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Billionaire Jerry Jones keeps scoring with his investment in the Dallas Cowboys.

For the 16th year in a row, the Dallas Cowboys top Forbes’ annual ranking of NFL team valuations. Now, Forbes says, the Cowboys are worth $8 billion — the first pro sports franchise of any type to reach that mark. That figure is up from the $6.5 billion valuation reported last year.

“The sale of the Denver Broncos for a record $4.65 billion helped push up the value of all NFL teams,” says Mike Ozanian, assistant managing editor at Forbes.

As if their $8 billion valuation weren’t impressive enough, the Cowboys are the first NFL team to generate $1 billion in revenue, according to Forbes. That’s thanks in no small part to corporate sponsorships like the team’s 10-year, $200 million beer deal with Molson Coors.

The average NFL team is now worth $4.47 billion, up 28 percent from last year, Forbes says. The state’s only other pro football team, the Houston Texans, ranks 11th with a valuation of $4.7 billion, compared with $3.7 billion on last year’s list.

Forbes based its team valuations on revenue and operating income for the 2021 NFL season. Last year, the Cowboys generated nearly $1.1 billion in revenue and $466 million in operating income (a yardstick for how much revenue will eventually turn into profit).

Jones bought the Cowboys for around $140 million or $150 million in 1989, depending on which media account you trust. Jones insists he’ll never sell what now is a multibillion-dollar money machine. But he has tossed around a potential $10 billion sale price.

As of August 30, Forbes pegged Jones’ net worth at $12.3 billion.

Jones derives much of his wealth from his ownership of the Cowboys, where he is president and general manager. Some of his treasure chest — $200 million a year — goes toward renting the $1.5 billion AT&T Stadium, where the Cowboys play their home games.

Well before he occupied the White House, Donald Trump reportedly had a chance to snag the Cowboys for $40 million to $50 million. That was in 1983, several years before Jones purchased the team.

“I feel sorry for the poor guy who is going to buy the Cowboys. … He’ll be known to the world as a loser,” Trump famously proclaimed in a 1984 interview.

4 Austin companies clock in among top employers in Texas, says Forbes

Climbing the corporate ladder

It doesn’t take too much number crunching to figure out that Austin is a hotbed for startups. And now, some of those local startup employers — as well as a few major players — are getting a pat on the back for a job well done.

According to Forbes magazine, which just released its lists of the country’s best large employers and best startup employers, Austin workers are hooked on four of the city’s biggest businesses.

New rankings from Forbes put Austin-based Keller Williams Realty at No. 140 on its list of the best large employers in the U.S. Additionally, Round Rock-based Dell Technologies scores the No. 143 spot, while the University of Texas at Austin comes in at No. 279, and Whole Foods Market lands at No. 324 in the best large employers category.

“The university offers more than 170 majors across 13 schools, but UT-Austin is best known academically for its business and engineering programs,” the publication notes, adding, “UT-Austin takes great pride in its athletics — the school has 58 national championships. ... More than 90 percent of students hail from Texas, but UT-Austin sends graduates worldwide. Thirty-one Rhodes scholars attended the school, as did Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey and Dell Technologies founder Michael Dell.”

Meanwhile, Austin boasts an impressive number of businesses on Forbes’ list of best startup employers, including Outdoor Voices, Outdoorsy, and The Zebra.

Other Texas employers ranked among the best large employers in the U.S. are:

  • No. 9 — University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
  • No. 10 — MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  • No. 16 — Bestow, Dallas
  • No. 37 — Houston Methodist, Houston
  • No. 38 — H-E-B, San Antonio
  • No. 49 — RealPage, Richardson
  • No. 56 — Southwest Airlines, Dallas
  • No. 135 — USAA, San Antonio
  • No. 214 — Texas Tech University, Lubbock
  • No. 245 — Waste Management, Houston
  • No. 253 — Toyota North America, Plano
  • No. 314 — Sysco, Houston
  • No. 318 — Daikin Industries, Waller
  • No. 361 — Shell Oil, Houston
  • No. 370 — Cinemark, Plano
  • No. 375 — Jacobs, Dallas
  • No. 389 — Halliburton, Houston
  • No. 394 — Topgolf, Dallas
  • No. 399 — Primoris Services, Dallas
  • No. 403 — Schlumberger, Houston
  • No. 422 — Fluor, Irving
  • No. 423 — CBRE, Dallas
  • No. 429 — McKesson, Irving
  • No. 440 — ExxonMobil, Houston
  • No. 446 — American Airlines, Fort Worth
  • No. 483 — Keurig Dr Pepper, Plano
  • No. 487 — BP, Houston (North American headquarters)

What follows are the Texas employers ranked among the best startup employers in the country.

Austin

No. 104 — Apty
No. 121 — Homeward
No. 169 — SparkCognition
No. 186 — Outdoor Voices
No. 255 — Outdoorsy
No. 323 — ICON
No. 324 — The Zebra
No. 330 — TrustRadius
No. 335 — Innovetive Petcare (Cedar Park)
No. 387 — AlertMedia
No. 400 — Iris Telehealth
No. 410 — Wheel
No. 455 — Billd
No. 460 — Aceable
No. 470 — Shipwell

Dallas

No. 16 — Bestow
No. 290 — Slync.io

Houston

No. 120 — Imbuit
No. 310 — Code Ninjas (Pearland)
No. 353 — Axiom Space
No. 462 — Liongard

Forbes teamed up with data and research company Statista to develop the rankings of the best large employers and best startup employers.

Forbes features 23 inspiring Austin leaders on list of ‘entrepreneurial heroes’

They’re going places

A spotlight is shining on nearly two dozen future Elon Musks from the Austin area.

Forbes magazine recently unveiled its final installment of 250 entrepreneurs on the Forbes Next 1000, a list of inspiring entrepreneurs and small-business leaders “who are redefining what it means to build and run a business amid the new normal.” Among the 250 are 23 entrepreneurs from the Austin area.

“As we enter another pandemic year, entrepreneurs and small-business owners are finding new ways to thrive amidst ever-uncertain circumstances,” Maneet Ahuja, senior editor of Forbes, says in a news release. “The fourth and final class of Next 1000 entrepreneurial heroes is writing the playbook for not only achieving financial recovery but speeding past it. These sole proprietors, self-funded shops, and pre-revenue startups are proving that — through resolve, hard work, and solid planning — anything is possible.”

Here are the 23 Austin-area entrepreneurs who made the final installment of the Next 1000 list for 2021:

  • Nitin Agrawal, co-founder and CEO of Austin-based Interstride, an education technology company that supplies international student-support services to colleges and universities.
  • Antoinette Alexander Adefela, founder of Exp.Design, a Round Rock-based consulting firm.
  • Tim Angelillo, founder of Austin-based Crafted Sourced Cocktails, which delivers craft cocktails to customers’ homes.
  • Ruben Arias, co-founder of Austin-based Beereaders, a digital platform that helps K-12 Spanish-speaking students improve reading and writing skills in their native language.
  • Heather Emerson, founder of Austin-based Prep to Your Door, a delivery service for farm-to-table meals.
  • Mbiyimoh Ghogomu, co-founder of Austin-based Tradeblock, a social marketplace for “sneakerheads.”
  • Christopher Jane, co-founder of Proper Good, an Austin-based provider of healthy premade meals with “clean” ingredients.
  • Caren Kelleher, founder of Austin-based Gold Rush Vinyl, a producer of vinyl records.
  • Ariel Lee, co-founder of Remane, an Austin-based hair care company catering to Black consumers.
  • Charles Li, founder of Austin-based V2 Admissions, which helps students gain admission to top-ranking U.S. universities.
  • Daniel Marcos, founder of Austin-based Growth Institute, an online provider of executive coaching.
  • Julia Niiro, founder of Austin-based MilkRun, a marketplace that sells produce, dairy products, and meat from small and midsize farms.
  • Victoria O’Connell, co-founder of Austin-based Golightly, a members-only vacation rental and home-sharing platform for women.
  • Janice Omadeke, founder of Austin-based The Mentor Method, whose software matches mentors with mentees.
  • Jen Pinkston, founder of La Paloma, an Austin-based seller of children’s and women’s sleepwear made from 100 percent cotton.
  • Alexandria Porter, founder of Austin-based Mod Tech Labs, which relies on machine learning to speed up the monotonous process of detailing digital content.
  • Scotty Reiss, founder of A Girls Guide to Cars, an Austin-based digital platform for female car buyers.
  • Yash Sabharwal, co-founder of Austin-based CherryCircle Software, which is revamping the management of drug manufacturing.
  • Krista Sampson, founder of Austin-based Argument-Driven Inquiry, which provides instructional materials and classroom resources for teachers of science, engineering, and math in the third through 12th grades.
  • Benjamin Smith, founder of Disco, an Austin-based retailer of facial cleansers, eye creams, and facial masks for men.
  • Mark Stern, founder of Austin-based The Custom Box Agency, which offers more than 100 types of packaging to help businesses onboard employees, and build relationships with prospective and current clients.
  • John Paul Udenenwu, founder of the JP’s Pancake Co., an Austin food truck that serves deluxe pancakes.
  • Lauren Washington, co-founder of Austin-based Fundr, an online marketplace that automates seed investing by creating portfolios of AI-vetted startups for angel investors and venture capital firms.
Photo courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B bags a top spot on Forbes’ list of America’s largest private companies

No store grows more

H-E-B holds a special place in the hearts of Texas grocery shoppers. It also holds a special place among the country’s privately owned companies.

San Antonio-based H-E-B ranks fifth on Forbes’ new list of the country’s largest privately owned companies based on annual revenue. According to Forbes, the grocery chain’s annual revenue is $32.8 billion, making it the largest private company in Texas. On its website, H-E-B reports annual sales of $32 billion.

Meanwhile, trade publication Progressive Grocer lists H-E-B’s 2020 revenue at $36.8 billion, which puts it in 13th place among North America’s largest grocery retailers. And trade publication Supermarket News pegs H-E-B’s 2020-21 revenue at nearly $31.8 billion, which gives it the No. 15 ranking among the biggest food and grocery retailers in the U.S. and Canada.

H-E-B’s financial success can be tied in large part to its popularity among Texas grocery shoppers.

This year, Amazon knocked H-E-B off its No. 1 perch as America’s best grocery retailer in a survey by market research company Dunnhumby. H-E-B fell to No. 2 this year. H-E-B had grabbed the top spot from Trader Joe’s in Dunnhumby’s 2020 survey.

Trade publication Grocery Dive noted that H-E-B’s No. 1 ranking in last year’s Dunnhumby survey reflected the chain’s “efforts to cultivate a strong customer base among Texans with customer service, local products, and unique experiences in each store.”

Though no Austin-based companies made the Forbes list, one featured biz, New Jersey-based IT company SHI International Corp., has a strong connection to the Capital City. Austin billionaire Thai Lee, with a net worth estimated at $4.1 billion, is co-founder, president, and CEO of SHI. The company ranks 28th on the Forbes list, with annual revenue of $11.1 billion.

In addition to H-E-B, the only other San Antonio company on the Forbes list is construction engineering company Zachry Group. It ranks 225th, with annual revenue of $2 billion.

Nearly all of the other Texas companies in the Forbes ranking are based in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas. Thirteen DFW companies and five Houston companies show up on the list.

Dallas-Fort Worth

  • Grand Prairie-based alcohol and wine distributor Republic National Distributing, No. 25, $11.9 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based conglomerate Sammons Enterprises, No. 70, $5.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • McKinney-based roofing distributor SRS Distribution, No. 80, $5.4 billion in annual revenue.
  • Irving-based arts-and-crafts retailer Michaels, No. 81, $5.3 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, No. 101, $4.7 billion in annual revenue.
  • Irving-based electrical systems and equipment maker Consolidated Electrical Distributors, No. 103, $4.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Fort Worth-based food and beverage distributor Ben E. Keith, No. 107, $4.2 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based oil and gas explorer Hunt Consolidated, No. 113, $4 billion in annual revenue.
  • Frisco-based transportation and logistics software provider Transplace, No. 127, $3.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Addison-based cosmetics retailer Mary Kay, No. 164, $2.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • Plano-based senior healthcare provider Golden Living, No. 178, $2.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based general contractor Austin Industries, No. 217, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based transportation and logistics company Mode Transportation, No. 220, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.

Houston

  • Car dealership group Gulf States Toyota, No. 45, $8.3 billion in annual revenue.
  • Energy company Calpine, No. 48, $8 billion in annual revenue.
  • Petroleum and petrochemical products marketer Tauber Oil, No. 61, $6.7 billion in annual revenue.
  • Casino, restaurant, and sports conglomerate Fertitta Entertainment, No. 166, $2.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • BMC Software, No. 219, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.

Austin billionaire among 6 tycoons inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame

In great company

Austin billionaire John Paul DeJoria, who built his fortune through hair care products and high-end tequila, can now call himself a Hall of Famer.

On October 28, DeJoria was one of six Texas businessmen inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. He and the five other inductees were honored during a dinner at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.

“John Paul DeJoria’s rags-to-riches biography exemplifies the American dream. Once homeless, he has struggled against the odds to achieve success, launching multiple global enterprises while always supporting his motto, ‘Success unshared is failure,’” the Texas Business Hall of Fame says.

In 1980, DeJoria and hairstylist Paul Mitchell transformed a partially borrowed $700 into Beverly Hills, California-based John Paul Mitchell Systems, which today sells the largest privately owned line of salon hair care products. Forbes estimated John Paul Mitchell’s 2019 sales at roughly $900 million.

In 1989, DeJoria co-founded Patrón, the first ultra-premium tequila. Patrón, now the world’s No. 1 ultra-premium tequila, was sold to Bacardi in 2018 for $5.1 billion.

Aside from DeJoria, this year’s inductees into the Texas Business Hall of Fame are:

  • Dallas billionaire Mark Cuban. He is owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks as well as chairman and CEO of AXS TV and one of the investors on ABC’s Shark Tank.
  • Fort Worth private investor John Goff. He was co-founder, vice chairman, and CEO of Crescent Real Estate, which Morgan Stanley bought in 2007 for $6.5 billion. Two years later, he bought back the company in partnership with Barclays Capital. Today, Goff is chairman of Crescent Real Estate as well as Houston-based Contango Oil & Gas. He owns The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dallas and Fort Worth-based spa company Canyon Ranch.
  • Dallas private investor Morton Meyerson. Most notably, he is former chairman and CEO of Plano-based EDS and former chief technology officer at GM.
  • Houston investment manager Gerald Smith. He is chairman and CEO of Smith Graham & Co., an investment management firm. He’s also a board member of New York Life Insurance and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and chairman of the Texas Southern University Foundation.
  • Dallas executive Randall Stephenson. He is former chairman and CEO of Dallas-based tech, media, and telecom giant AT&T.

Elon Musk and 6 other Austin billionaires cash in on Forbes list of richest Americans

Charged-up wealth

No shocker here: The latest Forbes 400 list puts Tesla and SpaceX guru Elon Musk at No. 2 among the richest Americans and No. 1 among the richest Texans.

What is shocking, however, is how much Musk’s net worth skyrocketed from 2020 to 2021. Hint: It’s more than $100 billion.

This year, the Forbes 400 estimates his net worth stood at $190.5 billion as of September 3. To give that some context, the size of the economy in the state of Kansas exceeds $193 billion.

Last year, Musk’s estimated net worth was $68 billion. This means that from 2020 to 2021, his net worth exploded by $122.5 billion, or 180 percent.

Among the richest Americans, only Amazon’s Jeff Bezos beats Musk — but not by much. The Forbes 400 pegs Bezos’ net worth at $201 billion as of September 3, up from $179 billion at the same time last year.

Forbes lists Musk’s residence as Austin, although he has said he spends much of his time in Boca Chica. The Texas Gulf Coast community hosts Starbase, a launch site for SpaceX rockets. Regardless of precisely where he lives, Musk does spend a lot of time in the Austin area, where Tesla is building a $1.1 billion vehicle manufacturing plant. Musk relocated to Texas last year.

Before Musk arrived in the Lone Star State, Walmart heir Alice Walton of Fort Worth ranked as the richest person in Texas. She’s now in second place, with a net worth estimated at $67.9 billion. Walton ranks as the 12th richest American and richest American woman on this year’s Forbes 400.

Aside from Musk, Austin billionaires who appear on the Forbes 400 are:

  • Michael Dell, founder, chairman, and CEO of Round Rock-based Dell Technologies. Estimated net worth: $50.1 billion. Texas rank: No. 3. U.S. rank: No. 18.
  • Robert Smith, founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. Estimated net worth: $6.7 billion. Texas rank: No. 9. U.S. rank: No. 141.
  • Vodka titan Bert “Tito” Beveridge. Estimated net worth: $4.8 billion. Texas rank: No. 18. U.S. rank: No. 224 (tie).
  • IT entrepreneur Thai Lee. Estimated net worth: $4.1 billion. Texas rank: No. 27 (tie). U.S. rank: No. 273 (tie).
  • Software entrepreneur Joe Liemandt. Estimated net worth: $3 billion. Texas rank: No. 33 (tie). U.S. rank: No. 377 (tie).
  • Jim Bryer, founder and CEO of venture capital firm Bryer Capital. Estimated net worth: $2.9 billion. Texas rank: 35 (tie). U.S. rank: No. 389 (tie).

Here’s how billionaires from other major metros in Texas fared on the Forbes 400 list.

Dallas-Fort Worth

Banking and real estate mogul Andy Beal of Dallas holds the No. 5 spot in Texas and No. 78 nationally. His estimated net worth is $9.9 billion.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones of Dallas sits at No. 7 in Texas and No. 86 nationally with an estimated net worth of $9.1 billion.

Money manager Ken Fisher of Dallas ranks 10th in Texas and 151st nationally with an estimated net worth of $6.4 billion.

Oil and real estate titan Ray Lee Hunt of Dallas ranks 16th in Texas and ties for 188th nationally with an estimated net worth of $5.7 billion.

Oil and investment mogul Robert Bass of Fort Worth ranks 17th in Texas and ties for 212th nationally with an estimated net worth of $5 billion.

Private equity kingpin David Bonderman of Fort Worth ties for 21st in Texas and ties for 247th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion.

Media magnate and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban of Dallas ties for 21st in Texas and ties for 247th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion.

Oil and gas honcho Trevor Rees-Jones of Dallas ties for 21st in Texas and ties for 247th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion.

Hotel and investment guru Robert Rowling of Dallas ranks 25th in Texas and ties for 261st nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.3 billion.

Margot Birmingham Perot of Dallas, widow of tech and real estate entrepreneur H. Ross Perot Sr., ties for 27th in Texas and ties for 273rd nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.1 billion.

Oil and gas tycoon Kelcy Warren of Dallas ranks 29th in Texas and ties for 289th nationally with an estimated net worth of $3.9 billion.

Real estate bigwig H. Ross Perot Jr. of Dallas ranks 32nd in Texas and 363rd nationally with an estimated net worth of $3.2 billion.

Homebuilder Donald Horton and family of Fort Worth tie for 35th in Texas and tie for 389th nationally with an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion.

Oil baron W. Herbert Hunt of Dallas ties for 35th in Texas and ties for 389th nationally with an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion.

Houston

Pipeline magnate Richard Kinder of Houston ranks eighth in Texas and 128th nationally with an estimated net worth of $7.1 billion.

Hospitality king and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta of Houston ranks 11th in Texas and 158th nationally with an estimated net worth of $6.3 billion.

Houston pipeline heirs Dannine Avara, Scott Duncan, Milane Frantz, and Randa Duncan Williams tie for 12th place in Texas and tie for 161st nationally. Each has an estimated net worth of $6.2 billion.

Software entrepreneur Robert Brockman of Houston ranks 19th in Texas and ties for 229th nationally with a net worth of $4.7 billion.

Oil mogul Jeffery Hildebrand of Houston ranks 20th in Texas and ties for 240th nationally with a net worth of $4.6 billion.

Toyota mega-dealer Dan Friedkin of Houston ranks 24th in Texas and ties for 253rd with an estimated net worth of $4.4 billion.

Houston Texans owner Janice McNair of Houston ranks 26th in Texas and ties for 269th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion.

Hedge fund honcho John Arnold of Houston ties for 30th in Texas and ties for 358th nationally with an estimated net worth of $3.3 billion.

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H-E-B unveils merch for super fans, plus more hot Austin headlines

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B unveils merchandise for brand super fans, available exclusively at one store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise in celebration of its 117th anniversary.

2. Austin bar transforms into a magical winter wonderland this holiday season. Don your favorite elf socks and meet the lovely citizens of “Tinseltown.”

3. Draft 'Vision Plan' for Zilker Park unveils land bridge and more possibilities. Austinites are invited to comment on a vision plan that will inform the future of Zilker Park.

4. Austin ranks among world’s 100 best cities in prestigious new report. Austin is the No. 43 best city in the world, according to a new study. (And yes, we beat Dallas.)

5. Austin airport launches new SkySquad travel assistants in time for the holiday rush. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping lines moving during a period of heavy travel with a new team of airport assistants.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta acquires award-winning California resort

tilman goes laguna

Fans of Tilman Fertitta's nationwide hospitality brands are in for a treat. The Billion Dollar Buyer has just secured an award-winning, 30-acre resort in sunny Southern California.

Fertitta has purchased the acclaimed Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel, a premier beachfront property in the sunny SoCal getaway destination. Notably, the Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel is one of only six hotels in the U.S. to score the Forbes Triple Five-Star hotel status. The Montage has also been included among Travel + Leisure’s Top Hotels in the World.

Image courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach

Fertitta's newest purchase overlooks the ocean in Laguna Beach.

“I am truly thrilled to acquire this world-renowned property and add one of America’s most iconic trophy resorts to our luxury hotel portfolio,” Fertitta noted in a statement. “I have been traveling to Laguna Beach for over 30 years. It is one of my favorite places to visit and one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The Montage is a stunning oceanfront property and one of the premier hotel brands in the world.”

Press materials didn't list the property purchase price, but Law360 reports that the deal is in excess of $660 million.

The Craftsman-style resort sits on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Impressive amenities are highlighted by the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage, which offers eucalyptus steam rooms, dry redwood saunas, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a movement studio, and a lap pool.

More outdoor fun includes two pools and direct beach access, a museum-quality fine art collection, and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, per press materials.

Every resident space — the 260 guestrooms, including 60 suites, beach bungalow-style rooms, and multi-bedroom villas — boast stunning views of the Pacific.

Dining destinations offer chef-driven interpretations of coastal California flavors inspired by region. The property is designated and included in the distinctive Legend Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

“We are thrilled that Tilman is the new owner of this one-of-a-kind property and welcome him into the Montage family,” said Alan Fuerstman, founder, CEO, and chairman of Montage International. Mary Rogers, the Montage's GM added, “The staff is thrilled to be working with Tilman. Everyone here at the property is tremendously excited about his purchase and look forward to continuing to provide a world-class experience to all of our guests."

Aside from his palatial Post Oak Hotel in Houston, Fertitta also owns 14 other hotel properties around the country, including the award-winning San Luis Resort in Galveston, plus five popular Golden Nugget casino and hotel locations.

Another feather in Fertitta’s luxury portfolio cap is the iconic Huntting Inn, one of the most charming and historic locales in East Hampton, New York.

No stranger to California, Fertitta's presence there includes Catch Seafood and Catch Steak, Mastro’s Ocean Club and Mastro’s Steakhouse, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, The Palm, and more — all part of his 60 brands and more than 600 concepts nationwide.