Lone Stars in Good Company
Texas Film Hall of Fame 2010
Ten years ago, in March 2001, the Texas Film Hall of Fame debuted in a cavernous airplane hangar in the old Robert Mueller Airport. Only four months prior to that, the city of Austin had set aside a portion of the land and facilities of its recently relocated airport to be converted for use as soundstages and production space for local and out-of-town film and television shoots. Quickly, one of the hangar soundstages was gussied up for a gala, and the first Texas Film Hall of Fame delivered a crowded hangar full of celebrities, celebrants, business associates, well-wishers, and more.
Now fast-forward a decade. The TFHOF requires year-round planning and has become the biggest fundraiser of the Austin Film Society, which oversees Austin Studios. The event is still held in the cavernous but festively decked-out space, although over the years it has come to look more like a soundstage than an abandoned airplane holding space. The many boldfaced names the hangar has played host to include Sissy Spacek, Liz Smith, Terrence Malick, Jack Valenti, Farrah Fawcett, Forest Whitaker, Marcia Gay Harden, Matthew McConaughey, Betty Buckley, Morgan Fairchild, Bill Paxton, Cybill Shepherd, Ali McGraw, and Billy Bob Thornton.
Two Texas actors will join those ranks at the 2010 Texas Film Hall of Fame ceremony on March 11. Bruce McGill will probably always remain best known to the public for his role in National Lampoon's Animal House, one of his very first film appearances in 1978. He also had a long run on the TV show MacGyver as the character Jack Dalton, a connection that's bound to resurface with the forthcoming release of the Saturday Night Live spoof MacGruber (which is premiering during South by Southwest). Working steadily over the last three decades, the San Antonio native has racked up credits in projects as diverse as Silkwood, Shallow Hal, W., and The Legend of Bagger Vance. McGill's Animal House co-star Tim Matheson will be on hand to induct his friend into the Texas Film Hall of Fame.
Lukas Haas was raised in Austin. The actor first received national attention at the age of 8 when he appeared in 1985 with Harrison Ford in Witness as the Amish boy who sees a murder. Four years later, he received an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of AIDS victim Ryan White in The Ryan White Story. By the age of 15, Haas had already been in the business for 10 years and received further acclaim for his appearance with Laura Dern in Rambling Rose. He has worked with such directors as Woody Allen and Tim Burton and has just completed work on Christopher Nolan's forthcoming Inception. Haas will be inducted by singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett.
The Warren Skaaren Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Michael Nesmith, who will, of course, always be remembered as one of the Monkees, the intergalactic Sixties' music and television phenomenon. Although he remains a working musician, the Houston-born/Dallas-bred multitalent is also a trailblazing film producer of Eighties cult classics Repo Man and Tapeheads, to name but two. Nesmith has also been in the forefront of the merger between music and video, having won the first Grammy awarded to a music video for Elephant Parts and conceiving and executive-producing the Nickelodeon show Pop Clips, which inspired MTV. Nesmith's award will be presented to him by artist Edward Ruscha.
Surely no introduction is necessary to the work of Quentin Tarantino, who will become the latest recipient of the Tom Mix Honorary Texan Award. He arrives at this ceremony straight from last weekend's Academy Awards, where his film Inglourious Basterds was up for a total of eight Oscars. In attendance at that first TFHOF gathering, where he presented his Texas-born agent Mike Simpson with the Warren Skaaren Lifetime Achievement Award, Tarantino is no stranger to the city of Austin. A longtime friend of directors Robert Rodriguez and Richard Linklater and Ain't It Cool News' Harry Knowles, Tarantino filmed part of Death Proof in Austin, in addition to hosting here his sporadic but legendary QT Fest (programmed with favorite films from his collection). Tarantino will receive his award from Linklater and Rollergirl Punky Bruiser, who appeared in Death Proof.
Catherine O'Hara will be on hand to accept the Star of Texas Award for the 1997 comedy Waiting for Guffman, which was filmed in Austin and Lockhart. Directed and co-written by Christopher Guest, the film also stars Guest as the self-deluded Corky St. Clair, who tries to mount a local theatrical production with an eccentric and minimally talented cast of amateur players. O'Hara co-stars alongside Fred Willard as a pair of married travel agents who have never left their hometown.
Returning this year as emcee is actor and Texas rancher Thomas Haden Church, whose notable appearances over the years include such films as Sideways and Spider-Man 3 and the TV miniseries Broken Trail, for which he received an Emmy.
It's hard to believe that 10 years have elapsed since the Texas Film Hall of Fame got its start. Now a virtual institution, the event seems assured – so long as movies are made in Texas and by Texans – to continue onward through the decades.
The 2010 Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards ceremony takes place Thursday, March 11, at Austin Studios. For more info, visit www.austinfilm.org.