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Ari Getty and a Camelot of her own creation

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Ariadne Getty. Photo courtesy Ariadne Getty Foundation by Ricky Middlesworth)

Heads turned. Conversations stopped, then started up again as whispered buzzing: who are those people, resplendent, wildly colorful, statuesque, square jawed, proudly wearing the weight of some mythical legacy while gliding into new spaces and creating their own? If pop culture America had royalty, it would be these Gettys – haute couture fashion designer August, street designer Nats and bubbly-beautiful social media star Gigi Gorgeous, escorting into the LGBTQ charity event Ari Getty and Louie Rubio, her partner of 12 years.. Nonprofit CEOs and glamorous drag queens delight in recognition as Ari and her entourage are seated at the majestic center roundtable as if, for this night, in this place, a new Camelot community has come together to celebrate protecting the disadvantaged and pledging to work hard on problems yet to come.  

Ari Getty’s broad smile reveals her secret: the wealthy heiress is a momma bear in real life. It’s as if her shyness provides protective boundaries containing an abundance of love and joy that she heaps on her LGBTQ children and their friends and that she shares through her Ariadne Getty Foundation (ariadnegettyfdn.org). She’s donated millions to the Los Angeles LGBT Center and GLAAD to protect and create a better community for LGBTQ people. It is that contribution that prompted the Los Angeles Blade to give Getty this year’s Hero Award.

Ariadne Getty (Photo courtesy of Getty)

“Ari is an incredibly authentic person through and through. In November, I had a family crisis that included both my mom and I having COVID. She heard about it and decided she wanted to make sure the papers were OK and that I could focus on my health. I didn’t ask her to do that,” says LA Blade publisher Troy Masters. “That’s pretty Heroic.” 

She also facilitated the creation of the Ariadne Getty Foundation Youth Academy and the Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing complex at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus in Hollywood.

“I don’t say this very often, especially in this town, but Ari Getty is the real deal,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri Jean told Variety about her friend in 2019 when Getty received Variety’s Philanthropist of the Year Award. “She gives because she sees that there are important needs that must be met and she wants to help. She gives because her heart is filled with compassion and empathy. She gives because she feels she has a responsibility to make a difference.”

Ariadne Getty and Lorri Jean. (Photo by Getty Images)

“I’ve been very close with the Center and very, very close with Lorri. She’s been gracious enough to have us to her house with her wife, Gina, and cook steaks for us. I love our friendship and the work that she does at the Center is unparalleled. I always thought that the Center of Los Angeles should be the model for most large cities to basically be the same format and provide the same services — everything from meals to the health services,” Getty tells the LA Blade. “They have a huge industrial kitchen there for the youth to make food so they’re a learning skill, so they can go out and apply for jobs.”

Rendering of the Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing Complex. (Photo courtesy LA LGBT Center)

The Senior Center will open when COVID is controlled. “I’m particularly excited about the seniors,” Getty says. “My heart goes out to them so much because they’ve lost lots of their friends and they’re lonely and the Center provides such a hub of activity. And I love the fact that we’re going to be joining the youth with the seniors, because the seniors will be able to educate the youth about really the history and the hardships of getting to where we are today, where we still have so far to go. But this is a far cry from being gay in the ’40s or the ’50s — let alone during the ’80s with AIDS. I think people, as they get older, get afraid of new things like technology and I think that the youth can help the seniors with just staying up to date and feeling a part of that side. That’s definitely the thing that makes me the happiest: they’re in a Center where they’re surrounded by people. There’s no room for loneliness.”

So much is expected of Ari Getty, it’s hard to imagine how she became the person she is today. It’s surprising to hear that, while Hillary Clinton may have written the rhetorical ideal that “it takes a village” to raise a child — Ari actually experienced it.

“I grew up in a really unusual household, you could say,” Getty says, “very close to my siblings. It was just an unusual upbringing. We had a house in the countryside in Italy, and it didn’t have electricity. So my chore was to go and start the generator every night with my stepfather and go to the vegetable patch and pick out the vegetables. It was kind of the most ideal. It’s like a fantasy. It’s like a storybook.

“Basically everybody in the village was elderly,” she continues. “So I would go after I finished my chores at home, I would walk down to the village, which was two miles, and I had all of my senior friends that I would help. One summer it would be making Bic pens. I would put the ink stick into the plastic receptacle. And then another summer, I would be attaching the leather strap to the wood scholls. Scholls aren’t around anymore, but they were sandals. I had a very close relationship with them. I really was raised by a village, in the true sense of the word. I literally was raised by a village.”

The villagers would make the young girl lunch. “I would grate the cheese while they were making the pasta and I would go from house to house. Sometimes they would give me a little glass of wine at the tender age of seven. “And we would play with the hay on the haystacks at the dairy farm. There was everything you could do without having toys. Even the youngest people, they took to me. I think I’ve always had that connection. And my mother still lives in that town. It’s about 60 people, if that, maybe 40. But I just always knew that I wanted to help. It’s just been in my nature, I think, having the goal to help.”

Ari Getty had a dream. “My goal has always been that I’ll be somebody that would give to community, to be a part of philanthropy on a larger scale,” she says. “It’s been many years that I’ve known that — I can’t shy away from the question completely — that I would inherit money. And the first thing that I did was set up the foundation and that’s become my passion.” 

Getty has always been highly aware of the need for community, including how LGBTQ people rejected by their own families created their own sense of community during the AIDS crisis.

“COVID is not nearly as scary to me as AIDS,” Getty says. “When my sister [Aileen Getty] was diagnosed HIV positive and I had just lost my best friend, Darryl — Nats was two weeks old when my sister was in the hospital. She had something like 7 T-cells. I remember calling my pediatrician saying, ‘Is it safe for me to go and see her with Nats being a baby?’ And he was like, ‘Go. She’ll be fine.’ Those were really scary days — really, really scary days. The landscape is somewhat different today, luckily.”

(Photo by Troy Masters)

Ari Getty has not only loved and empowered her gay children August and Nats but rejoiced and welcomed transgender activist and social media star Gigi Gorgeous into the family when Nats and Gigi married. There was no hand wringing. No fuss. No hysterics about what the neighbors and the world would think. Just love.

Ariadne Getty, Nats Getty and Louie Rubio pictured here at the 2019 wedding of Nats and Gigi Gorgeous.

“It’s so easy,” Getty says. “I gave birth to two children, two individuals, two babies, and I made sure that they learned their ABCs. I made sure that they were fed, cleaned, and loved more than anything. We didn’t have a television. We spent our time playing together. And I’ve always trusted them to make the right choices because they never gave me any indication that they weren’t able to do something unsafely. When August told me that he was going out with someone from the room service staff at this hotel we were living at — I just went to West Hollywood, found one of those vans that are on the street at night and have all of the information and I got all of the packets of information and the condoms — I just wanted to be extra careful — and gave it all to August.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0J0jhppNkk/

“As long as they’re informed and what they need to do to feel like they’re their true essential selves, I encourage 100%,” Getty says. “Nats went public with a statement letting everybody know that they had top surgery done and I couldn’t be more proud of the decision that they made to actually go ahead and do it, rather than wait 10 more years feeling uncomfortable in the body that was. So, I trust them to govern themselves.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw56eqUH85F/

Getty is also aware that coming out is difficult and parents might feel shame themselves or be afraid for their children’s safety.

“I understand because that’s a real fear and it was one of mine when they were younger and going out. Nats got yelled at because there was a public display of affection somebody yelled in a restaurant — which isn’t acceptable at all,” she says. “But what I would say to any parent is, ‘You gave birth to a child. It’s not for you to decide the nature of the child. You actually gave birth to a human being who has their own identity.’ I would honestly just say, ‘Please love your children, because you have them and you’re not going have any more probably, and love them as much as you can, because it’s a relationship. You can’t deny all the years of taking care of them as babies — and there’s love there. And don’t think about the neighbors or what the neighbors have to say — they mean nothing. They’re inconsequential to the whole topic. It’s just, ‘Love your children over opinion.’”

Interestingly, as creative and thoughtful as she is, Ari Getty would not do a do-over of her life if given the chance.

“I’m in exactly the life that I want to be living in — all through the struggles and trauma and the joy and the happiness — I wouldn’t change a thing because I wouldn’t be at where I am right now,” Getty says. “I’m in a really amazing place. I have a partner who I’ve been with for 12 years, and my children are living their truth, and I can look them in the eye and be really proud of them as human beings and the work that they do. They do philanthropic work, and I’m so proud of that…We’ve talked about when I’m too old to make decisions, we’ve talked about how the foundation is going to be run, and they’ll take over. But they have their own foundations — and I have a life of purpose and a life filled with wonderful friends and wonderful people that I meet, and I couldn’t be luckier.”

Ari Getty is also grateful to be receiving the Hero Award from her friend Troy Masters.

“I love Troy. He’s an angel,” she says. “I actually don’t really have words. I’m just sort of blown away. I don’t think that I could imagine that I would get a Hero Award. But it’s on my counter and it’s not going anywhere. But obviously with the work that I do, it’s not necessarily me that wants to get recognized — it’s the work. And if I’m able to influence anybody else that has income, extra income, disposable income, if I can be an example to anybody, that’s the bonus, and I’m incredibly honored to receive the award. It means the world.”

Ariadne Getty is Los Angeles Blade’s 2021 Hero Award. (Photo by Arturo Jimenez)

The Camelot legend refers to the myth about the idyllic world of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable who pledged to do good work to benefit the people and their happiness. Jacqueline Kennedy revived the myth when talking about the legacy of her assassinated husband, John F. Kennedy, and the world he inspired during his too-short presidency. West Hollywood was joyfully dubbed the “gay Camelot” after its founding in 1984. Today, the roving band of philanthropists under the loving tutelage and gaze of Ari Getty brings that shiny spot of possibility, creativity, freedom of expression, and abundant love to whatever space they enter. They were brought up that way.  

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Everything you need to know about WorldPride 2021

Party in Scandinavia with the happiest people on Earth

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

By Mikey Rox| NEW YORK – It’s been two years since Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC 2019 became the largest international Pride celebration in history, but the “bye” year of 2020 wasn’t due to the pandemic. 

The global celebration has been held every odd-numbered year since 2017 given its massive logistical undertaking (with sporadic celebrations in 2006, 2012 and 2014 before then), and WorldPride Copenhagen – Malmö 2021 couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Hundreds of thousands of cooped-up queer revelers and allies will flock to the twin host cities in Denmark and Sweden, respectively, from Aug. 12-22, to party with the happiest people on the planet, a delightful distinction provided to the Scandinavian countries by the United Nations’ famous World Happiness Report. (The United States ranked No. 19 in the most recent report, FYI.) 

So what’s in store for this year’s all-out progressive-flag-flying festival? Read on for more.

Two LGBTQ anniversaries in Denmark

If you can believe it, it’s been 70 years since Danish doctors in 1951 performed the world’s first successful genital reconstruction surgery, a medical marvel that provided hope to transgender people the world over. This year is also the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Gay Liberation Front’s Danish chapter, which has been instrumental in blazing trails toward equality for the country. Look how far it’s come.

Opening ceremonies kick off in Copenhagen

In conjunction with Copenhagen Pride, WorldPride will officially start late afternoon on Aug. 13, but in adherence with COVID-19 protocols the opening ceremony won’t be held in WorldPride Square (at least not as of press time; things could – and probably will – change). That potential snafu notwithstanding, Denmark welcomes vaccinated U.S. travelers, and if any testing is needed, both PCR and antigen tests will be available free to everyone, including tourists, 24/7. Copenhagen is OPENhagen again.

WorldPride Square will be open for the rest of the fest

WorldPride Square, a makeshift village of sorts (similar to the Olympics) located within Copenhagen’s main square, will provide a gathering place for all attendees that have traveled far and wide. LGBTQ+ and non-governmental organizations spanning the globe will set up shop in the square to greet pedestrians, provide information, and invite folks to get involved. Art exhibits also will be a centerpiece of the village, alongside a street-food market and bars with plenty of space to relax. 

EuroGames will be held simultaneously

If you enjoy watching athletes compete in variety of sports that range from boxing and badminton to dancing and dodgeball, add the spectator-friendly EuroGames to your list of to-dos while you’re in Copenhagen. If you want to get hands-on, consider signing up to become a volunteer at the games, to be held Aug. 18-20; EuroGames’ website is currently accepting those applications. 

Spread out and explore other WorldPride villages

While WorldPride Square will serve as the jump-off for the 10 days of festivities, other available villages will allow crowds to spread out and explore their individual interests. In addition to Sports Village for EuroGames athletes and fans, other villages will focus on kids and families, youth, women, and the queer community, among others. Programs and content of these villages will be target-audience specific but open to everyone.

You might have a brush with royalty

Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, Countess of Monpezat, is patron of Copenhagen 2021, making her the first-ever royal to serve in the role for a major LGBTQ+ event. Say hi if you spot her; she knows a queen when she sees one.

Despite pandemic protocol, the show will go on

Organizers have said in an official statement that despite some COVID-19 restrictions, they’re “continuing to plan for full delivery of all Copenhagen 2021 events taking into account the guidance and recommendations” of government agencies. Doubling down, organizers have promised they will not cancel or postpone events. 

Now there’s only one thing left to do: Let’s go!

Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels)

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Hollywood’s Peter Kallinteris Agency launching LGBTQ dreams

“It’s important to me to actively participate with a platform and space for the LGBTQ community. I want to make a difference and be a leader”

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Hollywood sign courtesy of the City of Los Angeles

HOLLYWOOD – Whether they’d admit to it or not the aspiration for most actors is to be sitting in the Dolby Theatre at some point in their careers, dressed in their finest fashion ensemble at the most prestigious event of the year and hear, “and the Oscar goes to [insert their name].” Conversely also true for the Emmy awards or the Tony awards, yet for many LGBTQ artists the path to that goal is fraught with obstacles and difficulties.

In 2018, a young Black actor from Atlanta, Georgia, was given a supporting role as Ethan in the surprise hit film Love Simon. That actor, Clark Moore, in interviews with host Rob Watson, journalists Dawn Ennis and Brody Levesque on RATED LGBTQ RADIO and separately with Teen Vogue’s Shammara Lawerence spoke of the difficulty landing roles like that of Ethan, but also the conflict inherent with how the film and television industry has seen LGBTQ actors.

Answering a question by Teen Vogue’s Lawerence centered on that conflict, Moore bluntly assessed the landscape telling her; “Historically, I think the reason why there haven’t been more gay roles or more gay actors playing roles that have lots of layers to them and lots of depths to them is because for whatever reason, people think that the story is done. We’ve seen the gay character. We know what he says. We know what he thinks. We don’t need to tell that story anymore, but if you think about it, we’ve had a full canon of stories about straight white men that stretch back millennia, and so we’re only scratching the surface,” Moore pointed out.

“If we can have stories about people all the way back thousands of years ago and we can still be telling the same story now about straight white men and their journey to self-discovery or redemption, there’s plenty of stories to tell of people of color and LGBTQ people and anybody who falls in the intersection of those two identities,” he added.

Yet in the age of digital moving beyond the traditional film and television as more and more content is streamed online- and there’s insatiable need by casting agencies for a wider diverse spectrum of actors, there are still obstacles in the path for LGBTQ actors, especially trans and disabled LGBTQ actors.

Enter Peter Kallinteris, who with his broad based knowledge and understanding of the critical needs of the LGBTQ actor community decided that the time has arrived to have specialized representation for that community.

“Looking to the past, Hollywood hasn’t been very kind to the Queer community. Throughout the history of cinema gay men were either played as effeminate, weak, airheads, and lesbians as tough softball or gym coaches, who are often played by straight people,” Kallinteris said. “Within the the broader culture, there are subcultures, just as within any community. They are nuances within each that will never find its way between the pages of a table read.”

“To create an authentic moment the space has to be made for those who’ve lived that life every day. Gay, Black, White or Straight ect, our experiences of the world are different depending on how we show up. In many cases that will determine our outcomes,” he noted. “Specialized representation is so important because without the lingering trauma, and continued hatred & fear toward our community the Queer division of PKA wouldn’t exist, we’d just be accepted. We have important stories to tell and will continue to be telling them. PKA is just the begging for all to feel safe and thrive.”

In a statement issued from his offices at the Sunset-Gower Studios, the former historic home of pioneering Columbia Pictures founded in 1918, Kallinteris reflected, “When I was a young Actor being gay was career ending.”

“Today it’s celebrated. It’s important to me to actively participate with a platform and space for the LGBTQ community. I want to make a difference and be a leader because I can.”

To accomplish this he launched the Queer Division of his PKA agency. “The Queer Division of  PKA was inevitable, a natural outgrowth of my own personal evolution first by coming out as gay man, from Artist to Agent. The timing was right to make an impact with talent,” he said.

“As my Agency grew I was able to gleam that there was a space beginning to open up by which I could represent the full spectrum of Queer humanity & sexuality within the arts. Not as one dimensional static caricatures, but as beings who’s emotions run the full gamut of the human experience. This was very exciting to me, I have a opportunity to effect change. I wanted to be apart of history Pioneering a movement,” he added. 

He said that his message to LGBTQ artists is simple. “I want talent to know they will be given the opportunity to be who they are, live their truth and work for who they are without rejection, humiliation, fear, or hopelessness. People perform at their best, live at their best. And do their best when they are happiest.  PKA is not just a brand, we are the LGBTQIA community. If life imitates art, then let’s represent it boldly!”

His expectations of the film and television industry’s reaction? “My inspiration to launch the Q.D. is truthfully representing talent that reflects the current needs for the industry, and to remain a permanent fixture within the industry that continues to grow stronger. I want the industry to understand I’ve created this environment specifically for the Queer community. I’m happy & honored to be the first Agency that represents this community in this way,” Kallinteris said.

Last week, PKA, whose clients include, Justin Jedlica (TV personality), Steven James Tingus (President George W. Bush’s lead for disability research and policy for eight years), Kate Linder (The Young and the Restless), Albert Lawrence (IMDB Host), Deric Battiste aka DJ D-Wrek (MTV’s Wild ‘N Out), and Leslie Stratton (The Swing of Things, Truth or Dare), announced the launch of the Queer Division in a video.

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Julia Scotti, the movie, is just Funny That Way

Life is funny that way—not working out quite the way we thought it would. And that is ultimately the point

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Graphic courtesy of Susan Sandler

WHITING, NJ. – “You are a piece of work, Julia!” Simon Cowell blurted during her landmark America’s Got Talent debut.  Julia Scotti had just completed her audition for the show that ended not only with a standing ovation, but with the revelation that she had once upon a time been a stand-up comedian named Rick. As that news crossed the faces of the four judges, their collective jaws dropped. “I mean like you come out as the nice little granny school teacher all sweet and then you go into your routine and like WHOA. Talk about surprises – they are never ending with you, are they?” Cowell finished.

With Julia Scotti, the surprises never end.

Her latest surprise for the public is a gem of a film, Julia Scotti: Funny That Way.  It is a documentary of her journey from the days of Rick, the up and coming comic who performed on bills with Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld to Julia, who is wowing millions.

Of her transition, Julia has remarked. “It is NEVER an easy process whether you’re a public figure or not. You are essentially killing your old self and ending your old life. And with that comes the history you’ve built with friends and family. Some are very accepting, but most are not. That is why the suicide attempt rate for Trans  folk is still at 41%.”

Funny That Way does not spare us the heart-breaking fallout from the virtual “death’ of Rick Scotti.  Filmmaker Susan Sandler weaves Julia’s story, the losses and damage, to her rebirth, healing and the reuniting with her kids after a 15-year estrangement.

Julia and Susan sat down with us on the podcast Rated LGBT Radio to talk about the film.  “This is a story and like all stories, there is a beginning and a middle and an end. In the end, I want the audience to know there is HOPE. It is bumpy at times, joyous at times.  It is not just isolated to my life. You can have that in your life when you walk through that door of your own truth and come out the other side and when you look back on all you went through, you go ‘what the hell was I so afraid of?’ Look how happy I am.” Julia explains.

Susan had never directed a documentary before, but as one of Hollywood’s master story tellers, and a Golden Globe nominee, she was unfazed.  “The impetus behind this film was falling in love with Julia, her, then and now.  If you are working from a really rich, complex, compelling character –which is Julia—that is the GIFT. All of my nerve endings, my story telling, told me this was dynamic documentary, and that’s the form in which I wanted to tell it.”

Susan took five years to research, document and interact with Julia’s past.  She went through old footage of Rick Scotti’s stage acts and restored many of them so they could be used in the film. She brought on composer Matt Hutchinson for a beautiful score, and animator Sam Roth for whimsical cartoons that tie the story together.

Before the filming started, Julia had just re-connected with her son Dan, and daughter Emma.  A decade and a half ago, when Julia announced to her then spouse that she was in fact a woman transitioning, her then-wife retaliated by taking their kids away.  Dan and Emma spent their whole adolescence not knowing Julia at all. The story of that pain is told in Funny That Way.  Susan wanted to show the relationships real-time in the film as they came to reconnect with Julia. “We were just at the beginning stages of reconciling,” recounts Julia. “I did not want them feeling like I was just reconnecting with them because I wanted them in this film. I did not want to distance them even more.”

Dan and Emma were onboard, however.  Also on board, albeit only by phone, was Kate. Kate was  Julia’s last wife, described as Julia’s “love of her life”. Kate supported Julia emotionally and spiritually through out the entire transition process.  One of the most poignant moments in the film was Julia hearing Kate describe the end of their relationship.  Kate’s support was significant, but once Julia became fully Julia, it was evident to both that their relationship had changed and they had to let it go.

Susan captured many live moments of Julia’s evolving life.  She caught the very first time that son Dan ever called Julia “his mother” and the effect was pronounced.  Also caught in the film was a moment when Julia and Dan are watching Rick’s old stand up routines.  One such performance  takes Julia by surprise—it was a routine that she had not remembered ever doing.  It was a set where then Rick expressed his revulsion to transgender women in no uncertain terms.  Julia sat shocked.

“My sensibilities have been ‘woked’, I think that is the term for it.” She told me about that experience. ”Thinking back, I was going through issues and aware that something was not right internally. It frightened me to no end.  Looking at that clip, I am totally ashamed of what I did. It embarrassed me.”

“I knew it was me. I knew I was there. But I don’t feel a connection with that person.  That is the truth.”

The film does not dwell long on the past shames and regrets.  It arcs to the present where an adult daughter gets to see her parent’s comedy routine for the very first time.

Some of the greatest joy in the film is witnessing the growing relationship between Julia and son Dan. Dan is sweet and compassionate, and they both have a deep love of comedy.  Through their discussions and collaboration on things funny, we witness something decidedly not funny, the deep re-kindling love they have for each other.

The film will make you laugh, and cry, and laugh again.  New clips of Julia’s now famous turn on America’s Got Talent shows her more personal reflective moments over a life changing triumph.

The only regret director Sandler has about the film is how it will be brought to the public. “I am happy to be brining the film now for the people who have an appetite for it. For the truth, the humor, the complete emotional honesty.  But I mourn. I mourn the moments not being able to sit with you in a theater. And experiencing the film with you. It was supposed to be seen by audiences, and then give them the opportunity to go down the street and see Julia live at a club.”  But, life is funny that way—not working out quite the way we thought it would.   And that is ultimately the point.

Editor’s Note: The film was originally slated for theatrical release which was delayed then put off by the coronavirus pandemic.

Julia Scotti: Funny That Way is available now on digital platforms! That means you can rent or buy it online, at places like iTunes, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and more.

Here’s the full list of where you can find it. 

DIGITAL

iTunes
Amazon
Google Play
Xbox
VUDU
FandangoNow
Vimeo On Demand

CABLE / SATELLITE

iN Demand Movies
Verizon
AT&T
Vubiquity
DirecTV
Dish
Telus

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