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Film News Roundup: Sterling K. Brown Starring in Sports Drama ‘Rise’

In today’s film news roundup, Sterling K. Brown is cast as a basketball coach, Kino Lorber hires a programming veteran and Imagine promotes Karen Lunder.

CASTING

Sterling K. Brown will play the lead role of Coach Willie Davis in inspirational sports drama “Rise” for Sony’s faith-based Affirm Films, Crystal City Entertainment and Gulfstream Pictures.

Kevin Rodney Sullivan will start filming in May in Louisiana with a wide theatrical release on April 10, 2020. The script was written by Randy Brown and Gregory Allen Howard.

Davis, a junior high school janitor, seized the opportunity to head coach the school’s basketball team as the school was weighing the decision to cancel the program due to funding concerns. Davis stressed “The Lord, books and basketball” to the team and became a role model for many of the kids in the school and surrounding community.

Producers are Ari Pinchot, Stuart Avi Savitsky, Mike Karz and Bill Bindley. Brown has won primetime Emmys for “This Is Us” and “American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson.”

KINO LORBER

Popular on Variety

Specialty distributor Kino Lorber has hired Chris Mason Wells as director of theatrical sales beginning on April 8 and will report to Wendy Lidell.

Wells has served since 2016 as director of programming for Manhattan’s revitalized Quad Cinema, where he was responsible for both first run film booking and repertory programming. Prior to joining the Quad, Wells curated series and retrospectives for IFC Center, Anthology Film Archives, and BAMcinematek.

“I am delighted that Chris Wells will be joining our team,” Lidell said. “He brings to the table that rare mix of cinephilia and business acumen that has already made Kino Lorber a leader in its field. I believe Chris’s passion, intelligence and experience in exhibition will serve to further strengthen our relationships with theaters nationwide.”

Kino Lorber recently opened Jean-Luc Godard’s “The Image Book,” Adina Pintilie’s “Touch Me,”  Jafar Panahi’s “3 Faces” and a new restoration of Franco Rosso’s “Babylon.”

PROMOTION

Imagine Entertainment has promoted Karen Lunder to the post of president of Imagine Features, two years after she came on board.

Lunder will continue to oversee the company’s feature film production and development. She is  currently overseeing “Hillbilly Elegy,” directed by Ron Howard for Netflix, and is also producing alongside Brian Grazer and Howard.

Upcoming priorities for the company include Andrew Adamson’s live action adaptation of “Curious George,” the David Gordon Green directed reboot of “Friday Night Lights” and “Tick, Tick…Boom!” for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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