Posts By: Cheryl Wicker

A Tribute to Russell Wolfe – A Champion for Faith-based Films

Russell Wolfe of PureFlix loses battle to ALS

Russell Wolfe in the 2014 hit “God’s Not Dead”

Russell Wolfe, managing partner of PureFlix Entertainment, lost his battle with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) on May 27, 2015. Diagnosed in late 2013, Russell became a staunch advocate for others with this debilitating disease, while continuing to encourage all to keep their faith in Christ and their hope for a cure. Russell was quoted in Movieguide, ” God didn’t give me ALS. I believe we live in a fallen world, and as such, bad things happen to good people. . . . What I do believe is that God can take any of those bad things and turn them into good. My message is to keep your faith. God is good all the time. He will turn things that are bad to the good. So, look for the hope in that.”

Premiere Of Pure Flix's "Do You Believe?" Filmmaker Russell Wolfe of Pure Flix

Russell Wolfe and family in attendance at premiere of “Do You Believe”

A producer of “God’s Not Dead” and 20+ other Pureflix films, Russell continued to keep a public profile with appearances at the MovieGuide Awards, an ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” video that went viral, and cameos in several Pure Flix films… including “Dancer and the Dame”–after he was already experiencing the effects of ALS.

Pure Flix producer Russell Wolfe in Finding Normal

Russell Wolfe portrays an attorney in “Finding Normal”




I became acquainted with Russell while I was working on “Finding Normal” and found him to be a warm and sincere person. He was very passionate about his work in the rising genre of faith-based films. Always down-to earth, and willing to go the extra mile to help others, he was truly a Godly man who lived his faith to the end.

Russell has moved on to his eternal reward, but he has inspired courage in those who knew him and left a legacy of inspiring films to be enjoyed by generations to come. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, co-workers and business partners. He will be missed.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7

Duck Dynasty Wives Hit the Conference Stage Together in “Heart to Home Conference”

Women of Duck Commander

These popular reality stars have become international celebrities from the moment a television show about their bearded duck hunting husbands, Duck Dynasty on A&E, captured the attention and hearts of people everywhere. The Women of Duck Commander are using their platform to speak on a subject very dear to them at the inaugural “Heart to Home Women’s Conference” in Monroe, Louisiana Feb 6-7, 2015.

Dr. Joneal Kirby

Dr. Joneal Kirby

Dr. Joneal Kirby founded “Heart to Home Ministry” (H2H), a multi-generational mentoring program, at the home church of these ladies. Alan Robertson, the beardless brother, was the pastor when H2H was initiated and these women have been a part from the beginning. Miss Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica, and Lisa are eager to share their experiences with generational mentoring and the impact it has had on their lives.

The Heart to Home Conference will have many speakers, but also other activities like a fashion show, vendors, book signings, and more.  Three films which also reflect the core values of faith, prayer, mentoring, and discipleship are partnering with the conference for its initial meeting, and you will learn more about “War Room”, “The Drop Box”, and “Old-Fashioned” at the conference and for a bit more of movie news from National Christian Movies on…

Karen Abercrombie & Priscilla Shirer on set of “War Room” – Kendrick Brothers

The Kendrick Brothers, (“Courageous,” “Fireproof”) are currently working on their fifth film, “War Room,” which is due to be released later this year. The theme of “War Room” is prayer, mentoring and discipleship. The mentoring theme of the Heart to Home Ministry led the film to partner with this ministry for their inaugural Heart to Home Conference in Monroe, La. on February 5-6, 2015. The conference will feature the Women of Duck Commander, Dr. Joneal Kirby, Mary Beth Chapman, Tracey Eyster, Jace Robertson and many more.
To read more, click here.

To order tickets or learn more about the H2H Conference go to

Christian Movie Connect Receives Podcasting Award at Stellae Awards

Pan Pacific Film Festival, CMC, Cheryl Ariaz WickerImagine my surprise to receive an email that Christian Movie Connect has been nominated for a podcasting award! The iPDb sponsored award is a fan-based award so YOU are the ones responsible for us winning. A super big thanks goes to all of you who have faithfully watched through the years and those of you who voted. When I learned, we had won, I struck out for L.A. to attend the Pan Pacific Film Festival and the Stellae Awards!


CMC host Cheryl Ariaz Wicker and David A.R. White of Pure FlixCMC host Cheryl Ariaz Wicker interviews Alex KendrickCMC host and producer interviews Erin Cottrell


CMC heads to Stellae Awards



It was three years ago on July 27, 2011 that we posted the first Christian Movie Connect. Since that time, we have literally traveled from coast to coast attending film events and interviewing the personalities behind the movies. Now with 95 interviews in the can, the Pan Pacific Film Festival (PPFF) was one we had never attended. After all, Los Angeles is a little ways from Monroe, LA! But I had some free Amtrak train miles which gave me a chance to see the sights along the way en route. It was a super duper journey.

Makeup for CMC host before Stellae AwardsThe PPFF went “all out” on the Stellae Awards, but that fits since they are known as the “Oscars of Christian Film.” They provided makeup back stage for the hosts, presenters and awards recipients. I had already had my hair done that day but appreciated the makeup touch up…make me feel like a star! They Stellae Award hosts at PPFFalso treated the awards recipients to a complimentary VIP dinner. The hosts for the evening were the beautiful Jenn Gotzen, who changed clothes about 6 times during the awards ceremony and Dr. Drake Travis, who looked very dapper in his fedora on the red carpet. They were very funny together.


The RRecipe Men perform at PPFF Stellae AwardsEntertainment was provided by The Recipe Men. Wow, those guys can move! The Excellence in Podcasting Award was presented to me on stage. What a great feeling to hear them say “Christian Movie Connect” and begin playing the intro to the show as I approached the stage. It was a moment many of us dream of…to be standing on stage accepting an award for something you have worked very hard for! I decided not to bring notes but nevertheless, remembered everything I wanted to say. You can view my acceptance speech at the Stellae Awards here.

Cheryl Ariaz Wicker of CMC speaks about podcast awardChristian Movie Connect podcast award

Since I did not have time to enumerate all my thank you’s at that time to the crew who made it all possible, I will thank them here. These are professionals who have volunteered their time…some for only one event, and some ongoing:

Angie DeBlieux Bryan – Consulting Producer
Leah Waite – Associate Producer
Rob Skiba – Director
Donna Botts – Production Coordinator
Cortney Matz – Motion Graphics/Editor
Harold Hay, Patrick Rea, Jeffrey Worthington, David Nickel, Mani Sandoval, Tim Romero – Videographer
Kenneth Sutton, Rusty Hogue, Eddie Carillo, Arledge Armenaki – Videographer/Editor
Phillip Wade – Music Composer
Eric Lincoln, Gina Sheer – Photographer
Miranda Waite, Kristen Myers, Abby Taylor, Jeb Bennett, Mason Taylor, Keisha Johnson – Production Assistant
Cindy Navarro, Kim Renga – Writer
Charlotte April Co, Chastity Hebner – Administrative Assistant
Kelsi Guidry – Website Developer/Consultant
Jarred Keller – Graphic Designer
Special thanks to CDR Communications, Inc.

Cheryl Wicker's husband, Neill WickerThere is actually one person I forgot to mention in my acceptance speech and that is my sweet husband Neill Wicker who has supported me in so many ways while I’ve “pursued my dreams.” He is the best husband in the world and without his cooperation and help, CMC would not exist. I only wish he could have been present with me at the Stellae Awards…but I guess somebody has to work!


Of course, CMC was only one small award presented on the stage of the Aratani Theater at the Stellae Awards. To see the full list of winners from the Stellae Awards, click here.


Here are some additional photos from the PPFF:

CMC interview with actor David Shark FralickCheryl Wicker and Jenn Gotzon at Stellae Awards





CMC Interview with Stellae Award winner Bradley Dorsey CMC's Cheryl Wicker at PPFF






CMC at the PPFF




CMC at the Pan Pacific Film Festival

PPFF vendors Filmmaker Patrick Rea pitches his Leonard Night Salvation Mountain documentary













Photos Top-Bottom; Left to Right:

(1) David “Shark” Fralick with CMC; (2) Actress and Stellae Awards host Jenn Gotzen poses with Cheryl Ariaz Wicker; (3) Stellae Award winner Bradley Dorsey discusses Best Feature “Taken By Grace”; (4) CMC host Cheryl Ariaz Wicker on red carpet; (5) and (6) PPFF attendees; (7) Documentary filmmaker and CMC videographer Patrick Rea pitches his project “Leonard: The Story of Salvation Mountain and Leonard Night”; Coffee break with Keurig at PPFF

You can read the PRWeb press release about CMC’s award here.

For more information on iPDb, go to:

For more information about PPFF, go to




10th CWIMA National Conference

images.cwimaThe 10th Christian Women in Media (CWIMA) roma_downeyNational Conference will be held April 3-5, 2014 in Dallas. Women who work within the field of media and entertainment will be traveling from across the nation to be a part of this yearly opportunity to learn from their peers, hear inspiring messages, be encouraged and rejuvenated, and network with others within their field. There are also evening events to socialize, ending with the more formal Excellence in Communication Awards Gala. The finale event is part of the conference, yet separate. Both men ted_baehrand women are invited to attend the Awards Gala unlike the other activities that are for women. This year’s honorees are executive producer/actress Roma Downey (Son of God, The Bible) and gospel recording artist Babbie Mason. Founder and president of Movieguide®, Ted Baehr, will be the keynote speaker for the evening.

Other speakers scheduled for the conference include Carol carol_swainSwain, political analyst, TV host and executive producer of Be the People; June Hunt, author, and radio host of Hope for the Heart; Thelma Wells, TV host, author; former Armani  model, author and film personality, Jennifer Strickland; and Karol Ladd, best selling author and renowned Bible teacher. CWIMA leaders Suellen Roberts, founder and president of CWIMA; Robin Bertram, CWIMA Regions Director; Tracey Mitchell, Tracey Mitchell Ministries and Director of CWIMA-Dallas Region; Wendie Pett, Visibly Fit and CWIMA-Minneapolis Region; and Director of Local Networks, Carole Brewer will be speaking and teaching and CWIMA Music Showcase Director Erica Lane of Nashville country music fame will sing for the ‘Jeans and Bling’ Dinner Party.
naima_lett3Hollywood Regional Director, Carol Doyel, will be leading the 1:15 Friday Media Seminar on
Taking Your Brand From 0 to 1,000,000 in a Matter of Months”. I am honored to be one of three other women who will be on the panel for this one. So, if you will be attending, I hope to see you there. The educational seminars scheduled are widely varied to meet the needs of the attendees and are taught by leading experts in their fields. Most of these will include a moderator along with a panel of others with expertise on the topic. Included are:

  • Pitch to the Experts, Moderator:Tracey Mitchell
  • So, I Have Written a Book … Now What?, Moderator: Mary Hollingsworth
  • Be an A-List Speaker with Income to Match, Moderator: Marina McLean
  • How to Ask for a $1,000,000, Moderator: Teri O’Connor
  • Maximizing Your On-Air Presence, Moderator: Suzanne Niles
  • How to Soar in the Entertainment Industry, Moderator: Naima Lett.
  • How to Succeed in Hollywood (Without Losing Your Soul), Moderator: Ted Baehr


President & Founder of CWIMA, Suellen RobertsPresident Suellen Roberts trusts the event will connect and refresh women in communications.She believes that mobilizing Christian women who are active in the different aspects of media will create a force that truly does make a difference as they work independently while relying on the fellowship and experiences of their peers.All women are invited who impact our culture in media, entertainment and leadership. Membership is not required, although there are benefits to being a member. To learn more about this event and to buy your ticket, visit the CWIMA website at

NRB 2014 Day 3: Patricia Heaton chats with CMC about “Mom’s Night Out”

The “Mom’s Night Out” screening was one of the big draws of Day 3 at the 2014 NRB Convention. This is a comedy featuring Sarah Drew, Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton, Andrea Logan White, and Trace Adkins set to open in theaters on May 9. “Mom’s Night Out” is a family film that takes a humorous look at parenting.

Cheryl and Patricia Heaton

Christian Movie Connect had a tentative interview set with Patricia Heaton following the screening. We were getting ready for the interview in the ballroom when I saw Patricia leaving with her entourage. I was told by her publicist they had another appointment to make and the only way we could get the interview was “talk and walk.” I ran back go get my videographer, Kenneth Sutton, and my PA/photographer, Miranda Waite, and we all took off running through the convention center to catch up with them. By time we reached them, I was so out of breath from my little “jog,” I could hardly talk but I jumped in the middle of the  group next to Patricia and did my thing in a paparazzi-style interview! It was totally crazy but great fun. We’ll be posting this interview in the next couple of days so you won’t want to miss that!

Victoria Jackson Cheryl Wicker

We also had an interview with Victoria Jackson, most remembered for her stint on Saturday Night Live. She has also appeared in a number of films. I loved her role in the Pure Flix movie, “Marriage Retreat.” In fact my favorite part of that movie is the campfire scene where she played her ukulele and sang. Victoria had ukulele in tow today, so we put it into commission and asked her to share a song on video. What a fun interview! She is a delightful lady. Special thanks to Torry Martin for lining this up for us.

David Mullins, brother of the legendary late Rich Mullins also stopped by to talk about the movie “Ragamuffin,” the story of Rich’s life. Rich Mullin’s music has so impacted Christian music but there is also an incredible story of his life that will make this a must-see movie. George Escobar of Advent film group also gave an update on “Alone, Yet Not Alone” as well as made an EXCLUSIVE announcement about his new projects. (Yep, exclusive. You’ll hear it first here on CMC, folks!)

An unexpected treat was the opportunity to meet and interview Chonda Pierce, the “Queen of Clean” comedy. I ran into her publicist and was able to slip a quick interview into the schedule. She talked about her DVD “Girl Talk” which is hilarious!!!! The Spanks stories will leave you rolling on the floor! And she talked about some of her work in movies. Chonda made a big deal about my hair. She said she wanted her hair cut like mine! So if the next time you see Chonda and she’s sporting my new “do,” you’ll know how that happened!

This year’s NRB featured a first ever Film Pitch-A-Thon. It gave filmmakers a chance to pitch their film or idea to distribution and production companies, which included Mission Pictures, Bridgestone Multimedia, Movie to Movement, Parables TV, WORD Network, TBN and many others. I decided to participate in this one myself to pitch my client Scotty Sanders’ book, “Quest of the Keys.” It was different making a formal pitch like this than the informal approach like what I am used to. It felt a little like auditioning for a movie role or doing pageant interviews to me…standing outside the door, rehearsing the pitch, take a deep breath and then go in and sparkle! I had a very positive experience myself and found it to be a great addition to the NRB offerings this year. I highly recommend filmmakers come out to NRB next year to participate in this.

Media consultant Phil Cooke led a panel discussion on the controversial “Noah” movie starring Russell Crowe. Phil, who worked as an adviser on the film, said that Paramount worked hard to be as accurate as possible, making sure to make the ark to spec. However there was a bit of creative license used which many will take issue with. He recommended that Christians use this movie to open the door to meaningful conversations about the Bible.”

A Conversation with Eric Metaxas and Ben CarsonLife, God and Other Small TopicsThere was an evening event called “A Conversation with Eric Metaxas and Ben Carson.” Eric is an award winning author, speaker, and founder and host of Socrates in the City and Ben is a brilliant neurosurgeon, columnist, and sought-after speaker. Both were recent speakers at the National Day of Prayer ceremony. They challenged people to speak out the truth with grace and love. On a lighter note, Eric Metaxas began the session with a group singing of the Hee Haw song “Where O Where Are You Tonight”. Hope no one got spit on!

Today, I made quite a bit of room for hanging with friends, missing a few evening events in order to do so. My good friends Mike and Paula Parker were in town for the day met with me, Gary Ray Moore, Francine Locke and Denny Brownlee. We also visited briefly with Kenny and Erica Saylors beforehand. It was sort of like a Gideon Film Festival reunion!

After dinner, Fatima Eid and I decided to relax and chat over cocoa. We were soon joined by Marcy Grams, Brad Mix, Tim Wilson, Gary Moore and Deborah Ann Sweezy, and Scott Link until we had a table full! Then for the real night owls, there was another Late Night Film Talks. This one feature Jason Jones of Movie to Movement. I loved him hearing him speak about what he does…he is very passionate about his work! One more day to go!

2014-02-24 22.03.43

NRB Convention 2014 – Day 2: “Son of God” screens and Victoria Jackson in Late Night Film Talks

The highlight of Day 2 of the 2014 NRB Convention was the opening of the exhibition hall.  They made quite a ceremony of the opening with a fully costumed bagpipe player walking in a processional fashion onto the floor. We decided this was a perfect spot to begin our interviews which included media guru Phil Cooke and his wife, Kathleen, of Ascend Women. They gave input on some of the upcoming faith-based film releases and gave perspectives on trends in Hollywood and the faith-based film industry.

We also interviewed Mark Cochran who wrote & directed the upcoming film, “First Do No Harm”. This is a short film dealing with the issue of abortion.

Wheeler WickerMulti award winning filmmaker, Gary Wheeler (“The List”, “Jimmy”) talked with CMC about “Mountain Top” and other films of his soon to release.  We also talked with actor, Alec Rayme, who discussed his role in “Left Behind,” set to release in 2014. Alec related how he started out doing stunts, but has turned more to acting. He will be making his directing debut in 2014 with “Let’s Be Cops” which will also be released in 2014.

We also spoke with Rick Eldridge of ReelWorks Studios, known for “The Ultimate Gift” and now the follow up, which is also a prequel, “The Ultimate Life.” Dan Paris, a very passionate young producer who shot a documentary about the poverty in Africa called “What Matters Now”, is another I interviewed.

The ICVM (International Christian Visual Media) Catalyst Conference sponsors an ice cream social every year. This is the “go to” spot for hanging out with those in the film industry. Admittedly by this point in the night, I was just about too tired to speak coherently, but I had a great time nonetheless and hopefully everyone was forgiving.

One big event of the evening was a session with Ken Hamm of Answers In Genesis–this was open to the public. His recent Creation vs Evolution debate with Bill Nye–‘The Science Guy’ has been a world-wide topic of conversation. Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to enabling Christians to defend their faith and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively.

As usual, there are a variety of events to choose from but the evenings take a lighter note. For those who wanted to let their hair down, there was a family game night that featured audience participation games, like “Name That Tune.” I snuck in long enough to grab some popcorn (my all time favorite snack!)


I got a chance to spend a few minutes in the hymn sing with Joni Eareckson Tada. It was a moving, sweet experience. The song she sang, “Alone Yet Not Alone” (from the film “Alone Yet Not Alone”) has also been been the focus of a lot of attention when it was nominated for an Academy Award, only to have the nomination later revoked.

There was also an opportunity to see the advanced screening of the movie “Son of God”. This is the movie produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett…a very dramatic presentation. One of the perks of attending events like this is the opportunity to see films before they hit the screens. This one is going to be huge! It opens in theaters on February 28th and there are already many sold-out screenings.

Late Night Film Talks
Late night film talks featured Torry Martin interviewing Victoria Jackson. Many remember her from SNL, but she also very well-known for both her outspoken political views and her roles in several Christian movies.All in all, a successful day for me; hopefully for others as well.

NRB 2014 Convention – Day 1: Comedian Brad Stine touts new “Persecuted” movie

Digital SummitThe 2014 NRB has already exceeded my expectations and it’s only Day 1. There are so many new aspects of the conference, beginning with a first ever pre-conference, Digital Media Summit. I attended that and was overwhelmed with the level of speakers: top representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google. It was a plethoria of information ready to give ministries, organizations and companies an edge in the digital world!


Also new this year is Cheryl Ariaz Wicker with MovieGuide chairman, Ted Baehr.a big film emphasis. The NRB added a film committee led by Movieguide’s Ted Baehr. There is now a film educational track, film screenings, film networking events and even a film Pitch-A-Thon where filmmakers can pitch their films to distributors.


Miranda Waite, Leah A. Waite, Cheryl A. Wicker, Sandy Brownlee, & Denny Brownlee

Another really neat thing about this year is that my sister, Leah Ariaz Waite, and her 15 year old daughter, Miranda, are on my crew. Other than the fact that my sister is causing a bit of confusion as my lookalike, she is doing a great job as an associate producer and my niece is quite a little photographer! Also glad to have Kenneth Sutton from Monroe, LA, back on the crew. We also had the pleasure of joining up with friends Denny and Sandy Brownlee for lunch. I was interested to learn about their work in the new field of transmedia and was excited to learn of Sandy’s recent appointment to the Nashville Film Television Transmedia Council.


Because our decision to attend NRB was a last minute decision, we only a handful of interviews booked, going in, and none booked for the first day. However, we began booking on the fly and ended up doing seven interviews today. We caught up with comedian/actor Brad Stine who was promoting his new film, “Persecuted,” due for release in May. I also spoke with the writer/director of the film, Daniel Lusko, and producer, Jim Higgins, who also plays the role of the President of the United States.


Gary Moore Cheryl WickerThe ever-busy, Gary Moore, who was recently seen on “House Of Cards” and whose award-winning film “Return to the Hiding Place” will also be releasing in May, graciously spent a few minutes chatting with me about several of his projects. Other interviews you can expect to see soon on Christian Movie Connect podcasts arScotty Curleee Andrew Walkington, a UK director whose recent critically acclaimed film, “For Love’s Sake”, was funded by Vision Video.  Also, I spoke with Tracy Trost and Scotty Curlee about “Letting Go”.

Good friend, Francine Locke, also took time to talk to me about her recent roles. Her leading role in the film, “Stand Your Ground“, had much success in its initial run in 17 cities. A wider release is scheduled later this year.

Michael W SmithThe evening event was the installation of the new NRB president, Jerry Johnson. The keynote was Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Michael W. Smith provided the entertainment. Also, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett presented about their upcoming “Son of God” movie. I can hardly wait to see the screening scheduled to be seen at the convention this weekend.

The evening was topped off with the industry receptions. What can be more fitting for “topping” off the evening than a scrumptious sundae bar? Am I a foodie? Yes! It was a fun ending for a day filled with family, food, filmmakers, films, and friends. More to come later…


2014 NRB Convention Ramps up Opportunities for Film Industry

The NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) Convention in Nashville, TN is coming up, and I am excited for the opportunity to attend. This international event that networks thousands of Christian communicators is the “don’t miss” event on the Christian communicator’s calendar. NRB will last Feb. 22-25 and is filled with a plethora of speakers, film screenings, film pitching sessions, and late night film talks.

Friday I will be attending a Social Media Summit with top experts in the field of social media. There are some amazing speakers lined up from a variety of social media platforms and I can’t wait to learn the latest from these experts. Check my Premier1 Studios page where I will post updates and share some good tips from the conference.

They have really ramped up the film experience this year with the newly created ‘Film Standing Committee’ group whose members are committed to using their talents to help impact the world for Christ through film. The group’s first Chairman is Dr. Ted Baehr, Founder and Publisher of Movieguide®. Other members of the committee include: Erik Fritjofson (Vice-President of Media; Cordova Media, Love Worth Finding Ministries), Isaac Hernandez (Vice President; Parables.TV), Honnie Korngold (Founder and President; CineVantage), Scott Link (President; Pup Tent Media), Torry Martin (Co-Founder and President; Torrent Brothers Productions), Nina May (Producer, Director, Writer; Renaissance Women Productions), Guy Noland (Executive Producer/Director; SAVN.TV), Matthew Pickart (Freelancer; Pick-art Productions), Paul Sirmons (Independent Filmmaker), Bill Stevens (General Manager; CHRI), and Andrew Walkington (Director, Executive Producer, and Writer; True Films Ltd.). This distinguished group is certain to shape the future of faith-based films.

Other highlights of this year’s convention will include some of the most innovative thinkers and speakers giving keynote and general sessions. The encouragement you will receive is certain to renew the commitment you have to using your God-given talents to the best of your ability. Training and Boot Camp experiences will also be a tremendous asset as you learn from some of the leaders in the broadcasting field. Whether it is networking with academics for peer reviews, checking out exhibits and learning about new tools of the trade from vendors, pitching your film idea to Christian distributors, or seeing a few of the other films that are creating buzz, the NRB Convention is going to be an incredible event. Make sure you check back for the interviews and updates I will be posting.

Christian Movie Connect Expands Reach with Syndication

Christian Movie Connect CMCSince 2011, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker of Christian Movie Connect (CMC) has been interviewing Christian film personalities and keeping film lovers informed about the latest faith-based, family-friendly and redemptive films, gaining a foothold as the industry’s premier interview podcast. Now, with several syndication deals finalized at the 2013 National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention in Nashville, CMC will be thrust into a much expanded audience through syndication with Parables.TV, and

The 24-hour Parables TV Christian movies network has been keeping an eye for some time on Wicker’s Christian MovieConnect. “We’ve been looking for short segments like this for filler content,” said Isaac Hernandez, Parable TV’s General Manager. “I expect our audience to find CMC’s segment informative and entertaining.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Inspiration Pop 2929 Red Carpet Premiere at TBN

Inspiration Pop 2929 red carpet premiere at Trinity Music City

Inspiration Pop 2929 producer Katrena Rochelle and Christian Movie Connect host Cheryl Ariaz Wicker

producer Katrena Rochelle and CMC’s Cheryl Ariaz Wicker

It was a beautiful day in Hendersonville, Tennessee for the red carpet premiere of “Inspiration Pop 2929” held at  the TBN Studios, known as Trinity Music City. This faith-based film is filled with country and gospel music performers, seasoned actors and newbie actors as well. The production team was present, including writer, director and producer Ryan Ramos, producer, Rochell Simmons. Tim Enochs, author or “The Street Sweeper,” the book that inspired the movie,  was also in attendance.

I arrived at 3:30 for “marching orders” and then left for dinner, arriving back at 5:00 for backstage interviews. My role was as the official reporter for the production company’s behind the scenes, as well as for TBN who will be featuring the movie on PTL in August, and for Christian Movie Connect.

Inspiration Pop 2929 at TBN Studios - Trinity Music City

Red Carpet preparation (photo credit: Miranda Waite)

My crew consisted of my own sister, Leah Ariaz Waite who was my personal assistant and my 15-year old niece, Miranda Waite, who was my social media photographer. Tim Romero of TBN was the videographer. We had a great time. I was so impressed with Leah and Miranda’s work; I am ready to take them on the road with me!

Inspiration Pop 2929 red carpet premiere

Movie fans wait in line (photo credit: Miranda Waite)

There was a tremendous turnout for the movie. A crowd of anxious attendees lined up in advance in order to get a good seat to see the movie. The auditorium was packed so I’m sure the producers were happy about that.

The movie has such a huge cast, so there were lots of interviews to do…but what fun it was! We visited backstage and in the green room with some of the cast before moving to the red carpet. The red carpet was lined with videographers, photographers and reporters from all over the region. CMC was stationed next to Homecoming Magazine.

Cheryl Ariaz Wicker with Kaitlyn King at Inspiration Pop 2929 movie premiere

Cheryl Wicker with Kaitlyn King (photo credit: Miranda Waite)

Our red carpet interviews started with Jason Crabb, followed by Larry Gatlin. It ended 45 minutes later with the Mandrell sisters–Barbara, Louise and Irlene. The Mandrells were there to support Barbara’s daughter-in-law, Christy Sutherland, an award-winning Christian singer-songwriter who has appeared on the 700 Club and Hour of Power as well as taped her first Gaither & Friends video. This was her film debut. 

Christy Sutherland and Cheryl Ariaz Wicker of Christian Movie Connect

Christy Sutherland interviewed in green room (photo credit: Miranda Waite)

Some of the more highly credited actors include: Jackie Stewart, who has appeared in 25 motion pictures and TV shows; Whitney Goin who may be recognized by Christian film fans from her role in “Letters to God” and “Renee;” Britt George who has appeared in numerous feature films and TV shows, including “From the Shadows,” which he also produced and faith-based film; “Faith Happens;” Joshua Childs, who is also a writer, producer and director of “The Nothing” and appeared in “Blue Like Jazz” and “Hannah Montana: The Movie;” and Regina McCrary, who has performed on stage with Tyler Perry.

It was a delightful movie set in a small country town that shows the lives of several characters in difficult times whom each has learned invaluable lessons through the 7 Revelations shared by a street sweeper.

Jason Crabb and Cheryl Ariaz Wicker on the red carpet of Inspiration POP 2929 movie premiere

Jason Crabb on the red carpet (photo credit: Miranda Waite)

When the movie was over I caught reaction interviews from the attendees. The concensus is, folks, that everyone loved the movie! I had already seen a preliminary screener of the movie myself before attending the premiere…which I enjoyed; but the finished film on the big screen was far more powerful.

Larry Gatlin at Inspiration Pop 2929 red carpet premiere

Cheryl Wicker interviewing Larry Gatlin (photo credit: Miranda Waite)

It was a long but exciting night. All I can say is that I’m just glad I had my sister around because after 2 hours in 4 inch platforms, we had to resort to the ole “sister shoe switch.” (Sorry I had to pawn the agonizing silver foot killers on her but that’s what sisters are for, right?)

The film will be shown in select theaters and on DVD. For more information on Inspiration Pop 2929, go to the website:

To find out how to arrange for Christian Movie Connect to attend your movie premiere or to schedule a set visit, please contact us for more information!

Cheryl Wicker interviews the Mandrells

Barbara, Louise and Erlene Mandrell (photo credit: Miranda Waite)

2013 CWIMA National Conference Day 3

We’re on the final stretch now…Day 3 of the 2013 CWIMA. Most of us are a little tired and sleep deprived but the excitement of the event and lots of coffee is enough to keep me going anyway!
12This morning’s session was a jam packed session with speakers and music. Author speaker Jennifer Kennedy Dean, executive producer of The Praying Network, was the first speaker talking about the impact of prayer in our lives. She told the women that Jesus will give them the desires of their heart as they let him transform their heart.


Singer-songwriter Rachelle Fletcher lead in worship. Also special music by Carole Brewer brought the house down with “For Such a Time as This.” Carole also serves on the CWIMA Advisory Board and is the National Director of the Local Networks.


Karen Covell was the morning keynote. She is the founding director of the Hollywood Prayer Network which prays for Christians who work in Hollywood. She said she started the network out of total desperation when she moved to Hollywood because she and her husband needed prayer. She said God put the same idea in the hearts of other people in the city as well. She now knows of 7,000 Christians and 15 active ministries in Hollywood. She said the culture is constantly being influenced by the media. It is the most powerful force out there…the most exciting mission field in the world. She said for each of us, as we walk outside our front door, we are entering our mission field.  She passionately urged the audience, “Don’t miss any opportunity for God to use you.” The Hollywood Prayer Network has 2500 matched partnerships of people praying one on one for people in the industry.


In Coffee Talk, Thelma Wells asks Danna Demetre what has impacted her life. Danna talked about how she was impacted by the worlds message about identity and image which resulted in bulimia and panic attacks. That fear and insecurity lead her to Jesus Christ. During that time, she called the only woman she knew that was a believer…it was this woman who led her to Christ. This was the beginning of her transformation. <br>
Ellie Kay, America’s Family Financial Expert who has appeared on 800 radio an TV shows, including CNN, Fox News ABC News, etc. She was the moderator of the Leading Experts Media Panel which consisted of: bestselling author and international speaker Deborah Pegues; author Lois Evans, wife of Dr. Tony Evans and Senior Vice President of The Urban Alternative; leading Biblical counselor and host of Hope for the Heart and Hope in the Night, June Hunt.
Lois Evans was asked social media changed the ministry of The Urban Alternative. She replied that God has provided increased opportunities through technology. When Facebook and Twitter came along, she had to adjust. She took her time learning but since the goal is to touch the world, she had a young group of experts who helped with the new technology. They are now using every stream they can find so the Word can go far and wide.


Deborah Pegues shared a story in response to the question “What is the funniest thing that has happened to you.” Deborah said she dropped her mic pack in the commode on a break before a TV interview!
June Hunt was asked what was the best piece of advice she wished someone had given her when she started in her media ministry. She replied that she never desired to be the head of anything. In the early days of her ministry, she would end up giving into people more powerful than her because of her feelings of powerlessness. She wished she had been encouraged to take the authority God put in her life to assume the role she had been given by God.


There were several outstanding workshops during the afternoon: Persistence and Tenacity: Successful PR in the Age of Digital and Social Media presented by Suzanne Niles and Kim Chaffin; Sound Bytes: Penetrating Words for a Powerful Impact, presented by June Hunt, Danna Demetre and Ellie Kay; Earn a Strong Income as a Spokeswoman presented by Ellie Kay; LAUNCH! Move your Film/TV Idea from Concept to Production, presented by Naima Lett and Lar Park Lincoln


During free time, women had time for networking, shopping or napping, etc. Although napping sounded nice to me, the adventurous spirit
in me insisted on going shopping. I was joined by Rosie Koebele and Carole Brewer for an outing to Sam Moon. This store takes “bling” to the max. I couldn’t pass up some super cute hats! We hurried back to glam up for the Gala Awards Dinner.
It was a wonderful evening. Everyone looked exceptional and the program was great.
The Exceptional Service Award was presented to one member of each of the 5 regions. Kristi Lynn Olsen from Midwest Region – Minneapolis;  actress x from Northeast Region – New York; Sheryl Griffin from Southeast Region – Nashville; Diane Gardner from West Coast – Hollywood; and Sharon Hill from Southwest Region – Dallas.


Kirby Anderson announced the Lifetime Achievement Award which was presented to Patricia Mauceri. After a 14 year soap career and 40 year acting career, she was faced with a moral choice that ended her role on a soap opera. She stated that God promised that her latter would be greater than the former. Patricia said, “God has gifted me and He is my greatest achievement.”


The Excellence in Communications Award was presented by Suellen Roberts to Carol Cymbala who directs the 280-voice Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and has won 5 Dove Awards and 6 Grammy Awards. Carol said life is a journey. She told the story of her teenage daughter who went astray and how their church, which has always been a praying church, had a special prayer meeting which resulted in their daughter coming back to Christ. She urged the audience not to give up on people they know who need Jesus. As to her accomplishments, she said she owes it all to Him.


Following the meeting there were lots of photos and last good byes. This was a great conference. Looking forward to next year as well as the regional connections on June 13.

2013 CWIMA National Conference Day 2

Today was the first full day of the CWIMA National Conference, which began with 7:45 Morning Prayer, followed by the Opening General Session with music by Carole Brewer and worship led by Rachel Mann. Danna Demetre and Thelma Wells had an informal chat called “Table Talk.” When Thelma was asked by Danna about the greatest influence in her life, she told of her great grandmother who was the Godly influence in her life during the years she endured abuse at home. Ruth Graham, daughter of Billy Graham, brought a message of encouragement based on Psalm 143.

This was followed by a panel of the five regional connection directors sharing news and stories from their region. And before you knew it, we were at lunchtime. I was admittedly a little surprised to discover that the main entrée that looked a whole lot like salmon, really WAS salmon and not chicken. it was a scrumptious meal.

So now feeling “fat and happy,” I was able to get ready for my “Putting the Power of Social Media and Branding to Work for Your Brand” workshop. We had a room full of ladies eager to learn about social media. I got so excited about presenting my material, I lost track of time and almost cut into my co-presenter’s lecture. Carol Doyel of did a great job of sharing how they build a powerful fan base for her online publication. Special thanks to Ryan Bunting for videotaping the workshop.

There were other media seminars in the afternoon as well: author Debra Pegues on “Fighting the Fears that Foil Your Future.” Also an Expert Evaluation Seminar featuring Linda Olson, Karol Ladd, Wendy Pett, and Tracey Mitchell offered attendees a chance to practice their pitch for critique by the panel.

Deborah Pegues coaches attendee on overcoming fears

And no self-respecting gathering of women would be complete without a shopping expedition, which is exactly what took place following the workshops…a trip to Sam Moon. Although I was not able to make the trip, the word is many shopping bags made their way onto return shuttle. I had an outside meeting with a couple of film friends who were in town during the free time.

The evening event was a western bling shindig so everyone was decked out in their shinest western attire in true Texan form. We all thoroughly enjoyed the Mexican buffet as we were treated to the beautiful voices of Erica Lane and Rachel Mann. They sang a patriotic song they co-wrote. Erica ended the evening with an accapella version of “The Lord’s Prayer.”

Keynote speaker Pat Smith shared her story as first runner up in Miss America, wife of a Dallas Cowboy, Emmett Smith (“Dancing with the Stars”). She dealt with insecurity over her husband’s career and disappointment over her own. During this time, God led her to start a women’s conference, Treasure You Girlfriends Christian Retreat. She then got an invitation to join Women of Faith as a speaker. After hearing a sermon urging her not to give up on her dreams, she finally got a chance to host a “The View” type TV show entitled “The Broadcast.” She encouraged the women to “Be a light. Use your platform for good.”

So thus ends Day 2 at the CWIMA National Conference. Look for more news tomorrow and photos from the Gala Awards dinner.