Biz Buzz

Texas Production News

Mum, or a close variation thereof, is the word thus far when it comes to a pair of highly anticipated productions scheduled to begin shooting around Austin this summer and fall. A Michael Bay-produced remake of Tobe Hooper's classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre is up first, with a tentative July start date. Commercial and video director Marcus Nispel is set to direct the project from a script by Hooper and original co-screenwriter Kim Henkel (who also helmed 1994's Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre), with the production taking place just outside of Austin city limits. Web guru Harry Knowles says people associated with the production told him the film would be a straight remake of the original, "minus all the gore," which further mystifies matters since Hooper's film was virtually gore-free to begin with.

The other 500-pound gorilla sitting outside our door is Ron Howard's Disney/Imagine film about the Alamo (scripted by indie writer/director John Sayles). Although nothing has been signed yet, set construction has already begun in Dripping Springs, with the whole of Alamo-era San Antonio being re-created right down to the vegetation and presumably Santa Ana's five o'clock shadow. The producers and production designers apparently feel confident enough about their locations to have broken ground in Dripping Springs, rationalizing that even if Howard's film doesn't get the go-ahead to film in Texas, the $3-4 million pre-production outlay will be worth the investment. No casting announcements have been made yet -- so far no one affiliated with the film is saying anything much at all -- but reliable sources indicate Rick Perry pal and professional scowler Russell Crowe has expressed interest in the role of Sam Houston, with Ethan Hawke reportedly eyeing the part of William Travis. Billy Bob Thornton's name -- as well as a few other A-list actors -- have been dropped repeatedly, although no deals have been confirmed.

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