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Courtesy of Kendra Scott

Celebrated Texas jewelry star Kendra Scott’s ability to juggle a work-life balance is seriously impressive. The founder of her namesake billion-dollar brand is a newlywed, a returning guest shark on the upcoming season of Shark Tank, and she's about to drop her first memoir, Born to Shine: Do Good, Find Your Joy, and Build a Life You Love.

Between a dizzying schedule of managing her brand, philanthropic efforts, a multi-state book tour, Shark Tank duties, and nurturing a new blended family of eight, we wonder when the Austin-based entrepreneur has time to breathe.

Apparently, queso, margaritas, and finding joy in the little things fuel the entrepreneur to keep going. Scott also credits her marriage to Thomas Evans (her wedding ring is the one piece of jewelry she never takes off) and the relationship with her family, including three sons — Kade, Beck, and Grey — as foundations of her success.

And while her jewelry has been a must-have accessory for over two decades, her first venture into the literary world has been one of vulnerability and determination.

After kicking off her book tour in Houston earlier this week, Scott will be at the company's South Congress Flagship in Austin this Saturday, September 17, from 11 am to 1 pm. Tickets for the event are still available on Eventbrite, and each ticket includes a copy of the book, a meet and greet with Kendra, an exclusive tote bag, and more.

Ahead of the Austin event, Scott sat down with CultureMap in Houston to get an exclusive on her next chapter.

CultureMap: How long did it take you to write Born to Shine?

Kendra Scott: It took a little over two years from when I decided to write the book, but really I have been writing this book for years. I never realized that my journal notes would someday turn into a book. It has been a long process, but after 20 years of our company being in business — it was honestly the perfect time to write this book.

CM: How did you juggle writing, managing the business and being a working mom?

KS: You know, it is always a challenge. If anyone tells you it is easy, and they have it figured out, I think they are lying. I wrote this during the pandemic, so I was home working with the support system of my closest people with me. All of our meetings were virtual, so it allowed me to have time for reflection.

I had also just stepped down as CEO and could just focus on being chairwoman, designer, and founder. I was able to focus more on our philanthropic efforts, like our school at the University of Texas (Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute), and concentrate on writing this book. It is something that I have always wanted to do.

CM: How personal do you get in the book?

KS: I get very vulnerable in the book and I feel that there is power in vulnerability. I hope that being vulnerable will allow other women or people to share their failures, successes, and ups and downs and be authentic.

I also hope that the stories of my childhood, marriage, divorce, starting a business and failing at a business — all of those things are part of what makes me who I am. In the book, I talk about the power of gemstones. Gems all have veins that are considered imperfections, but really it is what makes them beautiful.

CM: Was there anything that you wrote but then changed your mind about?

KS: I pulled out the entire first chapter, and I wasn’t going to put it in there. My publisher, who is also my editor, told me that the chapter was great and that she thought it should be chapter one.

It made me realize that I had to be honest because the book starts in a tough place but then takes readers on an unbelievable ride.

CM: Can fans look forward to more books in the future?

KS: You know, I thought about this. Now that this book is out there in the world, I don't think it will be the last one. It is a different way to be creative, and I think I have other stories to tell.

I would love to do a children’s book someday. My oldest son was one when I started this company; now, he is 20, so he has grown along with the business. Now I have a nine-year-old, and I’ve always read to him. I really hope that children’s books will be in my future.

KS: Why did you decide to start your book tour in Houston?

CM: Houston is part of who I am. This is where I became Texan. I moved here from Wisconsin when I was 16 and graduated from Klein High School. Moving at 16 years old and as a junior can be tough, but I was embraced at Klein — the community was so welcoming.

Houston made me the woman I am today. It made me realize there is more to the world than the little town in Wisconsin where I grew up. Houston is such a vibrant city full of culture and diversity – I felt like it was really important for me to start here because this was my first start in Texas.

CM: You are returning to Shark Tank for Season 14. How was the experience this time around?

KS: I absolutely love being on Shark Tank. I will be flying to Los Angeles for the premiere with all the other guest sharks on September 23, and it is exciting because there has never been a live premiere.

Nothing inspires me more than other entrepreneurs. There are long days on set, but they go by quickly because it gets me pumped to meet other entrepreneurs. Many of these people were thinking of ideas before the pandemic, and the downtime during the pandemic gave them the opportunity to put their ideas into action. I get to witness just a little of that in the tank – it is so fun.

CM: You have a lot going on, but is there anything else fans can look forward to before the end of the year?

KS: We just launched engagement rings and a whole bridal collection which is so exciting. We are expanding into other fine jewelry categories, including diamonds and gold and are adding more customization options than ever before.

Scott Brothers, the line I created with my boys during the pandemic, is also expanding. It is so fun that our male customers who were here to buy for the women in their lives can now buy something for themselves. We also just expanded into watches, so a lot is going on.

If you think about it, it took Ralph Lauren 25 years to expand into other categories. Our company has been around for 20 years, so I really like that the next phase of Kendra Scott will be so fun and exciting. From a philanthropic standpoint, we have given over $50 million since 2010 to women's and children's charities. We are, in many ways, a philanthropic organization within a brand. That is how we measure success, so I can not wait to announce our charitable efforts in the coming years.

We have a strong foundation and know what we represent and stand for — I feel like the best is yet to come.

Kendra Scott's first memoir drops on September 20th.

Courtesy of Kendra Scott
Kendra Scott's first memoir drops on September 20th.
Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Barton Creek: Homes for every taste and style, with activities to go with

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Austin that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Sixth-generation native Texan Debbie Lowe has lived in Austin for more than 20 years with her husband Chris, who is a native Austinite. Chris and Debbie, with some other partners, began building spec homes in the Barton Creek neighborhoods in 2013.

But it was when her close friends asked for help in finding their dream home that Lowe realized her true passion lay in real estate — and what better area to concentrate on than her own?

"Living in Barton Creek has made me very knowledgeable of it," the Kuper Sotheby's International Realty agent says. "I love the golf, food, neighbors, and schools nearby. No matter if you are active or want to simply relax, Barton Creek has something for all."

Since becoming a real estate agent, Lowe has continuously been among the top producers within her brokerage and is a former member of the Elite 25 Austin and Luxury League.

She draws from her personal experience with home building and staging to advise her clients on how best to approach their home purchase or sale, while her effective negotiation skills help them get the best possible price.

Lowe, her husband, and their four boys are very active in their Barton Creek neighborhood — "you're sure to run into us here," she says. Besides being involved with Austin Ridge Bible Church and Young Life, they support such Austin charities as Habitat for Humanity, Austin Area Food Bank, and Boys and Girls Clubs.

Lowe offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Barton Creek. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
From an elegant meal at Bob's Steak & Chop House or sipping a drink poolside while enjoying the amazing Hill Country views at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Barton Creek has something for every day and every vibe.

Where to play
If you'd rather be active than eat, check out the four golf courses at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa along with the tennis facilities and pools. Make time for a massage or facial at the Mokara Spa after.

Of course, you can't overlook the proximity to Lake Travis and Lake Austin and multiple hiking trails that criss-cross the area, providing several breathtaking ways to become one with nature.

"I am a current trustee/board member of Zach Theatre, and enjoy watching the amazing talent on display there," Lowe says.

Where to live
"Barton Creek offers all tastes and styles, from traditional to Spanish to modern," says Lowe. Homes can range from small, one-story dwellings to mansions of 10,000-square-feet or more, with both older, more established buildings and newer construction.

A significant sale of Lowe's — 7609 Escala — is one such jaw-dropping estate, with a backyard that featured incredible Hill Country views.

"We have worked with Debbie for years and have been involved in a number of real estate deals with her," says one client. "She is incredibly insightful about the Austin housing market and knows everything that is happening in Barton Creek, Westlake (Eanes), Regents, and Travis Country. She has found us amazing properties both on and off the market and has worked miracles for us! She’s a smart negotiator and always mindful of helping us make a solid investment decision."

"Debbie is the most wonderful, knowledgeable, and honest real estate professional that you could have in your corner," agrees another client.

"While the housing search can be quite challenging at times due to the competitive market, we have relied on Debbie to be our rock," says a third. "What we love most about her — even more than the fact that she is extensively dialed into the west Austin housing market — is that she is honest and fair in everything that she does. She gives a direct and honest opinion, negotiates deals fairly, is incredibly patient, never uses pressure tactics, and truly has the clients' best interest at heart. I couldn’t recommend Debbie more highly."

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Debbie Lowe lives, works, and plays in Barton Creek. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email debbie.lowe@kupersir.com, or call 512-289-4167.

Photo courtesy of Emberli Pridham

Texas author pens enchanting children's storybook about Princess Diana

Royal reads

“Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made," the Archbishop of Canterbury famously declared at the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer to Prince Charles in 1981. Of course, the British royal couple's real-life fairy tale did not end in a "happily ever after."

But now, 25 years after the tragic and untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales, a Dallas mom-and-author wants to introduce children to the parts of the beloved princess' life that really were storybook worthy. Emberli Pridham's A Real-Life Fairy Tale: Princess Diana will be published through Gatekeeper Press ($21.95) on September 1.

The 48-page hardcover book is a charmingly illustrated biography intended for children ages 3 to 8. It succinctly chronicles Princess Diana's life, from her childhood to her life as a royal and mother, and showcases her impact on the world as "the people's princess."

Famous vignettes from her life — including her engagement, wedding, charity work, and White House twirl around the dance floor with John Travolta — are also depicted in whimsical illustrations by Danilo Cerovic. The foreword is written by her friend and well-known interior designer Carleton Varney.

The book will be the first in a series of "Real-Life Fairy Tale" stories about inspiring and influential people that Pridham intends to write. She is no stranger to writing books for young people. Pridham, along with her husband, David, co-authored the Amazon best-selling STEM book series, If Not You, Then Who?

But this one had extra special meaning, she says, because of her desire to share Princess Diana’s legacy with younger generations like her daughter — who inspired the book.

The Pridhams live in Dallas with their three children, Brooke, Noah, and Graham, and are involved in a number of philanthropic organizations throughout the city.

We donned a tiara and chatted with Emberli about the new Princess Diana book, her fairy tale series, and the inspiration she hopes it will provide for a new generation of little princes and princesses.

CultureMap: Why did you decide to do a children's series on the topic of "real-life" fairy tales? Are these the kinds of stories you enjoyed as a child, or read to your own children?

Emberli Pridham: My daughter Brooke, actually! I was reading to her a fairy tale one night and went down a bunny trail of wanting to read to her about a real-life princess. And Princess Diana was the first to pop into my head. She is someone who I thought would be an incredible role model that I wanted my daughter to learn about and be inspired by her incredible compassion, kindness, and empathy.

CM: How did you decide which vignettes from Princess Diana's life to focus on, and what kind of research did it entail? Were you a fan of hers as a child?

EP: I chose Diana because she was a real-life princess who exemplified grace and dignity. She gave so much of her time to important causes and to the most vulnerable of people in the world. I decided to highlight all the positive aspects about her life.

I also read her biography Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton, which really helped paint the story and life of Princess Diana.

I have always been a fan of Princess Diana and I will never forget the morning of her funeral; it had quite an impact on me, watching it back as a young 10-year-old girl. It was so apparent how much she meant to people around the world.

CM: Did you have to work with any official royal family channels to use her name or illustrate her likeness?

EP: We didn’t have to work with any official royal channels. This book is an illustrated story based on her life, intended to highlight the positive aspects of her character for children. Similar to how people work who write historical fiction books.

CM: The release coincides with the 25th anniversary of her death (on August 31, 1997), when there will be a lot of public remembrances about her. Was that intentional?

EP: No, not intentional. I wrote and released this book because I really wanted to educate children of this generation (that were either not born yet or too young to remember her) so they know about this incredible and amazing woman.

CM: The story is written like a poem, with some sweet rhyming patterns, but still covers a lot of history. What was your writing process like, writing specifically for children?

EP: As a little girl and still to this day, I love children’s books with a rhyme. I wanted the story to sound beautiful to readers, much like reading a poem. Diana was beautiful inside and out and I wanted the story to reflect that.

CM: Tell me about your illustrator and how you worked together on the charming yet detailed illustrations.

EP: I wanted the illustrations to be different, and my own. I researched a lot of different illustration styles. When I was growing up, I was a big fan of The Secret Garden and watercolors and wanted the illustrations in my book to be like a work of art that you can hang up on your wall.

Our illustrator, Danilo Cerovic, did a wonderful job; we worked well together. He was magnificent and really understood and captured what I would convey in my words and translated them into these dreamy images, truly making the pictures come to life!

CM: You're giving 10 percent of book proceeds to Centrepoint, a UK organization that Princess Diana was patron of, and now Prince William has been its patron since 2005. How did you decide on this nonprofit?

EP: We looked up which charities Princess Diana was most involved with and this one really struck a chord with me. (Note: The organization provides young people experiencing homelessness with accommodation, health support, and life skills to get them back into education, training, and employment, according to the website.)

CM: Where can Dallas readers find A Real-Life Fairy Tale: Princess Diana?

EP: You can find the book on our website, as well as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. (There are also paperback and Kindle versions.)

CM: What can you tell us about forthcoming books in your fairy tale series?

EP: I’m thinking about so many great women, it’s hard to narrow down. I know for sure the next book will be about Princess Grace of Monaco, but after her I am not sure who will follow, so stay tuned.

A Real Life Fairy Tale: Princess Diana releases September 1.

Photo courtesy of Emberli Pridham
A Real Life Fairy Tale: Princess Diana releases September 1.
Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

The Uplands: A Bee Cave enclave that exudes quiet luxury

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Austin that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Drawn to its location, abundance of shopping and restaurants, and the beautiful homes on large-acre lots, real estate agent Beata Burgeson and her family have called The Uplands home for the past four years.

"It's a hidden gem," the Kuper Sotheby's International Realty agent says, "providing a peaceful and quiet lifestyle tucked behind the 4,000-acre Barton Creek Habitat Preserve. It's a quiet little spot that not everyone knows about."

Even though she's a fairly new Uplands resident, Burgeson has been working the area much longer: 15 years.

"My business is mostly referral-based and I work wherever my clientele is," she explains.

Burgeson, who spent the first 20 years of her life in Poland, describes The Uplands as having a luxurious yet neighborly vibe. The Hill Country Galleria is within biking distance, she points out, and there are 20-plus restaurants within walking distance.

Burgeson offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in The Uplands. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Whether you're looking to walk or bike to a neighborhood favorite or hop in the car for a nearby meal, the options are nearly endless.

Some of Burgeson's favorites are Plate By Dzintra, Baguette et Chocolat, Toss Pizzeria & Pub, Chisos Grill, Ellera, Schmidt Family Barbecue, Mandola's Italian Kitchen, Maudie's Hill Country, Tony C's, Cafe Blue, Buenos Aires Cafe, Tadashi, The League Kitchen & Tavern, Madam Mam's Thai Cuisine, Woody's Tavern & Grill, Amy's Ice Creams, Runaway Luna Coffeehouse, and FoliePop's.

Where to play
The Hill Country Galleria is very close by and includes a Cinemark movie theater.

Or you can head outdoors to Bee Cave Park, Commons Ford Park, or the Lone Star Farmers Market.

To get your adrenaline pumping, visit Urban Air and then relax and recharge at milk + honey spa.

What to see
Indulge your artistic side at Bee Cave Sculpture Park, El Dorado Gallery, and Flip'N Art.

Where to live
"The Uplands neighborhood is an amalgam of custom-built and traditional homes with generously sized backyards, established trees, and quiet but welcoming streets," says Burgeson. "There is definitely an elevated quality of homes in this gated and private community, and the majority of homeowners seem to consistently work at enhancing design, landscaping, and other elements as the years pass. This is a neighborhood that has only improved with time."

One of Burgeson's most recent significant sales in The Uplands is 11802 Colleyville Dr., which broke the record for the highest sold property in the neighborhood at the time. The custom build featured an incredible backyard with its own private trail toward the back of the property.

"After working with Beata during fall of 2021, she is now the standard by which we measure all real estate professionals," says one client. "Beata made the process of selling our home as easy as possible for our family — she concisely delineated her marketing strategy and then executed each detail according to the agreed-upon timeframe. Her kind, warm mannerisms complement her business savvy in such an elegant way that it is evident Beata is well respected among her Sotheby’s team, as well as Realtors from competing offices."

"Additionally, Beata has taken the time to cultivate a strong team of support professionals to assist her clients in their real estate transactions," says another. "It is abundantly clear that Beata is successful not only due to her business acumen, but because she strives to surround herself with others who are the best at what they do."

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Beata Burgeson lives, works, and plays in The Uplands. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email beata@beataburgeson.com, or call 512-795-9900.

Agent Beata Burgeson

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty
Agent Beata Burgeson
Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Downtown Austin: Where the city's movers and shakers put down roots

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Austin that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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If you're considering a move to Austin, real estate agent Carl Shurr says choosing downtown is a sure bet.

"The energy of living downtown is hard to beat," he says. "It is exciting to see the growth that has occurred since 2006, when I moved here from Chicago. I was told then that no one lives downtown — now it's the place to be if you want to be connected to what's happening in Austin."

Shurr himself — along with his two dogs, Dude and Rocky — has called both downtown and Travis Heights home since arriving in Austin. Currently, he's renovating his condo at The Austonian, a true skyline staple as the second-tallest building in Austin.

The renovation process is one he's enjoyed and loves to share his expertise on. He also loves showing condos, and lists the energy, convenience, and people as the main draws to the area, saying it's where the movers and shakers live.

Shurr offered up a few more of his personal favorites about life in downtown Austin. Here's his guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
"While there are many new and exciting restaurants in downtown Austin, a couple of my classic, go-to favorites include Eddie V's and Truluck's," Shurr says. "They both consistently deliver excellent food and service."

"I'm a big fan of Royal Blue Grocery," he continues. "I was a regular customer when they opened their first store downtown at the 360 Condominiums in 2008 — now they're all over the downtown area."

For the best rooftop patio in town, he heads to Bob's Steak & Chop House, while Comedor is "arguably my favorite restaurant in all of Austin."

Where to play
"Lady Bird Lake and the hike and bike trail around it is my favorite place to be outside in downtown Austin," says Shurr. "It is truly the heartbeat of the city and a beautiful place to exercise."

Another must-see is the Texas Capitol, a massive, three-story granite structure that is the largest capitol building in the United States. As Shurr points out, it is over 100 years old and stands 14 feet higher than the United States Capitol.

Where to live
Homes in downtown Austin are mostly modern in their architecture, with the majority of the condominium developments in the area being less than 10 years old.

Shurr's favorite sale in downtown was at the iconic Austonian, at 200 Congress Ave. Another recent sale at Spring was exciting, he says, as it sold off-market with multiple offers well over the asking price: "We set a new price-per-square-foot record for the development."

A current, three-bedroom condo listing at 300 Bowie St. showcases floor-to-ceiling views and an enviable location that's only a short walk to Whole Foods, Lifetime Fitness, Seaholm Plaza, the lakefront, hike and bike trail, and many of the best restaurants in downtown Austin.

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Carl Shurr lives, works, and plays in downtown Austin. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email carl@carlshurr.com, or call 512-944-5977.

Photo by Shelley Neuman

Texas Tribune's Evan Smith presents a trail guide to his final festival

Everything is Political

Believe it or not, politics can be fun, even if it’s all you talk about for days. The Texas Tribune is proving that once again with incumbent CEO Evan Smith’s last Texas Tribune Festival. From September 22-24, this long-standing annual event will bring together more than 350 influential speakers for more than 100 panels, from politicians in office to journalists and cultural wave-makers.

“It's become a major part of the Tribune's brand,” says Smith. “An important person I respect said to me in 2019, looking around the festival that year — the last year we did it in person — that we used to be a news organization with a festival, and we're becoming a festival with a news organization. And I thought, I'm actually okay with that.”

Smith announced his impending departure from the Tribune in January 2022, in a simultaneously wistful and tongue-in-cheek farewell address that acknowledged his “sentimentality and nostalgia.” He will be finished with his tenure by December, but will continue through 2023 as a senior advisor to his yet-unnamed replacement.

“I will be sentimental about it being my last. Of course, I'm also nostalgic, and I'll be nostalgic about the early days of the festival,” says Smith. “But one of the great things about leaving the Tribune now is that everybody here is in the best possible position to carry the important work that we've been doing forward to the next 13 years. And so I'll be watching like everybody else, with a lot of pride.”

This year, the festival broadened its scope from 2021 and earlier to include even more interests tangential to politics, aiming for the same bullseye as the Tribune always does: the average reader. The festival is always as jargon-free as possible, this year including topics like Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner’s memoir and 50 years of cultural change, retired top tennis player Andy Roddick’s opinions on the duties of nonprofits, and singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett’s experience as a Texas legend.

To help attendees start building their itineraries (or give keen readers at home some things to research), Smith selected the following must-attend events for CultureMap readers to keep on their radar.

Thursday, September 22
Thursday is a shorter day with “a couple of sessions to get peoples’ appetites going,” according to Smith. Of the 10 events, he chose two not to miss:

A Conversation with Katy Tur
9:30 am - 10:30 am

The MSNBC anchor will discuss journalism with Smith himself, with special attention to her recent second book that stretches all the way back through her childhood, Rough Draft: A Memoir. This chat will be in-person, kicking off the festival.

One-on-One with Anthony Fauci
10:30 am - 11:30 am

This prerecorded conversation is only available virtually. Smith interviews Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the U.S. president, about the “layered” public health emergencies of COVID-19 and monkeypox as it emerges.

Friday, September 23
This mid-size day has 43 scheduled sessions. Smith chose one from each time slot:

One-on-One with Glenn Youngkin
8:45 am - 9:45 am

The Virginia governor is, in Smith’s words, “one of the big Republican success stories of the last couple of years,” and will be interviewed by senior correspondent David Drucker of the Washington Examiner. Some speculate that Youngkin will run for president in 2024.

The Forward Presents: One-on-One with Deborah Lipstadt
10:15 am - 11:15 am

U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt is talking about the issue nationally and worldwide, interviewed by Forward editor-in-chief Jodi Ruth Warren. A recent report found that 2021 was a record year for antisemitism in Austin.

One-on-One with Walter Isaacson
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tulane University professor Walter Isaacson discusses Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and his current work with Elon Musk. He is interviewed by Pushkin Productions CEO Jacob Weisberg, former editor-in-chief of the Slate Group.

One-on-One with Hillary Clinton
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Former U.S. Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is interviewed by New York Times podcast host Kara Swisher about progressive values in the United States. Swisher runs the Vox Media Code Conference, and is no stranger to the stage.

One-on-One with Ben McKenzie
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Austin-born actor and writer Ben McKenzie is one Austinite speaking out on a large scale about “the case against crypto” as the city grows more and more entangled with it. He is interviewed by Bloomberg Digital executive editor for news Joe Weisenthal.

Saturday, September 24
The longest day of the festival, Saturday hosts 68 sessions. Smith chose one for each time slot:

After Roe
8:45 am - 9:45 am

This panel addressing one of the hottest topics in recent politics is run by Ana Marie Cox of The Cut, and features Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson, Texas state representative Donna Howard, and former state senator Wendy Davis, famous for her abortion filibuster.

One-on-One with Annette Gordon-Reed
9:00 am - 10:00 am

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Harvard professor Annette Gordon Reed discusses the legacy of slavery and the morals of studying history. She is interviewed by Errin Haines, editor-at-large for The 19th, founded by former Tribune editor-in-chief Emily Ramshaw.

One-on-One with Ted Cruz
10:30 am - 11:30 am

U.S. Senator and Texan Ted Cruz is slated to talk on Saturday, although he hasn’t yet been matched with a conversation partner. He’ll talk about tension with the Biden administration, the “soul” of the Republican party, and a possible reprisal of his 2016 presidential campaign.

One-on-One with Chris Bosh
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

NBA Hall of Famer Chris Bosh is interviewed by ESPN commentator Kirk Goldsberry on sports, being retired, and voting. Bosh has spoken out about social justice, and always ties it to a message of using one’s voice to create change.

Below the Line
2:15 pm - 3:15 pm

Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and urban development Julián Castro joins former mayor of Stockton, California, Michael Tubbs and ProPublica-Texas Tribune investigative reporter Vianna Davila to discuss Texans living disproportionately below the poverty line.

One-on-One with Gavin Newsom
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

California Governor Gavin Newsom takes a leadership role, telling MSNBC anchor Alex Wagner about what the rest of the United States can learn from his state. The Democratic governor leans toward messaging about innovation and creating precedent-setting big change.

Tickets for the Texas Tribune Festival ($269 general admission) from September 22 to 24, both virtually and in venues across Austin, are available at texastribune.org.

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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.