Film News

TV to the rescue, 'Madman' Robert Rodriguez, and more news

TV saved the 2006 film star

The boob tube saved the Texas film industry in 2006. Behind seasonlong shoots for Friday Night Lights in Austin and Prison Break in Dallas (both tape through March), television projects were in the range of $70 million for the year. The state saw numbers rise from the mere $140 million in combined film/television budgets for 2005, says Bob Hudgins, head of the Texas Film Commission. Exact state numbers weren't released by press time, but Austin saw direct film/TV spending of $63.4 million, with more than $130 million in combined budgets. Not bad, but the ominous news is that inquiries to the TFC dropped from 490 in 2003 to 392 in 2005 to about 300 in 2006. Those sucking sounds you hear are from our neighboring incentivized states of Louisiana and New Mexico. Also sounding the alarm, Hudgins says, is that 20% of Texas members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees are now working out of state. The bright side comes from the Texas Motion Picture Alliance, which is loading up with weapons for the 2007 Legislature. Chief among them is the hiring of influential lobbying firm HillCo Partners, which was founded in 1998 by former state Rep. Neal T. "Buddy" Jones and insider Bill Miller, who was once on House Speaker Tom Craddick's transition team and counts first lady Anita Perry as a former employee. The firm is also allied with state Rep. Diane White Delisi's son Ted Delisi, a thirtysomething GOP player who bought out Karl Rove's old lobbying firm when Rove moved on to his White House digs. Expect Gov. Rick Perry to announce a film incentives proposal in January, and it's a safe bet it will be a lot more ambitious than the $20 million proposal approved but left unfunded in 2005.

A "Madman' dream come true

It's no secret that Robert Rodriguez has longed for years to bring the comic Madman to the big screen. Look for Dimension to finally make it happen in 2007 while Rodriguez directs one or two Sin City sequels. Mr. R. will join Elizabeth Avellán in producing Madman to be shot entirely at their Austin-based Troublemaker Studios. Longtime pal George Huang (Swimming With Sharks) will direct and co-write the script with comic creator Michale Allred, who, it was revealed in a press release, designed props for "Planet Terror," Rodriguez's half of the Grind House double bill. Quentin Tarantino's half, "Death Proof," is expected to finish production in January. Madman is described as a reimagining of the Frankenstein story jazzed up with a superhero costume.

And the rest...

Start brewing the coffee and baking the pie. David Lynch is expected here Jan. 24 for an Austin Film Society screening of his latest enigmatic film Inland Empire... Big congrats to Cyndi Williams, whose acting in Kyle Henry's Room took the Karen Morley Award for "best exemplifying a woman's place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity" from the Women Film Critics Circle... Add Shirley MacLaine to the list of inductees to the Texas Film Hall of Fame on March 9. And expect to see Ellen Burstyn, Lily Tomlin, and Anna Deavere Smith as presenters/special guests... Look for two films shot at Glen Stephens' ranch in Menard to have limited Texas theatrical runs in January, followed quickly by DVD releases. Stephens wrote and directed the horror flick Hoboken Hollow, which features C. Thomas Howell, Mike Madsen, Dennis Hopper, and Greg Evigan. He also wrote the family film River's End, which was directed by William Katt and features Barry Corbin, Clint Howard, Charles Durning, Evigan, and Katt.

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Texas Film Commission, Tom Craddick, Robert Rodriguez, George Huang, David Lynch, Shirley MacLaine

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