Five stories that have North Texas talking: A record crowd for the “King of Country;” The Texas Republican Party votes to approve “reparative therapy” for gays; a Texas-themed political drama is in the works; and more:
- A play with Texas roots, “All The Way,” won the Tony Award for best play. Bryan Cranston also won a Tony for best actor for his portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson in the play. Robert Schenkkan, the Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright and screenwriter who wrote “All The Way,” grew up in Austin and attended the University of Texas at Austin. The New York Times reports: “Cranston … seemed awe-struck by his victory, peppering his speech with ‘oh my goodness,’ ‘oh dear’ and ‘oh Lordy.’ Mr. Schenkkan, the play’s author, was more wry, noting that his last Tony nomination came in 1994 for ‘The Kentucky Cycle.’ ‘You go a long time between drinks of water in this town,’ [Schenkkan] said.” (For the record, in an earlier review of the play, the critic for The Times complained that the play “dangles more subplots than a Congressional bill has earmarks.”)
- The “King of Country” attracted a record crowd for his sendoff in Arlington. On Saturday night, nearly 105,000 folks crammed into AT&T Stadium to see George Strait’s final concert. The Associated Press reports: “The attendance shattered the previous record set by The Rolling Stones at The Louisiana Superdome in 1981. More than 10,000 fans alone took in the three-hour show from the stadium floor. ‘Oh, man. I tell you what. This is too much fun,’ Strait said. … ‘Damn, I’m so lucky,’ Strait said so many times, it became almost a refrain.”The Cowboy Rides Away featured all sorts of singers, including Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert and Martina McBride. They all paid tribute to Strait, 62, who wrapped up a nearly 40-year-long career. (Although he says he’ll continue to play from time to time.)
- The Texas Republican Party over the weekend voted to approve “reparative therapy” for gays as part of its platform. KERA’s Shelley Kofler, who covered the convention in Fort Worth, reports: “Gay Republicans successfully convinced party platform writers to remove decades-old language they found offensive. Gone was a statement that said: ‘The practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit.’ What replaced it though was a concept many gays and lesbians found just as unacceptable: a call to offer reparative therapy, sometimes called conversion therapy, ‘for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle.’” Jonathan Saenz with Texas Values Action, who pushed for the therapy provision, said “there are people who change their sexuality all the time.” Read about the Texas GOP’s position onundocumented immigrants; how U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz beat Gov. Rick Perry in a presidential straw poll; and attorney general Greg Abbott’s strong critique of state Sen. Wendy Davis.
- A Texas-themed political TV drama is in the works. Deadline.com reportsthat HBO has put God Save Texas into development. “It centers on an idealistic cowboy who, looking to save his ranch and marriage, tries to get elected to the Texas Legislature, where he becomes the target of the powerful energy lobby and learns how to survive in the crazy, brutal world of Texas politics,” Deadline.com says. The project is written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright, who grew up in Dallas. He’s appeared on KERA’s “Think” to discuss his book on scientology and his book onAl-Qaeda and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
- How bad is the drought in Wichita Falls? It’s so bad that the city is warning that dipping into a private swimming pool could make you sick. The Associated Press reports: “Wichita Falls officials on Thursday reminded pool owners who are barred from using city-treated supplies not to substitute water from lakes, ponds or even diverted rainwater. Infectious diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and salmonella can thrive in untreated water. Stage 5 drought catastrophic rules remain in effect for Wichita Falls. Experts say well water that’s been tested for total coliforms and E. coli is allowed.” KERA’s Shelley Kofler recently traveled to Wichita Falls to report on how the city could soon become the first in the country where half of the drinking water comes directly from wastewater – including water from toilets.