KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When the new Kristen Bell movie, “Queenpins,” hits theaters on Sept. 10, some sharp-eyed viewers might notice some familiar scenery — and a familiar face.
The movie, based on a true story, features Bell as a listless housewife who decides to mastermind a counterfeit coupon ring to the tune of millions.
Shot entirely during the early days of the pandemic, producers needed a secure location for a scene involving a news anchor delivering breaking developments in a studio.
Instead of hiring an actor and renting a green screen studio, directors Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly asked a favor from an old frien, Pat McGonigle. The former St. Louis anchor now works for the FOX affiliate in Kansas City.
Gaudet and Pullapilly, former TV news professionals who left broadcasting for the big screen, explained how they convinced producers to cast McGonigle.
“I think we sold them on the idea as, ‘Look, we don’t even have to do anything, he’s going to shoot it,’” Gaudet told FOX 4. “We’re just going to shoot it in Kansas City. We won’t even have to spend the money of shooting on some soundstage.”
Pullapilly, a former TV journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker, said portraying local TV news accurately was important.
“We absolutely wanted to make sure local television news gets represented the right way,” Pullapilly said. “We see so many films and television series where they don’t do it justice, to make it feel real and organic. You know they’re not legit.”
Another odd Kansas City connection: The film’s only test screening happened right here in the metro.
“It was invaluable to see how the audience enjoyed the movie. We thank them for that,” Gaudet said.
“Queenpins” hits theaters Sept. 10 and will be available for streaming on Paramount Plus at the end of September.
Pullapilly believes the comedy will lift hearts and even inspire audiences.
“We just want to say we hope this movie brings joy and happiness to people who watch it,” Pullapilly said.