“Hi Smash! Sorry, what’s your real name? I don’t even know!” a blond fan gushed at the actor Gaius Charles after waiting in a long line of women with smartphones. “But I just love the show. This is Tyler,” the girl said introducing her brunette friend. “And this is Ruby” she cooed. Smash looked to his left. “No this, my dog,” she said directing Smash’s eyes down toward her elbow, over which a parched terrier-like dog hung with its tongue out.
The Austin Television Festival, which was billed the first festival devoted to television’s history and future, opened on June 1 in Austin. And on Saturday, in the parking lot of the Hotel San Jose (one of the festival’s sponsors), the finale of Friday Night Lights, the brilliant drama about West Texas high school football, was screened in the company of some of its cast. Landry Clarke, Jason Street, Grandma, and “Everybody-loves-the-Smash!” Williams roamed around smiling. Smash beat the heat with a cup of Amy’s ice cream. Grandma sat in a lawn chair, and in cropped jeans and shimmery lipstick, she looked twenty years younger than her character. It was the kind of low-key event where people could introduce television stars to their dogs.
The actors were instantly recognizable, even if they were from the last couple of seasons, because they looked, as Lorrie Moore wrote in the pages of the New York Review of Books, like they’d come “straight out of a Beverly Hills casting agency”—“disconcertingly attractive young people with pink wavy mouths.” And, of course, they were flanked by fans with phones. Jesse Plemons’s band, Cowboy and Indian, a spin-off from the one his character Landry Clarke has in the show, played to some intrepid dancers, swaying and nodding in the ninety degrees.
Before the big screen lit up, the cast gathered up front and were introduced one by one. Grandma, or Louanne Stephens, a Dallas resident and Odell native, delightfully scored the most whoops. (Although Smash,