Friday, February 2, 2007

Austin Stories lives on DVD

OK, I'm slow. I just discovered that for more than a year Howard Kremer has been selling DVD compilations on eBay of the 12 Austin Stories episodes MTV shot way back in 1997. Is this legal? I doubt it, but more power to Howard who now goes by the name Dragon Boy Suede. If this all means nothing to you, Kremer, Chip Pope and Laura House starred as three slacker-types in the comedy, which was the highest rated shows on MTV up to that time, but was dumped when they had a change in management. In Austin it was routinely sneered at, but it holds up as a nice snapshot of the time before the Capital City really began to transmogrify into Dallas junior.

Oh, and it was a lot of fun to be on the set. In my pre-film columnist days, I was an extra in both the pilot (as a sleazy record industry guy) and in episode set at the car lot on South Congress that is now being made over into fancy shops (as a sleazy car dealer). Do you note a trend here?

The show was mainly shot in an empty HEB grocery store on East Riverside (last I saw it was a fitness center now). My scene in the pilot was in the back of the building where they'd set up a fake entrance to a nightclub. I was waiting in line. By this point I was an experienced extra with work on everything from Courage Under Fire (the back of my head stars!) to Richard Linklater's The Newton Boys (my scene was completely cut). So I sidled up through the line until I got in exactly the point where I knew the camera would catch me. Sure enough, for a moment in the episode the stars step back and there's me swiveling my head back and forth.

That's me with Juliana Sheffield, the very first McBubbly, after the shoot. It was summertime and I was sweating like a barnyard critter.
A few weeks later at the car lot I was selected from the group of extras to be one of three car dealers who ended the episode by sneering at the cast through the showroom window. It was shot at the big time! The night the episode aired, my pal Murray, who was also in the episode, and my then-girlfriend, now-wife Tiffany sat down to watch it. The ending had been changed! Tiffany walked down the hall out of sight and said, "Look, I'm on Austin Stories..." Even I had to laugh.

Oh, and I wrote an article about my day on the set that appeared in the San Antonio Express-News at the time. Check it out.


Anonymous said...

Is that article you wrote posted anywhere else? Four year old link doesn't work anymore.

Joe M. O'Connell said...

Try again. That old link has been updated.--Joe