Pastor, speaker, bestselling author and president of theNational Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)—the largest Hispanic Christian Organization in the United States and throughout the Spanish-speaking world—Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is set to executive produce two feature films, The Impossible with 20th Century Fox as well as Flamin' Hot with Fox Searchlight. Both projects are in partnership with producer DeVon Franklin and Franklin Entertainment.
"I'm incredibly excited and honored to executive produce these two amazing films," says Rodriguez.
"This idea of redemption, and faith more generally, is swirling around culture in a very powerful way right now, especially after the passing of the great Billy Graham," Rodriguez continued. "Along with Martin Luther King Jr., Billy has been the greatest inspiration in my life. He was a man who pioneered using film to tell people about the gospel of Jesus. He was also a man who powerfully and prophetically rejected segregation in the '60s at a time when it was uncommon and in many places unpopular to do so. Now here we are, a Latino and an African-American, working together to tell two stories inspired by faith through the medium of film. Who knows if any of this would be possible without Rev. Billy Graham and Rev. King going before us."
"Sam Rodriguez is a visionary and a friend," said DeVon Franklin, producer and CEO of Franklin Entertainment. "He has been a guiding force behind the scenes helping me bring these incredible true stories to the big screen!"
Flamin' Hot follows the true story of Montanez, the son of an immigrant, who grew up as a migrant farm worker picking grapes in the fields of Southern California before becoming a janitor at Frito-Lay. While working as a janitor, Montanez would eventually create the billion-dollar brand and pop culture phenomenon, Flamin' Hot Cheetos, and in the process become a top-level corporate executive known as the "Godfather of Multicultural Marketing."
The Impossible, with This Is Us actress Chrissy Metz set to star, is based on the incredible true and gripping story of 14-year-old John Smith. On a winter day in 2015, John fell through an ice-covered Missouri lake. When he was finally pulled from the freezing waters, he was rushed to a nearby hospital, receiving 27 minutes of CPR in the process. By the time his mother, Joyce, arrived by her son's side, John's body had lain lifeless for more than an hour. Summoning all of her faith and strength, Joyce entered the hospital room praying loudly, calling out to God to save her son's life. Immediately, John's heart started beating. Defying every expert and all case history, John Smith miraculously walked out of the hospital on his own strength, only 16 days later.
"We are so honored and thrilled to have Reverend Samuel Rodriguez on board as executive producer for our movie," said Joyce Smith, the mother to John, whose resurrection story is the real-life inspiration behind the project. "From the moment Rev. Samuel heard about our story, he has been the pivotal vessel God has used to propel our story of my son's resurrection and total healing. We are so thankful for this divine connection."
Through these projects, Rodriguez becomes the first Hispanic evangelical faith leader to serve as executive producer of a major theatrical release.
Franklin is coming off the Jennifer Garner-Queen Latifah film, Miracles From Heaven, as well as the animated Christmas feature, The Star, featuring voice work from Oprah, Zachary Levi, Kristin Chenoweth and Tyler Perry. Upcoming for him are reboots of He-Man and Masters of the Universe at Sony, Cooley High at MGM, and a TV series reimagining of Foxy Brown at Hulu starring Meagan Good.
Franklin Entertainment is repped by CAA and attorney John Miegs. Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds) is attached to write the screenplay for The Impossible with principal production slated to begin spring 2018. Lewis Colick (Charlie St. Cloud, October Sky) will pen the script for Flamin' Hot from the initial pitch, which he and Franklin developed with Montanez.
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