Friday, March 30, 2007

Congrats to Odell!

I remain amazed by the quality of the NBC program Friday Night Lights and that it's shot in Austin. This week's episode was a nail-biter and marked a major victory for Odell Grant who finally got his speaking part.

Still waiting to hear if the show will be picked up for a second season or shoot again in Austin, though I think a yes to both is a pretty safe bet.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

What got cut from my Chronicle column...

Uh, you might be confused by my FILM NEWS column in The Austin Chronicle this week.

Here are the twp paragraphs that got cut for space:

The Alamo Drafthouse has quickly developed a history of its own in 10 years. The Leagues fresh from a failed theater venture in Bakersfield, CA, opened the movie/food/drink experience as a venue for second-run films. Karrie handled the books and hired the staff. Tim was in charge of programming and marketing. That changed when they took over the former Village theaters, and it changed radically when they sold the franchise rights, retaining the downtown, Village and South Lamar theaters.

"We're still filmheads," League said, assuring patrons that events like Fantastic Fest and the Rolling Road Show will continue. Oh, speaking of the Rolling Road Show, expect this year's summer vacation edition to begin and end in Texas while traveling 8,000 miles across this great nation. Confirmed screenings include Deliverance on that thar river mentioned above, and Goldfinger at Fort Knox. How cool is that?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The elusive blurb

One of the painful things about having a novel published is having to ask people to write "blurbs"--those brief comments that go mainly on the back cover. What it comes down to is you're asking grownups to do homework with a big chunk of required reading. Here are my latest from two very generous people:

Reading Evacuation Plan is akin to unwrapping a series of small perfectly-chosen presents. Both human and humane, The book resembles a modern Spoon River Anthology with its vivid, touching glimpses into the lives of those in and around a hospice.

-- Tim McCanlies, writer/director Secondhand Lions, writer The Iron Giant

Joe O'Connell's Evacuation Plan--this Decameron of the hospice--encompasses a paradox. Death comes for everyone, but death is the only human universal because everyone dies, and witnesses dying, with private, unspeakable shame. Yet there are a few minutes left to speak. As
people die, they tell stories which spawn new stories, which remind us that death is agony, a violent struggle, but so is living.

-- Debra Monroe, Flannery O'Connor Award winning author of Newfangled and Shambles

Friday, March 23, 2007

Larry "Bud" Melman, we hardly knew ye

I got the sad news yesterday that my old pal Larry "Bud" Melman has passed into the ether at the age of 85.

If you've never heard of him, Larry--real name Calvert DeForest--was a regular on David Letterman's old NBC show, back when it was funny. I had my own strange tie to this odd, lumpy everyman, which you can see in the photo within a photo above.

In 1986, my pal Murray called and told me Melman was about to sign autographs at Steve's Ice Cream, a long forgotten place on the Drag near the University of Texas. When we got there, the place was mobbed. Larry was set up at the back of the room, while I leaned about the front counter. At the last minute, they decided to move him to right where I stood. I saw Mike Whiteley in the crowd (you know him as the announcer on Rollergirls) and handed him my camera. Click. That moment appeared on the television news that night and the next day my photo with him was in The Daily Texan.

Flash forward to 1994. I heard on the radio that Larry would be at the Waterloo Brewing Co. (also long gone) at noon. I was there. But no one else was but a television reporter. Larry's 15 minutes of fame was over. He signed my photo from that previous encounter, and the TV guy asked me to stick around to be interviewed for the local newscast, again.

Both photos served as my Christmas cards.

I'd hoped for a a new photo for a new decade and tried to track down Larry a few months ago. I left a message at his agent's office, but it wasn't returned. I guess the last photo will have to be of me at Larry's graveside.

Bridge to parenthood

I saw a few really good films during the South By Southwest Film Festival. My favorite was Skills Like This for it's humor, honest and drive.

But the best film I've seen lately is Bridge to Terabithia, which I went into with no preconceptions. I hadn't read the book. I'd only heard enough of a review to have a vauge idea it would be worth seeing. I only went because of the two films showing at the historic, inexpensive and very cool Howard Theatre in Taylor near my house it was the most promising.

I was blown away.

Trailers for the film try to make it look like some Narnia-esque fantasy romp, but it was far from that. Instead it's about arty outcasts who develop a friendship based on their verdant imaginations.

I'm about two weeks or so from becoming a Dad, and this was a welcome reminder to think with the open, swirling mind of a child. I'll try to remember...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Incentives, SXSW in my latest 'Chronicle' column

Check out the latest in my FILM NEWS column in The Austin Chronicle.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Following the bouncing blog

For the next few days I'll be blogging about SXSW on the Austin Chronicle blog.

Ann-Margret cracks the whip

Read my story from the Dallas Morning News about Ann-Margret, Ann Richards and the Texas Film Hall of Fame. Let's just say like fine wine she is aging well.

Latest on incentives..;.

Check out my latest Dallas Morning News SHOT IN TEXAS column for a little on the House hearing on incentives.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Cover story for SXSW

I was intrigued to talk to Alejandro Gomez Monteverde for this week's Austin Chronicle cover story. Check it out, and say hi if you see me wandering around the South By Southwest Film Festival!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Film incentives hearing

Tuesday a Texas House committee heard testimony on the film incentives bill, which seeks $10 million a year for two years. The Texas Motion Picture Alliance (the group of film workers formed to push the incentives) actually wants $30 million a year.

How will they convince the Lege? Looks like keeping TV shows Prison Break and Friday Night Lights shooting in Texas will be the selling point.

Stay tuned, and read my column Friday in the Dallas Morning News for more.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Hearing set on film incentives

Word came down Wednesday afternoon that the Texas House will conduct a hearing on the incentives plan next Tuesday afternoon. I've also learned that the Texas Motion Picture Alliance is pushing for the $10 million proposed for each of two year be upped to $30 million.

You can read more about the incentives bill in my latest FILM NEWS column in The Austin Chronicle. I'll be writing about the hearing next week in my Dallas Morning News column.