The Austin Chronicle

Short Cuts

By Marjorie Baumgarten, January 1, 1999, Screens

The South by Southwest '99 Festivals are falling into place, and announcements about the March events are starting to come in at a steady pace. The SXSW Interactive Festival (March 13-16) has announced not one, but three keynote speakers, one per day. First up is Mark Cuban, who founded (formerly AudioNet) in 1995. currently ranks 11th of all news information and entertainment sites on the Web. Over the summer, Cuban's company went public in the most successful Internet-related IPO ever and went even higher when more than a million visitors logged onto the site on September 21 to witness President Clinton's grand jury testimony. The second day's keynote speaker is Michael Wolff, the author of Burn Rate: How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet, a firsthand account of the ups and downs of one of the earliest Internet companies. The final speaker is the acclaimed composer Philip Glass, whose appearance at SXSW comes in conjunction with an evening performance of "Monsters of Grace" at the University of Texas' Performing Arts Center (separate admission is required for this multimedia production in which 13 animated scenes are accompanied by live performances and are viewed by the audience through special three-dimensional glasses). Meanwhile, the SXSW Film Festival is also announcing some of its confirmed attendees: Velvet Goldmine and American Psycho producer Christine Vachon, critics Emanuel Levy (Variety) and John Anderson (Newsday), Larry Meistrich (The Shooting Gallery), Lili Taylor (with the locally filmed A Slipping-Down Life, which is also a Sundance selection), Caroline Kaplan and Jonathan Sehring (Independent Film Channel), Tony Safford (20th Century Fox), local filmmaker Richard Linklater, and Christina Ricci, Sara Gilbert, and Brendan Sexton III (and most of the rest of the cast of Desert Blue, the new film by Hurricane Streets' Morgan J. Freeman which is premiering at the festival). Registration fees bump up to a higher rate after Monday, January 11, so to get more info call 467-7979, see, or send e-mail to

Not every film can come out, like The Prince of Egypt did, with three separate CDs featuring music from and inspired by the film, but why does it seem they all have to plunder our rock-pop past to sell their products? A survey of the current commercials out finds "Good Lovin'" as the tune that puts the bounce in Patch Adams' clown step; "Another Brick in the Wall" setting the proper zombie tone for high school in The Faculty; "River Deep, Mountain High" as Stepmom's parents-and-children-bopping-and-bonding glue that has become a requisite scene in recent melodramas (remember Hope Floats?); and the song that AOL is undoubtedly beating itself up over for not colonizing first: "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," the come-on for You've Got Mail...

Speaking of The Faculty, it did none-too-shabby at the box office on opening weekend. It pulled in $11.8 million, placing it fifth in the rankings -- impressive figures but certainly not enough to give Scream 2's opening figures a run for their money (Scream 2 raked in more than $30 million in its opening weekend). Now the real test for The Faculty is to see how it performs over the coming weeks while its youthful target audience (despite the R rating) is still on school vacation. The Robert Rodriguez/Kevin Williamson picture is budgeted low enough (although it has an astonishing marketing outlay) that it ought to do well over the long haul. That kind of success would be a nice bonus for this Austin-lensed film.

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