Radio personality Bobby Bones announces stint on ‘American Idol’

Look out, “American Idol” fans. Bobby Bones is on his way.

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Bones, the 37-year-old host of the country-radio format “Bobby Bones Show,” which is syndicated on more than 100 stations, told his millions of listeners Wednesday morning that he has been selected as this season’s “American Idol” mentor.

“I just feel like it’s too good to be true,” Bones told the Statesman earlier this month before breaking the news on-air. “I never thought I would get a call back. Then they called about two months ago and said, ‘We really think this could be something for you.’ … A couple days ago they confirmed it, they want me to do it.”

This season’s judges are Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry. Bones will appear as mentor on the show for several episodes in April.

RELATED: How Bobby Bones became the biggest name in country music

“It’s tough for me to even describe it,” Bones told the American-Statesman. “(But I do) bring something different to the show, meaning I’ve worked in a lot of different formats and these singers are going to be singing a lot of different things. I think I’ll bring perspective to that side of it instead of being another singer or another artist. I’ve done a little artist-ing and a little singing and a little breaking of new talent and a lot of radio. I’ve been on both sides of the microphone.”

The new season of “American Idol” kicks off on March 11 on ABC.

‘Veronica Mars’ started as a YA novel set at Austin-area Westlake High School

 

A long time ago, “Veronica Mars” used to be set in Austin. But we haven’t thought about that lately at all. Until now.

Kristen Bell plays the title character in “Veronica Mars.” The film version of the ’90s television series opened in March, 2014. CREDIT: ROBERT VOETS

Fans of the the CW’s criminally short-lived teen detective series “Veronica Mars” are well aware that the show took place in the radically divided Neptune, Calif., a town where all that separated the elite socialites from the seedy criminals was a murky gray line of questionable morality.

But, as Entertainment Weekly has revealed, the show wasn’t always set in California. In fact, “Veronica Mars” wasn’t even originally imagined as a TV show. At first, it was going to be a Young Adult novel set right here in Austin at Westlake High School, and the titular character later became Veronica’s dad, Keith.

First things first: If you haven’t already seen “Veronica Mars,” you’re missing out. The plot centered around Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell), a high school student who moonlighted as a private eye for her father Keith. Keith was a former sheriff who opened up his own detective agency when he failed to get re-elected after he accused a Neptune socialite of murdering his own daughter (and Veronica’s best friend).

Related: This year’s ATX Television Festival is scheduled for June. Here’s what’s scheduled so far.

“Veronica Mars” was full of noir, camp, crime, quippy teens and lots of high school mysteries to solve. It also went to some pretty dark places in its examinations of class, race, wealth, sex and morality. The show was cancelled after three seasons, but a crowd-funded film was released in 2014 after a fourth season pilot was ordered by a network but never aired. Since the film’s release, series creator Rob Thomas has partnered with Austin author Jennifer Graham to write two books continuing the story of the plucky sleuth.

Rob Thomas on the red carpet for the movie Veronica Mars in Austin, Texas on March 7, 2014. (Thao Nguyen/FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Anyway, Thomas originally intended for the story to be told as a young adult novel. He started a draft, “Untitled Teen Detective,” in 1996. That draft was shared with Entertainment Weekly this week for its “Hollywood’s Greatest Untold Stories” issue.

From the archives: Fresh from filming ‘Veronica Mars,’ Rob Thomas returns triumphant

Thomas set “Untitled Teen Detective” in Austin. His story revolved around Keith Mars, teenage detective. Keith became a detective after his father quit a promising career with the Austin Police Department to open up a private investigation agency. Like in the TV show, there is no mother figure in the picture. Also like in the show, the titular young detective starts out by catching the parents of his wealthy Westlake High School classmates in after-hours trysts at seedy motels.

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Another Texas twist: Keith pines for a popular girl who’s said to be dating a University of Texas football player.

But perhaps the biggest Austin element to the “Veronica Mars”-that-almost-was is a still-unsolved mystery that’s only hinted at. In the original draft, Keith discovers that the reason his dad left the police force is because he knowingly sent the wrong men to Death Row for involvement in Austin’s “Chocolate Shop Murders case,” a name which bears a striking resemblance to the real-life, still-unsolved Austin yogurt shop murders from 1991.

Years later, when Thomas took ideas from the draft into a spec script he sold to UPN (now The CW), Keith Mars became the disgraced law enforcement father figure, the main character became Veronica, and the main plot centered on a different kid of murder.

All of the Texas setting came natural to Thomas. He grew up in Texas, graduating from San Marcos High school in 1983. His father was a vice-principal at Westlake until the early 1990s, and Thomas attended Texas Christian University on a football scholarship before transferring to UT and graduating in 1987. Thomas was working as a high school teacher at John H. Reagan High School in Austin when he wrote the first draft of “Untitled Teen Detective,” and many characters in “Veronica Mars” were named for Austinites he met or musicians he played with. The music of several Austin bands also played in the show.

From the archives: ‘Veronica Mars’ film has many Austin music moments

Alas, the Texas version of “Veronica Mars” is not the version that made it to the small screen. Maybe someday, if Netflix reboots the series (one can only hope) a mystery might take Veronica all the way to Austin.

Richard Linklater on that time he got fired from an Austin hotel, and other words of wisdom about money

 

“Every single commodity you produce is a piece of your own death!” — Hitchhiker, “Slacker”

“Didja ever look at a dollar bill, man? There’s some spooky s*** goin’ on there.” — Slater, “Dazed and Confused”

The films of acclaimed director and Austin resident Richard Linklater don’t explicitly deal with money, but the characters in Linklater’s films often ruminate on philosophic ideas about money, capitalism, life, love, time and everything in between.

Austin Film Society Founder and Artistic Director Richard Linklater poses on the red carpet for the Texas Film Awards at Austin Studios where he later presented Shirley MacLaine with the lifetime achievement award. (Suzanne Cordeiro/American-Statesman)

Those philosophic ideas about money (such as the quotes above) stem from Linklater’sown experiences. Linklater shared those experiences in a 2016 guest blog post for WealthSimple, an investment website. In the year-old essay, Linklater writes about his relationship with money, and why he was glad he got fired from a job at La Mansion in Austin (now the Doubletree Hotel off I-35 North).

More: Richard Linklater adaptation of ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ starring Cate Blanchett to start filming July 2017

The story goes like this:

When he was 27 years old, Linklater was working as a night bellhop at La Mansion. One night, he went to go pick up a customer at the airport and bragged about how his hotel job basically allowed him to read and write and he guessed that during a regular 8-hour shift, he only did about an hour to 90 minutes of actual work.

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Turns out, the guest Linklater picked up was the assistant regional manager for the hotel chain, and Linklater found a pink slip at the desk when he showed up to work 10 days later.

Related: Shirley MacLaine walks the Texas Film Awards red carpet with Richard Linklater

But, he said that experience allowed him to travel to New York and hone his screenwriting skills for a summer. Then, his filmmaking career started to take off.

“That Doubletree Hotel isn’t far from my daughter’s school, and we drive past it all the time. I’ve pointed it out to her: ‘See that place? That’s the last real job your dad ever had, the last honest buck I ever made!'” Linklater wrote in the blog post.

Linklater also dropped some pearls of wisdom about money, including these quotes that wouldn’t sound out of place in one of his films:

  • “The best advice I ever got about money was from a doctor I met a long time ago. He had plenty of money, and he told me, ‘Invest in yourself.'”
  • “Ultimately, for me, money is a bad motivator. I’m so blessed because I’ve never really done stuff for money. I just try to make the films I want to make and tell the stories I care most about. Once you really don’t give a f*** about money, it comes scratching at your door.”
  • “When you grow up pretty poor, you see money as the thing that will solve all of your problems.”
  • “Once you have a reasonable level of comfort—you’ve got a roof over your head, you can pay your bills, your utilities aren’t being shut off, you can fix your car—having more money doesn’t really increase your happiness.”

Read Linklater’s full blog post here.

Austin’s Oilcan Harry’s will host official “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing parties

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” returns for its ninth season on Friday, and Warehouse District nightclub Oilcan Harry’s has been chosen by VH1 to help celebrate this fashionable occasion.

Premiere viewing parties on March 24 and March 31 will give you the chance to win some “Drag Race” swag and enjoy the adventures of the queens competing for the ultimate crown. The free fun begins at 7 p.m. March 24; 18 and older are welcome.

The first episode features a guest appearance from Lady Gaga.

Throughout the season, Oilcan Harry’s will host trivia contests during each Friday night episode, followed by performances by local female impersonators. And the nightclub will be bringing in Season 9 contestants throughout the spring as special guest performers at the weekly Super Sunday Show at 11 p.m. and midnight.

Season 8 of “Drag Race,” you may recall, featured Austin’s own Cynthia Lee Fontaine.

SXSW 2017: Turns out Fred Armisen loves Mighty Cone just as much as you do

In today’s edition of “Celebrities: They’re just like us!” I present to you Fred Armisen eating Mighty Cone at a surf park in the middle of downtown Austin, which is a sentence I could only type if it was South by Southwest — oh hey, turns out it is.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 31: Actor Fred Armisen attends The 74th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Peabody Awards)

Anyway, the “Portlandia” star and “Saturday Night Live” veteran was spotted chatting with folks at the Animal Kingdom installation on Fourth Street and Congress Avenue on Sunday while enjoying fare from one of Austin’s most beloved food trucks, Mighty Cone.

RELATED: Surf’s up and the stars are at out at TNT’s ‘Animal Kingdom’ pop-up beach

Fred Armisen eats Mighty Cone at the Animal Kingdom installation on March 12, 2017. Alyssa Vidales/American-Statesman

It’s hard to tell what he’s eating, but it looks like it could be french fries. Solid choice, but has nobody told Fred how good the hot and crunchy cones are? I mean, you’ve got chicken, you’ve got avocado, you’ve got mango-jalapeno slaw, you’ve got ancho sauce … if anybody sees Fred, advise him to go with the cone next time.

Fred Armisen eats Mighty Cone at the Animal Kingdom installation on March 12, 2017. Alyssa Vidales/American-Statesman

 

Seven Chuck Norris facts that are true (really) for his 77th birthday

Chuck Norris accepts an award from Mayor Will Wynn in front of City Hall in 2007, where the mayor presented him with an Honorary Austin Citizen Award and declared Friday, September 22 as Chuck Norris Day. Photo by Kelly West / American-Statesman

On this day in 1940, Carlos Ray Norris was born into a world that did not yet have M&Ms or Cheerios or color television. In fact, it would be another decade before that world would see an Uzi submachine gun*.

And just in case your brain is quicker with “The Octagon” quotes** than math, I’ll help you out: Chuck Norris is 77 years old today.

That’s right. He’s within a half-decade of Woody Allen. Though his body count is probably a good deal higher.***

Chuck Norris stars as ‘Booker’ in ‘The Expendables 2.’ Photo by Frank Masi

In those 77 years, Norris has been: an unathletic and introverted child, an Air Force air policeman, a martial arts student, a martial arts instructor, a martial arts competitor, a martial arts champion, a bad-movie actor, a legitimate film opponent for Bruce Lee, a movie star, a product pitchman, a television star, a Christian author, a philanthropist, an outspoken Republican and … of course … an Internet meme.****

But don’t worry. I’m going to skip the worn-out Chuck Norris Facts cliché***** (what is this? 2005?) and celebrate Mr. Norris’ 77th birthday with these seven Chuck Norris … uh … true things:

1. Though he lives on a sprawling ranch near College Station, Chuck Norris is only a naturalized Texan. He was born in Oklahoma and raised there and in Kansas and California. However,  his tricked-out website points out he did acquire his nickname “Chuck” during Air Force basic training in San Antonio. And in 2010, Norris was named an honorary Texas Ranger by then-Gov. Rick Perry.

2. Chuck Norris is not an unstoppable force — at least early on. On his website, he tells the story of visiting the Helio Gracie School of Ju-Jitsu in Brazil. When the elderly instructor told Norris to punch him in the face, he argued before meekly starting to comply … “and that’s the last thing I remember,” he writes. “Respect your elders,” he says. “Or they’ll choke you out.”

3. Chuck Norris has his own brand of water: CForce. Its website boasts “CFORCE doesn’t flow from the ground; it bursts from an artesian spring with the same unharnessed power and intensity you’d expect from Chuck Norris’ roundhouse kick.” The water comes from a well discovered on Norris’ ranch.

4. Chuck Norris’ store on his website is as colorful as you’d expect. Among the items available are a 2-foot-by-3-foot “Ethics” poster and a $6 license plate frame that reads “Fact: Chuck Norris doesn’t race cars. Cars race Chuck Norris.” It also points out that any item can be autographed for $100 extra — though the extra money goes to Norris’ Kickstart Kids charity.

In 2008, Chuck Norris was an outspoken supporter of presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Photo by Alex Brandon / Associated Press

5. Chuck Norris, who warned in a 2012 Youtube video that our country “may be lost forever” if President Obama was re-elected, used his WorldNetDaily.com column to fuel the conspiracy fires regarding the 2015 Jade Helm 15 operation. Later that month, he backed down a little.

6. Here’s one from IMDB.com: His voice and drama coach was Jonathan Harris, of Lost in Space (1965) fame. Harris “taught him how to speak,” by putting his fingers in Norris’s mouth, and stretching the mouth wide open. Chuck names Jonathan as the only man in the world who could get away with doing that to him… which Harris was always proud of.

7. The first Westerner to ever be awarded the rank of 8th Degree Black Belt Grand Master in Tae Kwon Do, Chuck Norris is known for his own martial art: Chun Kuk Do. Among his famous students are Donny and Marie Osmond, Steve McQueen and Bob Barker.

* Sorry, “Invasion U.S.A” fans, Chuck Norris was not born with an Uzi in each hand.
** “Oh my God, Ninjaaaaaa …. it has to be … but they don’t exist anymore …”
*** This website has his kill count at 458, right between Jean Claude Van Damme and Nicolas Cage
**** Chuck Norris can hit you so hard that he can actually alter your DNA. Decades from now your descendants will occasionally clutch their heads and yell “What the hell was that?”
****** Chuck Norris can pick oranges from an apple tree and make the best lemonade you’ve ever tasted. Chuck Norris’ blood type is AK-47. The best part of waking up is not Folgers in your cup, but knowing that Chuck Norris didn’t kill you in your sleep.

The most Texas tidbits from this Anna Nicole Smith profile

This week marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of Texas native Anna Nicole Smith, who captured the heart of America with her beautiful looks and the rags-to-riches tale of a dirt-poor small-town girl turned superstar.

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 12: Anna Nicole Smith walks the runway at the Heatherette fashion show on February 12, 2004 during Olympus 2004 Fashion Week, in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 12: Anna Nicole Smith walks the runway at the Heatherette fashion show on February 12, 2004 during Olympus 2004 Fashion Week, in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Buzzfeed published a profile detailing the late American icon’s rise to fame and the subsequent destruction of her image, her life and her health. Here are a few Texas highlights from the profile on Smith, who was born in Houston and raised in Mexia.

“…the high-fashion look didn’t count for much in Mexia, or even in Dallas or Houston, and Vickie Lynn needed a body that would help her survive the world she lived in, and maybe even escape it.”

Born Vickie Lynn Hogan, the model’s 6-foot figure and stunning looks were too much for the small town (Mexia’s population was only about 6,000 in the 1960s, when Smith was born). So she left Mexia when she was 18, a single mother recently divorced from her allegedly abusive husband, and she headed to Houston.

“Though inescapably connected with a commodity drawn up from deep in the ground, Houston belongs to the ocean.”

The profile details a part of the Lone Star State many Texans know well: “Dry farmland” giving way to “pink skies and sudden downpours” all-too-common on the land along the Gulf Coast.

Buzzfeed writes:

“It’s a port city, and like all port cities, it is a place of transformation: a place where the skyline can change seemingly overnight, where fortunes can be won and lost in an instant, and where the people who kept you down all your life can’t keep you down anymore, because you can become whatever you say you are — or at least whatever the city will pay you to be.”

In Houston, Smith — still going by Vickie Lynn — found jobs at Walmart and Red Lobster in the mid-1980s.

“Houston was the implant capital of America…”

Now here’s a “today I learned…” story you can tell your friends about.

Silicone breast implants were invented in 1961 by two surgeons from Baylor University, and according to Buzzfeed, they were one of Houston’s hottest commodities in the 1980s, “almost as synonymous with Texas-sized dreams and desires as the lasso was.”

However, Houston also later became “the implant-related lawsuit capital of the world” in the early 1990s, as women sued manufacturers for faulty implants.

She became Anna Nicole Smith while dancing at a Houston strip club

After realizing Walmart and Red Lobster couldn’t pay the bills, Smith took a job dancing at the Executive Suite, a strip club near Houston Intercontinental Airport.

Buzzfeed reports the businessmen who frequented the club didn’t much care for Smith’s body, as she was “both too big and too small for the business of seduction.”

So Smith saved her money to get breast implants and buy herself the body of Anna Nicole Smith, saying goodbye to Vickie Lynn and landing a job at Rick’s, the “legendary Houston strip club that some claimed had singlehandedly popularized the silicone implant,” Buzzfeed writes.

She met J. Howard Marshall while dancing at Rick’s in 1988. Marshall, an elderly man who had gotten rich on the East Texas oil boom of the early 20th century, would later become Smith’s husband.

Read the rest of the profile, which goes into detail about Smith’s professional life, her personal relationships and her ties to her Texas family. 

 

Luke Wilson wants you to wear shirts from this Austin clothing company

Actor Luke Wilson is now a brand ambassador for Austin clothing company Criquet.
Actor Luke Wilson is now a brand ambassador for Austin clothing company Criquet.

Austin-based Criquet – purveyors of retro-cool clothing for men – have linked up with some stylish star power.

The golf lifestyle brand announced it has partnered with actor Luke Wilson, a native of Dallas known for such films as “Idiocracy,” “Old School” and “The Royal Tenenbaums.” Wilson will act as a brand ambassador and minority owner with the official title of “Assistant Pro.”

“I have always been a huge fan of Criquet Shirts’ vintage, classic look and I really love the 19th hole spirit behind the brand,” Wilson said in a news release. “They have managed to capture the laid-back vibe that is unique to Austin and created a product that I can take from the golf course to the set. I am pumped to be part of team and look forward to contributing to their story.”

RELATED: Criquet clothing founders mine classic cool for modern look

Why does Matthew McConaughey live in Austin? The answer is simple

Sure, the Uvalde-born Matthew McConaughey is a Texan’s Texan with an obvious affinity for the Lone Star State …

EXHIBIT A: Yes, that's Matthew McConaughey back there cheering on a Longhorn touchdown during an October 1999 game. Photo by Sung Park / American-Statesman
EXHIBIT A: Yes, that’s Matthew McConaughey back there cheering on a Longhorn touchdown during an October 1999 game. Photo by Sung Park / American-Statesman

… but the Hollywood superstar could live anywhere he wants — and afford to bring plenty of Texas with him — why does he live in Austin?

The answer is simple: Family. In an interview with ABC News film and TV critic Peter Travers, McConaughey said “my mother is there, the rest of my family is there, part of the reason for going back there was having kids.”

McConaughey has lived here in Austin with his wife, Camila Alves, and their three children. His mom, Kay, lives in the Sun City retirement community near Georgetown.

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves attend a party at the Highball before the Austin premiere of McConaughey's movie "Gold" on Jan. 12, 2017. Contributed by Rick Kern
Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves attend a party at the Highball before the Austin premiere of McConaughey’s movie “Gold” on Jan. 12, 2017. Contributed by Rick Kern

Last week, McConaughey appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to promote his new film, “Gold” — wearing, fittingly, a shirt emblazoned with Texas yellow roses …

RELATED: Photos of Matthew McConaughey through the years

Hear Kacey Musgraves sing a song about moonshine from ‘Live By Night’

Texas country star and ACL queen Kacey Musgraves teamed up with Irish folk singer Foy Vance for an original song that will be featured on the soundtrack to Ben Affleck’s Prohibition-era gangster film “Live By Night,” in theaters today.

Kacey Musgraves performs on the opening weekend of the 2016 Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park Oct. 2. 10/02/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Kacey Musgraves performs on the opening weekend of the 2016 Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park Oct. 2. 10/02/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The song’s subject? Whiskey, of course.

More: Affleck wears too many hats in ‘Live By Night’

“Moonshine” mostly showcases Vance’s vocals until the chorus, when Musgraves starts harmonizing. The folksy ode to the illicit drink pushes the two voices to the forefront, backed by a foot-stomping beat and some guitar and fiddle. It sounds exactly what you would think a song about moonshine would sound like, sans banjo.

“I got a really fun, Southern vibe from it, and i thought that it would be kind of a fun challenge for me to figure out how to mix in my own flavor and my own bits of harmony within the song,” Musgraves said in a behind-the-scenes video about the making of the song.

More: A beginner’s guide to Willie Nelson and Kacey Musgraves’ friendship

“Moonshine” is the only original, non-score song to be featured on the original soundtrack album, and Vance has already started playing the song on late-night shows.

Listen to the song below.