More than thirty years ago the collective might of Columbia Pictures descended on Austin with one of that studio’s blue-ribbon, A-team moviemaking armies: Blythe Danner, Anthony Perkins, Beau Bridges, a hot director named Sidney Lumet, an ingenue named Susan Sarandon, and the same producer who had already made small-town Texas a bankable commodity with the adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show. The prestige project settled in at the Chariot Inn, where Danner had a permanent sign on her door—“Quiet! Mother and Baby Sleeping”—to protect the weeks-old Gwyneth Paltrow. And each day a wagon train of private Winnebagos, Cinemobiles, catering trucks, and Greyhound buses would fan out around Bastrop for the filming of yet another McMurtry novel, Leaving Cheyenne.
On a certain day, the production broke for lunch, and the movie’s proud papa, producer Steve Friedman, noticed a scruffy, long-haired hippie making his way through the food line. Friedman walked over and blocked his way. “Do you work on the movie?” he demanded.
The interloper held a plastic plate with two barbecued