MAY 9, 2008: SCREENS
BY JOE O'CONNELL
Rodriguez Tries On 'Shorts,' Aims for Space
The unusually idle – but secretive as ever – Robert Rodriguez is getting
busy again with production commencing at his local Troublemaker Studios
on Shorts from Warner Bros. and independent studio Media Rights Capital,
which describes the family film as about what happens when "a mysterious
object that falls into the hands of a group of misfit kids and their
dysfunctional families who unleash its powers on an unsuspecting
community, setting off a series of mythical misadventures." Meanwhile,
Rose McGowan tells MTV that she's still set to star in Barbarella, and
the remake/re-envisioning of the spacey space epic that originally
starred Jane Fonda is still on track, with costumes done, some sets
constructed, and a few chunks of spaceship waiting to blast off. But
don't expect filming to commence until after the potential of an actors'
strike in June passes (my prediction is for a very peaceful resolution,
unlike the writers' strike).
They Shoot Movies Here, Don't They?
We're ever-hopeful Mike Judge's next film, Extract, will shoot
hereabouts. According to Variety, it will star Jason Bateman as the
embattled boss of an extract company that sounds a whole lot like Adams
Extract, which used to call South Austin home... Meanwhile Tim
McCanlies' The Two Bobs needs volunteer extras of all shapes and sizes
for shooting of the film's Porkapalooza Festival scenes at Waterloo Park
on May 18. RSVP to letty07@...
... Rowdy Stovall's Austin-shot
Mexican Sunrise premieres during the Cannes Film Festival on May 16, but
it will look a lot different than the movie shown around the country at
festivals. Armand Assante now offers narration to the story as "the
angel of death," following some additional shooting in Florida that
tracks Stovall's original vision for his first feature.
And the Rest ...
Villa Muse has officially thrown in the towel. In a statement released
on May 5, CEO Jay Podolnick stated that his proposed studio complex "is
committed to breaking ground somewhere in Texas this year" – just not in
Austin. For more, see "Villa Muse Rolls the Credits," News, p.28... The
annual Cinemakids workshop – which began as a sidebar to the now-defunct
Cinematexas film festival – has announced a hiatus for 2008 due to
"scheduling conflicts" and pledges to be back in 2009... South by
Southwest's fifth SXSWclick is seeking your digital shorts; winners in
five categories will be screened at SXSW next March. More info is at
www.sxswclick.com... May 15 is the first deadline for the Austin Film
Festival's screenplay/teleplay competition. More at
www.austinfilmfestival.com... The Austin Gay & Lesbian International
Film Festival is accepting submissions for its My Gay Movie Competition.
Novice Texas filmmakers, hand over your shorts (no more than 10 minutes
long). More at www.agliff.org... Reel Women again is the local sponsor
of the 48 Hour Film Project, in which teams write, shoot, and edit a
short film over the June 20 weekend. More at
www.48hourfilm.com/austin... Former Austinite Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars)
is stepping back from the CW's Beverly Hills, 90210 spin-off because he
has not one but two pilots with ABC: a remake of his own former show
Cupid and something called Good Behavior... Yes, I do know they serve
mixed drinks at the Paramount Theatre.
Send tips to filmnews@...
MAY 9, 2008: NEWS
Villa Muse Rolls the Credits
BY RICHARD WHITTAKER
Villa Muse in Austin, R.I.P. The proposed 2,000-acre mixed-usage
development in eastern Travis County, with a film studio at its heart,
is officially dead. The developers broke off negotiations with the city
of Austin on Monday. In a statement, Villa Muse CEO Jay Podolnick said,
"We feel the time has come to just agree to disagree."
Mayor Will Wynn said that he was "very disappointed" with this decision,
especially since the city had been working so hard to come to some
arrangement with Villa Muse. The developers wanted their project
released from the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction – the zone,
extending five miles beyond city limits, within which developers must
apply for city approvals or exemptions. In a 4-3 vote on March 6, City
Council rejected the request, but the city and the developers had kept
The final breakdown came over how to finance the construction of
infrastructure like roads and schools. According to Jerry Converse of
Villa Muse's law firm Fulbright & Jaworski, city staff suggested putting
the development into a city-run public infrastructure district. But
Garry Kimball of Villa Muse financial advisers First Southwest Co.
called PIDs "untested and fairly inefficient" and said the plans would
have increased taxes on Villa Muse residents by 25%, making it a riskier
investment. Converse said the ETJ release would have given investors
"assurances of being repaid their investments," which a PID could not
provide. But city staff said the developer's alternative, to establish
an independent municipal utility district, could mean uncontrolled
building in the city's desired development zone.
Wynn said he could not understand why the developers took this path,
since the city had offered everything from joint public financing of
utilities to delaying annexation by decades to assist them. "If all this
project needs to be successful is to not be in this ETJ, then there are
tens of thousands of acres of lands immediately adjacent to this
property that aren't in the ETJ," he said.
So where now for Villa Muse? Converse said there are negotiations with
other Texas cities (Fort Worth and Bastrop are rumored) and plans to
break ground elsewhere before the year's end. Meanwhile, while Villa
Muse did not own the property in Travis County, they hold options to buy
it. Converse does not know what they plan to do with those options