Looking ahead to SXSW, an appreciation of Sandra Bullock's underrated comic talent, and a goodbye to Advertising Director Pattie Moon.
You, the reader, are involved in this as well. Now is the time for you to vote in the Music Poll. The awards will be presented on Wednesday, March 14, at the Austin Music Hall. This is the 20th anniversary of the poll, and the show will honor these past 20 years of Austin music.
If you are a working musician, make sure you get your info in. The Musicians Register is going online this year so we can update it more regularly. Bands will be able to add and delete entries on a weekly basis. An index of the bands registered will be published in the March 16 issue.
The Chronicle will go daily again this March during SXSW. There will be the regular weekly Chronicle, but we will also publish daily editions from Thursday, March 15, through Sunday, March 18 (this year we will be publishing an edition on Sunday, which will wrap up what happens Saturday night). The staff would be very edgy over this, but I think they've mostly blocked it out.
Sandra Bullock's Miss Congeniality, which was mostly shot locally, turned into one of the big sleepers of the Christmas season. The first week it opened softly, landing in fifth place at the box office. The second week it surged to third. It is rare that a film does better in its second week than in its first. The third week saw almost no drop-off, though the fourth week saw a respectable decline. The film may well do over $100 million (the industry's magic mark) and will be Bullock's most successful film since Speed and A Time to Kill. I asked Film Editor Marjorie Baumgarten what she thought of the film before I saw it. She said it was predictable but fun. After I saw it, I told her I hadn't realized she meant predictable with such a large, ornamental capital P. There are no surprises and, for the just-awakened-from-being-comatose, there is a scene in which Candice Bergen lays out everything in case, by some miracle, you missed it. But what I thought was missing from some of the reviews of the film is what a remarkable physical comedienne Bullock has matured into. The camera loves her, but she has real presence. I think a lot of Carole Lombard -- Twentieth Century, My Man Godfrey, Nothing Sacred, To Be or Not to Be -- what a great run. In my book, there are few higher compliments. Bullock combines a sense of fun with a sly wickedness and an almost secret intelligence. She is willing to go through any situation. There is also some of Thelma Todd -- an actress who starred in a series of shorts with Patsy Kelly -- in Bullock. The Lucille Ball associations are obvious, not only with the later, wacky Lucy but also with her movie persona pre-TV (a little harder than she was on TV). Bullock really makes me miss the days when short, fat men smoking cigars ran the industry, and stars, bound to lengthy contracts, were kept working. It wasn't fair to the talent, but the best writers and directors usually ended up working with the best acting talents to produce numerous films. None of Bullock's co-stars so far -- Harry Connick Jr. in Hope Floats, Ben Affleck in Forces of Nature, or Benjamin Bratt in Miss Congeniality -- provide the Cary Grant or William Powell she so needs to play off of. Say what you will about this film, I still can't wait to see her future work.
Over the past half decade, advertising director Pattie Moon has led the charge at the Chronicle. During that period of time, our revenue doubled, and the size of the paper and the staff grew exponentially. More, we loved working with her. She understands the business, loves promotions, and was a fan of our editorial. After a long (and I'll leave the number of years out of it) career in the alternative press -- including several West Coast papers -- Pattie decided she needed some time to herself. Last week was her last with us. We will miss her. As we head into this economically rocky year, I'm betting we miss her a lot.
Classified Manager Carol Flagg, a legend in this office if not the entire alternative press industry, will be promoted to advertising director. To begin to talk about Carol is to not know where to stop, so I'll keep you posted on her adventures as they unfold. We are very excited to have her as head of our advertising staff. Zach Sherman takes over as classified manager, joining us after working at several papers in the New Times chain. The staff extends their warmest welcome to this new member of our staff.