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‘Hamilton’ Team Protests After Church Production Adds Christian Themes

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Lawyers for the creators of “Hamilton,” the record-setting musical that remains a worldwide draw seven years after its Broadway debut, protested after a Texas church put on an unauthorized production this weekend. Church performers changed some lyrics and introduced Christian themes that were not part of the original.

A pastor at The Door McAllen, a church in McAllen, Texas, near the Mexican border, claimed on Sunday that “the Hamilton team” had given the church a license to perform its version of the musical on Saturday and Sunday. But after the church posted footage of the production online, they “were immediately contacted by a lawyer from Hamilton,” who asked them to remove it, the pastor said.

The church complied, “and she gave us the OK to continue” on Sunday, the pastor said.

“We are very grateful for the Hamilton team,” he said. “Thank you so much for entrusting us with such an amazing, amazing play, amen.”

But Shane Marshall Brown, a spokesman for “Hamilton,” said in a statement that the team behind the musical does not grant amateur or professional licenses, and had not done so for the church. Lawyers representing “Hamilton” sent it a cease-and-desist notice after becoming aware of the production, he said.

The “Hamilton” team was further troubled by a sermon at the end of the church’s production in which a man said that God could help people with their struggles, listing homosexuality alongside broken marriages, drugs and alcohol. Mr. Brown said that “Hamilton” officials were not aware of the lyric changes or the sermon when they allowed Sunday’s show to go forward.

The staging of the unauthorized performance at the church was reported by OnStage Blog.

After the church responded to the cease-and-desist letter, the “Hamilton” team said it could move forward with another performance on the condition that it not be live-streamed or recorded, that videos and photos of the production would not be posted and that the church would not “mount any further productions,” Mr. Brown said. He added that “this limited permission” had been offered “without prejudice.”

The “Hamilton” team would discuss “this unauthorized production” in the coming days with the parties involved after vetting information about it, Mr. Brown said.

“The ‘Hamilton’ family stands for tolerance, compassion, inclusivity and certainly L.G.B.T.Q.+ rights,” Mr. Brown said. “We are in the process of reviewing the unauthorized changes made to the script to determine further action.”

The Door McAllen did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. Roman Gutierrez, the church’s senior pastor, said in a statement to The Dallas Morning News that his church is not anti-L.G.B.T.Q. and that “everyone is always welcome.”

Clips obtained and published on Twitter by Hemant Mehta, a writer, showed several of the rewritten lyrics. Mr. Mehta, who is based near Chicago, said in an interview that he did not attend the play, and that the clips were sent to him by someone who wanted to remain anonymous.

In the song “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” the lyric “I help to raise hundreds of children / I get to see them growing up” became: “I introduce hundreds of children to Jesus as they’re growing up.”

In “That Would Be Enough,” the original lyric is: “But I’m not afraid / I know who I married / So long as you come home at the end of the day / That would be enough.” That was changed to: “But I am not afraid / My hope is in Jesus / If you could just give him a chance today / That would be enough.”

A scene in which Alexander Hamilton repents for his sins and accepts Jesus Christ as his lord and savior, which was not in the original, was added.

“If a local theater did exactly what they did, without the gospel message at the end and without the Christian conversion parts of the show, there wouldn’t be any conversation about whether this is OK,” Mr. Mehta said. “Of course it would not be OK.”

Other lyrics were altered to put the production on a more church-friendly footing, including by removing most profanity and a reference to intercourse. The well-known opening line, which refers to Hamilton as a “bastard, orphan, son of a whore,” was changed to “scoundrel, orphan, son of a harlot.”

The church removed clips of the performance from its YouTube channel, which had fewer than 4,000 subscribers and a few hundred views on most of its videos.

U.S. copyright law grants churches an exemption that allows them to perform copyrighted music during religious services. The exemption does not extend to public performances outside of services.

“It’s stealing from the creative geniuses of the people who made the original,” Mr. Mehta said. “It’s not something you put together overnight, which means a lot of people must have been aware of what they were trying to do for months in advance.”



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How the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’ Connects to ‘Vol. 3’

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Family Photo! JJ Watt Shares Snap With 1-Month-Old Son Koa and Wife Kealia

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Their first Thanksgiving as a family of three! Arizona Cardinals defensive end JJ Watt shared a photo of his 1-month-old baby with Chicago Red Stars player Kealia Ohai Watt as they celebrated.

“More to be thankful for than ever,” the NFL star, 33, wrote via Instagram on Thursday, November 24. “Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!”

The photo showed JJ holding baby Koa, who was wrapped in a blue blanket that matched his dad’s Nike sneakers. The football player was comfortable in a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans while his wife, 30, donned black cargo pants with a white tank top. Both were smiling at their little one for the snap. Kealia replied with two red hearts.

The duo welcomed Koa one month ago. “Love and happiness have reached heights we never even knew existed. Koa James Watt 10.23.22,” the spouses, who married in February 2020, wrote in a joint Instagram post on October 25, alongside a sweet shot of the couple cradling their newborn in the hospital.

On November 11, Watt was asked how little Koa felt about a decision by referee Clete Blakeman mistakenly blew dead a play in which Watt was about to walk into the endzone. Watt joked that his son was livid.

“He was watching so he saw it. He was pissed. He was pretty pissed. It took us a while to get him to bed. We had to calm him down because he wanted to call Clete himself. And I told him, ‘Son, your day will come,’” he joked with reporters ahead of Week 11.

He also spoke about appearing on HBO’s Hard Knocks with Kealia and Koa, joking that their dogs were the real stars. “Any time that I can share the screen with my wife and my son and our dogs, I have to — my wife and I are unbelievably proud of our dogs. They knew the pressure was on and they stepped up to the plate in a way that I’ve never seen,” he quipped. “Our dogs don’t act like that on any walk we’ve ever been on and they were phenomenal. We need Hard Knocks cameras 24/7 when we go on walks because our dogs really crushed it. Tex and Finn — they rise to the occasion.”

JJ and Kealia announced in June that a human would be joining their fur babies, sharing that they “could not be more excited” to be expecting in the fall. They didn’t have a sex reveal but casually dropped that they were having a son in passing. It was so nonchalant that fans wondered if JJ made a mistake. One asked if he accidentally let the news slip, to which he replied, “We didn’t do a gender reveal, we just found out and then told people when they asked.”

The new dad always puts family first, and he’s instilling that in the next generation of the family. JJ has already been putting Koa on FaceTime with cousins Logan, 2, and Brayden, 23 months — who Derek shares with wife Gabriella Watt — he revealed in a birthday tribute to the Pittsburgh Steelers player earlier this month.

“All the football games in the yard when we were kids, the mini hockey battles in the basement, etc. Now we’re FaceTiming each other so our kids can see each other. (Still playing football though!) Crazy! Happy Birthday bro!!” JJ wrote via Instagram on November 7.

The Watt family has had a lot to celebrate in 2022. The athletes’ youngest brother, TJ Watt, tied the knot with his wife, Dani Rhodes, in July.



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Freddie Roman, Borscht Belt comic known for roasts, dead at 85

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Beloved Borscht Belt comic and actor Freddie Roman, best known for his roasts as part of New York City’s Friars Club and later Comedy Central, died at the age of 85 on Saturday, his family said.

Roman suffered a heart attack in Boynton Beach, Florida, his daughter confirmed to Deadline.

The comic had spent most of his life in show business after he was given the opportunity to emcee at his uncle and grandfather’s Crystal Spring Hotel in the Catskills when he was just 15.

Roman, born Fred Kirschenbaum, and his old-timey jokes were a fixture at nightclub venues in cities like New York and Las Vegas.

He served as the dean, or president, of The Friar’s Club and took shots at celebrities like Jerry Stiller, Hugh Hefner, Drew Carey, Rob Reiner and Chevy Chase on Comedy Central’s Roasts.

Roman was best known for his roasts at the Friar’s Club.
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Freddie Roman and actress Debbie Reynolds at the Friar's Club in 2009.
Freddie Roman and actress Debbie Reynolds at the Friar’s Club in 2009.
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He appeared in numerous films, including the award-winning documentary “Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort” (2012), “Bittersweet Place” (2005), “Christ in the City” (2005), “Finding North” (1998) and “Sweet Lorraine” (1987), according to IMDB.

He more recently co-starred in Amazon’s hit comedy series “Red Oaks,” playing a curmudgeon member of a Jewish country club in New Jersey. He also made guest appearances on shows “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “The Tonight Show.”

Roman is survived by his wife, Ethel, and daughter, Judi Levin, Deadline reported.

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