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The heart of rock & roll may be Cleveland, but the 'Heart of Film'?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if television's golden boy Darren Star (Sex and the City, Beverly Hills, 90210, The $treet) mixed and matched a few of his beloved shows, creating new hybrids out of old favorites? I mean, really now, who wouldn't want to watch a gritty, Manhattan financiers 'n' bohos drama called Sex in the $treet? God, you can almost taste the decline of Western civilization in that one, you know?

Unlikely, of course, but you can be sure to bring the topic up (or I will) at the 2002 Austin Film Festival's Heart of Film Screenwriters Conference (Oct. 10-17), at which Star, along with a barrage of other favored screenwriters, filmmakers, and assorted hangers-on will hold forth on panels, screen their works, and generally offer the rare dollop of hope to Austin's not-unappreciative film community. Star is set to receive the fest's 2002 Outstanding Television Writer Award; Richard LaGravenese (writer/director, Living Out Loud; writer, The Fisher King, Beloved) has netted this year's Distinguished Screenwriter Award.

Also look for local heroes Bill Broyles (Planet of the Apes, Apollo 13), Polly Platt (Broadcast News, A Map of the World), and Bill Wittliff (The Perfect Storm), and a host of non-Texas superstars, including sibling duo Chris and Paul Weitz (About a Boy), Lem Dobbs (The Limey), John Lee Hancock (The Rookie), and Scott Alexander (Ed Wood).

Festival Fun Fact No. 44: Writer/director J.J. Abrams (and 2002 panelist) created everybody's favorite collegiate femme-angst drama Felicity and penned the Michael Bay explode-o-thon Armageddon! Imagine the possibilities: "Felicity, there's a giant chunk of space-rock headed our way and only you can save us! Oh, and I, uh, I think I love you." "I guess that explains that massive deep-core drill you got there, Ben ..."

Conference badges are still available. Visit for more info, or call 800/310-FEST. See next week's issue for preview of AFF's competition and noncompetition screenings.

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