Film Flam

Speed hits Hulu, and reality TV swallows Austin whole

'Up To Speed,' Speed Levitch's new travel series in collaboration with Rick Linklater, debuts this week.
'Up To Speed,' Speed Levitch's new travel series in collaboration with Rick Linklater, debuts this week.

Austin seems to be everybody's destination of choice these days, including reality TV casting agents.

Tonight TLC airs an Austin-set episode of Four Houses, a show that allows four homeowners to tour one another's abodes and unleash their inner judgey-ness. The Austin ep features an aging hippie, an eclectic furniture designer, a beige-happy suburbanite, and a hip restaurateur whose main criterion is how sexy a house is (to wit:"I don't want to be naked in this bathtub"). It's interior design porn meets slambook bitchery, with a few design ideas worth stealing, too.

Four Houses: Austin airs tonight (8/6), 9pm, on TLC.

Further on the horizon are two foodie shows touching down in our town. Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods America – the new season of which also premieres tonight – screens its Austin-centric episode on Aug. 13; local eateries highlighted included Contigo, Pig Vicious, and the Rainey Street crawl. And frequent Austin visitor Anthony Bourdain will kick off the final season of his Travel Channel mainstay No Reservations on Monday, Sept. 3 with an Austin episode shot during SXSW 2012; wherein Bourdain tours the town with Alejandro Escovedo, Sleigh Bells, Neon Indians, and the Golden Boys.

Over on A&E, Shipping Wars returns Tuesday (8/7), featuring Austinite Jennifer Brennan, a "master in transporting exotic quarter horses and livestock." Exceptionally weird cargo on the show's second season will run the gamut from "giant crystals to Lego sculptures to a ferris wheel to a Vietnam-era helicopter."

"Weird" is definitely one of the watchwords for Speed Levitch (The Cruise); see also "spiritual," "learned," "funny," and "indefatigably curious." He brings all those qualities to a new travel series helmed by Richard Linklater, following previous collaborations like "Live From Shiva's Dance Floor" and Waking Life. Premiering this Thursday, Aug. 9. on Hulu, Up to Speed bops around the country to explore the lesser-seen side of a town's history and inhabitants. While Austin only pops up in the sixth episode, devoted to the tour guiding trade, the bulk of the crew is hometown-proud, including exec producer Alex Lipschultz, editor Mike Saenz, animators Jake Mendez and Marc English, composer Graham Reynolds, cameraman Shane Kelly, and photographer Dan Winters, who, according to Lipschultz, "built us a spaceship." Intrigued? Me too. You'll have to tune into the Kansas/Missouri episode for the answer.

Up to Speed debuts Aug. 9 on Hulu with a San Francisco-themed episode, "A City Shaped By Earthquakes."


Speaking of online streaming action, Film Chest has acquired VOD and streaming rights to Cinematic Titanic, the followup project of the original cast of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, which includes Austin's Mary Jo Pehl. Ten films to suffer the CT riff-machine – including Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, The Oozing Skull, and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians – are now available on Hulu and Hulu Plus.


Texas production The Legend of Hell's Gate is now available on DVD and VOD. Produced by Austinite Suzanne Weinert with a mostly Austin crew, the Western, set in 1870s Texas, explores how Hell's Gate at Possum Kingdom Lake got its name. The film stars Henry Thomas, Jenna Dewan, Summer Glau, Eric Balfour, and Lou Taylor Pucci.

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Film Flam, Austin film news, Up To Speed, Speed Levitch, Richard Linklater, Four Houses, Bizarre Foods America, Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations, Shipping Wars, Cinematic Titanic, Mary Jo Pehl, The Legend of Hell's Gate, Suzanne Weinert, Alex Lipschultz, Mike Saenz, Marc English, Jake Mendez

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