New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - September 18, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas
Heratd-Zeitung O Thursday, September 18,1997 0 9A
MTV’s new sitcom showcases Austin’s young, hip and eclectic
By Juan B. Elizondo Jr. Associated Press Writer
The three main actors in MTV’s “Austin Stories” aren’t the first comics to trade the stages of stand-up for the sets of sitcoms.
But unlike Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen Degeneres or Roseanne, the young actors of MTV’s first hilly scripted situation comedy aren’t household words... yet.
Laura House, Brad “Chip*’ Pope and Howard Kremer saw the first of their 13 planned installments of “Austin Stories’* premiere earlier this month.
The 30-minute sitcom is the first nationwide exposure for the three comics turned writer-actors. The show focuses on the lives of three young Austin residents. Roles, the actors say, that aren’t too hard since each has lived in Austin for sometime.
“It’s not a complete factual event of our lives, but this is us if we weren’t comics,” Ms. House said.
Ms. House, a 20-something, had just started gaining attention as a comic when MTV approached the trio for a project originally envisioned as short sketches leading to videos.
The three began writing what turned out to be enough material to fill a 30-minute format, which MTV was persuaded to air. Filming is done in Austin; much of it on the city’s streets.
Before taking the stand-up stage, Ms. House, a Texas native, skid her mother insisted she get a teaching certificate as a fallback.
“I knew I didn’t want to teach all my life, so as I got closer to getting my certification, I got up the courage to get up for ’open mike night.”’
That experience led to regular appearances at Austin comedy clubs for Ms. House and an invitation from HBO to an international comedy festival.
“My comedy was making fun of teachers we all had,” Ms. House said. “People who said, ’I hate kids.* Nice career choice.”
Kremer had the longest career in comedy before beginning the “Austin Stories” project three years ago. A New Jersey native, Kremer began stand-up in his home state. He made appearances in New York and other states before becoming a regular in Austin.
Like Ms. House and Pope, Kremer, 26, says he hopes to maintain a stand-up career while working on the sitcom.
“That’s where the comedy comes from,” he said. “That’s the engine that drives everything.”
“One really helps the other,” Pope added.
Pope, also of Texas, describes himself as in his 20s. He’s worked in comedy for about four years.
Pope says ifs somewhat strange to be part of a big production about three young people searching for direction and trying to get by.
“It’s kind of funny to have this big production to glorify what you were two years ago, before this big production,” he said.
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By BOB THOMAS Associated Press Writer
Los Angeles in the 1950s was a great place to be a reporter. Four major newspapers competed for scoops, and there were plenty to go around. The city government, from top to bottom, was rife with corruption. Cops were on the take, mobsters invaded Hollywood. Turf wars spilled blood on the Sunset Strip.
Many film noir treatments have fed on this rich material, but none more successfully than “L.A. Confidential,” the Curtis Hanson movie that is a triumph for all concerned.
Like most works in this genre, “L.A. Confidential” requires concentration to follow its densely populated plot. Basically, it is the story of three policemen.
Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) plays both sides of the law with equal skill. He acts as technical adviser for a TV cop series with such dialogue as, “Just give me the facts, ma’am.** Seemingly an ideal officer, he engages in a blackmail scheme with a seamy scandal magazine.
Bud White (Russell Crowe) is a Hamlet-like lawman whose rage for revenge sometimes overcomes his desire to do the right thing. He instinctively attacks men who abuse women (his mother was beaten to death).
Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) bears the legacy of his father, a cop killed in the line of duty. He brings to his work an altruism that is ridiculed by his fellow officers; he is shunned when he reports misdeeds on the force. A seemingly docile chap who wears glasses, he can respond fiercely to a crisis.
Also in the rich gallery of characters:
Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger), a cynical call girl made up to resemble Veronica Lake; Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito), who publishes a paper called Hush Hush; Dudley Smith (James Cromwell), the firm-handed police commander; Pierce Patchftt (David Strathairn), t social figure who deals in underworld matters, including a stable of whores who are movie star look-alikes.
The cast even includes reallife mob figures Mickey Cohen (Patf Gtffrlfoyle’)"and Johnny Stompanato (Paolo Seganti).
“L.A. Confidential’* stems from the hard-bitten book by James Edroy, and it retains the intricacy of a well-written novel. Brian Heigetand and Curtis Hanson wrote the script, and its crisp dialogue and outbursts of violence befit the era.
Hanson’s achievement as director cannot be overrated. He moves swiftly from scene to scene, yet he allows the actors space to define their characters. Producers will be adding his name to their most-wanted list.
Spacey gives another of his masterful portraits of morally ambivalent characters. He is almost overshadowed by two young Australians: Crowe and Pearce. Both are tomorrow’s stars.
Basinger adds dimension to the familiar role of the gold-hearted hooker. Cromwell, Farmer Hoggett in “Babe,” brings power to the role of top cop. DeVito is suitably venal as the blackmailing scandalmonger. Look for “L.A. Confidential** to figure prominently in next
spring’s Academy Awards.
The wft?W» Bros. release was produced) by Arson Milchan, Michael Nathanson and Hanson. Rated R for language, nudity and violence. Running time: 136 minutes.
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