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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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Austin Film Festival, Heart of Film Screenwriters Conference, Darren Star, Richard LaGravenese, Bill Broyles, Polly Platt, Bill Wittliff, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz, Lem Dobbs, John Lee Hancock, Scott Alexander, J.J. Abrams

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