‘Come Sunday’ Review: Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Performance Main Reason To See Netflix’s Preachy Religious Drama

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Following a Sundance Film Festival debut in January, Netflix unveiled Come Sunday, its true-life religious story of the Rev. Carlton Pearson, over the weekend on its streaming service and in some theaters. I caught it Sunday (naturally), but the low-energy dramatics didn’t grab me, with the exception of the lead performance from the always reliable Chiwetel Ejiofor as Pearson, a media-age preacher caught up in a crisis of conscience.
Based on This American Life’s segment…

Martin Sheen Endorses Sterling K Brown For ‘West Wing’ Reboot President

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Not every commander in chief can say they approve of their successor. But if President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet’s ends up being played by Sterling K Brown? Well then, Martin Sheen tells TheWrap he would definitely endorse that candidate.

Last fall, “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin told The Hollywood Reporter his idea for a possible reboot of the series — for which he says he has a “standing offer” from NBC — saw the “This Is Us” star in the Oval Office and “some kind of jam” brings Sheen’s Bartlet in to advise Brown’s POTUS “in the way that Bill Clinton used to consult with Nixon.” Brown tweeted soon after that he would be “honored” to lead that project.

And while Sheen isn’t familiar with the Emmy-winning actor, as he told TheWrap in February, he has full faith in Sorkin’s selection.

Also Read: Martin Sheen: JFK (Unlike Trump) Would Have ‘Confronted Those Bastards’ at NRA Over Gun Crisis

“I have heard of him, but I have not seen the show, so I couldn’t speak to his talent” Sheen, the narrator and executive producer of CNN’s upcoming six-part docuseries “American Dynasties: The Kennedys,” told TheWrap last month. “But if Aaron were to choose him, I would have 100 percent confidence in him.”

While on the topic, Sheen gave us a little glimpse into the series that could have been, which he says would have given the country its first African American president years before Barack Obama was elected.

“You know, the original idea for ‘The West Wing’ that we did was a Black president,” Sheen said. “And I believe it was James Earl Jones that was the choice. And he decided not to do it. That’s my understanding of the original effort to get ‘The West Wing’ on the air. It was a much different story.”

And Sheen would have backed that plot too. Too bad that’s not the story Sorkin had prepped.

Also Read: Aaron Sorkin Suggests ‘West Wing’ Reboot With Sterling K Brown as President

“To clarify — one of the first casting ideas was Sidney Poitier (who wasn’t available), but the character was never written as ‘a black president,’” a representative for Sorkin told TheWrap in response to Sheen’s comments. “No race was ever specified. They were just trying to cast the role with the best actor.”

So Sheen didn’t lose his leading gig to Poitier — or Jones. But the actor, whose political leanings are firmly on the liberal side, says has so much faith in Sorkin and his creative vision that he would have endorsed pretty much whatever the executive producer wanted to make of the original series, which ran from 1999 to 2006 — and anything he has in mind for a follow-up.

“When I was doing ‘The West Wing,’ I was asked a number of different times, ‘Would you play Bartlet if he was a Republican?’” Sheen told TheWrap. “And I said, ‘As long as Aaron Sorkin wrote him, I would be delighted to play him.’ So If Aaron is going to reboot the series with a different focus, I would say ‘bravo.’ I would look forward to that.”

Also Read: How 21 Movies and TV Shows Portrayed 9/11 (Photos)

“American Dynasties: The Kennedys” premieres March 11 at 9 p.m. on CNN.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Aaron Sorkin Suggests ‘West Wing’ Reboot With Sterling K Brown as President

Richard Schiff Has an Idea for ‘West Wing’ Reboot: Aaron Sorkin Likes It ‘a Lot’

Obama Aides Say ‘Veep’ More Accurate Than ‘West Wing,’ ‘House of Cards’

Questions of God Challenge a Pentecostal Preacher to Change in ‘Come Sunday’

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Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers a deeply moving portrayal of a Pentecostal preacher in the throes of a religious crisis in “Come Sunday,” a glimpse into the soul of a real-life man challenged to change his beliefs.

Based on a reported segment on “This American Life,” “Come Sunday” tells the story of Bishop Carlton Pearson, who for many years led a million-strong Pentecostal ministry based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, until 1998, when he found his faith challenged.

Pearson decided that he no longer believed in hell, no longer believed that only saved Christians would go to heaven and no longer believed that his form of faith was the only one that God could accept. In so doing, he broke with the orthodoxy of his mentor Oral Roberts and threw his ministry into confusion.

Also Read: Sundance So Far: Festival Gets Woke With Strong Set of Diverse Films

Most of his followers left. Pearson stuck to his newfound beliefs, and paid a dear price.

There are many unusual aspects to this story, not least of which is a reminder that a lot of religious people still believe in an actual hell. The other is the reminder of how rarely Hollywood movies explore faith, and how important a part of the human experience are the deeply held beliefs of the faithful.

Ejiofor fully inhabits the charismatic Pearson and his crisis of conscience, when late in his career he is suddenly unable to believe that the Creator would reject so many of his creations simply because they did not accept Jesus Christ.

Pearson was at the screening and pulled the audience at the Eccles Theater to their feet. He explained that he spent endless hours talking to the screenwriter Marcus Hinchey and director Joshua Marston, laying himself bare.

Also Read: John Cho, Debra Messing Thriller ‘Search’ Sells to Sony Worldwide for $5 Million

“Adam and Eve were naked and felt no shame,” he told the crowd. “I undressed in front of this man [Hinchey], just by talking.” And of seeing his own story up on screen he said, “Our heads are spinning, it makes more sense to me, to Gina, to my children, than when we lived it.”

Ejiofor is supported by a strong cast including Martin Sheen as Oral Roberts, Jason Segel as Pearson’s business collaborator Henry, Condola Rashad as his wife Gina and Danny Glover as his uncle Quincy. Lakeith Stanfield (“Get Out”) gives a touching performance as a gay parishioner torn between his devotion to Pearson and his sexual preference.

The movie, which will debut on Netflix, played in the Premieres section of the Sundance Film Festival.

16 Actors Who Played JFK, From Patrick Dempsey to Michael C Hall (Photos)

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Cliff Robertson, “PT 109” (1963)

Oscar winner Cliff Robertson (“Charly” and “Spider-Man” 1 and 2) portrayed JFK during his military years as a U.S. Navy officer in command of Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 touring the waters of the Pacific amidst World War II.

William Devane, “The Missiles of October” (1974)

Devane (“Knots Landing,” “24”) portrayed JFK in this made-for-TV offering, which depicted the drama in the 1962 White House while the President’s administration decided the best course of action during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Martin Sheen, “Kennedy” (1983)

Jed Bartlet on “The West Wing” wasn’t the only Democratic president Sheen has portrayed on screen. In 1983, he played JFK in the miniseries “Kennedy.” Nine years earlier he played “Jack’s” younger brother Robert opposite William Devane in “The Missiles of October.”

Steven Weber, “The Kennedys of Massachusetts” (1990)

The “13 Reasons Why” star played a young JFK in the ABC miniseries, which focused on the 54-year marriage on the family patriarch and matriarch, Joseph and Rose, the expanding of their family and Joseph’s wandering eye.

Stephen Collins, “A Woman Named Jackie” (1991)

Long before his stint as Rev. Eric Camden on “7th Heaven” (1996-2007), and even before he beguiled a young Keri Russell in “The Babysitter’s Seduction,” the actor played Kennedy. Collins did so opposite Roma Downey as Jackie Kennedy in the TV miniseries that focused on the FLOTUS.

Patrick Dempsey, “JFK: Reckless Youth” (1993)

Believe it or not, Dempsey had other roles before he became McDreamy on “Grey’s Anatomy.” This includes his performance as America’s dreamiest Commander-in-Chief during his early years before the presidency in this two-part TV miniseries, which aired on ABC.

Jed Gillin, “Forrest Gump” (1994)

Audiences didn’t see the actor in Robert Zemeckis’ Oscar-winning drama, but they did hear his voice when Gump (Tom Hanks) met the president at the White House after drinking 15 bottles of Dr Pepper. The picture features Gillin on film before the John F. Kennedy’s head was superimposed.

Bruce Greenwood, “Thirteen Days” (2000)

This Cuban Missile Crisis drama also starred Kevin Costner as Kenny O’Donnell, a top aide to JFK and the movie’s protagonist.

Tim Matheson, “Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis” (2000)

The “Animal House” star played Kennedy in the TV movie starring Joanne Whalley as his First Lady, a woman of many names and facets, as the title implies.

Brett Stimely, “Watchmen” (2009)

The actor makes a quick appearance as Kennedy when the White House extends its thanks to Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) for quickly ending the Vietnam War in Zack Snyder’s superhero movie. Stimely also made brief appearances as the same president in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Parkland.”

Greg Kinnear, “The Kennedys” (2011)

Kinnear played JFK opposite Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy and Barry Pepper as Bobby Kennedy on the eight-episode miniseries that aired on Reelz Channel. The piece went on to win four Primetime Emmys.

James Marsden, “The Butler” (2013)

The “X-Men” actor played one of the many powerful Commander-in-Chiefs in Lee Daniels’ civil-rights movement drama. The film centered on a White House butler who served eight presidents over the course of his career.

Rob Lowe, “Killing Kennedy” (2013)

The former “Parks and Recreation” star played the title role in Nat Geo’s adaptation of the nonfiction best-seller by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.

Caspar Phillipson, “Jackie” (2016)

The Danish actor who is most noted for his work in theater, played JFK in the critically acclaimed feature film that starred Natalie Portman as the First Lady during her husband’s presidency and immediately following his assassination.

Jeffrey Donovan, “LBJ” (2017)

The actor best known for the TV series “Burn Notice” will be seen as JFK in the upcoming Rob Reiner-directed film “LBJ,” starring Woody Harrelson as Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who stepped into the role of commander-in-chief after Kennedy’s assassination. “LBJ” will be in theaters Nov. 10.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Watch This ‘Jackie’ Actor Deliver JFK’s Lost, Never-Delivered Speech (Video)

Jackie Kennedy Love Letters Reveal Post-JFK Relationship With UK Ambassador

JFK Assassination Footage Sparks Lawsuit Against U.S. Government

20 Conspiracy Theory Movies That Came After the Assassination of JFK (Photos)

16 Actors Who Played JFK, From Patrick Dempsey to Michael C Hall (Photos)

Martin Sheen doesn’t think celebrity qualifies you for the presidency

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It’s hard to believe that, with an acting career that spans five decades and multiple genres, there are some movies Martin Sheen has struggled to get made. 2011’s The Way, a family collaboration with his son Emilio Estevez and grandson Taylor Estevez, was only completed after Sheen mortgaged his home to provide the…

Read more…

Emmys Axed Obama Cameo, Long Before Sean Spicer Appearance (Exclusive)

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People on the left and right alike criticized all the politics at this year’s Emmy Awards. But TheWrap has learned exclusively that in 2013, the show skirted politics by cutting at the last minute a sketch that would have included President Obama.

Democrats accused this year’s ceremony of “normalizing” ex-White House spokesman Sean Spicer by giving him a splashy cameo in the show’s opening number. Republicans objected to the many jabs at President Trump by host Stephen Colbert and others.

But an Obama team insider says Spicer’s cameo “reeks of hypocrisy,” because the academy indicated four years ago it was “solely focused on TV and doesn’t address politics or politicians.”

Also Read: Emmys: Sean Spicer Parodies His Inflated Inauguration Crowd Claims in Surprise Appearance

“Obama was political, but Spicer is not?” said the insider, who was involved in writing the skit and spoke out on condition of anonymity. “This whole thing reeks of hypocrisy.”

Others involved in the production — including Ken Ehrlich, producer of the 2013 show, confirmed the Obama was skit was cut, but denied the decision was political.

The insider said the skit was aimed at raising awareness about the Affordable Care Act’s upcoming open enrollment. It was supposed to feature famous TV presidents, including “Scandal” star Tony Goldwyn, and “Saturday Night Live” Obama impersonator Jay Pharoah. (Martin Sheen, who portrayed President Josiah Bartlet on NBC’s “The West Wing,” had a scheduling conflict.)

The sketch, as described by the insider, was supposed to begin with Pharoah and Goldwyn behind the president’s Resolute Desk, whining about how hard it is to be president. Then the real president would have appeared on video, made fun of them, and reminded Americans to sign up for the ACA’s healthcare plan, also known as Obamacare. (Update: Politico posted the script after the publication of this article.)

“It was not a political skit at all,” the insider said. “It was more of a ‘wear-your-seat-belt’-type PSA poking fun at the ubiquity of the message coming from the White House at the time… It was all signed. The actors had all agreed and even received their scripts.”

Also Read: Emmys Backstage: Alec Baldwin Sympathizes With Sean Spicer – ‘I’ve Done Some Jobs You Shouldn’t Admire Either’

But the idea was nixed, the insider said, by the then-chairman of the Television Academy, Bruce Rosenblum, who has since become the business-operations president for Disney/ABC Television Group. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The most senior members of the academy’s TV committee, including Mr. Rosenblum, made it clear that it was not going to happen because of political reasons. Period,” the Obama insider said.

Ehrlich told TheWrap he vaguely remembered the skit, but didn’t think the cancellation was political.

“I don’t believe it was nixed by the TV Academy, but rather because it didn’t come together the way we had hoped it would,” he said.

The academy declined to comment. So did reps for Goldwyn. A rep for Pharoah did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Another person involved in the production, who also asked not to be named, told TheWrap: “We went into the show heavy, it went really long, things had to get cut… Some things that were really good ideas didn’t make it.”

Also Read: Michael Rapaport Goes Off on ‘Muffin-Face Motherf–er’ Sean Spicer (Video)

The Obama insider also told TheWrap that the president’s team was “disappointed” when they heard the project was cancelled, as it had already taken several hours of their time.

“If they didn’t put the president on, then they shouldn’t have put Spicer on. And that’s the bottom line,” the insider said.

Though the Emmys passed on Obama, the Oscars have a long history of White House guests.

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the 13th Academy Awards in a six-minute radio speech transmitted by radio from the White House.

President Ronald Reagan taped a video address for the 53rd Academy Awards in 1981.

First lady Laura Bush appeared in a taped segment in 2002. (So did Donald Trump — 14 years before he became president. Trump recalled his moviegoing experience “seeing King Kong try and conquer New York.” Bush talked about the 1956 film “Giant.”)

First lady Michelle Obama presented the Oscar for Best Picture, with military service personnel behind her, in 2013. And last year, Vice President Joe Biden urged viewers to “take the pledge” to end campus sexual assault on college campuses.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Charlie Murphy’s Publicist ‘Very Disappointed’ Over Emmys ‘In Memoriam’ Omission

Emmys Draw 11.38 Million Total Viewers, Even With Last Year’s All-Time Low

Media Stars Slam Sean Spicer’s Emmys Cameo for ‘Normalizing’ Dishonesty