Film News

Prepare for Pepe Serna; plus, the fall slate and Dallas' counterpunch

Serna perfect sleeper

Pepe Serna's name may not be familiar, but his face is. Think Angel in Scarface, Mundo in American Me, and most definitely Reno Nevada in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. The Corpus Christi native has hundreds of film and television credits, but he's never played the lead. Leon Rodriguez is setting out to remedy that with Clean Sweep, a low-budget, noirish "cloak and dagger" film that is set to go before the lens in Austin in October. The story has Serna as a CIA agent being forced into retirement and hunting the guy who caused his wife's death. On the agent's trail is another agent played by Fabian Carrillo, an actor/martial arts pro who starred with Serna in Latin Dragon. Rodriguez sees the script as paralleling Serna's own story: that of a respected journeyman actor recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild, but still falling just outside the limelight. "He's just such a brilliant actor," he said. "This is his chance to shine." Rodriguez is still completing the script and has had to make changes to add fight scenes that will be choreographed by Tsuyoshi Abe, who has organized wire stunts for films including Collateral, Daredevil, and The Replacement Killers. If Rodriguez's name is familiar, you might remember his illustrious music career, including stints as road manager for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and sound engineer for Frank Zappa, Delbert McClinton, and Asleep at the Wheel.

Fall film fills fast

Look for the lazy days of summer to end for the Austin film industry by October, when shooting is expected to be in full swing on a Jonathan Liebesman-directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel (the Platinum Dunes folks have been scouting locations), Richard Linklater's Coyote, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse, and perhaps another project from Burnt Orange Productions.

Dallas does movies

The Metroplex isn't content to let Austin take the Texas filmmaking crown. Just completed is Amy Talkington's The Night of the White Pants, featuring Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom) as a Big D powerbroker whose wife (Janine Turner of Northern Exposure) kicks him out with an empty wallet. He falls in with his daughter (Selma Blair of Hellboy) and her punk rocker boyfriend (Nick Stahl of Sin City) for a wild night. On deck is Jon Keeyes' action/adventure film Living & Dying, with a cast said to include Michael Madsen and Edward Furlong. And expect cheerleading feature The Team to shoot for a couple of weeks in Dallas soon.

And the rest

The How to Eat Fried Worms kids have been escaping the heat in Wimberley recently by jumping into Blue Hole during breaks. Kimberly Williams-Paisley of According to Jim and Father of the Bride, has signed to play the mom, while Tom Cavanagh, star of TV's Ed, has joined the cast as the dad... An I Dream of Jeannie movie? They've made Austin inquiries recently… Tommy Lee Jones' Texas-shot The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which was honored at Cannes, will have its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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Leon Rodriguez, Pepe Serna, Clean Sweep, How to Eat Fried Worms, The Night of the White Pants

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