Friday, May 30, 2008

ENV: Circus of the Spineless Time!

Yep, time to get those submissions of your favorite posts over to Laurent!

Edition #33 (May 2008) will be at Seeds Aside.

Your submissions should be sent to: Laurent: seedsaside (at) gmail (dot) com


Coming up

Edition #34 (June 2008) will be at Gossamer Tapestry.

Your submissions will be due June 29, 2008 and you can send them to: Doug Taron at dtaron (at) gmail.com


and we're looking for hosts for July and beyond! contact tony g at hurricanetg(a)hotmail.com



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COM: Two good local theatre articles yesterday!

Be sure to check out Jeff's comments on GSQ in the first story . . .

Playhouse anticipates exciting summer
From staff reports, The Daily Times, Published May 29, 2008

After arriving from New York late last week, Austin Owen sat with Jeff Cunningham in the back of the Cailloux Theater watching the audition for this summer’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

The two of them discussed the excited energy in the theater community and agreed that this would be a “Golden summer of Hill Country Theater.”

When asked why that was, Cunningham had a long list of theatrical events both in the Cailloux and beyond that supported that claim.

“First of all,” he said, “Austin is here to work with the Playhouse Academy students on their first major summer musical and on their audition and performance pieces.”

Owen returned to Kerrville after five years of university and professional theater, most recently completing the national tour of “The Producers,” and is in town to teach at the academy, as well as portray Don Lockwood in Playhouse 2000’s next production of “Singin’ in the Rain,” which opens next week

Cunningham added that he was enthused by the auditions for “Willy Wonka …” and “Book of Ruth” — two shows that he said “are the largest we have ever seen at the Cailloux.”

More than 100 people, mostly children, auditioned. He added that Playhouse 2000 is committed that “no child who auditions for ‘Willy Wonka …’ will be turned away,” and director Jim Boman currently is putting together a cast of more than 60 actors. The “Book of Ruth,” a new work for women, he said, also saw a large turnout of new faces.

“The theater excitement is in no way limited to our theater,” Cunningham said, explaining that the Point Theatre’s upcoming “High School Musical,” with it’s huge cast of young performers and veteran director Melissa Moncus at the wheel, has all the kids in the community excited.

The Point’s “Quilters” and “Steel Magnolias” also have recruited a lot of talented Hill Country actresses, he said.

“Willy Wonka …” and “High School Musical” aren’t the only big cast shows for young people. The Hill Country Children’s Theater, well known for its massive casts of child actors is producing a show called “Bobby Sox,” making this one of Kerrville’s biggest summers for child actors in years.

Youth involvement and educational opportunities are on the rise this year, Cunningham said, adding that there’s been “generous help” from the community, especially since theater intern programs are on the rise.

“The number of high school and college-age students learning the craft of theater production is as big as it has been since I was a Point Theatre intern, and that was a long time ago.”

Add to that the recent run of the Guadalupe Stage Quartet’s “Death of a Salesman,” which won so much critical praise before it closed last week, and you have the beginning of theater season unlike any before.

“I have talked to folks across the spectrum” Cunningham said, “and everybody has loved ‘Death of a Salesman,’ even folks that haven’t traditionally enjoyed the piece.”

Playhouse 2000 staff members and their colleagues throughout the community encourage families, young people and anyone with an interest in the arts to take the opportunity this summer to be part of any of the multitude of Hill Country theater projects, noting that the abundance of performing arts in a community this size is a rare thing and requires interest and support on both sides of the curtain.

“Singin’ in the Rain” opens Thursday, June 5, at the Cailloux Theater. For tickets and information on all Cailloux shows, call the box office at 896-9393, ext. 226, or go to www.cailloux theater.com.


Talkin' Quilts
By Carlina Villalpando, The Daily Times, Published May 29, 2008

Tales of survival for pioneer women who traveled with their families to settle Texas come to life beginning tonight at the Point Theatre, where the play “Quilters” will run through June 14.

“Quilters” is a story about a pioneer woman and her daughters who share stories and songs through the creation of quilts. The play, by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, with music and lyrics by Damashek, has been described by Newsweek as “… a tender and moving theater work, a human patchwork rippling in the breeze of memory.”

The show likely is one of the most complex the Ingram theater ever has attempted. It features seven actresses who each play multiple parts — going from children in one scene to elderly women or even men in others.

Point Theatre executive director David Cockerell, who is directing “Quilters,” said the show has required intensive rehearsals and has pulled from some of the Hill Country’s best actresses, including Joan Bryson as Sarah, the mother in the play. Bryson was last seen in the Schreiner University production of “Quilters.”

“It’s taken extra dedication to be in this show,” Cockerell said. “There are places where there are seven-part harmony. These women have to be singers and actresses, and work with my interpretation. I’m just so pleased with them.”

The daughters will be played by Suzanne Edwards, Sonja Johnson, Rebecca Leggett, Maggie Meek, Nancy Reagan and Beverly Vincent.

Cockerell also is no stranger to “Quilters.” He directed the Point Theater’s production in 1988, during his tenure there as theater director from 1985-1990. He said he has been drawn to this play because of its depth, honesty and richness of human experience

“This is not all a happy play,” he said. “This is a story about survival. There are some extremely dramatic moments when these ladies deal with death and the loss of siblings and children.”

“That’s why this story always has touched me, because it always has told stories that are real,” he added. “It’s rich in that it’s so diverse in the stories, but that’s human life.”

Cockerell added that the use of actual quilt blocks to illustrate the 16 different parts to the “Quilters” story adds additional perspective to the women’s story. He said the Hill Country Arts Foundaiton women’s auxiliary created each quilt block, which are combined by the play’s end to create a large quilt that serves as the show’s backdrop.

He said he hopes those who come to see the show not only will leave moved by the women’s stories, but will have a greater understanding and appreciation for the art of quilting.

“It’s so interesting the stories that are told through quilts,” Cockerell said. “Quilting truly is a great American artform.”

Like the play, Cockerell said, quilts tell stories. Theater-goers who see the show tonight will have an added treat of attending a reception prior to the show’s start at 7:30 p.m. that will be held in the Duncan-McAshan Visual Arts Gallery, which currently is hosting The National Quilt Show, a display of contemporary art quilts.

There also will be a post-show reception immediately following the performance, when the audience will have a chance to meet the cast and crew.

“Quilters” will run through June 14 with shows at 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Summer season passes to attend all of the Point’s summer shows — “Quilters,” “Robin Hood,” June 20-July 5; “Disney’s High school Musical,” July 18-Aug. 2; and “Steel Magnolias,” Aug. 8-23 — are $40. The sale ends Sunday.

For reservations or more information, call the box office at 367-5121 or visit the web site at www.hcaf.com.



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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Harvey Korman of ‘Carol Burnett Show’ dies
Actor and comedian, 81, suffered aortic aneurysm 4 months ago
The Associated Press, updated 7:22 p.m. CT, Thurs., May. 29, 2008

LOS ANGELES - Harvey Korman, the tall, versatile comedian who won four Emmys for his outrageously funny contributions to “The Carol Burnett Show” and played a conniving politician to hilarious effect in “Blazing Saddles,” died Thursday. He was 81.

Korman died at UCLA Medical Center after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm four months ago, his family said. He had undergone several major operations.

“He was a brilliant comedian and a brilliant father,” daughter Kate Korman said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “He had a very good sense of humor in real life. “

Second banana
A natural second banana, Korman gained attention on “The Danny Kaye Show,” appearing in skits with the star. He joined the show in its second season in 1964 and continued until it was canceled in 1967. That same year he became a cast member in the first season of “The Carol Burnett Show.”

His most memorable film role was as the outlandish Hedley Lamarr (who was endlessly exasperated when people called him Hedy) in Mel Brooks’ 1974 Western satire, “Blazing Saddles.”

“A world without Harvey Korman — it’s a more serious world,” Brooks told the AP on Thursday. “It was very dangerous for me to work with him because if our eyes met we’d crash to floor in comic ecstasy. It was comedy heaven to make Harvey Korman laugh.”

On television, Burnett and Korman developed into the perfect pair with their burlesques of classic movies such as “Gone With the Wind” and soap operas like “As the World Turns” (their version was called “As the Stomach Turns”).

Another recurring skit featured them as “Ed and Eunice,” a staid married couple who were constantly at odds with the wife’s mother (a young Vicki Lawrence in a gray wig). In “Old Folks at Home,” they were a combative married couple bedeviled by Lawrence as Burnett’s troublesome young sister.

Korman revealed the secret to the long-running show’s success in a 2005 interview: “We were an ensemble, and Carol had the most incredible attitude. I’ve never worked with a star of that magnitude who was willing to give so much away.”

Burnett was devastated by Korman’s death, said her assistant, Angie Horejsi.

“She loved Harvey very much,” Horejsi said.

‘Dazzling’ comic talent
After 10 successful seasons, Korman left Burnett’s show in 1977 for his own series. Dick Van Dyke took his place, but the chemistry was lacking and the Burnett show was canceled two years later. “The Harvey Korman Show” also failed, as did other series starring the actor.

“It takes a certain type of person to be a television star,” he said in that 2005 interview. “I didn’t have whatever that is. I come across as kind of snobbish and maybe a little too bright. ... Give me something bizarre to play or put me in a dress and I’m fine.”

Brooks tapped Korman’s kinetic comic chops often, including roles in “High Anxiety,” “The History of the World Part I” and “Dracula: Dead and Loving It.”

“I gave him tongue twisters because I knew he was the only one who could wrap his mouth around them,” Brooks said. “Harvey was such a good solid actor that he could have done Shakespearean drama just as well and easily as he did comedy.”

Brooks described Korman as a “dazzling” comic talent.

“You could get rock-solid comedy out of him. He could lift the material. He always made it real, always made it work, always believed in characters he was doing,” he said.

Korman’s other films included two “Pink Panther” moves, “Trail of the Pink Panther” in 1982 and “Curse of the Pink Panther” in 1983; “Gypsy,” “Huckleberry Finn” (as the King), “Herbie Goes Bananas” and “Bud and Lou” (as legendary straightman Bud Abbott to Buddy Hackett’s Lou Costello).

In television, Korman guest-starred in dozens of series including “The Donna Reed Show,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Perry Mason,” “The Wild Wild West,” “The Muppet Show,” “The Love Boat” and “Burke’s Law.”

Korman and “Carol Burnett” co-star Tim Conway continued working together into their ’70s, touring the country with their show “Tim Conway and Harvey Korman: Together Again.” They did 120 shows a year, sometimes as many as six or eight in a weekend.

‘He fought until the very end’
Korman had an operation in late January on a non-cancerous brain tumor and pulled through “with flying colors,” Kate Korman said. Less than a day after coming home, he was re-admitted because of the ruptured aneurysm and was given a few hours to live. But he survived for another four months.

“He fought until the very end. He didn’t want to die. He fought for months and months,” said Kate Korman.

Harvey Herschel Korman was born Feb. 15, 1927, in Chicago. He left college for service in the U.S. Navy, resuming his studies afterward at the Goodman School of Drama at the Chicago Art Institute. After four years, he decided to try New York.

“For the next 13 years I tried to get on Broadway, on off-Broadway, under or beside Broadway,” he told a reporter in 1971.

He had no luck and had to support himself as a restaurant cashier. Finally, in desperation, he and a friend formed a nightclub comedy act.

“We were fired our first night in a club, between the first and second shows,” he recalled.

After returning to Chicago, Korman decided to try Hollywood, reasoning that “at least I’d feel warm and comfortable while I failed.”

For three years he sold cars and worked as a doorman at a movie theater. Then he landed the job with Kaye.

In 1960 Korman married Donna Elhart and they had two children, Maria and Christopher. They divorced in 1977. Two more children, Katherine and Laura, were born of his 1982 marriage to Deborah Fritz.

In addition to his daughter Kate, he is survived by his wife and the three other children.


Harvey Korman made us - and himself - laugh

by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2008 4:24 PM

Harvey Korman, who died today at age 81, appeared in a number of big-name movies, from "Blazing Saddles" to "High Anxiety" (not to mention his voiceover work as The Great Gazoo, or his role in the infamous "Star Wars Holiday Special"). But to a large contingent of fans, he will be remembered as much for how he made himself laugh as for how he made us laugh.

"The Carol Burnett Show" was a highlight of my childhood TV watching. I still remember taking a clunky old tape recorder and pushing it up to the TV to record the show so I could listen to my favorite sketches over and over. (Yes, young folks, this was before we had VCRs and TiVo.) Burnett was the leader, but Korman, Tim Conway and Burnett lookalike Vicki Lawrence were a rock-steady supporting cast.

"Carol Burnett" never went for the low blow, the tasteless joke. The comedians were adults, and came across as such. The infamous "Gone With the Wind" parody and the occasional sketch where a harried homeowner faced down a houseful of product mascots (flushing the Ty-D-Bowl Man, for one) were a precursor to the snarky parodies "Saturday Night Live" would become famous for.

Korman will be remembered for many individual roles -- Eunice's husband Ed on the Mama's Family skits included. He could play a rural American or a snooty British prince with the same ease. He had an imposing stature and voice, but within seconds, his face and body could relax into a comedic doughiness. It's said that "Brady Bunch" star Robert Reed regularly complained about how ludicrous that comedy's plots were and tried to get creator Sherwood Schwartz to change them. You got the feeling Korman would never think himself above a joke...if it was funny, if it made people laugh, he could pull it off.

But when I think of him on the show, the first thing I think of is his inimitable partnership with fellow cast member Tim Conway. There's a famed sketch where Conway plays a novice dentist and Korman his poor patient. Conway tries to follow instructions from a book as he tends to Korman, and ends up numbing his own hand and leg with novocaine. This leads to classic Conway slapstick as he tries to perform dental work with an unresponsive hand.

Korman begins the skit as the classic straight man, but very quickly starts to give in to Conway's mugging. He tries covering his laughter with his hand at first, but slowly he starts to shake and giggle. He manages to grab back his serious mien a few times, but by the end, he's just about sinking out of the dental chair into a puddle of laughter on the floor. I suppose today we might view the onscreen crackup as unprofessional, but it never even occurred to me to view it that way then. It was just a tribute to the show that even those who'd presumably read the lines a dozen times and rehearsed the scenes over and over could still be driven to uncontrollable laughter by them.

That's how Korman, Conway, Lawrence and Burnett always came off...they were professionals, but they weren't on any kind of "Actors' Studio" pedestal. They reminded you of your friends, or your parents' friends, or your funny uncle and aunt...who lived to laugh and were determined to get you cracking up right along with them.

It was comedy you could watch with the kids and with the grandparents, but it never felt dumbed down in order to reach such a broad audience. Korman's death reminds me how much I miss that kind of comedy. He, too, will be missed.


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COM: Quilters opening

On The Point Stage:
Quilters Opens Friday, May 30

Our first production of the 2008 summer season, "Quilters," opens on the outdoor stage Friday at 8:30 p.m. Directed by David Cockerell, "Quilters" is a musical about a pioneer woman and her daughters sharing stories and songs through their beautiful handmade quilts.

Opening night includes a pre-show reception in the Duncan-McAshan Visual Arts Gallery and a post-show reception to meet the cast and crew. Opening weekend also includes performances on Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1.

The play, by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek with lyrics and music by Barbara Damashek, runs for three weeks through June 14. "Quilters" is based on the book "The Quilters: Women and Domestic Art," by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Allen.

Quilters has been described by Newsweek as "...a tender and moving theatre work, a human patchwork rippling in the breeze of memory." The original Broadway production earned six Tony nominations including Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score.

The Point cast includes Joan Bryson, Suzanne Edwards, Sonja Johnson, Rebecca Leggett, Maggie Meek, Nancy Reagan, and Beverly A. Vincent.

Cockerell is no stranger to "Quilters" as he directed it in 1988 during his tenure as theatre director from 1985-1990 at The Point. Most recently, he directed The Point's production of "Cinderella" in the summer of 2006. For the best seating, call the Box Office now at 830-367-5121.



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NAT: Amazonians newly detected

Uncontacted Amazon tribe photographed
Images show Indians painted bright red, brandishing bows and arrows
By Stuart Grudgings, Reuters, updated 6:38 p.m. CT, Thurs., May. 29, 2008

RIO DE JANEIRO - Amazon Indians from one of the world's last uncontacted tribes have been photographed from the air, with striking images released on Thursday showing them painted bright red and brandishing bows and arrows.

The photographs of the tribe near the border between Brazil and Peru are rare evidence that such groups exist. A Brazilian official involved in the expedition said many of them are in increasing danger from illegal logging.

"What is happening in this region is a monumental crime against the natural world, the tribes, the fauna and is further testimony to the complete irrationality with which we, the 'civilized' ones, treat the world," Jose Carlos Meirelles was quoted as saying in a statement by the Survival International group.

One of the pictures, which can be seen on Survival International's Web site (www.survival-international.org), shows two Indian men covered in bright red pigment poised to fire arrows at the aircraft while another Indian looks on.

Another photo shows about 15 Indians near thatched huts, some of them also preparing to fire arrows at the aircraft.

"The world needs to wake up to this, and ensure that their territory is protected in accordance with international law. Otherwise, they will soon be made extinct," said Stephen Corry, the director of Survival International, which supports tribal people around the world.

Of more than 100 uncontacted tribes worldwide, more than half live in either Brazil or Peru, Survival International says. It says all are in grave danger of being forced off their land, killed and ravaged by new diseases.

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COM: Singin' in the Rain!

Great new show starting June 5th at Cailloux Theatre. Singin' in the Rain, starring Austin Owen, Tara Pannell and Jake Asbury will be something i think i can easily recommend before it ever hits the stage. Austin is an old friend, was fantastic here several years ago in shows like Big River, and has gone on to national acclaim in two years of playing the lead in the National Tour of The Producers. He record3ed his fantastic new CD here at the Ranch studio. In addition to being a phenomenal talent, he is just a wonderful, wonderful human being. Combined i think he's perfect for the role, and also as a mentor at the Playhouse Theatre Academy. Please fit a show date into your schedule.

Here's a Facebook Event Page with more details: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=14541247458

and here's a great clip of rehearsal, just to give you a taste: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=503567411461&oid=14541247458


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ATH: USA v England

WASHINGTON, DC (May 28, 2008) USSoccerPlayers -- The United States couldn't find a way to break down England's defending in the final third on Wednesday, losing 2-0 at Wembley Stadium. John Terry scored England's opener in the 38th minute from a David Beckham freekick, and Steven Gerrard got their second in the 59th with an assist from Gareth Barry.

It was the United States pushing the offense early, but without Landon Donovan they were unable to get good service to starting forwards Josh Wolff and Eddie Johnson. Though the work rate was high, the chances didn't follow.

"Overall, I thought that the first 30 minutes we dealt pretty well with the speed of the game," Bob Bradley said. "As we moved on in the half, certainly we hurt ourselves with giving away some fouls around the box to a dangerous team on set pieces, and they took advantage of that. In the second half there was an attempt to push a level up on our end, but we couldn't sustain enough pressure, and in that regard England on the night was quite good."

With England working the counter attack and winning fouls in good positions, they finally capitalized with the Terry goal in the 38th.

US coach Bob Bradley switched goalkeepers at the half, bringing on Brad Guzan for Tim Howard. England also changed things up, opting for long balls into space as they tried to get Wayne Rooney involved in the attack. That never really worked for them, but Jermain Defoe and Steven Gerrard did their parts to make up.

Gerrard especially was responsible for several dangerous chances, and he finally broke through courtesy of a Gareth Barry pass in the 59th, two minutes after Barry entered the game.

With the game settling and the substitutions from both sides changing the flow, Freddy Adu and Eddie Lewis were subbed in for the US in the 68th minute. Both players responded by giving the US offense a push that led to sustained attacks for the first time in the game. The US started getting better looks and finished five to four on corner kicks.

Landon Donovan and Jonathan Spector were unavailable for the US due to injury. David Beckham was subbed out at halftime for England. Both coaches used the maximum of six substitutes, with England's bench 17 players deep.

The US returns to action next Wednesday at 5pm ET on ESPN2 against Spain in Santander.

-- Game Report --

Match-up: USA vs. England
Date: May 28, 2008
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Wembley Stadium – London, England
Kickoff: 8 p.m. GMT
Attendance: 71,233
Weather: 57 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary:
1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
ENG 1 1 2

Scoring:
ENG – John Terry (David Beckham) 38th minute.
ENG – Steven Gerrard (Gareth Barry) 59.

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard (18-Brad Guzan, 46); 6-Steve Cherundolo (27-Frankie Hejduk, 46), 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (Capt.), 12-Heath Pearce; 8-Clint Dempsey, 13-Ricardo Clark (26-Maurice Edu, 78), 4-Michael Bradley, 7-DaMarcus Beasley (11-Eddie Lewis, 68); 9-Eddie Johnson (14-Nate Jaqua, 89), 16-Josh Wolff (19-Freddy Adu, 68)
Subs not used 2-Dan Califf
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

ENG: 1-David James; 2-Wes Brown (13-Glen Johnson, 58), 6-John Terry (capt.), 3-Ashley Cole (14-Wayne Bridge, 83), 5-Rio Ferdinand; 7-David Beckham (17-David Bentley, 46), 4-Owen Hargreaves, 8-Frank Lampard (21-Gareth Barry, 57), 10-Steven Gerrard; 9-Jermain Defoe (25-Peter Crouch, 68), 11-Wayne Rooney (22-Joe Cole, 79)
Subs not used: 12-Joe Hart, 15-Stephen Warnock, 16-Jonathan Woodgate, 18-Phil Jagielka, 19-David Wheater, 20-Tom Huddlestone, 23-Stewart Downing, 24-Ashley Young, , 26-Dean Ashton, 27-Theo Walcott, 28-Gabriel Agbonlahor, 29-Joe Lewis
Head Coach: Fabio Capello

Stats Summary:
USA / ENG
Shots 9 / 16
Saves 3 / 2
Corner Kicks 5 / 4
Fouls 21 / 23
Offside 3 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Steve Cherundolo (caution) 44th minute.
USA – Heach Pearce (caution) 71.
ENG – Wayne Rooney (caution) 76.

Officials:
Referee: Kyros Vassaras (GRE)
First Asst.: Dimitrios Bozaizides (GRE)
Second Asst.: Dimitrios Saraidaris (GRE)
Fourth Official: Peter Walton (ENG)

Game Report courtesy of US Soccer Communications

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

COM: Suhweet!

Cool "things"

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/05/26/beautiful-and-original-product-designs

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COM: Yea Jeanne!!

Tops in 2008
From staff reports, The Daily Times, Published May 28, 2008

Tivy valedictorian Robert Schulte and salutatorian Jeanne Eckhart only wanted to finish in the top 10 percent of their class and be accepted into good colleges.

They both did their jobs a little too well.

Schulte will attend the University of Texas next fall, with Eckhart heading to Texas A&M at College Station.

When asked what this accomplishment meant to both, they shrugged their shoulders and laughed, saying, “it means we can get on with our lives.”

As for getting on with their lives, Schulte wants to major in business and eventually go to graduate school. Eckhart would like to pursue a degree in environmental geosciences, eventually going to grad school, as well.

“My favorite subject in high school was economics,” Schulte said. “Or anything other than English.”

Tivy principal Robert Jolly said, “These are two of the finest individuals I’ve met in my career. They are both extremely dedicated to their future, their friends and their families. I’m very proud of both of them, as well as this entire group of seniors — they have been a pleasure to serve and I wish them all the luck in the world.”

Along with their academic accomplishments, both of these graduates also excelled in extracurricular activities.

Schulte was a four-year baseball player and served on his church’s youth group. Eckhart played varsity softball and volleyball and was active in student council.

“I’ve known each of these students since they were in elementary school,” said guidance counselor Kendall Young. “These students, along with the rest of their senior class, have been respectful, classy and have shown great leadership ability. Robert and Jeanne have been special people — very intelligent, but also extremely well rounded.”

Both students were quick to give their parents, school administrators and counselors credit for getting them to where they are today.

Robert is the son of Steve and Catherine Schulte.

Jeanne is the daughter of William and Sherry Eckhart.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

OBT: Darryl Masters

Darryl William Masters

ROUND ROCK — It is with profound sadness that we as a whole family have lost a Loving Husband, a wonderful Dad, the world’s greatest Grandpa and a true authentic friend to many.

Darryl was such an embedded loved part of his family, and his sudden passing is both a deep loss and a rich reminder of just how special he was.

Darryl William Masters passed away at 61 years of age at his home in Round Rock, Texas. Darryl was born Feb. 15, 1947, in Comanche, Texas. He grew up in the Houston area, where he spent much of his time on a cattle ranch roping and riding. Darryl graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School, and following graduation, he entered the Air Force, where he served for four years both state side and abroad. Following his time in the service, Darryl moved to the Hill Country to be near family who lived in Harper and Fredericksburg. Darryl settled in Kerrville, where he met Alta, his wife of 32 years. For the majority of their marriage, they resided in Kerrville, Texas.

Darryl was very active in the community with coaching Little Dribblers basketball as well as coaching the AYSO soccer league. Darryl’s impression on the kids he worked with in the youth sports leagues carried on through many years. He stayed close to many of them, and they stayed in contact with him up until his passing. Darryl’s passion was his family as he considered those moments the most valuable. In all things they were involved with he was right there with them, and he always went out of his way to invest his time in spending it with his family. Darryl loved the game of golf and used it as a vehicle for spending quality time with his sons and close friends. Darryl brought love and joy to many, and we have truly been honored and blessed to have been part of his life.

Darryl is survived by his wife, Alta Masters of Round Rock; his mother, Laura Walker of Harper; his children, Chase Masters and wife, Erica, of Cedar Creek, Brian Masters and wife, Gina, of Austin, Becky Collins and husband, Chad, of Crowley; grandchildren, Kade, Kole and Kamry Masters, and Annabeth, Maddy and Macey Collins; brothers Scott Senior of Harper and Verlon Masters and wife, Mary, of Pipe Creek.

Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 31, at Faith Baptist Church in Round Rock, Texas. A meal will follow this memorial.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the AYSO soccer organization in Kerrville, Texas.

Arrangements are under the direction of Beck Funeral Home, 4765 Priem Lane, Pflugerville, Texas; (512) 259-1610.

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COM Jerry Mertz sends the funniest stuff . . .

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Monday, May 26, 2008

OBT: Sydney Pollack

Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack dies of cancer at age 73
The Associated Press, LOS ANGELES

Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack, who achieved commercial and critical success with the gender-bending comedy "Tootsie" and the period drama "Out of Africa, has died. He was 73.

Pollack died of cancer Monday afternoon at his home in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, surrounded by family, said agent Leslee Dart.

Pollack, who occasionally appeared on the screen himself, worked with and gained the respect of Hollywood's best actors in a long career that reached prominence in the 1970s and 1980s.

Last fall, he played Marty Bach opposite George Clooney in "Michael Clayton," which Pollack also co-produced. The film received seven Oscar nominations, including best picture and a best actor nod for Clooney.

In recent years, Pollack produced many independent films with filmmaker Anthony Minghella and a production company Mirage Enterprises.

The Lafayette, Ind. native was born to first-generation Russian-Americans.

In high school, he fell in love with theater, a passion that prompted him forego college and move to New York and enroll in the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater.

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COM: Lyle on Texas Monthly Talks

Thanks a million to Louie Bond for pointing me to this interview with Lyle Lovett on Texas Monthly Talks. It was done a couple weeks ago while he was in Austin for his tour with Joe Ely and Guy Clark and John Hyatt, a show i brokenheartedly missed for rehearsals here for Salesman. Anyway, fine, fine look at my friend.

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REV: Cannes Winners

French film wins Cannes' top prize

CANNES, France (AP) -- The French film "The Class," a frank tale about classroom life using real students and teachers at a junior high school, won top honors Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival.

Directed by Laurent Cantet, "The Class" ("Entre les Murs") was the first French film to win the main prize, the Palme d'Or, at Cannes since "Under Satan's Sun" in 1987. The docudrama was shot in a raw, improvisational style to chronicle the drama that unfolds over one school year.

The win was a unanimous decision among the nine-member Cannes jury, said Sean Penn, who headed the panel.

"The movie that we wanted to make had to resemble French society, had to be multifaceted, a bit teeming, complex, and had to sometimes portray frictions that the film didn't try to erase," Cantet said.

Italian films won the second-place grand prize and third-place jury prize. Matteo Garrone's "Gomorrah," a study of the criminal underworld in Naples, took the grand prize, while Paolo Sorrentino's "Il Divo," a lively portrait of former Premier Giulio Andreotti, won the jury award.

Benicio Del Toro won Cannes' best-actor prize for "Che," Steven Soderbergh's four-hour-plus epic about Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara. Presented as two films, "Che" follows Guevara and Fidel Castro's triumphant guerrilla campaign to overthrow Cuba's government in the late 1950s and Guevara's downfall and execution after trying to foment a similar rebellion in Bolivia in the 1960s.

Del Toro, who co-starred in Penn's "21 Grams," also won in a unanimous jury vote, Penn said.

"I'd like to dedicate this to the man himself, Che Guevara," said Del Toro. He also thanked Soderbergh, "who got up every day, forced me to this. ... He was there pushing it, and he pushed all of us."

Soderbergh directed Del Toro to the supporting-actor Oscar for 2000's "Traffic."

Sandra Corveloni was chosen as best actress for "Linha de Passe," in which she plays the mother of four brothers struggling to make better lives for themselves in a Brazilian slum. It was her first role in a feature film.

Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan was named best director for "Three Monkeys," which centers on a father who takes the rap for his employer's crime in exchange for financial support for his wife and son, only to have the scheme backfire amid bitter repercussions.

Belgian siblings Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, two-time winners of the Palme d'Or, received the screenplay prize for "Lorna's Silence," about an immigrant woman who enters a sham marriage to gain Belgian citizenship.

The prize for a film by a first-time director went to British filmmaker Steve McQueen's "Hunger," set at a Northern Ireland prison where IRA volunteer Bobby Sands and other inmates seeking Irish independence staged a hunger strike in 1981.

The Cannes jury awarded special prizes to Clint Eastwood, who directed the competition film "Changeling," and Catherine Deneuve, who appeared in two films at Cannes this year.

Eastwood was shut out for key prizes with "Changeling," his warmly received missing-child drama starring Angelina Jolie.

Eastwood, who delivered two best-picture and director Academy Award recipients with "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby," has never won top honors at Cannes after five times in competition there since 1985.

Jury president Penn won the best-actor Oscar for Eastwood's "Mystic River," which was shut out for prizes at Cannes five years ago.

"There was a field of such powerful, emotional, moving movies, performances. There was so many times that we thought, it just can't get better," Penn said.

Critics judged the Cannes lineup more harshly, however. While Cannes presented few outright bombs this time, critics found the films a bit tepid.

Last year's competition included such films as Joel and Ethan Coen's "No Country for Old Men," which went on to win the best-picture Academy Award, and Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's animated coming-of-age tale "Persepolis," which was nominated for the animation Oscar.

A film from Kazakhstan, Sergey Dvortsevoy's "Tulpan," won a secondary competition called "Un Certain Regard." "Tulpan" is the story of an aspiring shepherd on the isolated Kazakh steppes who must wed before he can enter his chosen trade but is refused by the only prospective bride because she thinks his ears are too big.

Bosnian director Aida Begic's "Snow," a drama about villagers struggling with the decision to leave their war-ravaged town, won top honors in another Cannes competition overseen by critics.

After the awards ceremony, the festival closed with the premiere of Barry Levinson's "What Just Happened?", starring Robert De Niro, Bruce Willis and Penn in the tale of a fading Hollywood producer trying to rejuvenate his career amid personal and professional crises.

"What Just Happened?" came full circle: A year ago, Levinson and his collaborators were at Cannes filming scenes for the movie.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

MSC: Texas Star Finals

Chris Wick let me know that Ethan Terry (they have a band together - Katurian) would be playing a talent show at the Texas Arts & Crafts Fair this weekend, but i didn't think to check a schedule, thought i'd catch him on Sunday. Well it turns out i missed a good day Saturday, and unfortunately Ethan didn't advance. But because of a hint from Casey Hubble, i did get in on the finals and managed to film a good portion of it, including both of Casey's songs. I've now posted both of those on YouTube (just click on the embeds below), as well as one of The Wolf Sisters, and a compilation clip of all the finalists. Some very fine music in our burg today!











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OBT: Dick Martin

TV's 'Laugh-in' comic Dick Martin dies
Half of comedy team whose show made stars of Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin

The Associated Press, updated 11:31 p.m. CT, Sat., May. 24, 2008

LOS ANGELES - Dick Martin, the zany half of the comedy team whose "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" took television by storm in the 1960s, making stars of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin and creating such national catch-phrases as "Sock it to me!" has died. He was 86.

Martin, who went on to become one of television's busiest directors after splitting with Dan Rowan in the late 1970s, died Saturday night of respiratory complications at a hospital in Santa Monica, family spokesman Barry Greenberg said.

"He had had some pretty severe respiratory problems for many years, and he had pretty much stopped breathing a week ago," Greenberg said.

Martin had lost the use of one of his lungs as a teenager, and needed supplemental oxygen for most of the day in his later years.

He was surrounded by family and friends when he died just after 6 p.m., Greenberg said.

Ground-breaking comedy
"Laugh-in," which debuted in January 1968, was unlike any comedy-variety show before it. Rather than relying on a series of tightly scripted song-and-dance segments, it offered up a steady, almost stream-of-consciousness run of non-sequitur jokes, political satire and madhouse antics from a cast of talented young actors and comedians that also included Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, Jo Anne Worley and announcer Gary Owens.

Presiding over it all were Rowan and Martin, the veteran nightclub comics whose standup banter put their own distinct spin on the show.

Like all straight men, Rowan provided the voice of reason, striving to correct his partner's absurdities. Martin, meanwhile, was full of bogus, often risque theories about life, which he appeared to hold with unwavering certainty.

Against this backdrop, audiences were taken from scene to scene by quick, sometimes psychedelic-looking visual cuts, where they might see Hawn, Worley and other women dancing in bathing suits with political slogans, or sometimes just nonsense, painted on their bodies. Other times, Gibson, clutching a flower, would recite nonsensical poetry or Johnson would impersonate a comical Nazi spy.

'You bet your sweet bippy'
"Laugh-In" astounded audiences and critics alike. For two years the show topped the Nielsen ratings, and its catchphrases_ "Sock it to me," "You bet your sweet bippy" and "Look that up in your Funk and Wagnall's" — were recited across the country.

Stars such as John Wayne and Kirk Douglas were delighted to make brief appearances, and even Richard Nixon, running for president in 1968, dropped in to shout a befuddled sounding, "Sock it to me!" His opponent, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, was offered equal time but declined because his handlers thought it would appear undignified.

Rowan and Martin landed the show just as their comedy partnership was approaching its zenith and the nation's counterculture was expanding into the mainstream.

The two were both struggling actors when they met in 1952. Rowan had sold his interest in a used car dealership to take acting lessons, and Martin, who had written gags for TV shows and comedians, was tending bar in Los Angeles to pay the rent.

Rowan, hearing Martin was looking for a comedy partner, visited him at the bar, where he found him eating a banana.

"Why are you eating a banana?" he asked.

"If you've ever eaten here, you'd know what's with the banana," he replied, and a comedy team was born.

'We looked good'
Although their early gigs in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley were often performed gratis, they donned tuxedos for them and put on an air of success.

"We were raw," Martin recalled years later, "but we looked good together and we were funny."

They gradually worked up to the top night spots in New York, Miami and Las Vegas and began to appear regularly on television.

In 1966, they provided the summer replacement for "The Dean Martin Show." Within two years, they were headlining their own show.

The novelty of "Laugh-In" diminished with each season, however, and as major players such as Hawn and Tomlin moved on to bigger careers, interest in the series faded.

After the show folded in 1973, Rowan and Martin capitalized on their fame with a series of high-paid engagements around the country. They parted amicably in 1977.

"Dan has diabetes, and his doctor advised him to cool it," Martin told The Associated Press at the time.

Rowan, a sailing enthusiast, spent his last years touring the canals of Europe on a houseboat. He died in 1987.

New role as TV director
Martin moved onto the game-show circuit, but quickly tired of it. After he complained about the lack of challenges in his career, fellow comic Bob Newhart's agent suggested he take up directing.

He was reluctant at first, but after observing on "The Bob Newhart Show," he decided to try. He would recall later that it was "like being thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool and being told to sink or swim."

Soon he was one of the industry's busiest TV directors, working on numerous episodes of "Newhart" as well as such shows as "In the Heat of the Night," "Archie Bunker's Place" and "Family Ties."

Born into a middle-class family in Battle Creek, Mich., Martin had worked in a Ford auto assembly plant after high school.

After an early failed marriage, he was for years a confirmed bachelor. He finally settled down in middle age, marrying Dolly Read, a former bunny at the Playboy Club in London. Survivors include his wife and two sons, actor Richard Martin and Cary Martin.

At Martin's request there will be no funeral, Greenberg said.

Martin lost the use of his right lung when he was 17, something that never bothered him until his final years, when he required oxygen 18 hours a day.

Arriving for a party celebrating his 80th birthday, he fainted and was treated by doctors and paramedics. The party continued, however, and he cracked, "Boy, did I make an entrance!"

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Friday, May 23, 2008

COM: Texas Film Funding

Abandoning the Nest
Hurt by the state's inadequate incentives program, Texas film crews take
flight

BY JOE O'CONNELL, Austin Chronicle

Filming of There Will Be Blood near Marfa was in its second day when
Daniel Day-Lewis fell down a mine shaft and broke two ribs. Few in the
Texas film industry will be surprised that Raigen Thornton, a jovial
bear of a man, was there in an instant to render aid. The veteran set
paramedic and his satellite-equipped truck always seem to be nearby,
ready and waiting. But this time the patient is the film industry
itself, and Thornton hasn't got a bandage big enough to stop the bleeding.

Consider the facts: Between 1998 and 2006, Hollywood studio films had
combined production in Texas of more than $530 million, averaging eight
or nine films a year, according to Texas Film Commission figures. The
entire year of 2007 eked out a mere $300,000 for the few days that A
Mighty Heart landed in Austin. Even independent films are veering from
the Lone Star State, with a drop in numbers from 37 tracked by the Texas
Film Commission in 2006 to nine in 2007. It's no big surprise who the
culprit is: States like neighboring New Mexico and Louisiana offer
heftier incentives to entice Hollywood to come a-calling.

More on that later. For now, here are the figures that concern Thornton
and his fellow film crew professionals: Between 1998 and 2006, those
Hollywood films produced more than 8,300 temporary crew jobs. In 2007,
it was 20. Ouch. The independents created almost 8,500 temporary crew
openings during the same time frame – almost 1,800 in 2006 alone – but
only 461 jobs in 2007. Double ouch.

This year won't be nearly as dismal, says Ken Rector, business manager
of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 484,
the union of film crew workers in Texas. Terrence Malick has been
filming long-planned epic The Tree of Life in Smithville, and Platinum
Dunes is lensing a Friday the 13th reimagining in Central Texas. But
Rector believes the uptick has much to do with the threat of an actors
strike and the associated rush to production. Rector says the slowing of
the Texas film industry is resulting in, conservatively, a 10% loss of
the state's trained, rested, and ready crew base each year but
potentially as high as 25%. IATSE Local 484 claims more than 600
members, but overall crew and peripheral workers in Texas is perhaps
closer to 3,000, not including actors, says Steve Belsky, the local
union's president.

Thornton feels that pain. Like much of Texas' film crew, he wouldn't be
mistaken for an A/V geek or a stereotypical artsy hipster. Instead, he's
a San Saba native and Round Rock High grad who worked as a police
officer in Odessa before training as a paramedic. He's patched up people
everywhere from Kuwait, during the war there in the early Nineties, to
offshore oil rigs where he aided divers. But he had kids back in Texas
and wanted to be home nights. Movies were the answer. His first feature
was Frankie Starlight, shot on the King Ranch in 1994. "They were paying
cash," he says of that first gig. "It was interesting and different. It
wasn't quite as good of money as working offshore, but I could stay in
my own bed."

Friday Night Lights was his personal godsend. He returned to Odessa to
work the 2004 film on a set protected by guys he'd served with on the
police force there years ago. Then the NBC series landed in Austin, oh
so close to his home in Granger, and he seemed set. But the Writers
Guild strike halted the show, which managed to eke out a third season
through an NBC deal with DirecTV but won't resume production until July.
Plus, Kick the Can, a smaller film he'd hoped to work on in the interim,
was pushed back due to financing woes. With the slowdown in the Texas
film industry, all of the other film paramedic positions are taken, and
he's left scrambling for another job to pay the bills. "It's my whole
life," Thornton said of the film/television work. "I've been doing this
longer than I worked street EMS before. People don't come to Texas as
much. I used to work all over the state. I've probably worked in half
the counties in the state. Now it's down to a few."

Blame Canada. And maybe Oklahoma. In 1997, Canada enacted film
incentives legislation that, combined with the then-weak Canadian
dollar, sent shock waves through the U.S. film scene. Suddenly runaway
film production was a major concern, and first to go were the
made-for-television films, a mainstay in Houston, which in 1995 had been
the state's production leader, drawing projects with combined budgets of
more than $60 million, while Dallas and Austin were right behind at $52
million and $57 million, respectively. Soon, Houston was lucky to
attract $10 million a year while Dallas, with its solid crew base, began
to rely more and more on commercial shoots and industrial films. Austin
pulled way ahead in the 2000s, averaging more than $100 million in
production a year for the first half of the decade on the strength of
the Austin Film Society's Austin Studios, homeboys like Richard
Linklater and Robert Rodriguez, a reputation as a hip and fun college
town, diverse locations, and an ever-expanding crew base. But then, on
May 23, 2001, Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating signed into law the Compete
With Canada Act, which offered a sales-tax exemption or a 15% rebate on
money spent in the state and created the first state film incentive
program. It wouldn't be the last.

Jourdan Henderson perhaps epitomizes the young crew worker attracted to
Austin, the cool film boomtown of recent vintage. The Kerrville native
graduated from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and decided to take a baby step
into the film industry by moving to Austin instead of Los Angeles.
"Growing up, I really loved movies and television, and I always watched
the behind-the-scenes stuff," she says. "It's just the fact [that] it's
something people go to as an escape. You work so hard on it, and I
actually get to see what I do on the big screen. It ends up being
rewarding." Her first job was as a production assistant on Spy Kids 2,
but she quickly developed a career as an art department coordinator on
Austin films. Her duties include tracking budgets and getting clearances
but change rapidly from day to day, a pace she enjoys. The lull between
films became her big concern, but a few commercials filled the gaps, and
she has never had to take a job outside of the industry. "One year in
Austin we had five films going on at one time," she recalls. "It seemed
like it was going to happen, but our balloon deflated quickly." Her
friends in the industry began to scatter. One started designing
furniture, another took a bakery job, and yet another did dispatching
for a cattle company. Henderson instead left for film work outside of
Texas. She has spent four months of the last two years in Austin and is
currently on location in Boston. She says the projects available in
Austin now would largely require her to take a pay cut. "I'm not done
until the end of August with this project," she says. "I want to see
what's happening in Austin. I don't think I'll give it up completely,
but I may have to give it up as a permanent residence. It's a decision
I'll have to make by the end of the year."

Texas finally joined the incentives race in 2007, when the film industry
banded together as the Texas Motion Picture Alliance and convinced the
Legislature to approve a two-year program funded at $10 million a year,
with an additional $2 million set aside for creation of a state film
archive, crew training programs, and administrative costs. It came after
a 2005 program that was approved without funding by the Legislature and
offered a scant 5% rebate (the original bill asked for 20%) and included
a befuddling, bemusing clause that precludes payment for films that
"portray Texas or Texans in a negative fashion."

Belsky, the outspoken union president, admits that even that wasn't easy
to come by. "It was by the skin of our teeth that it passed," he says,
despite a lack of any real opposition.

New Mexico reacted to the news by upping its 20% incentive to 25%, the
same amount offered by Louisiana. New Mexico has seen a leap in film
production from $1.5 million in 2001 to $80 million in 2003 to about
$400 million in 2007, while Louisiana claims an economic impact – a
hazier figure to pin down than a direct spend – of about $600 million in
2007. New Mexico takes it a step further than most states by also
offering interest-free loans for as much as $15 million in return for a
share of profits. Texas, meanwhile, relied on $67 million from
television shoots and close to $110 million from commercials, corporate
films, sports broadcasts, and animation to keep the industry alive in
2007. Another $108 million came in from a growing video-game industry,
according to Texas Film Commission figures.

The worst-kept secret in the Texas film scene is that an increase from a
5% to a 15% incentive is the goal for the 2009 Legislative session. Bob
Hudgins, head of the Texas Film Commission, admits that the current
incentive level is primarily attracting commercial shoots, which fall
under the radar of Louisiana and New Mexico incentives, and is perhaps
helping keep some television work here. The industry's savior the last
two years has been filming of the television shows Prison Break in the
Dallas area and Friday Night Lights around Austin. Despite incentives,
Prison Break is moving production to Los Angeles this year to follow a
new plotline. So far, 95 completed projects, including the two TV
series, have applied for Texas film incentive funds for a pending payout
of $6 million. Of the applications, 72 are for commercials. "The reason
we haven't used as much as we've had available," Hudgins explains, "is
frankly because our 5 percent is not competitive with what other states
are doing."

Belsky's dream is to build the crew union up to 900 members and attract
eight to 12 productions with budgets of $15 million or more a year. He's
less sure about the need to build more studios like Villa Muse, the
large studio project that promises to break ground this year in Texas,
just no longer in Austin (Villa Muse failed to come to an agreement with
the city; see "Villa Muse Rolls the Credits," News, May 9). "There's an
ancient proverb: 'If you build it, they will leave,'" says Belsky. "You
can see it out there. Arizona built studios, and, poof, they were gone."
And, yes, movie studios are popping up in both New Mexico and Louisiana.

The original dig on our two neighbors when they enacted film incentives
was that they didn't have a crew base to support it. Over time they have
developed one, says IATSE Local 484's Rector, through training new
people and recruiting established workers, many from Texas, others from
California seeking to leave the rat race. "They're short on diversity of
locations, but they have the crew base now," Rector says. He muses that
the last Oscars would have showcased a Texas filmmaking powerhouse if
our state had incentives to keep Texas-set stories like No Country for
Old Men from New Mexico and Charlie Wilson's War and The Great Debaters
from Louisiana. He believes 50% or more of the work opportunities for
Texas crews have gone elsewhere since the state incentives game started
being played in earnest. He and Belsky aren't opposed to piggybacking
onto New Mexico's incentives program, to Texas' advantage, and made a
recent trip to El Paso to promote training of new crew members along the
Texas-New Mexico border, with El Paso providing the big city look for
films shooting in nearby Las Cruces.

Louisiana has proved that incentives are mightier than the storm. New
Orleans was on track to be a major U.S. film hub when Hurricane Katrina
tore it apart in 2005. Into the void stepped Shreveport, a former oil
town now best known for its riverboat gambling. With a population
somewhere between Waco and Corpus Christi, it has fashioned itself now
as Hollywood South. Jerry Henery, a film construction coordinator from
the Terrell, Texas, area, now keeps an apartment in Shreveport, claims
dual residency, and is looking at buying land there after more than 20
years in the Texas film business. "I've basically been working in
Shreveport for the last three or four years," he says. "There's been no
work in Texas. Last year I was [in Texas] for two months. The two years
before that I wasn't there at all except for holidays." He brings with
him to Louisiana a construction crew of four and sees familiar Texas
faces in other departments, like paint and props. "Lots of people are
doing the same thing with dual residency," he says.

Jeff Nightbyrd glimpsed the film industry's Louisiana future and opened
a second office of his Austin-based Acclaim Talent in New Orleans in
early 2005. When Katrina hit, the city of Shreveport offered him free
offices there until he found the space he wanted. Since then, he's also
opened the Actors' Cafe, bringing to Shreveport a touch of the arts
scene of the "weird" Austin. Nightbyrd, a longtime Austinite (and
occasional Austin Chronicle contributor), thinks Shreveport took
advantage of New Orleans' loss in a way savvier Texas cities might have.
"Austin could have jumped on it," he says. "The improbable thing is
Shreveport did. Strangely this has become the third film production
center in the country. Los Angeles, New York, and Shreveport? That's
absolutely jaw-dropping. We have more than 30 films on our boards, and
they're shooting three Hollywood films right now in a city about the
size of Waco – actually a little larger than Waco. I've had people doing
table reads with Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker." In one cruel
twist, Shreveport is doubling for New Orleans, still considered an iffy
filming location, in Microwave Park, a story set among post-Hurricane
Katrina gangs.

Most Texas actors aren't relying on films to survive, says Linda Dowell
of the Screen Actors Guild's Dallas office, so they aren't seeing the
need to move out of state like crew hands are. "We experience a number
of performers commuting back and forth for day play or weekly parts,"
she says. "We see it in all parts of the state. Most of our talent have
not moved, but we see them go over for auditions, sometimes second
auditions."

When Nightbyrd first considered opening a Louisiana office, he spoke to
Mark Smith, former director of the Louisiana Governor's Office of Film
and Television Development. "My first impression was, 'Damn, this guy is
smart,'" Nightbyrd says. "He had a vision." Smith also had a corruption
problem and pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and accepting inflated
film expense reports for film projects. He reportedly diverted about $10
million from the incentives program to fund three Louisiana music
festivals. Louisiana offers filmmakers state income-tax credits, not
straightforward payments like in New Mexico, which means the 25% credits
must be brokered, reducing the actual amount claimed by filmmakers.
Hudgins of the Texas Film Commission says 18% is a more realistic take
in the end.

Nightbyrd thinks Louisiana's main advantage is one that Texas can't
overcome: It's smaller both in geography and population, so coming to a
consensus on funding film incentives proved easier. Meanwhile, Texans in
areas not normally known for film production are harder to convince.
"The state will never pass a meaningful incentives bill," says
Nightbyrd. "Why? Only two cities will benefit – Dallas and Austin. Why
would Texarkana vote for something that doesn't benefit them?" He has
long said the cities must be the ones to offer competitive incentives in
Texas. "The deal is that Austin used to be the center of independent
film," he says. "The city could have generated their own program."

On the other hand, Rector says the real potential beneficiaries of a
larger Texas film incentives program are not the large cities. "You go
to a small town where a movie is shooting, and everyone is happy," he
says. "The value of a dollar is much higher than in Dallas and Houston."
Those areas outside of the larger cities get a boost in the current
Texas incentive to 6.25% as underutilized areas. Plus, Rector claims
Texas is offering a larger incentive, but film studios are not regularly
taking advantage of it – an 8.25% manufacturing sales-tax rebate that is
seldom talked about, because it requires filmmakers to keep track of
retail purchases.

But even with those added amounts, Texas is offering far less than other
states. Michigan recently approved an eye-popping 40% incentive, and New
York, aiming to fend off film losses to neighboring Connecticut, matched
that state's 30% incentive. Even the industry's base in California is
feeling the heat. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is urging an increase in
that state's incentives to keep the studios filming at home, while
others there are concerned about giving away too much during tough
economic times. Gary Bond of the Austin Film Office recently attended a
Locations Expo in Los Angeles, where the ever-growing incentives were
the main topic of discussion. "You wonder about folks not being able to
quite justify the incentives they're offering," he says. "It may level
off before very long. There's only so much money coming back. Do we end
up with the old cotton allotment where we pay people not to make movies?"

Belsky sees a future for the Texas film industry "if the planets align."
But he believes the threat is very real. "I don't want to overstate the
urgency because of fear of crying wolf," he says, "but we're on the cusp
of it turning so far away from us. Every additional increment we fall
behind these other states as they build up their infrastructure, it's
that much harder to say we still have something to offer." Belsky sees
hope through Hudgins, who replaced respected longtime Texas Film
Commission leader Tom Copeland in 2006. "Tom Copeland was everybody's
godfather," Belsky says. "I was nervous when he left, but this guy Bob
Hudgins is so sharp, so motivated, and so on point. If everything he's
trying to do comes together, it won't be too late."

Out in Granger where Thornton lives, that urgency is very real. Even in
the country, film permeates his life. One day a few years ago, his wife
caught some young boys peeking in the kitchen window. They were in
search of the area house used in Platinum Dunes' recent Texas Chainsaw
Massacre remakes. "It [was] a great career change for me until now,"
Thornton says. "Until we started losing shows. I was able to stay at
home most of the time and watch my family grow. It's not going to pay
the bills with all of the movies going away."

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

COM: Cool "award"

A couple years ago i got blindsided by the inclusion of this blog in a book titled "The Best of the Blogosphere". I had no idea where that came from, but it was certainly a nice honor, and it fits rather nicely on my writing resume. Well, yesterday i received another "award" of sorts, also completely out of the blue, when blogged.com rated this blog 9.3. That ranks it #7 out of 12,091 blogs they labelled "personal blogs". Pretty sweet. #1 in the category, by the way, went to the blog of Wil Wheaton, onetime star of Stand By Me and Star Trek.

Here's short version of the note i got:

Our editors recently reviewed your blog and have given it a 9.3 score out of (10) in the Personal Blogs category of Blogged.com.

This is quite an achievement!

http://www.blogged.com/directory/personal-blogs

We evaluated your blog based on the following criteria: Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style. After carefully reviewing each of these criteria, your site was given its 9.3 score.





Please accept my congratulations on a blog well-done!!


Sincerely,

Amy Liu

www.blogged.com





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COM: Special Broadway Makeup Class

As many of you know "The Producers" Broadway Tour star Austin Owen is in town for a few weeks to take the lead in Playhouse2000s production of "Singin' in the Rain" at the Cailloux Theatre, June 5-21. During that time he's also teaching and doing private lessons with the Playhouse Theatre Academy. As part of the excitement and learning, a friend of his who is a Broadway makeup artist will be coming from New York to do a special makeup artistry class for the Academy on June 10th. Because this represents a rare opportunity, the Academy class will be open to theatre community folks for a small fee. If you're interested, please give Heather or Jeff Cunningham a call at 830-896-9393 to sign up.


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Friday, May 16, 2008

REV: ITM Awards

Kids we know and/or have worked with scarfed up a load of scholarships last night. Lot of proud parents and friends and beaming kids! It was a pretty wonderful night outside at The Point.

From our end the evening was special for awarding Taylor Danielson our second Roy Burney Scholarship. Taylor racked up lots of other awards including a big one to attend his chosen Dallas Baptist University. But that's not where things ended. Here's a list of "our" kids and their scholarships and awards. I won't make comparisons dollar for dollar, but the total value of our kids' awards was $434,000!

Taylor Danielson: Roy Burney Scholarship from the Guadalupe Stage Quartet, Friends and Faculty of ITM Scholarship, Early Graduation Scholarship, Dallas Baptist Christian Leadership and Academic Honors Scholarship, Honor Thespian

Kylie Nidever: St. Peters Episcopal Church Scholarship, National Elks Club Scholarship, Hill Country Telephone Cooperative Scholarship, Vassar Scholarship [had to turn down the Cailloux Scholarship because of this], National Honor Thespian

Madelyn Beaudoin: Principal's A Team

Shana Baldwin: Texas A&M Corpus Christi Academic Scholarship, National Honor Thespian

Kaleb Dworsky: St. Edward's University Academic Merit Scholarship, Honor Thespian

Jason Gardner: Hill Country Automotive Club Scholarship

Steven Toler: Friends and Faculty of ITM Scholarship, Wayne Kennemer Memorial Music Scholarship. Kerrville Rotary Club Scholarship

Zack Morris: Belmont University Merit Scholarship, Perfect Attendance

Robert Calhoun: St. Edward's University Academic Merit Scholarship

Benton del Toro: Schreiner University Merit Scholarship

Macy Wilson: Kerrville Morning Rotary Club Scholarship

Grace Beaudoin: Superintendent's List

David Campos: San Antonio Bar Association Scholarship

Tyler Brown: Friends and Faculty of ITM Scholarship, Kerrville Rotary Club Scholarship, Hill Country Telephone Cooperative Scholarship, Nelson Puett Scholarship

Price Maxwell: Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Scholarship

Lance Bauer: Capital Farm Credit Scholarship, Central Texas Co-op Scholarship, Hill Country Telephone Cooperative Scholarship, Hill Country Sheep & Goat Raisers Scholarship, State Fair of Texas Scholarship, Kerr County Farm Bureau Scholarship, Kerr County A&M Club Scholarship, San Antonio Livestock Exposition Scholarship, San Angelo Lovestock Show Scholarship, San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo Association Scholarship, American Rambouillet Breeders Association Scholarship, BuckskinBrigades Scholarship, Hill Country District Livestock Show Breeders Scholarship, Chartier Memorial Scholarship

Taylor Faust: Hill Country Telephone Cooperative Scholarship, Texas Tech Superior Scholastic Achievement Scholarship

Garrett Brown: Friends and Faculty of ITM Scholarship

Clare Tally-Foos: Kerrville Junior Service Guild Scholarship, Central Texas Co-op Scholarship, Sunrise Lions Club Scholarship, Holy Cross Scholarship, Superintendent's List

and Kylie Fry and Nolan Brown also received awards (i have pictures of them receiving them!) but somehow forgot to write down what they were.

Congratulations to EVERYONE!!



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ATH: Men's National Team Pool

From the US National Team Players Association:

US Men’s National Team Player Pool
May 22-June 9, 2008

GOALKEEPERS (5): Dominic Cervi (Out of Contract), Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (9): Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Dan Califf (FC Midtjylland), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Eddie Lewis (Derby County), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids)
FORWARDS (9): Jozy Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Nate Jaqua (Out of Contract), Eddie Johnson (Fulham FC), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Josh Wolff (1860 Munich)



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Thursday, May 15, 2008

GSQ: Taylor Danielson Scholarship Winner!

At tonight's ITM Awards Ceremony, Taylor Danielson was announced as the winner of our 2nd Annual Roy Burney Scholarship. Taylor is headed off to Dallas Baptist University this fall after graduating a year early from Ingram Tom Moore. We are very sad to see this wonderful young man leave us, but we know he is taking the next big step on his journey to a wonderful and fruitful life. He will do many great things for many, many people. Best paths to you Taylor.





Taylor Danielson, with GSQ founders Holly Riedel (l) and Marie Cearley (r)


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COM: Blogarithmic #236

Once again, despite all my best intentions, i haven't been able to spare any minutes for compiling all the news that i come across. Sorry to those who look here for news of friends especially. I have some half-finished reviews scattered about that i plan to finish, but until then here's the local bites (and i'm publishing as i go, so this will probably be updated regularly for the next 24 hours, so check back again later).

First, Death of a Salesman has finished the first weekend, with good crowds for little Warrior Theatre, and a lot of fun on our part despite the serious nature of the play. We have shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday next weekend. Hope to see you there.

Jacquie Bovee, with the West Kerr Current, is often very kind in her reviews, but this time she was intensely complimentary of our show:
"If you are a theater lover, you owe it to yourself to go see the Guadalupe Stage Quartet's sensational production of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," now playing at the Warrior Theatre in Ingram. The show is absolutely sensational, Broadway-class and not to be missed. . . Every single solitary member of director Holly Riedel's cast turns in an outstanding performance, from George Stieren's breathtaking rendition of Willy Loman, right on down to Todd Mein's Stanley the waiter and Sarah Tacey's six-second appearance as Howard's secretary."

On the awards front, tonight is the annual awards ceremony for Ingram Tom Moore High School, and Holly will be presenting the Roy Burney Scholarship, funded by GSQ productions like Salesman, to one of the senior Thespians. I'll announce that as soon as the show is over! Last year's winner, the first, Irec Hargrove, plays Happy in Salesman.

Monday was the ITM Sports Awards Banquet, and the top award, Sportsman of the Year went to Tyler Brown who played literally everything this year, part of the time on a messed up foot. In addition to the big award he also received the Fighting Heart Award in both Football and Baseball. Tyler (and alnost all his brothers and his sister) are in my film Diogenes/Dionysus. He also was in my production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at The Point. Because of sports we could never get him interested in acting again, but he's acquitted himself right fine in athletics and is a wonderful role model to boot, spending lots of mission time in Mexico digging water wells with his family.

Jason Gardner, who has been heavily involved in ITM Theatre this year, as a player in Deadwood Dick, and as crew for Twelfth Night, was named Offensive MVP in football. He's headed off to Illinois to play football in the north.

ITM's rightly famous Cross-Country Team named the entire team as MVP -- and that includes Zack Morris, ITM and GSQ perennial sound man, and a player in Deadwood Dick; Colton Morris, also a player in Deadwood Dick as a hilarious drunk; Steven Toler, another Deadwood gambler; and Taylor Faust, who once starred in the above-mentioned Christmas Pageant.

Best Actor award winner, and star of Twelfth Night, Kaleb Dworsky, was named MVP in baseball.

Congrats to all!!

My buddy Greg Lasley, a brilliant nature photgrapher, popped up with unexpected news this weekend. His wife Cheryl wrote to say he'd been bitten by a Copperhead. Well, i've been in the field with Greg when he's caught huge Water Moccasins and rattlers, and i had a bit of trouble believing he'd gotten bitten, but sure enough he had. He and another photographer, Eric Isley, were in east Texas taking bug photos, when they happened on a Southern Copperhead and, wanting to get better pictures, Greg tried to move the thing into the sunlight. But something went awry. He got to the hospital in Cleveland for treatment. He's okay,and in fact is already in west Texas taking more bug photos. The pic is Eric's of him in the hospital. If you'll scan down a few posts you'll see that Greg is having his first book of photos published in September.

As Facebook buds know already, i finally have a rough master of my new CD, Vignettes from the Edge of Humanity. It's my slam/spoken word thing, with piano by Ryan Bailey and lead guitar by Garrett Whitten, and with Zack Morris and Steven Toler playing acoustic guitars on one piece. We recorded the entire thing in one evening, and it was completely improvised on the musical end. Ryan and i had done an improv thing at the Howling at the Moon Coffeehouse on the opening night of that wonderful show's run. And i always knew when it came time to record that i'd have him back me up. Well, it's turned out much better than i ever could have dreamed. We did 20 pieces straight through and only had to repeat two, both because of errors on my part. Then, on the guitar parts Garrett, who had never heard any of the material before listening to Ryan and i record, laid down some brilliant leads on about half the songs. All that remains is some minor tweaking of levels, and me finishing the booklet, and it'll be off to the mastering lab. I hope to have it in hand by the fall.


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