The Austin Chronicle

AFF: Johnny Depp in the ATX

By Marjorie Baumgarten, October 24, 2011, 9:00am, Picture in Picture

This weekend Johnny Depp held the city of Austin in giddy thrall – from the grand stage of the Paramount Theatre to a mid-sized student venue on the UT campus to the intimate stage of the Continental Club while playing guitar with Bill Carter and the Blame and Billy Gibbons. He was in Austin for the Austin Film Festival.

Depp received the festival's Extraordinary Contribution to Film-Acting Award and presented his Edward Scissorhands and Corpse Bride screenwriter Caroline Thompson with the Distinguished Screenwriter Award, Depp also personally presented his new film The Rum Diary, based on a stashed-away Hunter S. Thompson novel written in his early career as a journalist in Puerto Rico. After Depp, who is also a producer on the film, walked the red carpet, he introduced the film and his self-chosen director for the project Bruce Robinson (the director of the witheringly astute Withnail & I and How to Get Ahead in Advertising). They were joined in this by Elvis Mitchell, the host of KCRW's The Treatment, who moderated the especially edging-toward-entropy Q&A after the film ended.

Saturday night, Depp and Robinson partook in another interview session in front of a few hundred students in the Texas Union Theatre on the UT campus, this time moderated by another UT legend, Professor John Pierson, the author of Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes. The Rum Diary distribution company, Film District (the new company also has Drive in current play), promises that interview will be available online once the film comes out this Friday, October 28.

Then, as Saturday night petered into Sunday morning, Johnny Depp played with Bill Carter and the Blame, who were then joined by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top on the thimble-sized stage of the Continental Club. (And because I ran across this YouTube link to Depp's band P with Gibby Haynes and Bill Carter, performing at the Chronicle’s Austin Music Awards in 1993 … and because some of can remember this and because some of us can’t, I have to include it here.)

Depp Perception at ABC: If you were not aware that Johnny Depp was in Austin, it might have been because you were watching KVUE. Seems that Disney, which owns ABC, of which KVUE is an affiliate, put the kibosh on any Depp video or interviews for The Rum Diary while he was in town (and maybe elsewhere?). Seems they think the actor should be out swashbuckling for the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides instead. DVDs for the latest pirate pic went on sale on October 18. Probably explains why Depp did an hour with Larry King on CNN (who doesn’t even have a nightly show there anymore) and not Barbara Walters on ABC's 20/20.

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