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Netflix Documentary ‘Athlete A’ Review – A Difficult But Important Story

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Maggie Nichols was the 4th child and first-born girl to Gina and John Nichols of Little Canada, Minnesota.  She always had a lot of energy and her mother, who was a fan of gymnastics, decided to enroll her in the sport when she was still in pre-school.

Athlete A, a Netflix original documentary directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Schenk, tells the story of Maggie and many other gymnasts who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of coaches and more specifically, Dr. Larry Nassar, team doctor for USA Gymnastics for 29 years.

Maggie excelled at gymnastics.  She had a natural talent and was the only 10-year-old at Nationals in 2007.  She gained the attention of Bela and Martha Karolyi, famed Hungarian coaches who defected to the United States in 1981 and began coaching the US Women’s Gymnastics Team.

Athlete A is not an easy watch, but it is an important one. At times both shameful and sad, it shows what adults were willing to overlook to win and to bring gold to the United States.

Centering on the staff at the Indianapolis Star, a small local paper, who’s investigative team including Investigations Editor Steve Berta, and Investigative Reporters Marisa Kwiatowski and Mark Alesia, we see how the team broke the story.

In 2016, Kwiatkowski was working on a story about the failures to report sexual abuse in schools when a source pointed her in the direction of a lawsuit brought up against a predatory coach in the gymnastics community who, once accused, rather than being removed, was just relocated to another gym.

The investigative team got a copy of the deposition where it was indicated that USA Gymnastics had been warned about this coach and did nothing.  The story entitled “A Blind Eye” went to print while the USA Olympic Team competed for gold during the 2016 Rio Olympics, bringing the interest in gymnastics and the team itself to an all-time high.

Seeing a link on Facebook for the story, former USA Gymnastics gymnast Rachel Denhollander realized what she knew as the truth, that USAG had been burying sexual abuse occurring under their watch for years.

Denhollander reached out to the Indy Star and told them that she was a victim, but that her abuse had not come at the hands of a coach, but by team doctor Larry Nassar. Jessica Howard, another former gymnast, also reached out to the news team with the same story.

Athlete A Netflix documentary review

ATHLETE A Jamie Dantzscher in ATHLETE A. Cr. NETFLIX © 2020

Attorney John Manly of Manly, Stewart and Finaldi got a call, this one from former gymnast Jamie Dantzscher after she read the story.  He reached out to the Indy Star team and mentioned that his client was implicating Dr. Nassar and USAG.

The team at Indy Star began to wonder if there were three different women who didn’t know each other and had the same story, how many more could there be?

Dr. Larry Nassar, along with being the team doctor for USAG, was also a Michigan State University doctor, seeing athletes and students from that school.

During training in 2015 at the Karolyi’s camp in Huntsville, Texas, coach Sarah Jantzi overheard Maggie and another athlete discussing Nassar and how Maggie found some of his techniques disturbing. Vaginal entry with his fingers during one particular treatment was brought up and the fellow athlete confirmed that he did that to her as well.

Jantzi spoke to Maggie and got the information and immediately reached out to Maggie’s parents.  She also brought the information to the attention of Rhonda Gaehn, the Vice President of the USA Gymnastics Women’s program.

The next day, President of USA Gymnastics Steve Penny called Maggie’s mother and promised her that he would report the incident to the police. Maggie remained at training with the promise to her parents that Nassar would be handled.

Almost a month later, Maggie’s parent had not heard anything but were told they now were to speak to investigator Fran Sefler. Penny told them there was an ongoing FBI Investigation.

As Maggie’s parents pushed for information, Maggie was suddenly removed from events like appearing in a commercial with fellow gymnast Simone Biles. During the Olympic trials, Maggie’s parents weren’t treated like the other parents. No cameras, no reserved seats, and although Maggie finished 6th in competition, she was not among those picked for the five-member team or even as one of the three alternates.

Former USAG gymnasts describe a “fine line between coaching and child abuse” happening at the Karolyi camp and of being “beaten down” to the point where when you are abused, you think you are imagining it.

Athlete A Netflix documentary review

ATHLETE A Maggie Nichols in ATHLETE A. Cr. NETFLIX © 2020

Nassar was described by many of the gymnasts and the only one that was nice to them at the camp, with some abuse sufferers even looking forward to the treatments because he was the only one that seemed to be concerned about them.

The Indy Star team knew that USAG was aware of the abuse, but how much did they know and did they work to cover it up? They found evidence of USAG knowing and working to hide the information from the very start.

After releasing a story on the reports of Nassar’s abuse, Michigan State University Police received more than two dozen reports of abut at the hands of Nassar.

Investigator Andrea Munford of the Michigan State University Police and Michigan State Assistant Attorney General Angel Povilaitis began gathering information for prosecution.

After being fired from Michigan State, it was reported that Nassar was treating patients out of his basement of his home and abusing again. With that information, a search warrant was obtained for his home and hard drives containing more than 37,000 pieces of child pornography.

In 2016 Nassar was arrested and charged with the most serious of the cases.

In November of 2017, Nassar agreed to a plea deal on the child pornography, destroying evidence and other charges. As part of the plea deal, survivors of the abuse could make impact statements. Impact statements began in January 2018. Many women came forward and gave their statements.

Nassar was convicted and is serving two 60-year terms.

The Indy Star was not done, nor was Manly.  USAG covered the abuse and allowed it to happen. It was also found that during the FBI Investigation, Penny was discussing the opportunity for security positions within USAG with assigned FBI investigators.

A senate hearing was held in June 2018 on the Olympic athlete abuse and what USAG knew. Penny, who was removed from his position in 2017, was called to testify. He exercised his Fifth Amendment rights and would not answer any questions.

Penny was later arrested in October 2018 at a cabin in Tennessee, accused of tampering with the evidence against Nassar.

The Karolyi’s closed the training ranch in Texas in January 2018.

The US Department of Justice is currently investigating USAG, the US Olympic Committee and the FBI for its handing of the sexual abuse accusations.

Maggie has continued competing, now at the university level for the University of Oklahoma. She and her team won the National Championships in 2018. Maggie won the all-around at the 2019 NCAA Championships.

The Indy Star continues to cover the story.

Athlete A recalls the 2015 Academy Award winning move Spotlight about the Boston Globe investigative team who broke the story of the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Boston Catholic Diocese. It is hard to watch but important to see.

Viewers will be shocked that this continues to happen, everywhere, even to our most celebrated athletes.

Athlete A gives us an example of why investigative journalism and the news media in general needs to be protected, so that stories like the abuse in the USAG and the Catholic Church are brought to the public’s attention.

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Cindy Alexander, experienced journalist but new to the TV Critic game. Mother of Paul, wife to Dan. Excited to see what comes next.

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‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ Review – A Murder Mystery Within a Murder Mystery

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Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery Review

If you’re a murder mystery fanatic who enjoyed the original Knives Out, you’re likely looking forward to what Rian Johnson has in store for you this time around.

And you’re probably wondering—can the second installment capture, bottle up, and sell the essence of the first film once again? Unfortunately, it cannot. 

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery takes a stab at it—yet misses the mark, though not entirely. If you ordered a margarita, this would be a watered-down margarita–slightly less potent but still enjoyable enough.

The first film was a smashing success mainly because it delivered the eerie vibe of an old-school whodunit. However, the classic elements that made the first one so great are no longer present in the sequel. It’s glitz, glamor, and gadgets, first and foremost. With a heavy tech focus and set amid a backdrop of a luxury private island, it doesn’t necessarily align with what fans may be expecting, nor does it benefit from falling under the Knives Out umbrella. In fact, I think labeling it as a Knives Out mystery may have led to the confusion since tonally, it feels more adjacent to Death on the Nile.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Death on the Nile, so once I came in with an open mind, Glass Onion turned out to be a  thrilling journey from beginning to end. The pristine locations, top-notch action, and eccentric characters all lent themselves to the wonder. 

We’re not playing your mom’s version of Clue as the film bypasses the typical murder mystery aesthetic, which becomes evident almost immediately, however, it’s crafted with just as much, if not more, love from Johnson, who knows he has to live up to some pretty high expectations. 

The second film is ambitious, serving up multiple murder mysteries in one. The murder mystery within a murder mystery makes it difficult to have any plausible theories until about halfway through when the film starts walking the storyline back and peeling the layers of the very complex onion.

And while I personally thought the murderer’s identity was far too obvious—isn’t that always the case? Isn’t the killer always starting your right in the face?—it was still a satisfying resolution. The clues are all there from the beginning if you dare pay close attention…and it’s that attention to detail and intricacies that make the Knives Out franchise such a hit.

The writers managed to trip audiences up with an added plot twist so well crafted, it could shock even the sleuthiest of sleuths, including Benoit Blanc. 

Daniel Craig’s gentleman detective is the only familiar thread between the two films, and it’s comforting to hear his Southern drawl once again, because this time, you know exactly what to expect from him. You’ve seen him in action and you know how his mind works, so even if it doesn’t seem like he has a handle on the situation, he knows more than he’s letting on.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery Review

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022). Daniel Craig as Detective Benoit Blanc. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022.

He has a pulse on the new mystery, coming in knowing more than anyone on the island—or the audience—knows, but at times, it sure does seem like he’s lost his edge. And that’s the point… the minute you let your guard down, and when you think the game has gotten away from him, he cracks the case most brilliantly. 

I didn’t think we’d see Craig headline another franchise after Bond, but here we are, and having a damn good time at that, especially as the film takes on a more comedic tone. The laid-back nature of the film allows Benoit to have some fun and not take himself so seriously– he doesn’t need to prove himself this time around—and fans can let loose and get lost in the plot without feeling too bogged down by the murderous twists, of which there are plenty. 

The new group of suspects—because let’s be honest, that’s what they are—is a group of old friends who refer to themselves as the “disruptors.” However, the only thing being truly disrupted is their fun murder mystery party on the island when a real-life murder occurs and sends their little getaway into disarray. Through this real-life murder, we begin to unearth a little more about each character, learning their motivation and relationship with the victim(s) play a crucial role in solving this mystery. And though I found it slightly difficult to connect with any specific character on a deeper level, or even feel any empathy for them, the variety of personalities, backgrounds, and social statuses, makes them all worthy suspects. 

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery Review

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022). (L-R) Kathryn Hahn as Claire, Madelyn Cline as Whiskey, Edward Norton as Miles, Leslie Odom Jr. as Lionel, and Kate Hudson as Birdie. Cr. John Wilson/Netflix © 2022.

Knives Out capitalized on a star-studded cast the first time around, and Johnson somehow managed to once again pull off bringing so much talent into one room, nabbing a cast that holds a candle to the original, including Edward Norton as tech guru Miles Bron (the owner of the Glass Onion), Kathryn Hahn as governor Claire Debella, and Kate Hudson as a carefree socialite named Birdie Jay, to name a few. There might not be a Chris Evans sweater moment, but they’re a good bunch that fit the tone of the film. 

My biggest complaint isn’t even a complaint, but rather, an observation of how easily I was distracted by the name Andi, which should never be used for another character in a movie starring Hudson. True fans of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days will understand the sheer confusion of a movie referencing Andi but not actually referring to Hudson. That was a mystery in itself. 

And just when you thought there couldn’t be more star power, there are plenty of Easter eggs and unexpected guest appearances—we’re looking at you, Hugh Grant. 

The bottom line is that if you go in with zero expectations stemming from the first film, you won’t be disappointed. The films are distinctly different, but they’ll both make you put your detective skills to use. 

It’s a worthy sequel that allows Johnson to flex his funny bone while doing what he does best—crafting a mystery that will keep you on your toes from beginning to end. He proves that there isn’t one way, or a right way, to do a murder mystery, and what makes them so enjoyable and enticing every single time is that they are one giant game for everyone involved. 

Where Can I Stream Knives Out?

The first Knives Out film is currently not streaming on Netflix, and there’s no word if the streaming giant will be able to acquire rights before the second film premieres. 

However, you can still watch it on many other platforms. It is available on Amazon Prime, Youtube, Google Play Movies, Apple TV and Vudu for $3.99. You can also get it on Redbox for $1.99. 

Knives Out 2 Cast?

Here’s a breakdown of the Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery cast:

  • Daniel Craig As Detective Benoit Blanc
  • Edward Norton As Miles Bron
  • Janelle Monáe As Cassandra “Andi” Brand
  • Kathryn Hahn As Claire Debella
  • Leslie Odom Jr. As Lionel Toussaint
  • Kate Hudson As Birdie Jay
  • Jessica Henwick As Peg
  • Dave Bautista As Duke Cody
  • Madelyn Cline As Whiskey

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery Release Date

The second installment in the Knives Out franchise was released on November 23 for a limited theatrical run for about a week. It will now debut on Netflix on December 23, 2023, which is perfect for your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day viewing. 

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Freddie Prinze Jr. Is Back! Everything We Know About the ‘Christmas With You’ Heartthrob

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Everything We Know About 'Christmas With You' Star Freddie Prinze Jr.

Freddie Prinze Jr., the ’90s heartthrob, is back on our TV screens in Netflix’s newest holiday rom-com, Christmas With You. 

In the film, Prinze Jr. stars as a Latino single father, Miguel Torres, who teaches music class at his daughter Cristina’s (Deja Monique Cruz) school when his path unexpectedly crosses with Angelina (Aimee Garcia), a burnt out popstar looking for her next Christmas hit.

The actor, who starred in hits like She’s All That and I Know What You Did Last Summer, admitted he felt pretty nervous getting back into the swing of things, but thankfully, it seems to be paying off as the film is being well-received by audiences for it’s heartwarming and important message. 

And now, we’re answering some of your burning questions about the leading man!

 

What Ethnicity is Freddie Prinze Jr.?

Since Prinze Jr. stars as a Hispanic father, the question of his ethnicity has come up quite frequently. The star reportedly embraces his Latin ancestry as his paternal grandmother was Puerto Rican, from Boquerón, so he is fluent in Spanish. His mom is of Italian descent, along with German, English, and Irish.

 

Does Freddie Prinze Jr. Have Kids?

Prinze Jr. shares two children with his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar—13-year-old Charlotte Grace Prinze and 10-year-old Rocky James Prinze. 

In fact, the actor told TODAY that his return to acting has a lot to do with his daughter, stating, “My daughter has taken an interest in acting and performing, dance and things like that. So both my wife and I wanted to take a more active role to show her the way, so to speak, because we have very different processes (with) the way we deal with success and failure, rejection and acceptance and all those things.

“We wanted to give her an opportunity to see that it’s not just being famous, limousines and millions of dollars and all that. It requires a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work, time away from the people you love,” he added. 

 

Freddie Prinze Jr. Age

Since many of us grew up watching Prinze Jr. in the ’90s and early ’00s, we still think of him as this teen actor, but the truth is that he is 46 years old.

 

Freddie Prinze Jr. Wife

As mentioned before, Prinze Jr. wed his Scooby-Doo co-star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, in 2002. In fact, the couple met on the set of 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, but didn’t start dating until a few years later in 2000. 

They recently celebrated their 20th anniversary together, with Gellar sharing a sweet photo from the nuptials in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Instagram.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Sarah Michelle (@sarahmgellar)


 

 

Who Plays Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Love Interest on Christmas With You?

Aimee Garcia, best known for her role as Jamie Batista in Showtime’s Dexter, takes on the role of Prinze Jr.’s love interest and pop sensation Angelina Chavez Torres, who visits the small town where Prinze Jr’s character, Miguel, lives with his daughter, who is preparing for her quinceanera. Her big holiday wish? To meet the pop star who remains the only connection to her late mom. 

Christmas With You is currently airing on Netflix.

 

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Virgin River

Virgin River Season 4 Episode 1 Premiere Review – All Is Not Calm In This Scenic Town

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Virgin River Season 4 Premiere - All Is Not Calm In This Scenic Town

All is not calm in this scenic town, but you already knew that? 

However, if you didn’t know what to expect when Virgin River Season 4 returned to your screens, you probably didn’t anticipate the first episode to kick off with a very pregnant Mel walking with Jack. You assume you’re getting a glimpse of what’s to come, but suddenly, Mark, very much alive, comes their way as a debate erupts over who the father of the child actually is.

Thankfully, it’s just a nightmare (though, Mel might see it as a dream), and a peek into Jack’s current mental state when it comes to how he’s coping with the pregnancy news. 

It doesn’t take long before the series dives right in where we left off dishing out the expected dose of drama, feel-good moments, and that gorgeous, picturesque scenery. 

 

Mel

Mel and Jack arrive at the doctor’s office where she’s classified as a high-risk pregnancy because of her previous stillbirth. Jack continues to worry about Mel throughout the episode, which isn’t helping her since she doesn’t want to make a fuss about it. She informs him that when she was expecting with Mark, they did everything by the book and still lost a child, so her plan is just to live her life this time around and hope for the best. It’s not an easy thing to accept, but who can blame Mel for not wanting to worry when anything can go wrong regardless?

A new doctor blows into town, and since he’s a young, good-looking man, it stirs up a lot of gossip! Not only is Dr. Cameron Hayek a looker, but he’s also a great guy! But he’s no competition for Jack, even if the town’s people are hoping for some kind of love triangle strictly for their own entertainment.

Jack asks Mel not to tell her sister, Jo, about the baby as he wants to keep it a secret for a little longer, but Joey knows something is up when she calls Mel. When breaks the news to her, she informs her that she’s not sure who the father is. Either way, Joey is thrilled and knows this is what Mel has always wanted. 

 

 

Jack

Jack continues to worry about Mel throughout the episode, which isn

 

 

Hope

Anette O’Toole is back as Hope, but this isn’t the snappy and spunky woman we’ve come to know. Hope is recovering from a traumatic accident that led to a brain injury, so she’s not feeling like herself. Everyone is kind of tip-toeing around her as she deals with her new reality, particularly when it comes to Lily. Hope asks Doc if Lily is mad at her because she’s not returning her calls. Her brain blocked out the information that Lily passed away, and Doc does his best to avoid the topic at all costs because he doesn’t want to inhibit her recovery in any way. When Lizzie volunteers to take care of Hope, she accidentally reveals that Lily is dead. Once she realizes Hope doesn’t know, she panics and calls Doc who comes to inform Hope that she knew about Lily’s death and was actually on her way to the funeral when she got into the accident.

 

 

Doc 

As Doc deals mostly with Hope’s memory loss and recovery, he’s shocked to hear that there has been a young man looking for him claiming that he’s his grandfather. Obviously, since he had no children, he doesn’t really believe it. But at the end of the episode, Denny arrives on his doorstep and informs him that Rose Miller gave him Doc’s information. Doc recognizes Rose’s name immediately, but he also thought she died 49 years ago. The fact that he remembers how many years have passed means that she meant a great deal to him. Will Rose somehow be involved in the series?

Virgin River Season 4 Premiere - All Is Not Calm In This Scenic Town

Virgin River. Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe in episode 401 of Virgin River. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2022

Charmaine

Her appearance is brief, thankfully, but she does divulge that she’s expecting boys, a secret she’s conveniently keeping from Jack. I just feel bad for the kids because she clearly doesn’t value Jack as their father and is going to make being in their lives as hard for him as possible. 

 

Preacher

Preacher doesn’t have much action in the first episode, but considering the nature of his storyline, I’m sure it will change soon enough. He’s worried that he hasn’t heard back from the PI about Vince after he kidnapped Christopher. He considers taking the whole thing public but decides against it because he doesn’t want to spook Vince into hiding. Eventually, he’ll slip up and they’ll be able to find Christopher safe and sound. Hopefully. 

 

Brady

Brady is in jail, which is quite a scary place to be when you’ve betrayed a whole gang and are responsible for the raid that landed them all in prison, including Jimmy. He keeps trying to reach out to Brie and even requested a bail hearing, but things are moving pretty slowly. Jack suggests that maybe Brady was framed. He notes that Brady is a lot of things, but dumb isn’t one of them, so the chances of him driving around with the gun in his Jeep are slim. 

 

Brie

Brie goes on a job interview as she hopes to stay in Virgin River and make a life for herself here. After everything that transpired between Brady and Jack with the arrest, she chooses to ignore her former lover’s calls from prison. Will she eventually hear him out and let him explain his side of the story?

 

Hope is still in such a fragile place — how will she react to the news that Doc had a son and is a grandfather? Gossip travels fast in town, so it’s best if Doc tells her before she hears in the same way she found out about Lily.

Who do you think the father of Mel’s child is? It’s such a unique situation, and she’d likely be happy with either outcome. How will her pregnancy affect the storyline moving forward? Is the new doctor hitting on her or is he just super friendly?

Is Charmaine out of line? Will Brady survive in prison?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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