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by Jen Scoville

Hill Country resident and big-time Hollywood producer Lynda Obst may split her days between two locales, but stretching her time certainly isn't compromising her Texas ties or her reputation as a worthy player, the same rep that got her rated among the top women in entertainment in the December 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. This week, Obst is representing Fox in negotiations for the rights to Olympic security guard Richard Jewell's story, and it was announced in Daily Variety on Monday that she was close to nabbing the deal, beating out TriStar and HBO with more bucks. Here on the Third Coast, Obst recently sold 20th Century Fox the pitch for singer-songwriter/playwright Jo Carol Pierce's Tornado Jam, the Lubbock music story Pierce is co-writing with friend and clothing/production designer Sharon Ray Ely in collaboration with Obst herself, who will make her directing debut with this film. Pierce describes the screenplay-in-progress as "a conglomeration of all the stuff that makes Lubbock so weird," a musical where the music comes naturally from within the characters themselves. Though the team has been working on the idea for years now and possesses "enough material for 20 screenplays," Pierce says Obst has provided a real focus for the story. A production time table and release date will be finalized when the draft of Tornado Jam is completed...

Another local deal involves Silence Films' CIA documentary Under the Flag, whose TV and limited theatrical rights are currently under "look and review" at Turner Original Productions. Writer-director Jamie Otis has amassed on film numerous interviews with former CIA agents that will seek to reveal covert operations and document the effects these events had on agents' lives. Turner likes what they see so far; they've advanced the company $15,000 with more to follow. Richard Linklater and Anne Walker-McBay (producer subUrbia, The Newton Boys) have executive producer credits on Under the Flag; Lee Daniel (subUrbia) is director of photography. Upon Turner's total acceptance, and pending negotiation with attorneys, the filmmakers hope to interview Castro himself, in Cuba...

An equally ambitious undertaking could result in a movie from reclusive director Terrence Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven) who hasn't directed a film since the late Seventies. According to The Drudge Report (http://www.lainet.com/~drudge/drudge.htm), the Austinite is set to film The Thin Red Line, an adaptation of James Jones' novel that follows some of the characters in From Here to Eternity, in Australia this coming June. The cast is rumored to include Sean Penn, Gary Oldman, Leonardo Di Caprio, and Johnny Depp...

Surfing for Surfers: Where Gibby left off on the airwaves, King Coffey picks up on the Internet as producer and host of Brainwash, a 24-hour online radio station broadcast in RealAudio. Starting February 1 point your browsers to http://www.buttholesurfers.com/ for Coffey commentary and music that promises many obscure and yet-to-be discovered bands (a playlist is also available at the site)...

The deadline for Reel of Fortune, the Super-8 festival sponsored by Austin Cinemaker
Co-op announced last week, has been extended until Feb. 17. The festival itself will take place March 2. For more information call 371-7422.

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