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Ex-Producer, Cable Net Chief Turns ‘Daily Encourager’ via ‘Godwinks’

4/10/2017 8:00 AM Eastern

SQuire Rushnell doesn’t believe in coincidences — or at least that they occur randomly. He certainly notices when they happen, and they happen to him often.

For years, he has been writing books about “Godwinks,” the seemingly random but connected events that he believes are subtle messages from “somebody up there.”

If interpreted correctly and used as a guide to action, Godwinks can be like “a handrail on a steep stairway that’s going up or down in the dark,” he told The Wire. At least that’s his theory, and it has led him to write 10 books on the subject.

The first one, “When God Winks,” was published in 2001, while Rushnell was in charge of Nostalgia (later GoodLife) TV, a small and struggling Baby Boomer-focused cable network.

After leaving the network, in October of that year, he tried getting on morning talk shows to promote his books and found the word “god” to be a turnoff for many networks, other than Fox, which, he said, “put me on all the time and was tremendously helpful.”

Three years ago, though, longtime friend Joanne LaMarca called in her capacity as senior producer on the fourth hour of NBC’s Today, hosted by Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford. LaMarca offered up a regular booking for Godwinks stories. Those stories, which Rushnell introduces, have become “one of [Today’s] most streamed segments,” he said.

The reconnection with Gifford — whom Rushnell said he knew from his past days running ABC’s Good Morning America — has led to the next Godwinks iteration: a movie series. The first, for which the script is in progress, is slated to debut on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in the fourth quarter as one of “The Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas.”

Another “Godwink”: John Tinker, whom Hallmark brought in as script writer, is a longtime fan of the book series, and even wrote Rushnell a fan letter about them some seven years ago, which led to their meeting for a chat in Palm Springs, Calif., Rushnell said.

Rushnell and Gifford brought the movie idea to Hallmark. Michelle Vicary, the executive vice president of programming and network publicity at parent Crown Media Family Networks, had the idea of tying three true stories, Love Actually-style, into a collective narrative. Gifford will host and Rushnell said she also will transform into acting in the movie in a way that “will be something never done before on American TV.”

“Just imagine: I went from running a cable network, tugging a big rock up a tall hill, to being a daily encourager,” he said in a chat from his home in Martha’s Vineyard, a few days after attending a Hallmark upfront event in New York. “Because all I’m doing is encouraging people to see the Godwinks that happen to every single one of us. And my message is that once you see Godwinks, you see Godwinks more and more.”

Osborne-Dedicated TCM Film Festival Recruits Millennials to Classics Cause

TCM hopes to expose millennials to the world of classic films through the lens of other millennials reporting on the TCM Classic Film Festival.

The four-day festival, which ran from April 6-9, opened its doors to students of film and communications, who captured video from events and screenings in around the festival, network officials said.

Using the hashtag #TCMFF, the students then posted their projects through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, allowing the classic film network to better engage with elusive millennials.

Students had access to the more than 80 screenings scheduled throughout the fest as well as opportunities to meet with TCM leadership and special invited guests.

The festival — dedicated to longtime TCM host Robert Osborne, who died March 6 — opened with a 50th anniversary screening of In the Heat of the Night and featured screenings of other classic movies such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Singin’ in the Rain, honoring the memories of stars Gene Wilder and Debbie Reynolds, respectively.
— R. Thomas Umstead

What’s Up, Docket?

It may be a case of closing the barn door after the Congressional Review Act resolution rolling back the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy rules got out, but an FCC spokesman said last week that the commission will eventually be posting the comments — a couple hundred thousand in the form of boxes full of petitions — filed with the FCC in support of the now-defunct rules.

He said the comments were still being input at press time, given that they were submitted on paper and have to be keyed in. The petitions were delivered in mid-February, before the Senate passed the CRA resolution, or the House followed suit, or the president signed it (last week), nullifying the rules and preventing them from being reconstituted in substantially the same way, absent new action by Congress.

It is unclear whether those comments calling for preserving the rules will also be made a part of the Open Internet docket as well as the privacy docket; it depends on which docket they were directed to.

The “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” docket has only 81 comments in the past month, according to the FCC at press time. That’s after Congressional Democrats predicted the current battle against an anticipated Republican rollback of Title II would make the 4 million comments on the Open Internet order and Title II the last time around look minuscule in comparison.

The privacy rules are tied to the order because reclassifying ISPs as common carriers was what transferred broadband privacy oversight from the Federal Trade Commission to the FCC, prompting the FCC to come up with those privacy rules.
— John Eggerton

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