If the Lege is in session, it must be time for Special Session. UT professor and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Stekler hosts this public-affairs series, leading discussions with some of the state's prominent journalists and politicians about issues the Texas State Legislature will face. Here's a glance at the first four episodes:
"The New Lege": A look at the previous session and speculation about what's coming up in the 80th.
"John Sharp Speaks": The former state comptroller talks about restructuring school finance laws and his role in writing the legislation.
"The State of Human Services": The state of mental-health-care services for children after four years of budget cuts.
"Ann Richards: Remembered": Features a short documentary made during the charismatic stateswoman's last campaign, with words from those who knew her and covered her life in politics.
Special Session premieres Sunday, Feb. 4, 11am on KLRU and airs again on Wednesdays at 9:30pm on KLRU2. Don't fret, To the Contrary fans. Although Special Session is taking its Sunday time slot, To the Contrary will air prior to Special Session at 10:30am on Sundays. Now, which usually airs at 10:30am, moves to 2:30pm. Check local listings for additional airtimes.
More local color: SXSW Presents returns with a new slate of films first featured at SXSW. First up, Barbecue: A Texas Love Story screening with "Vegan Candy." Hosted by Matt Dentler, SXSW Presents airs Tuesdays at 9pm on PBS.
Also on PBS: The dependably excellent Independent Lens returns after a brief hiatus with a strong February lineup. Leading the way is Robert Levi's Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life, about the life of Duke Ellington's co-composer, arranger, and right-hand man. As a closeted gay man in the Forties and Fifies, Strayhorn's contribution to jazz went largely unheralded. Levi's film gives Strayhorn his due. Airs Feb. 6 at 10pm.
Channel surfing: Austin Music and Entertainment Television has partnered with Antone's to present a monthly music series benefiting the Austin Music Foundation. The new ME Live!: Emerging Artists series features up-and-coming bands performing before a live audience at Antone's. The inaugural taping on Feb. 1 features the Meagan Tubb Band; Tacks, the Boy Disaster; and the Channel. Show begins at 7pm, and admission is $5, with part of the proceeds going to the Austin Music Foundation. For more information, go to www.metelevision.com or www.austinmusicfoundation.org.
I Pledge Allegiance to "The OC'
Yes, it's true. The OC (Fox) is ending after three mostly good years. The last episode airs Feb. 22. Already, there is an online movement to save the series (and declare your loyalty to the show).
Now, my dear "TV Eye" readers and famously devoted The OC watchers, I don't want to be the skunk at the picnic, but series creator Josh Schwartz has already signed on to two other projects and has pledged to make The OC's swan song as memorable as possible the sort of exit that will reward fans for their devotion. This is a good thing. And all good things must end.
Still, at press time, more than 599,000 fans had joined the Save The OC movement. You can, too, at www.fox.com/oc/savetheoc. Who am I to stop you? However, I have two cautionary words: Gilmore Girls. The show has been a pod-people version of itself since its original creator Amy Sherman-Palladino departed (under less than pleasant circumstances). Even if the Save The OC movement works, who's to say Schwartz will be around to keep its spirit alive? And, if he is, remember what happened when David E. Kelley spread himself too thin in 1999. Need I remind you of Snoops?
Last week's column on Ugly Betty brought a wave of responses, some thoughtful, some, to put it kindly, critical. At any rate, I touched a nerve and intend to revisit the subject after I've had a chance to digest it all.
As always, stay tuned.