glad he rejects them. Those sites are childishly far left.

I then wrote again to ask why “there’s not a single right-leaning media outlet Wiki labels ‘reliable’ about politics, [but] Vox, Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, CNN, MSNBC” get approval.

Wales then stopped responding to my emails.

Unless Wikipedia’s bias is fixed, I’ll be skeptical reading anything on the site.


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Public Health England to blame for sending patients to care homes without Covid tests



Speaking on condition of anonymity, Whitehall officials alleged that Prof Duncan Selbie, the former PHE chief executive, was ultimately responsible for informing Mr Hancock of the risks.

Prof Selbie is working as a senior adviser to the DHSC. Neither he nor the department responded to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Mr Hancock, who was replaced by Sajid Javid last year, claimed the High Court ruling had exonerated him and the had been cleared “of any wrongdoing” because PHE “failed to tell ministers what they knew about asymptomatic transmission”.

The High Court judges concluded that care home policies in March and April 2020 were “irrational” because they failed to advise that those discharged from hospitals “should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for up to 14 days”.

“Since there is no evidence that this question was considered by the secretary of state, or that he was asked to consider it, it is not an example of a political judgment on a finely balanced issue,” they said. “Nor is it a point on which any of the expert committees had advised that no guidance was required.”

After the ruling, Boris Johnson said he wanted to “renew my apologies and sympathies” to relatives who lost loved ones, adding: “The thing we didn’t know in particular was that Covid could be transmitted asymptomatically in the way that it was.”

However, the risks of asymptomatic transmission had been highlighted by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser for England, who said it was “quite likely” as early as March 13 2020. Varying levels of risk had been outlined in papers from late January, the ruling said.

The judicial review was brought by Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers, Michael Gibson and Donald Harris, died after testing positive for Covid.

‘Opens the floodgates for potential claims’

Paul Conrathe, a solicitor at Sinclairslaw who was instructed by both women, said: “It’s possible that care home providers and relatives who lost loved ones in the first wave could bring compensation claims. The Government was found to have acted ‘irrationally’ – that’s a very high legal hurdle.”

Nadra Ahmed, who chairs the National Care Association, said the ruling “opens the floodgates for potential claims to be brought against government policy”.

“This will be especially pertinent where the individual was not given a choice,” she said. “There will be a lot of people assimilating to the information as they consider if the loss of their loved one was premature, and holding the Government to account is the only way forward for them.”

Helen Wildbore, the director of the Relatives and Residents Association, said that the ruling proved “the protective ring around care homes was non-existent” and that older people were “abandoned at the outset of the pandemic”.

A government spokesman said it had been a “very difficult decision” to discharge hospital patients into care homes, taken when evidence on asymptomatic transmission was “extremely uncertain”.

The spokesman added: “We acknowledge the judge’s comments on assessing the risks of asymptomatic transmission and our guidance on isolation, and will respond in more detail in due course.”

‘He was in a home and should have been safe’

They stood outside the Royal Courts of Justice, two women unknown to each other before the Covid pandemic but brought together by tragedy, writes Tom Ough.

Cathy Gardner spoke first, delivering a steely reading of a statement. Matt Hancock’s boast of a “protective ring” encircling care homes, Dr Gardner said, was “a despicable lie of which he ought to be ashamed and for which he ought to apologise”.

Fay Harris, more downcast in demeanour but no less forthright, told journalists: “I have lost precious years with my wonderful Dad.”

Both women lost their fathers in early 2020, arguing that they might still be alive were it not for hospital patients having been discharged into care homes without having been tested for Covid.

Michael Gibson, born in 1931, had been a superintendent registrar of births and deaths. “He was in a home and should have been safe,” Dr Gardner told The Independent after his death.

Mr Gibson, who had advanced dementia, had fallen ill a couple of weeks before the first lockdown. Staff at his care home were unable to procure tests for Covid, but the virus is believed to have struck him down.

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