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Songwriter Michael Franti on Writing Three New Songs for Woody Harrelson’s ‘Champions’ and Being Inspired by Real-Life Heroes

Karen M. Peterson For singer and songwriter Michael Franti, the road to “Champions” began with a text message during the pandemic. Franti and his long-time friend Woody Harrelson had talked of making a movie together, but the timing never worked. Once COVID hit, the musician found himself with a lot of time on his hands. “I had nothing to do except sit around and watch reels from the movie,” he tells Variety. In “Champions,” directed by Bobby Farrelly, Harrelson plays Marcus Marokovich, an assistant coach for a minor league basketball team in Iowa. After a DUI, he accepts a community service assignment managing players with intellectual disabilities. Working with his athletes over the course of his 90 days, they gradually break down his grumpy exterior and help reveal his empathetic side.

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