True Hollywood Stories

Texans who took a chance and headed west tell all

We know their histories by heart. At least one of them will stare back at us from a newsstand this year, be it Matthew McConaughey or Renée Zellweger. Somewhere in a local suburb, the next Richard Linklater or Robert Rodriguez is tooling around with his or her own Mini DV camera. Ex-Motion Picture Association of America President Jack Valenti attributes much of his success to his Texan roots. In his Golden Globe acceptance speech for his Best Actor performance in Ray, Jamie Foxx thanked his hometown of Terrell, Texas. While rooming together at the University of Texas, Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson created a short film called "Bottle Rocket." Even Madeleine Stowe, Sandra Bullock, and Billy Bob Thornton have been drawn into the local mystique, moving onto their own ranches or into lakeside mansions.

Yet we also know those who have packed up their car and taken I-10 23 hours west, to give their dreams a chance. "All Roads Lead to Los Angeles" reads a postcard you can buy at many a convenience store in the sprawling metropolis. Just wandering through this endless city, you will encounter things that remind you of home: a Texas license plate idling in traffic one lane over, the state flag pinned to the wall in a Burbank Ribs restaurant, Shiner beer at the neighborhood grocery store.

Then there are the fall Saturday mornings at Mr. Pockets, a sports bar in Manhattan Beach, where Longhorn and Aggie fans pack in to sardinelike capacity. They wear their respective burnt orange or maroon, root and drink hard, and wistfully reminisce on their last trip "home." At commercial breaks, many also make contacts: exchanging phone numbers and sharing inside information, exploiting the unique gray area between business and pleasure that greases the gears of the entertainment industry.

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