Lights! Camera! No Action!

GEORGE W. BUSH may have the most power in the Capitol, but when it comes to power over the Capitol, he’s just number two. In one of the strangest rivalries of a contentious legislative session, the Texas Film Commission, an arm of the governor’s office, squared off against the State Preservation Board—and lost. The Film Commission was backing a request by Austin director Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused) to use the restored Court of Criminal Appeals chamber for a scene in his upcoming story of Texas bank robbers, The Newton Boys. But the Preservation Board long ago adopted rules making eight of the ten historic spaces in the Capitol off-limits to Hollywood to protect original furnishings and artworks and specially made carpets and fabrics (the House and the Senate can make an exception for their chambers). Because Bush is the chairman of the Preservation Board, higher-ups in his office tested the waters to see if Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock (a vice chair of the board) might go along with changing the rules. But with the session in its final month, nothing could be worked out. As a result, the courtroom scene will probably be shot in San Antonio, and Linklater’s request is D.O.A.—which, by the way, was the name of a film whose crew made such a mess of the Capitol back in 1987 that the Preservation Board decided the rule was necessary.

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