Idol Chatter

DNin2GRW4AAwbr7It’s that time of year again. The holidays are back, which means a new festive cup from our favorite coffee retailer, Starbucks.

The coffee chain unleashed their holiday cups for 2017 last Wednesday. The cup features a brand new design with black, white and green coloring. A Christmas tree, doves, a stack of presents, snowflakes and a red ribbon adorn the cup, which are all placed with a large amount of white space. Starbucks is encouraging customers to get creative and fill it in with their own colors.

“We hope they’ll color it in to represent what the holidays means to them,” said Leanne Fremar, a creative director at the company.

Starbucks said it started working on the design in January and decided to go with a color-in version because it said many customers liked to draw on them. The Seattle-based chain said most of its nearly 5,000 U.S. locations will have colored pencils available for customers to borrow.

Customers are divided over the new design and the concept of coloring-in the cups, but overall the responses are positive.

The sleeves are adorned with the message “Give Good,” encouraging customers to “celebrate all the good we give to each other and our community.” According to Starbucks, giving good “can be as small as someone opening the door for you, or recognizing the people that enrich your life—your child’s teacher, a caregiver, a family friend.”

Along with the cups, of course, come the return of their signature holiday beverages. Starbucks is saying goodbye to Pumpkin Spice and hello to Peppermint Mocha, Chestnut Praline and Caramel Brulée Lattes.

In theaters November 3rd, “On Wings of Eagles” features the true story of international athlete Eric Liddell during the last years of his life. The Olympic gold medalist’s faith in Christ led him to serve others in some dangerous and upsetting conditions during the Second World War. He gave up the fame, endorsements, luxuries, and more to lovingly follow and serve others.

The film stars Joseph Fiennes (“Shakespeare in Love,” “Risen”) in the role of Liddell and is gearing up to be the modern-day telling of “Chariots of Fire,” which is an Academy Award-winning film that tells a portion of Liddell’s story. The movie follows up “Chariots of Fire” which is considered one of the most iconic films ever.

Speaking about portraying Liddell, Finnes says: His “life is a series of challenges. They talk about athletes that have to go through a wall of pain when they run very fast in order to get to the ultimate place to win the race you have to go through this intense pain barrier. I feel that in Eric’s race that pain barrier escalated every day that he managed to bring his meditation to break through that pain barrier. So to me, he was the champion of champions.”

The movie personifies what it means to follow Christ. It is a family-friendly film that does not feature violent or gratuitous images.

Eric Liddell’s two daughters sat down to discuss the movie and the true story. Check out the special featurette below.

“ON WINGS OF EAGLES” – Liddell and his daughters from Daniel Lawrence Abrams on Vimeo.

Catch a trailer for the movie below.

ON WINGS OF EAGLES – US Trailer from Daniel Lawrence Abrams on Vimeo.

“On Wings of Eagles” was directed by Stephen Shin, who is a devout Chinese Christian. The movie will be in theaters nationwide Nov. 3.

What would Christmas be without carols, giving, and the phrase “Bah Humbug?”

Enter the new film “The Man Who Invented Christmas” due out in theaters November 22nd. It tells the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Tiny Tim and other classic characters from A Christmas Carol. Directed by Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), the film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) mixed real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the holiday season into the celebration we know today. This upcoming family film is sure to become another holiday classic!

Here is a behind the scenes look at the making of “The Man Who Invented Christmas.” The clip features Dan Stevens who plays Charles Dickents, Christopher Plummer as Ebenezer Scrooge, director Bharat Nalluri, screenwriter, Susan Coyne and author of the book, Les Standiford. Enjoy and don’t forget to check out this inspiring new film in theaters November 22nd!

ReneeLawlessYou likely know Renee Lawless as Katheryn Cryer on Tyler Perry’s hit TV drama, ‘The Haves and the Have Nots’ on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Her thick southern drawl, her wit and her undeniable strength in the face of every tough situation she faces makes it hard to not fall in love with her character quickly.

But don’t get it confused. Renee is very different than the character she plays on screen. One of things fans of the show may not know is that Lawless carries a weapon around daily. This weapon helped her land the role on the highest-rated series on OWN and protects her everywhere she goes. The name of this weapon? Jesus Christ.

Lawless is a devout Christian and holds her faith very dear to her heart.

“I went from the birthing table to the church pew,” Lawless said. “I didn’t pass go, I didn’t collect $200. I don’t know what it’s like not to be in church.”

Growing up, if the church doors were open, Lawless was probably there. The Tennessee native was raised by two godly parents in the Southern Baptist faith tradition. They both emphasized the importance of a relationship with Jesus very early.

Lawless was saved at age 7. She remembers the day Jesus came into her heart so vividly. It was such a profound memory that she even remembers the color of her pastor’s collar and talking into her pastor’s ear.

“I walked out of that aisle with tears running down my face as a 7-year-old little girl, and I wrapped Jesus into my heart,” Lawless said.

Her faith has been a strong foundation and helped her navigate Hollywood. Everything she has and everything she’s accomplished, she credits Jesus – including landing her lead role on Tyler Perry’s ‘The Haves and the Have Nots.’

“Landing that role was 100 percent Divine Intervention,” Lawless said.

Prior to her role on the hit TV drama, Lawless was on the national tour of Wicked.

She had put in five years and realized she wanted to leave the company and return New York to start pursuing other things. Over the course of those five years, she had been receiving leads for potential projects through an actor’s database but had been ignoring them. Then she realized she would soon be without a job so she better start running through these leads. As she was scrolling through them, one really grabbed her. It was the character description for Katheryn Cryer.

“It didn’t tell me who it was or anything but I remember sitting up in bed and going ‘oh my gosh, that’s me’,” Lawless said. “Now, I don’t mean literally but I was like, I know this woman, I know everything about this woman.”

But when she opened up the file and saw that it was a Tyler Perry production, she was discouraged. She had always dreamed of working with Perry but she didn’t think he would ever choose some theater person out in the middle of nowhere who was doing a Broadway show, Lawless said. She didn’t know at the time how much Perry loved theater actors.

“I was so close to hitting delete, thinking there was no way he was going to call, so why waste my time,” Lawless said. “But then I thought what’s it going to hurt?”

Lawless sent in her headshot and her resume over. She was so nervous, she didn’t even tell anybody, not even her manager. Two weeks later she got her first call back.

When she got news from her manager about a call back on Friday evening, she was told she needed to have an audition tape in their hands by Monday morning. She had five shows that weekend, but worked between shows to get the tape over to the studio. A month and a half later, three days before Christmas, the studio called her back and wanted to fly her out to Los Angeles for a call back. After running through one scene with four other candidates, they released the other four women. Two and half weeks later, she was on set.

“I was blessed because not that many people go from the stage to being a series regular, unless they win the Tony’s so it really was divine intervention,” Lawless said. “I literally watched the hands of God working.”

If you’ve ever watched ‘The Haves and the Have Nots’ you know that Katheryn Cryer is one tough cookie. What so many fans love about her is her wit and her strength in the face of adversity. Lawless relates to her character more than she likes to admit.

“There was a scene in Season 1 and the scene was very minor. It was when [Katheryn] was going through cancer. And she’s sitting there having a conversation with Hanna in her bathroom and she goes, ‘I hate my marriage, I hate being fat. I hate being all these things,’” Lawless said. “I’m a typical woman. I’m insecure about my body. I think I’m overweight which drives me crazy often. I have been in relationships where I couldn’t stand my boyfriend or said I want to get away from that.”

No matter how much money you have, or how little money you have, it’s surprising how we all have the same kinds of problems, Lawless said.

“I relate to [Katheryn’s] insecurities. I also relate to her strength in the face of adversity,” Lawless said. “Often times, a lot of things she says, I wish Renee could say. I’m able to verbalize through Katheryn what I say silently as Renee.”

One of her biggest acting hurdles is that she constantly has to check herself at the door given Katheryn doesn’t have the same moral compass Renee does. She relates to Katheryn on her vulnerable side, her beyond the door side, rather than her in front of the door side.

“Renee is like Hanna [on the show]. She believes in the power of Jesus. She believes in the power of prayer. That moral compass is not present in Katheryn,” Lawless said. “I think Hanna has a strong influence on her and I think she touches her.”

Lawless is very passionate about her beliefs and she never allows a paycheck to compromise her values, no matter how good the offer looks.

“I have turned down several auditions after reading the script that I chose not to do albeit language or subject matter. I’ve made that decision now and I’m not Meryl Streep,” Lawless said. “The Meryl Streeps, and the Viola Davis’ and the Tom Hanks’ of the world can sit there and say I don’t like that, I don’t want to do that…I don’t wield that power. But I can wield my own heart.”

One of those roles that she turned down was an animated series from the same people who wrote the Simpsons. Though she knew she would be good at it, she was worried. She just had a feeling that she was going to book it and wasn’t sure what was going to happen on the rest of the episodes.

“I knew there was so much in the vulgar area going on in the first one, I was afraid what if you book this job and you’re locked into a contract, even though it’s just your voice,” Lawless said. “It’s not your face. But it’s still my voice and it’s still my name.”

Lawless grew up going to Billy Graham crusades and remembers George Beverly Shea singing, ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus Than Anything’. That stayed with her throughout her life.

“I have to check myself at the door because sometimes that paycheck looks really good but what profits a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?,” Lawless said.

She has another secret weapon in Hollywood. It’s the power of prayer.

“You can tell me no, that ain’t gonna happen until the cows come home, but I’m going to say excuse me. The only person that can tell me no is Jesus. Don’t tell me no, because nobody thought I’d be on the ‘Haves and the Have Nots’,” Lawless said. “I’ve got my own struggle, but I can also sit there at the end of the day and go, in the Lord’s timing, it will happen.”

Lawless believes faith in entertainment is so important. She wishes there was more faith on the small screen.

“There was a time, years ago, where there were networks dedicated to kind of family values type television,” Lawless said. “The closest we had years ago was ‘Touched by an Angel’ and Michael Landon in ‘Highway to Heaven’. Both of those were extremely successful. I don’t know what happened.”

While she acknowledges that more and more mainstream actors are getting involved in faith-based films, and these films are very successful, she believes that too many people in the entertainment world are afraid to take on these projects, particularly the larger networks.

“People are writing it, but there’s not a network out there for whatever reason that wants to jump on board,” Lawless said.

This is one of the reasons she loves ‘The Haves and the Have Nots,’ The show isn’t afraid to display faith in a real way which is something the audience really connects to. Hanna prays and says Scripture and people love it, Lawless said.

As far as television goes, she believes the landscape is beginning to adjust a bit.

“I think this may be changing because of some of the content that’s out there and people are finding better ways to put that content up,” Lawless said. “When an independent film can win best picture, anything is possible. When more and more independent works are making it to the mainstream, anything is possible.”

Katheryn’s character has transformed from season to season, but there’s one big transformation she’d love to see.

“There have been a couple of times where I wished something would happen where Katheryn drops to her knees. She’s dropped to her knees a couple of times but literally dropped to her knees,” Lawless said. “That doesn’t mean that she’s going to change or that she’s not going to still be Catherine Crier, but I would love to see her brought to her knees one day.”