Unreal Estate

Is Spielberg amblin’ to Elgin? Is Boone parting with his prime Pickens? Plus: Lolita’s highway robbery.

Along with the usual crop of good wishes, the holiday season brought a batch of bad rumors about land deals of the rich and famous. Some were old, some new, but all had Texas talking. Let’s sift through the latest celebrity dirt. Steven Spielberg The rumor: America’s favorite director has bought 5,000 or 10,000 or 20,000 acres near Georgetown in Williamson County or near Elgin in Bastrop County. The source: News of the allegedly just-inked deal was allegedly broken by an associate of Georgetown mayor Leo Wood ’s at an arts council meeting in Austin. The truth: Harry Clein , the publicist for Spielberg’s DreamWorks SKG, denies it. Elgin city manager Jack Harzke isn’t aware of any such deal. A spokesman for Wood not only denies it—he says the mayor hasn’t even heard of Spielberg. Barbra Streisand The rumor: The Brooklyn-bred diva has paid $9 million for a 2,000-acre Fredericksburg ranch owned by the Fares family. The source: Central Texas scuttlebutt. After an earlier rumor proved false, this story resurfaced again recently, and it has spread like buttah. The truth: A Hill Country realtor who’s lining up potential clients for the ranch insists Babs isn’t buying. T. Boone Pickens The rumor: Strapped for cash, the energy mogul is selling his 31,000-acre 2B ranch in Roberts County. The source: The grapevine in Miami, a nearby town. The truth: The 2B is not for sale, though Pickens has been selling some investment properties. In August he sold his 3,100-acre Elm Creek Ranch in Collingsworth County to an anonymous buyer for $1.2 million; in November he sold his 7,300-acre Sweetwater Ranch in Wheeler County to Everett Dobson of Oklahoma’s Dobson Communications Corporation for more than $2.3 million.

Road Hog

In Central Texas this past fall to shoot scenes for Lolita, director Adrian Lyne needed to close a few highways. The only problem was, he hadn’t gotten a permit from the Texas Department of Transportation ( TDOT)—but he did it anyway. Over a three-day period in mid-December, Lyne and crew (1) put up pylons to divert cars on a steep part of Texas Highway 29 near Buchanan Dam, (2) set up cameras in the right-of-way on Texas Highway 16 near Llano, and (3) used pylons to redirect cars through downtown Elgin. TDOT was able to shut down the production the first time, but before anyone found out about the next two incidents, the crew was already packed and gone.

Boise in the ’Hood

Last fall, when Houston record mogul Randall Jamail was looking for someone to represent him in a patent-infringement lawsuit against corporate titans Philips and Sony, he asked his father, megalawyer Joe Jamail , for advice. “I wanted them to know we were prepared to meet them head on,” Randall says. After father and son conferred, they settled on an ironic choice: David Boise , the New York trial attorney who handled Texaco’s appeal in the famous 1985 case against Pennzoil but was out-dueled by Pennzoil’s lead counsel—Joe Jamail. Litigation, it seems, also makes strange bedfellows.

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