Briefs: Cristina Rae makes ‘AGT’ finals, TCM female teen film contest winners; ‘Doom Patrol’ renewed

AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- "Semi-Finals" Episode 1521 -- Pictured: (l-r) Terry Crews, Christina Rae -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)

Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- "Semi-Finals" Episode 1521 -- Pictured: (l-r) Terry Crews, Christina Rae -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)

Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Cristina Rae of Marietta cruised into the finals of “America’s Got Talent” Wednesday night and is well-positioned to win the $1 million prize next week.

She was one of the biggest vote-getters of the night out of 11 acts. (Five made it through, adding to the other five from last week.) In a poll on MJ’s Big Blog, her readers ranked Rae third behind dance duo Bad Salsa and the runaway leader, teen singer Daneliya Tuleshova. Those other two acts made it to the finals as well.

She will face some serious competition next week since six of the 10 finalists are singers.

Rae, who was homeless at one point, chose a song she felt would help release some of her demons: “Jump” by Cynthia Erivo, an inspirational gospel-tinged ballad from the documentary “Step.”

Despite the risk of taking on a song most of the audience had never heard of, she was able to emote in a way that drew in listeners. She showed off her ability to shift levels and tone, hitting small and big notes with equal ease. She has a wide variety of musical tastes. Her first three performances were songs by Phil Collins, the Rolling Stones and Leonard Cohen.

Judge Howie Mandel on Tuesday said she was the best singer this season: "Your voice is pure, it’s powerful and it’s entertaining.” Sofia Vergara loved Rae’s rose dress and dubbed her performance “perfection.”

After Rae was heralded into the finals Wednesday, judge Heidi Klum, who gave Rae her Golden Buzzer earlier in the season, said, “We will end this journey together. I am so so excited. You are such a huge inspiration, especially for your son. A ray sunshine. Go get that million dollars!”

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TCM's women director teen contest winners are Atlantans Naila Julien and Sam Stewart (right). CR: TCM

Credit: TCM

TCM's women director teen contest winners are Atlantans Naila Julien and Sam Stewart (right). CR: TCM

Credit: TCM

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TCM's women director teen contest winners are Atlantans Naila Julien and Sam Stewart (right). CR: TCM

Credit: TCM

Credit: TCM

Turner Classic Movies this fall is airing a multi-part documentary featuring films directed by women all over the world. The Atlanta-based network also teamed up with local non-profit group re:imagine/ATL to give away prizes for female teen film-markers.

The two winners were Naila Julien for unscripted and Sam Stewart, for scripted.

Julien, a Walton High School senior and Marietta resident, did a 10-minute documentary “Growing Up Gen-Z” interviewing her friends about the impact of media on their lives. They discuss social pressures to be cool, racial representation on TV, the power of social media “influencers," and the “whiteness” of TikTok. She chose to interview five friends over the phone rather than in person because of the pandemic and interspersed imagery over their words.

She said the inspiration for the documentary came after she took a break from social media and felt so much better about herself. She said she realized that "social media had more impact on me more than I thought.”

Julien, who had a teacher introduce her to her current favorite film, Errol Morris' 1988 documentary "The Thin Blue Line,” said she would love to pursue filmmaking as a career and eventually become a showrunner for a TV show.

“I want to make films that bring more people of color and marginalized groups into just regular stories that aren’t typecast into stereotypical roles," she said. "I want to break down those barriers.”

In the scripted category, Stewart submitted a video called “Ode to Cutlery," an allegory focused on forks, spoons and a spork.

She graduated from North Atlanta High School in May and is now attending Chapman University in Orange, California via online classes from Hawaii in a study “away” program. She filmed her short last October for college applications and placed it in several film contests. She didn’t even know what TCM was when she entered. “I didn’t realize it was a legit company!” she said. “It was a nice surprise.”

Stewart said the film was her first fictional effort: “Not everyone gets it. The whole spork thing is a little weird for some.” In the film, which is largely without dialogue, the spork is rejected by both a team of forks and spoons but eventually one of the forks invites her over for lunch, and everybody eventually eats a meal together. Her entire financial investment was purchasing fork, spoon and spork costumes online. Her friends and her father spent a day as actors for free, shooting at a recreation center as a place for her film fellowship to met.

She loves the warped sensibility of David Fincher and hopes to go in that direction as a filmmaker down the road.

TCM General Manager Pola Chagnon is on the board of re:imagine/ATL and decided to create this contest as part of the three-month celebration of female directors. The organization helps nurture young filmmakers and build their ability to tell stories.

“TCM has been part of this culture for 26-plus years,” Chagnon said. “I love that we can pay it forward to the younger generation of filmmakers.”

She embraced the winning films because “they’re both very much reflective of the times and the world we live in." For the winners, she added, "having a credential like this on their resume as a teenager is pretty remarkable. They have this opportunity to huddle with professionals who can help shape their path. There are some great mentorship opportunities as well as winning.”

The prizes are:

  • Winners' films featured on TCM’s YouTube Channel
  • Contest partnership and winning films promoted on official Women Make Film microsite and TCM social
  • Set visit at Turner Studios with TCM staff and host (date to be determined)
  • Two Passes to the 2021 BronzeLens Film Festival
  • Two Passes for the 2020 ATL Film Festival (9/17-25)
  • Winning films featured in the re:Imagine/ATL Gen Z Showcase
  • $5,000 equipment credit each for two winners
  • $1,000 cash prize each for two winners

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Credit: HBO

Credit: HBO

HBO Max has renewed “Doom Patrol” for its third season.

The superhero drama was shot in metro Atlanta, including Conyers, Lawrenceville and Decatur.

The show originally aired on DC Universe streaming but was added to the broader HBO Max this year.

“Doom Patrol came to HBO Max with an already deep and passionate fan base and has risen to the top as one of the most-watched Max Originals on the platform,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, in a press release. “The series sits well in our portfolio, and we are glad to greenlight a third season to continue this distinctive style of storytelling that resonates so well with critics and fans alike.”

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