Saturday, July 31, 2010

'Psychobilly' and Gary Kent collide

I spent Friday night outside a raucous nightclub near Paleface Park where the bikers were revving their engines, a blues band was playing passable Stevie Ray Vaughan covers and a fight was slowly breaking out. The fight in question was part of Psychobilly Saturday Night, Lane Law's local independent film staging a scene that would shoot later in the evening. Famed stuntman Gary Kent helped block out the scene and offers tips from his long career. Camera jockey Jacob Peirce and I did our best to catch the action for the documentary I've been slowly putting together on Gary and his illustrious stunt career.

Friday, July 30, 2010

'Mandy Lane' may finally get release?

Yes, I loved All the Boys Love Mandy Lane when it screened at the South By Southwest Film Festival in 2007. Shot is Bastrop, it seemed to me an update on Heathers mixed with the sort of horror film that has come back in vogue in the last decade or so. And star Amber Heard, an Austin native, shines in the film, which was inexplicably shelved by the Weinsteins.

But the film got a secret screening at Comic-Con recently and there are hints it may finally get a release in the U.S. (It's already out on DVD overseas). Thanks for the tip from

Mandy Lane
director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) told me in 2007 that he looked for inspiration from two very Texas efforts, the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and NBC's series Friday Night Lights, as well as John Hughes' teen films from the 1980s.

"We thought it was interesting to take that [teen film] model and graft a horror film onto it," Levine said.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

'Tree of Life' doesn't grow (yet) in Venice

The Venice Film Festival announced most of its competition films today. Not included was Terrence Malick's Texas-shot Tree of Life starring Brad Pitt. But there is still hope: The fest's surprise “in-competition” film, won’t be announced until Sept. 6.

Making the Venice list was Robert Rodriguez's Austin-shot Machete, the film that came from a fake film trailer.

'Lone Star' tries to go viral

Lone Star's Adrianne Palicki, James Wolk and Eloise Mumford

Fox is doing some interesting early promotion to get the word out on new Dallas-shot series Lone Star (see info on being an extra below). That includes putting DVDS of the first episode in issues of Vanity Fair, and a glitzy premiere of the show last week at The Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles. (Here are photos of the cast from the event--including a now-dark-haired Adrianne Palicki (Palicki talks about a return to Friday Night Lights here).

Other avenues include cruise ships and hotels. Plus Vanity Fair will also stream Lone Star through its iPad app.

Note that the show's title again is two words instead of Lonestar. The pilot shot as Midland. Why can't TV shows pick one name and stick with it?

Here's a description of the show:
“Robert/Bob Allen” (newcomer James Wolk) is a charismatic and brilliant schemer juggling two identities and two women. As "Bob," he lives in Houston and is married to "Cat" (Adrianne Palicki, Friday Night Lights), the beautiful daughter of “Clint” (Jon Voight, 24, Midnight Cowboy), the patriarch of an ultra-wealthy Texas oil family. More than four hundred miles away in the suburban west Texas town of Midland, he's "Robert," living a second life with his naive girlfriend, “Lindsay” (Eloise Mumford, Mercy, Law & Order: SVU).

And here's the extras casting call for Friday:

Lone Star (FOX) starring Jon Voight, David Keith, and James Wolk is seeking the following extras for scenes shooting this Friday, July 30. If you fit the specs and are available, send photo and contact info to DO NOT SUBMIT IF YOU CAN'T COMMIT TO THE ENTIRE DAY!

Detective and Police Officer types - Men and Women late 20s-50s. All ethnicities. Previous law enforcement or military experience a plus, but not required.

Shoot Date:
Friday, July 30

Call Time:
TBD (you should make yourself available for the ENTIRE day which means morning,
afternoon and evening)


$58/8 plus time and half for overtime

Send you photo and contact info to

'Spy Kids 4' is in production?

I'm used to the secretiveness of the Robert Rodriguez camp (I even had to sign one of those ubiquitous confidentiality agreements when my nephew was an extra in the first Spy Kids), but it's always surprising how quiet the ramp up of production of a new film is. Here's a little hint from The Hollywood Reporter that the production of Spy Kids 4 is under way for the Weinstein Company with a release date set for August 2011. ( lists the complete title as Spy Kids 4: Armageddon.) I know that casting has been active. Anyone know anything else?

Here's what Rodriguez told me in May:

Rodriguez said the “Spy Kids” reboot is for the Weinstein Co. and will include new child secret agents with actors — whom he did not identify — already in line to play the roles.

“I thought it could be good to reboot my own series,” he said. “That's my most loyal audience — not the film geeks, but the kids.”

The film's script already has been turned in.

“The Spy Kids Division has been closed down seven years ago,” Rodriguez said. “We will see some of the characters from the previous films.”

Friday, July 23, 2010

'Chaos' TV series lives, but probably not in North Texas

Here's the latest in the on-again, off-again, now on-again sage of the TV series Chaos via my Dallas Morning News column. Word now is the series is on, but probably won't shoot in North Texas.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Extras for Austin-shot 'My Generation'

I get a lot of questions about how to become an extra on Austin-shot ABC series My Generation. The answer these days is almost always, go to Facebook. On Location Casting is handling extras chores for the series (and a lot of other shoots) with info there first. For instance, they've got a rush call for TODAY for 9-11-year-old extras. Yes, you're probably already too late!

Speaking of My Generation. Here's the cast: Michael Stahl-David as Steven Foster, Jaime King as Jacqueline Fox, Keir O'Donnell as Kenneth Finley, Kelli Garner as Dawn Barbuso, Mehcad Brooks as Rolly Marks, Daniella Alonso as Brenda Serrano, Julian Morris as Anders Holt, Sebastian Sozzi as The Falcon, Anne Son as Caroline Chung, and Elizabeth Kenner in a recurring role.

Extras needed for 'Seven Days in Utopia'

This just in from Sarah Dowling Casting about the film Seven Days in Utopia. The interesting part is Robert Duvall is in the mix:

Seven Days in Utopia based on the inspirational novel by David Cook will be filming in Fredericksburg July 29th - August 10th. The film stars Robert Duvall and Lucas Black.

We are looking for:

If you live in FREDERICKSBURG or surrounding areas, we are coming to you:
Saturday, July 17th from 1:00PM–7:00PM
Sunday, July 18th from 1:00PM-6:00PM

Inn on Baron's Creek
Walch Haus Conference Center
308 South Washington Street, Fredericksburg, TX 78624

For driving directions, lodging, and dining information, please call the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau at (830)-997-6523 or visit their website at

The casting call will consist of a brief talk with a member of the casting team and possibly an interview on camera. Please bring a non-returnable photo!

No appointment is necessary. If interested, please simply report to the casting venue. If you have any questions, you may reach us at (830) 965-6601 or email us at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book-signing hell: Nobody's there

Parnell Hall is a mystery writer, and he has a tough lesson to offer on becoming an author. Welcome to book-signing hell. (A tip of the hat to author Karen Harrington.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Remembering 'Mockingbird' and an old friend

I was asked this week to participate in a 50th birthday event for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. I'll be reading an essay and a brief passage from the book Sunday night at 7 p.m. at Austin's BookPeople.

Today, I went to KUT studios to read the essay for broadcast in a few minutes. You can either read or listen to it here (scroll down for the sound file). It involves an old friend I've never forgotten.

It was a lot of fun, both writing the piece and going into the studio to read it.

Here's the essay in written form.
(On the air, they used the first paragraph as an intro):

I've been thinking a lot this week about the book To Kill a Mockingbird and my old friend Jennifer Manley. Jennifer was a pretty girl I met on the bus at Austin High School a million years ago. To Kill a Mockingbird was the book we all had to read in school. It was supposed to guide us down the path to adulthood.

I remember Jennifer's smile the most. She had braces and thick auburn hair. She was tall and glowed with innocence as she grinned out at the awkward in-betweenness of high school. Jennifer had moved to Austin from the Midwest and knew no one at Austin High. She seemed baffled by her place among the cliques—the stoners by the tennis courts, the cowboys at the front entrance, the West Austin socialites on the second floor.

My memories of her are fragments: At her house with my girlfriend Julie as “Don't Fear the Reaper” played on the radio in the background. The three of us sliding through the fence to frolic in the swimming pool at a mausoleum-like mansion next door. Me acting on impulse and kissing Jennifer one night after giving her a ride home, and Jennifer coming clean about it the next day to Julie. In college, a chance meeting with Jennifer at an Austin nightclub called The Still. She and I, old friends, dancing with the pure abandon of youth.

Jennifer's funeral one month later.

The newspaper clipping of her death is yellowed and fits in the palm of my hand: “Jennifer Neil Manley was killed in an automobile accident Saturday in Iowa. Two other persons were injured in the crash, one of them critically.”

Five years later, Jennifer's youngest brother Carter died in an Austin car crash.

“Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Atticus tells his daughter, who then asks Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

To Kill a Mockingbird to me is about the innocence of youth and how quickly it can be snuffed out. Jennifer and her brother died too young, and I wonder about the adults they could have become. Scout is like Jennifer, an innocent dancing close to the edge of disaster and adulthood. She meets the unknown in the form of Boo Radley, and is expected to fear him. The story is all about that fear—the fear of losing your grip on the steering wheel of life, the fear of change and growth, the fear of what lies ahead.

It is fear that too often paralyzes us as we grow up. We fear those who are different. We fear the ticking clock of our lives. We fear learning and trying.

Jennifer read To Kill a Mockingbird in school. I did, too. This summer it's my nephew William Harvey's turn. It’s his first assignment for Austin High School's Academy for Global Studies. Soon he will take a seat on a bus much like the one on which Jennifer and I met long ago. He will try desperately to find his place in the world. Like school children have for 50 years, he will look into the pages of this book of youth and, I hope, realize, as Scout did, that, despite the fear and uncertainty of the future, every new day is a gift of adventure if we choose to embrace it. I urge my nephew to dance forward with an open mind and an open heart, and embrace the possibilities.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler nominated for Emmys

The series itself didn't get the love, but Friday Night Lights stars Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler both are nominated for Emmy Awards, it was announced this morning.

Read my recent Dallas Morning News column for more on Britton. I give her a good chance at a win. Chandler faces tougher competition, but don't count the coach out. Don't forget that he was previously Emmy nominated for his "explosive" guest spot on Grey's Anatomy. It's Britton's first nod.

The series also got a writing nomination for the episode "The Son," penned by Rolin Jones.

Austin-based casting director Beth Sepko was nominated for two Emmys--one for FNL and another for the Austin-shot HBO film Temple Grandin, which I finally watched this week. I give it four hooves up (kidding). Temple Grandin is up for best Outstanding Made-For-Television Movie and its star Claire Danes is up for best actress.

See the full list of nominees here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

John Lee Hancock plays ball with AMC

I totally missed word that John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Rookie, The Alamo) is on the verge of having a football-set series picked up by AMC. It couldn't happen to a nicer Baylor-trained former lawyer.

Here's the description via The Hollywood Reporter:

The Wreck, set in the world of Southern college football, centers on the high-profile head coach of a once-legendary team that has just finished a losing season. The school gives the coach one last chance to turn the team into winners or he's fired.

You've got to wonder how much the show will be inspired by Hancock's namesake father, the Coach, who died late last year.

Could this be the next Texas-shot football show as Friday Night Lights dims? Stay tuned.

'blacktino' gets in the high school pic mix

Some interesting names popping up in the cast of Elizabeth Avellán-produced blacktino, a low-budget film which is about to start lensing in Austin with Aaron Burns directing. The cast is mainly made up of relative unknowns, but also includes Danny Trejo (Machete), Jeff Fahey (Lost), Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids) and Michelle Rodriguez (Lost). If you note a few Robert Rodriguez film regulars on that list, it's not an accident. This is likely to be just the start of films produced by his ex-wife Avellán without his direct involvement.

They are seeking the following featured extras:

These roles have about nine scenes (including a killer house party), guaranteed camera time. No monetary compensation. Compensation will include meals, IMDB credit, and a free copy of the film upon completion. This would require a 3-5 day shooting commitment between July 12 and August 6 in Austin, Texas. We are primarily looking for DEDICATED teenage-looking actors who desire to build up their resume and work with industry professionals.
-"Fabulous Guy"- Male - Any Ethnicity
-"Stacy's Friend" - Female - Asian preferred, but will accept submissions from all ethnicities
-"The Marcelli Twins" - Any Gender - Any Ethnicity - IDENTICAL Twins

Here's the official movie description:

Plot: blacktino is a dark teen comedy about an overweight half-black, half-hispanic nerd named Stefan Daily. He was raised by his black grandmother in a medium sized suburb of Austin, TX. Struggling to find his place in a mostly white high school, Stefan finds sanctuary among the eclectic mix of social outcasts in the school's Theatre Department. In the tradition of the great teen comedies of the last thirty years “blacktino” will ensure that the torch of “teen angst” continues to burn bright.

For info on being an extra go here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The return of Beavis and Butt-Head?

It's in the totally unsubstantiated rumor stage, but this site swears Austin resident Mike Judge is on track to make 30 new Beavis and Butt-Head episodes and fire up the boys for MTV again. Does that prick your interest? (Heee heee! He said prick.)

Kyle Henry's 'Fourplay' come out

Fourplay, the long-gestating project from filmmaker Kyle Henry is about to get its controversial (we can only hope) first peek.

This just in from Austin filmmaker to watch Henry:

Fourplay, the quartet of short films about sexual intimacy that I'm directing (and that Carlos Treviño and Jessica Hedrick wrote), will launch this week with the premiere of the first installment "San Fransisco," on Friday, July 9 at OUTFEST in Los Angeles.

For more info about the film and its availability on-line via distributor IndiePix after next Tuesday, July 13, visit our website:

And if you want info about future play dates, parties, and much more, like our Facebook fanpage:

Hope you are having a great summer!


Kyle Henry

Oh, and you can watch a trailer for the "San Fransisco" segment here and Henry's film blog is here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The worst book ever

The blog Booking Through Thursday asks for this:

Name a book or author that you truly wanted to love but left you disappointed. (And, of course, explain why.)

I'm going to answer this with the worst book I ever read (this was many many years ago): Flowers in the Attic.

My sister is an avid reader who can devour a book in an hour or two. Growing up I frequently read her castoffs. This was one of those. It's about kids who live in the attic and have a very mean grandmother. I remember the author V.C. Andrews used the word lugubrious a lot. The characterization of females was so horrible I assumed the author had to be a man. Instead I discovered that Andrews was a woman who grew up in a wheelchair and felt, I suppose, a lot of the isolation those darn kids in the attic felt. She just wasn't able to get it down on paper in a believable fashion. I forced myself to finish reading the book, just so I could always note it as the worst book ever.

As a writer, I hesitate to rag on on a living author, but Andrews is resting in lugubrious peace. The worst thing about Andrews? She died and yet continued to pump out books. A ghostwriter took up the franchise and channeled her lugubrious ghost.