Page Two

Page Two
Austin was overrun with the legend of itself this weekend. First, the Texas Book Festival opening dinner and reading at the Marriot found not only an astonishing number of Texas' best writers in formal dress (it may be sexist, but I expected the women to be well-dressed) but also an amazing number of lifelong Democrats muttered how they never expected to be feeling such gratitude and admiration for a Republican. (All the men were in black tie except for a handful that included the Statesman's Don McLeese and myself. Among writers, I would have thought we would be safer in our fashion choices.) Specifically, the kudos were for Laura Bush, wife of the governor, who spearheaded the whole effort (Mary Margaret Farabee was the festival chair and received well-deserved credit as well). Mary Karr, Bud Shrake, David Lindsey, Elizabeth Crook, Mary Willis Walker, Larry Wright, William Broyles, Jr., Molly Ivins, John Graves, Larry McMurtry, Emily Haas, Kinky Friedman, Greg Curtis, Marion Winik, Larry L. King, and Sandra Cisneros were all milling about -- it was an amazing sight and those are only the writers I noticed.

The next few days found events packed with author after author attracting standing-room audiences. It was amazing to see the festival and the crowds, to watch people streaming away carrying bags of books. The event reminded me of what an extraordinary literary community exists in this state and this city, brimming with talent and world-class writers and editors.

Diane Keaton is currently in Austin shooting a movie so Miramax decided to have a junket here for her new movie, Marvin's Room. This meant bringing in journalists from around the country to the Four Seasons Hotel where they had available stars Keaton, Leonard DiCaprio, and Meryl Streep, director Jerry Zaks, and producer Scott Rudin. This also turned out to be the ideal weekend to host a junket for Albert Brooks' new film Mother, and since the press was all going to be here anyway, it was held it in Austin.

Sunday morning, I dropped my old friend Leonard Maltin, the Entertainment Tonight film critic and author, at the hotel to interview Keaton, Streep, DiCaprio, and Zaks. My wife Annie was going with him. Maltin had come in town Friday night and between catching a screening of the film and getting my son to Sunday school, we still managed to eat at Threadgill's and catch up a bit. Standing in the driveway of the Four Seasons, we ran into Texas legendary talent Bill Wittliff, whom I introduced to Maltin. Wittliff then turned and introduced us to his companion, Sam Shepard. Just then, Meryl Streep walked out of the hotel but I had to move the car.

Books and movies... and this isn't even mentioning music. Since I've talked about both movies and McLeese, this is a perfect time to segue into one of our periodic conflict-of-interest reminders to our general audience about South by Southwest. Dec. 3 is the deadline for the next registration price break for the SXSW trio: the Film, MultiMedia, and Music conferences. If you want a mailer, call 512/467-7979. SXSW '97 is four months away, but expect to read a lot about it in these pages over the next few months.

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