‘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.

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

Home for the holidays: What students are most looking forward to during winter break

At the end of the fall semester, as studying for finals consumes both day and night, there is one thing college students cannot wait for — winter break. We went to Mozart’s Coffee Roasters and asked some what they are looking forward to the most during the weeks off for the holiday.

— Photos and text by Mackenzie Palmer/American-Statesman

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University of Texas international relations and global studies junior Samantha Gorny, 20, said she is looking forward to hanging out with her parents and dogs during the break in Houston, her hometown, as well as watching TV, riding bikes and ice skating. She also will be going to New Jersey for a week to visit her father’s side of the family.

 

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Seamus Hawley, 19, is from Minneapolis, Minn., and said he can’t wait to get back to the cold weather. “I only really like winter for about a month, so that is the perfect amount of time to go back,” Hawley said. He said finals burned him out and he is ready to relax.

 

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Sophomore Jessica Plasters, 19, said that after attending the Day for Night festival in Houston, she can’t wait to hang out with her cats and listen to rap music with her friends at home in San Antonio.

 

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Business marketing major Jared Malik Royal, 22, said he is ready to sleep in and wake up to a big breakfast once he gets home to Keller. In the spirit of the holiday, he said he loves giving presents to his friends and family.

 

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Kassidy Knight, 21, is a University of Texas senior computer engineering major from Haslet, outside Fort Worth. She said she is ready to nap a lot and eat a lot but is going to miss her teammates from Texas 4000, a UT biking group, during break.

 

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UT freshman Chris Uvalle, 19, said he is excited to head back home to Edinburg to hang with old friends and family. And after a semesterlong break, Uvalle said he can’t wait to be reunited with his piano at home.

 

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Austin Community College student Danny Fraser, 25, said he is ready to catch up with old friends in Williamsport, Md. Fraser said he’ll spend his time walking his parents’ dogs, visiting his favorite childhood spots and hiking.

 

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UT student Krissa Martin, 20, from Houston, said she can’t wait to mountain bike, play volleyball and see her 16-year-old sister, Wendy.

 

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Cameron Osmond, 20, a UT liberal arts honors program sophomore, said he loves to eat his parents’ cooking (especially the two dishes above). While back in Flower Mound, Osmond said he’ll dedicate his time to writing the second draft of his screenplay.

 

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Cade Stone, 20, said he is excited to return home, even though home is Austin. “It’s a 25-minute drive, but I’m still excited and looking forward to it,” Stone said.

The Factory Cafe on Burnet Road goes laptop-free

In a unique move, Austin’s The Factory Cafe decided this week to ban customers from using laptops in the space.

Image via The Factory Cafe
Image via The Factory Cafe

The cafe, which calls itself a “creative sanctuary,” announced the decision on its social media channels on Tuesday with a graphic saying, “No laptops! Talk to each other” and the caption, “Starting tomorrow, Dec 7th [sic], we are going laptop-free! Make new friends, be inspired, find your muse.”

The Factory Cafe, which opened in the former Saladworks space on Burnet Road earlier this year, is one of Austin’s few coffee shops that doesn’t have a WiFi connection (Cuvee Coffee is another, and Radio Coffee and Beer turns its WiFi off at 5 p.m. when the happy hour crowd begins to show up).

The decision is an interesting one for a coffee shop in a city brimming with bloggers, freelancers, creatives and technology workers. U.S. News and World Report ranked Austin as the top metro area for working remotely, with 6.77 percent of the city’s nearly 1 million workers telecommuting at least half the time they are working. Austin is also home to four universities, a community college and various other institutes of higher education, with more than 70,000 total students who use spaces like Factory Cafe to study and work.

The cafe is open from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. and serves beer and wine, as well as a variety of decked-out waffles and snacks.

We’ve reached out to Factory Cafe for comment on their decision to go laptop-free.

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Signs of gratitude: We asked people at Zilker Park what they’re #thankful for

Thanksgiving is a perfect time of year to reflect and to celebrate what is special to us. With the holiday on the horizon, we went out to Zilker Park and asked people what they were thankful for.

 

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Emory, Adam and their dog Kensho were at the park visiting new friends and having a doggie play date. For Thanksgiving, they plan to visit both sides of the family and, of course, enjoy lots of delicious food.

 

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Stephany Pereira, right, from Colombia said she will be spending the holiday with her host family in Austin. This will be her first Thanksgiving in America.

 

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Carson and her three younger sisters, Blair, Avery and Tabitha, spent the day kicking the ball around and laughing together. For Thanksgiving they plan to go to Amarillo to spend time with their grandparents.

 

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Katie and Chris were practicing their handstands at the park. For Thanksgiving, they are going to Katie’s Mimi’s house to enjoy her traditional cooking.

 

 

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Skylar Smith and Dmytro Ivanyna came out to watch the sunset. Ivanyna, who is from Ukraine, has been in Austin for two years. This will be his second Thanksgiving in America but his first celebrating with Smith and their friends and family.

 

 

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Peter spent the day playing with his two pups. Peter plans to spend the holiday taking some time to himself and relaxing at home.

 

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Ryan Tyrell and Melanie Weinberger brought their dog Mary out to Zilker. An injured leg couldn’t keep Tyrell inside on this beautiful day. For Thanksgiving, Weinberger says she plans to volunteer with Travis County Victim Services. She said the best way to give thanks is to give back.

 

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Katie Fingerhut gave thanks to her three cats, Todd, Kimba and Charlie. She said she will be going back home to Arkansas for Thanksgiving to visit family.

 

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For the holiday, Edwin De Angel has planned a special family getaway at La Cantera Resort and Spa in San Antonio. After having a baby (not pictured) less than three months ago, the family is ready for a vacation.

Check out these Halloween events in Austin this month

Cabin in the Woods at French Legation

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and French Legation are proud to present you with outdoor movies on the beautiful French Legation lawn. Bring your fold out chairs, blankets, and beverage of choice for a night of entertainment.

When: Oct. 21, 6:30 p.m.
Where: French Legation Museum, 802 San Marcos Street
Buy tickets here.

Boo at the Zoo

Boo at the Zoo is a fun-filled evening for ghosts and goblins of any age. Come dressed in your Halloween finest (no adult masks, please) and enjoy the Zoo-wide event including the Zoo bedecked in Halloween spookiness, our nocturnal animals, unlimited trips through the Haunted Mansion and an eerie train ride.

Where: Austin Zoo
When: Oct. 21-22, 28-19

Backyard Story Night: Hocus Pocus 

The regular story night is back this month with a spooooooky theme. Bring a blanket, a chair, a snack, a friend or just yourself and settle in for some scary stories. If you’d like to tell a story, you can fill out this form.

When: Oct. 23, 7 p.m.
Where: The Historic Scoot Inn. 1308 E 4th St.
Free entry

Juliette Nixon, 2, carries the perfect pumpkin to her mother Linsey as they make it a tradition for their young family. The Tarrytown United Methodist Church hosts their annual Pumpkin Patch benefiting their Youth Ministry on the front lawn through October 31 or until the large round and smooth squashes are all gone. Large crowds gathered after church services to find that special one Sunday afternoon October 5, 2014. (Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman)

Patio pumpkin carving at your favorite bar

Both Black Sheep Lodge and Haymaker are hosting pumpkin carving on their patios this month. You can bring your own pumpkin or buy one for $5. The bars will provide the pumpkin carving tools, have Halloween candy and do a contest for the best carved pumpkin. The winners of the carving contests will get passes to the upcoming Sound on Sound Fest.

When: Oct. 25, 7 p.m., 2108 S Lamar Blvd.
Where: Black Sheep Lodge

When: Oct. 26, 7 p.m.
Where: Haymaker, 2310 Manor Rd.

Free entry

Something Wicked: Tales of Horror Told by Local Authors

Hear Austin writers read their spine-tingling short stories. Featuring work by Owen Egerton, Felix Morgan and AJ Reyes. Content is for mature audiences, this event is recomended for ages 17 and up. Costumes are encouraged and light refreshments will be served.

When: Oct. 26, 7 p.m.
Where: Old Quarry Branch Austin Public Library, 7051 Village Center Dr.

Alamo Drafthouse Presents Halloween Spelltacular

Alamo Drafthouse and Austin Parks Foundation invite the community to celebrate Austin’s parks and the season of witches with a special fundraiser event benefitting Austin Parks Foundation! Much more than the typical Movies in the Park, this event is a true Halloween Spelltacular featuring Westen Borghesi as DJ Skellyton hosting a Halloween dance party at Palm Park filled with a variety of activities, including broom races, photo booths, a candy corn wading pool and food trucks. The whole party is BYOB, so guests may bring anything in their cauldron that they’d like to enjoy. Additionally, guests will have the opportunity to participate in a costume contest with special prizes for top adult and child costumes. To cap off the evening, guests are invited to sit back and enjoy Hocus Pocus on Rolling Roadshow’s giant outdoor screen. Tickets for admission are $20 for adults, $5 for children 4-17 and free for children 3 and under.

When: Oct. 27, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Palm Park
Buy tickets here

Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon) in Tim Burton's THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS in Disney Digital 3-D (Credit: Walt Disney Pictures) 1001scaryshows
Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon) in Tim Burton’s THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS in Disney Digital 3-D (Credit: Walt Disney Pictures) 1001scaryshows

Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

The Austin Symphony Butler Pops series kicks-off with one of Tim Burton’s most celebrated films, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The film will be projected on the big screen with dialog and effects accompanied by Danny Elfman’s enigmatic score played live by the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

When: Oct. 28, 8 p.m.
Where: The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Dr.
Buy tickets here

Murder, Mayhem & Misadventure 10th Annual Walking Tour at Oakwood Cemetery

The free tours cover the chilling, untimely deaths of 13 “residents” of Oakwood portrayed by actors at their grave sites. The 45 minute tours highlight historical – not scary – events from 1842 through 1918 and showcase a wealth of information from the Austin History Center and local Austin sites. Tours start every 15-20 minutes between 10 am-3:15pm at the blue tents erected for the tour. Kids under adult supervision are welcome, but please leave your pets at home and wear closed-toed shoes.

When: Oct. 29, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where, Historic Oakwood Cemetery, 1601 Navasota St.
Free entry

PBS Kids at the Alamo: Halloween Special

Nothing says ‘Halloween’ like costumes, pumpkins and spooky stories – and this October, PBS KIDS is celebrating Halloween with friends from some of our favorite series including Nature Cat, Odd Squad, Peg + Cat and Wild Kratts. Families are invited to come in costume. It’s the perfect way to celebrate Halloween with all the treats and none of the scary tricks. Reserve your seat with a donation of $1 to 3, with all ticket sales benefiting education programs at KLRU.

When: Oct. 29-30
Where: Alamo Drafthouse locations
Buy tickets here

See a full list of Halloween-related events in Austin hereCreate your own event to add to the Austin360 “Things to Do” calendar here.

James Bond is in Austin, and he’s becoming quite the Texan

James Bond’s drink of choice is usually a martini, (shaken, not stirred), but when he comes to Austin, he prefers a Bloody Mary from Guero’s Taco Bar.

Pierce Brosnan has been filming a series for AMC in Central Texas this month, and in his downtime, he’s been exploring all the best that Austin and the surrounding areas has to offer.

According to his Instagram account, he’s been living it up on South Congress, at Guero’s:

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Sunday morning S. Congress …Austin … Great town

A post shared by Pierce Brosnan (@piercebrosnanofficial) on

And he got his Texas history on at the Bullock Texas State History Museum:

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Lone star

A post shared by Pierce Brosnan (@piercebrosnanofficial) on

And he even had time to play a round of golf at Barton Creek:

Brosnan is playing the lead in the upcoming AMC series “The Son,” a “multi-generational epic tale of the story of America’s birth as a superpower through the bloody rise and fall of one Texas family,” according to Deadline. The series is based on local author Philipp Meyer’s 2013 novel of the same name.  

Brosnan replaced “Jurassic Park“‘s Sam Neill, who was originally cast in the role.

“The Son” is scheduled to air on AMC in April 2017.

Study: House Lannister would rule Austin if ‘Game of Thrones’ was real

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Photo via “Game of Thrones.”

We’ve all wished at some point that “Game of Thrones” was more than just a fictional world. And every Sunday, no matter how many times you have to remind yourself it’s not real, you know exactly which house you’d pledge your allegiance to.

But if you’re from Austin and you’re not ready to be ruled by House Lannister, you may need to reconsider — at least, according to a study done by FindTheHome.

https://www.graphiq.com/wlp/fpC7UpL5381

The real estate database used its data to see where the “GoT” characters would live if Westeros was the United States. They separated the country into seven groups: House Greyjoy, House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Targaryen, House Tyrell, House Stark and Night’s Watch.

It then created demographic, geographic and industry data for each group based off their characteristics on the show. FindTheHome then matched that data with that of regions in the U.S.

The site found that Austin, or Travis County, falls most strongly under House Lannister. But much of Texas would be ruled by House Baratheon and sprinkled with House Taragaryen.

Folks over at Thrillist created their own list of which characters would best fit each state in the U.S. It may not come as a surprise that they chose a Lannister for our great state — but at least she’s tough. Cersei would be Thrillist’s choice, complete with this little blurb:

Aesthetically pleasing debutante, comes from a ton of money. Can be hateful, and you don’t want to mess with her, but also pretty great if you’re on her side. Has no problem going it alone.

For Mother’s Day, we ask University of Texas students – Why do you love your mom?

This week was a busy one for University of Texas students – Friday was the last day of classes, finals are approaching and many are spending Sunday with their mothers. We took to the University of Texas of campus to ask people #WhyMom.

 

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Freshman psychology major Daniel Spomer said he is thankful for his mother’s support, especially by letting him pursue the degree of his choice.

 

IMG_9332Weslie Onsando, a graduate student originally from Kenya, is studying film production at UT. Onsando admires her mother’s selflessness.

 

IMG_6679Freshman advertising major Matthew Johnson wanted to thank his mother Michelle for her constant support.

 

IMG_9330Graduating senior Areesha Ajani loves her mother’s strength and the example she sets for her. Ajani is a corporate communications major who will be working for Aon Consulting in Houston.

 

IMG_6676Andrew Bain, 21, will graduate in two weeks and head to medical school in Houston. Bain said his mother’s supportive nature is what he loves most about her.

 

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Timothy Cole is a senior linebacker for the University of Texas football team. Cole wanted to thank his mother for her patience throughout his life. Cole is planning to attend graduate school to study advertising in the fall.

We ask people at Eeyore’s Birthday – why do you love Austin?

After a night of thunder and lightning, the sun came out just in time on Saturday for Eeyore’s Birthday. The annual festival in Pease Park featured live music, face painting and costumes. Locals, families and weekend visitors had plenty to say about why they love Austin.

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College student Megan Hicks attends Texas State University in San Marcos but said she spends most of her time in Austin. Hicks and a group of friends were attending the festival for the first time.

 

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A maypole is set up at the beginning of the festival.

 

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Carly Suhr was enjoying the warm weather with Hicks. Suhr, 19, said she loves Austin because there is always something fun to do.

 

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Abby Slatton, who is studying to be an aesthetician, likes the attitude of Austinites. Slatton and her friends were excited to watch the drum circles (below) that Eeyore’s Birthday is known for.

 

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Garrett Rogers was taking in the sights and sounds of the festival for the first time. Rogers, who works in heating and air conditioning, enjoys the people he meets in Austin.

 

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David Rodriguez attended Eeyore’s Birthday for the third time this year. Rodriguez said he cannot get enough of the food in Austin and that his favorite restaurant is Kebabalicious.

 

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The 53rd annual Eeyore’s Birthday was  just one of the many things to do around Austin this weekend and part of what makes Christopher Marshall love the city so much.

 

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Barbie Jabri (second from right) has been in Austin for eight years and is trying to convince her friends to move here. Jabri enjoys soaking up the warm, sunny weather the city is known for.

 

Where would you like to see us go next?