In today’s film news roundup, Dolly Parton makes a donation for coronavirus cure, Howie Mandel and Ashlee Simpson join the voice cast of “Pierre The Pigeon-Hawk” and American Documentary launches an artists emergency fund.


Dolly Parton has donated $1 million to Nashville’s Vanderbilt Hospital to help aid research to find a cure for the coronavirus.

“My longtime friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, who’s been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards research of the coronavirus for a cure,” Parton said on Twitter on Wednesday. “I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations.”

Earlier this week, Dollywood and film marketing company Abramorama announced that beginning on April 2 at 7:00 pm ET,  Parton will be reading a children’s book for bedtime in a series entitled “Goodnight With Dolly.” The companies also announced that the documentary “The Library That Dolly Built” will open nationally on Sept. 21 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Parton’s Imagination Library program. Since its inception in 1995, the Imagination Library has gifted more than 135 million books to children and is currently gifting books to 1.5 million children around the world each month.

Parton has won 11 Grammys and been nominated 51 times. She was twice nominated for an Academy Award and twice nominated for an Emmy.


Exodus Film Group has added Howie Mandel, Luis Guzmán, Paul Blackthorne, Jamal Trulove, Evan Ross and Ashlee Simpson to the voice cast of animated feature “Pierre The Pigeon-Hawk.”

Previously announced cast include Nick Cannon, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Coolidge and Kenan Thompson.  John D. Eraklis is directing and producing alongside Cannon’s Ncredible Entertainment and Ciaran Crampton and Chase Muratore’s Sugar Water Entertainment. Sugar Water Entertainment is providing financing in partnership with Toonz Media Group, and Michael Goldman, Jamal Trulove and Delbert Whetter are executive producing.

Highland Film Group is handling international sales with CAA Media Finance handling domestic sales. The film is being produced and directed remotely and is in pre-production at Toonz Media Group studio in New Zealand. The story centers on the titular Pierre being rejected by both the pigeon and hawk communities. Dejected and confused, Pierre sets out on a mission to find out where he belongs.


American Documentary, the nonprofit organization behind the PBS series “POV,” is launching a COVID-19 Artist Emergency Fund to support the independent documentary community.

The fund, which has more than $100,000, will provide rapid response grants up to $500 to assist artists with basic needs including food, immediate health needs and insurance premiums.

“Last year when we ran the pilot, the need for a fund of this kind was already substantial. During this pandemic, the need is critical,” said Justine Nagan, executive producer and executive director of “POV” and American Documentary. “We are just beginning to see how COVID-19 is affecting filmmakers, especially those from marginalized communities. Canceled premieres, halted production and broader systemic issues are profoundly affecting filmmakers from healthcare to housing security.”