Film News Roundup: Michael Moore’s Traverse City Festival Drawing Kathy Griffin, Lily Tomlin

In today’s film news roundup, Michael Moore’s film festival will include appearances by Kathy Griffin and Lily Tomlin, a gerrymandering documentary gets sold and pop singer Meredith O’Connor gets cast.


Kathy Griffin and Lily Tomlin have signed on to appear at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, now in its 15th year.

Griffin will appear at a screening of “Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story,” which explores how a photograph of the comedian holding a fake severed head of Donald Trump led to an FBI investigation. Tomlin, who co-stars in “Grace & Frankie” with Jane Fonda and is a Detroit native, will receive a lifetime achievement award.

The festival runs from July 30 to Aug. 4 with the theme “cinema saves the world.” More than 200 movies will be screened. “When the world spins madly out of control, leave it to the artists to respond, to inspire, to operate with this crazy belief that one great movie can change the planet,” Moore said.

“Brittany Runs A Marathon” is the opening night film. Jillian Bell portrays a woman who decided to change her life by training to run the New York City Marathon. The film won the Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival.


Magnolia Pictures has bought North American rights to the documentary “Slay the Dragon,” which focuses on the issue of gerrymandering, from Participant Media.

The deal was announced Friday, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject placing limits on partisan gerrymandering. Directed by Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance, the film world-premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Magnolia is eyeing a spring 2020 theatrical release.

Participant and Magnolia partnered on “RBG,” which grossed more than $15 million worldwide and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles said, “Gerrymandering is one of the biggest threats to our democracy and ‘Slay the Dragon’ is a fantastic primer to what’s at stake, in addition to an incredibly cinematic, emotional film. Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance have done a marvelous job telling this story.”

The news was first reported by Deadline.


Pop singer Meredith O’Connor has joined the independent film “Crushed It!,” currently filming in Los Angeles, Variety has learned exclusively.

The film centers on a skateboarder played by Nikita Orlov who moves out to Los Angeles to live with his older brother, portrayed by Tip Scarry. He dreams of becoming a professional skater and gets sidetracked when he meets a young woman played by newcomer Mara Michelle. O’Conner will be playing a friend of Michelle’s character in the film, which also stars Cole Carter, Brandon Hollman, Kamilla Alnes and Ellie Patrikios.

Alexander Garcia is directing from his own screenplay and is producing under his Multi-Valence productions banner alongside producing partner Anne Stimac, Chad Fernandez, Eric Sandoval, Ellie Patrikios and Michael Abrams.

O’Conner will also be performing on the soundtrack for the song “Keep Pushing” co-written by Alexander Garcia and Brian Vodinh.


Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Judy Movie 2019 renee zellweger

    Korea Box Office: ‘Judy’ Debuts on Top as Cinemas Slump To Historic Lows

    The South Korean box office, which has been widely affected by coronavirus and has fallen to historic lows, was further hit by leading exhibitor CJ-CGV’s recent decision to shut 35 complexes nationwide, and to reduce screenings at those theaters remaining in operation. Opening on Wednesday (Mar. 25), Oscar-winning drama “Judy” debuted on top of the [...]

  • 'Elephant' Review: Less Majestic Than the

    'Elephant,' Narrated by Meghan Markle: Film Review

    Of all the members of the animal kingdom we think of as akin to humans — chimps, dolphins, whales, perhaps (if we’re being honest about it) our dogs — elephants may be the most movingly and preternaturally aware. Because you can see how intelligent they are. You see it in a chimp’s face, too, of [...]

  • Ken Shimura

    Ken Shimura Japanese Comedian Dies of Coronavirus Age 70

    Ken Shimura, a comedian who was a fixture on Japanese television for decades, died on Sunday evening from the coronavirus, the Japanese media reported Monday. He was 70, and immediately before his illness had been set for his first starring role in a feature film. Shimura entered a Tokyo hospital on March 20 with fever [...]

  • Gerard Schurmann, Film and TV Composer,

    Gerard Schurmann, Film and Concert Composer, Dies at 96

    Gerard Schurmann, whose 1960s film scores included “The Bedford Incident” and “Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow” but who also composed extensively for the concert hall, died March 24 at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He was 96 and had recently been in declining health. Schurmann’s death was announced by his music publisher, Novello & [...]

  • Rita And Tom Hanks Coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After Coronavirus Diagnosis in Australia

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home in the U.S. after they revealed they had contracted coronavirus and were quarantined in Australia. Hanks gave an update on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking everyone who had helped them in Australia and assuring people that they are still isolating themselves in the U.S. “Hey, folks…We’re home now [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content