Red Carpet Premiere Set for August 6 to Debut Newly-Digitized 1979 “Joni” Film Starring Quadriplegic and Disabilities Advocate Joni Eareckson Tada
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA (ANS – July 15, 2017) — Back in 1979, when I was working as a senior reporter for the British tabloid, the Sunday People, I received a phone call from Bill Brown, the then head of World Wide Pictures, Billy Graham’s film company, telling me of an extraordinary movie that his Burbank=based, California, company had just completed.
Bill said that “Joni,” recounts the incredible story of Joni Eareckson (now Joni Eareckson Tada), who was seriously injured as a teen in a diving accident on July 30, 1967, and spent two years in rehabilitation and emerged with new skills and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations.
He added that she actually starred as herself in film and in her role, she had to re-live her accident and the time of deep depression immediately following it.
“Dan,” he said, “We are going to hold a premiere for the film in London, and I hope you will be able to attend — which I did. But, I’d also like to offer you an interview with Joni.”
While Bill Brown hung onto the phone, I quickly rushed over to see my news editor and told him about the movie and the offer I had just received to be able to interview her. He quickly agreed and I told Bill Brown that I just needed her phone number and I’d do the trans-Atlantic interview right way.
As we chatted, Joni was as charming as ever, and the story ran in a prominent place in that Sunday’s newspaper, which, as far as I know, was the first time that the Sunday People had ever run a story about an evangelical film.
Fast forward to today and I am now living in Southern California with my wife, Norma, and have become firm friends with Joni, and her charming husband, Ken Tada, whom I regularly interview at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, for my “Front Page Radio” show on KWVE, and for television. Usually, my son, Peter, joins me to film each interview.
Now, I have just learned that the premiere of the newly-digitized 1979 ‘Joni’ film is to be shown on Sunday, August 6, at 6:00 p.m. (Pacific Time), at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California. Before it starts, there will be a Red-Carpet event that will begin at 5:30 p.m. at which the star of the film, Joni, will attend.
The occasion will also honor Pastor Shawn Wheeler and others who are actively engaging their churches in disability ministry.
The screening is free and open to the public. Members of the media who wish to attend are asked to RSVP to email@example.com.
This amazing lady founded Joni and Friends International Disability Center in 1979 to provide Christ-centered ministry to special-needs families, as well as training for churches. Joni and Friends serves thousands of special-needs families through Family Retreats, and has delivered over 170,000 wheelchairs and Bibles to needy individuals with disabilities in developing nations.
Note: Originally produced by World Wide Pictures in 1979, “Joni” was subsequently translated into 15 languages and shown in countries around the world, reaching likely millions of individuals with the inspirational story of Joni’s journey of faith as she came to understand how her quadriplegia could be used to help others.
Photo captions: 1) Movie poster. 2) Dan Wooding with Bill Brown, and his wife, former British actress, Joan Winmill Brown. 3) Newlyweds: Ken and Joni celebrate their wedding in 1982 with a piece of cake. 4) Dan Wooding interviewing Ken and Joni. (Photo: Peter Wooding). 5) Peter, Joni, Dan and Ken.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books and has two US-based TV programs –- “Windows on the World” (with Garry Ansdell) and “Inside Hollywood with Dan Wooding” — which are both broadcast on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv/), and also a weekly radio show called “Front Page Radio” on the KWVE Radio Network (www.kwve.com).
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