Laura Rice

Producer, Morning Edition

Laura joined the KUT team in April 2012. She works with Jennifer Stayton each weekday morning to bring you the latest local news during Morning Edition, hosts the noon newscast and reports for on-air and online. You'll also hear Laura with the morning news headlines on KUTX and filling in for Jennifer during the morning drive-time. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.

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Crime & Justice
5:34 am
Wed April 2, 2014

15-Year-Old Found Safe After Search (Update)

Sianna Gholson
Photo released by Blanco Police Department

Update: An Amber Alert for a 15-year-old Blanco girl has been canceled. Blanco Police say Sianna Gholson was found safe.

Gholson was believed abducted Tuesday morning from Blanco High School.

But, again, she’s now been found and is safe.

Original Story (April 1, 5:53 p.m.): Authorities issued an Amber Alert Tuesday for a 15-year-old girl believed abducted from Blanco High School in Blanco, Texas at about 7:45 Tuesday morning.

Law
6:53 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

U.T. Sports Law Expert Says Student Athletes Deserve Compensation

No shortage of fans willing to pay to be in these seats on game days
KUT News

This week, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern University athletes can legally form a union.

Here in Austin, UT Law professor Dr. Lucas Powe sees it as a change that can be expected for elsewhere.

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Movies
12:18 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Wes Anderson on Austin, His Actors and 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

Until the SXSW screening, Texas Ex Wes Anderson hadn't been back to Austin in years.
Martin Scali

Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is now in theaters across the country.

A South by Southwest audience got a sneak peek last week. The highly-stylized filmmaker himself even made a trip to Austin for the screening and an extended Q&A. That's something SXSW Film Head Janet Pierson said she'd been trying to make happen for about a decade. 

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SXSW 2014
7:36 pm
Sat March 15, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: Austin's Journey to Live Music Capital in 'Road to Austin'

Kris Kristofferson serves as a sort of tour guide throughout the film.
FORMAX Group

If there’s one thing Austinites love – it’s hearing people talk about how great Austin is. The film “The Road to Austin” features a lot of that. It premiered at South by Southwest Film.

"The Road to Austin" is part documentary, part concert and features a lot of well-known voices – from Kris Kristofferson and Joe Ely to a couple of KUTX DJs – all talking about what makes the Austin music scene so special and how it became the live music capital of the world.   

KUT talked with "The Road to Austin" producer/director Gary Fortin:

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SXSW 2014
9:39 am
Sat March 15, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: Exploring Truths, Lies and Cults in 'Faults'

A young woman is being pulled in several different directions in "Faults."
Jack Zeman

Writer/Director Riley Stearns grew up in Pflugerville – but has been making his living in L.A. He says bringing the movie to SXSW Film for its World Premiere is like a homecoming.

“Faults" follows a cult deprogrammer who is hired by some parents to kidnap and de-program their brainwashed daughter. But as the film progresses, the cult deprogrammer – and the audience – start to question who is really the most negative influence.

KUT talked with Stearns about his film:

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SXSW 2014
2:09 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: A Father, A Son and A Lot of Live Music in 'Thank You A Lot'

Musician James Hand stars in the film. Willie Nelson (and KUTX's Jay Trachtenberg) describe him as "the real deal."
Courtesy "Thank You A Lot"

In Austin, it seems like everyone's a musician and there’s live music every night. But between that dynamic of stage and crowd, there’s a cast of characters: including band managers, doormen and promoters.

The film “Thank You A Lot” premiered at SXSW Film. It explores some of these characters – particularly a father-son pair caught in the middle of all the bustle.

KUT sat down with Austin-based writer/director Matt Muir:

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SXSW 2014
6:50 am
Fri March 14, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: Rob Thomas Brings 'Veronica Mars' to The Big Screen

Kristen Bell reprises her role as Veronica Mars in the film based on the characters in the TV show.
Robert Voets

Austin-based writer/director Rob Thomas’s film “Veronica Mars” hits theatres this week. But South by Southwest audiences got to see it first.

The film revisits the characters Thomas created for the “Veronica Mars” TV show – which was canceled back in 2007 after three seasons. But fans demanded more. And an enormously successful Kickstarter campaign provided the budget for the much-anticipated follow up.

KUT sat down with Thomas to talk about the journey of making this film:

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SXSW 2014
4:46 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: Austin's Kat Candler Explores Consequences in 'Hellion'

Filmmaker Kat Candler says she got the idea to write "Hellion" based on stories told by her uncles.
Lauren Logan

Austin-based writer/director Kat Candler’s star continues to rise. Her short film “Black Metal” attracted the attention of critics and her feature film “Hellion” premiered at Sundance.

“Hellion” is also screening at South by Southwest Film. It's about a father and two sons struggling to deal with a recent death and the consequences of their poor choices in reaction to it.

KUT talked with Candler about her latest film:

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SXSW 2014
12:33 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

WATCH: Gov. Rick Perry Talks Pot on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' in Austin

Jimmy Kimmel is broadcasting his late night show from Austin the week of South by Southwest.
youtube.com/JimmyKimmelLive

Governor Rick Perry appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night.

The talk show has relocated to Austin for the week of South by Southwest. Gov. Perry got a mix of cheers and boos when introduced. He hinted he may run again for president, saying “America is a great place for second chances.”

Perry and Kimmel also talked about efforts towards decriminalizing marijuana.

"For over a decade we’ve lowered the penalties," Perry told Kimmel. "We’re trying to be smart about it. You don’t want to ruin a kid’s life for having a joint.”

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SXSW 2014
6:30 am
Wed March 12, 2014

SXSW Traffic is Terrible. This Street Closure Map Might Help.

Update: Starting today, it’s going to get even tougher to get around downtown. That’s because the music portion of South by Southwest is now underway.

The City of Austin is closing off several exits from I-35 to downtown. Starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday:

  • The I-35 NB and SB exits at  Cesar Chavez will be closed.
  • The I-35 SB exit at 8th Street will be closed.
  • The I-35 NB exit at 6th Street will be closed.

Original Story (March 6, 2014): SXSW provides a great opportunity for people to see bands, films and hobnob with bigwigs in the tech industry.

But road closures in downtown Austin may pose a problem for some travelers.

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SXSW 2014
8:48 am
Tue March 11, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: Finding El Chapo in 'The Legend of Shorty'

Authorities arrested Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman just over two weeks before the premiere of the documentary in which two filmmakers try to track him down.
"The Legend of Shorty"

In a film that premieres at SXSW Film, two filmmakers set out to do what authorities could not: find Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Authorities eventually did catch up with Guzman – just last month.

But directors Angus Macqueen and Guillermo Galdos were hot on his trail in their documentary “The Legend of Shorty."

KUT talked with Macqueen and journalist Anabel Hernandez about the film, El Chapo and what they say is the real danger in Mexico.

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SXSW 2014
7:49 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: An Intense Texas Thriller With 'Two Step'

James Landry Hébert plays a convincing con man in "Two Step."
Courtesy "Two Step"

The Texas drama "Two Step" debuts at SXSW Film. It is Austin-based writer/director Alex R. Johnson's first feature-length film. It has a "No Country for Old Men" vibe – along with a memorable villain who you're better off not running into.

Johnson is pretty new to Austin. He talked with KUT about "Two Step" and how moving here inspired him to make it.

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SXSW 2014
11:48 am
Sun March 9, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: A Slacker Scam Artist Goes Too Far in 'Buzzard'

"Buzzard" features a character who feels at home in a devil mask.
Courtesy of Sob Noisse

Adam Minnick came to Austin from Michigan about nine years ago to work in the semiconductor field – after his photography plans did not take off.

"Buzzard" is his first step into the film world. A world he entered when an old college buddy asked him to be the director of photography in the feature film he was working on. "Buzzard" debuted at SXSW Film.

KUT talked with Minnick about the film and his unlikely path to filmmaking:

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SXSW 2014
3:58 pm
Sat March 8, 2014

SXSW Filmmaker Spotlight: The Summer of 1985 is Alive in 'Ping Pong Summer'

Susan Sarandon plays a "Miyagi-like" character in "Ping Pong Summer" – à la "Karate Kid."
Jess Pinkham

It’s the summer of 1985 – when teenagers carried boom boxes on their shoulders and poured pop rocks into soft drinks. For Austin-based writer/director Michael Tully – that summer is also all about table tennis – or ping pong.

“Ping Pong Summer” premiered at Sundance this year – and has been picked up for theatrical release. But before it hits movie houses, it hits SXSW Film.

Michael Tully talked with KUT about his film:

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SXSW 2014
10:03 am
Fri March 7, 2014

SXSW Film Preview: Trends, Ones to Watch And Avoiding Long Lines

Latham Smith, a tugboat captain who works for the oil industry, is featured in "The Great Invisible."
Courtesy of Participant Media

The annual South by Southwest film festival kicks off in Austin today. The 10-day fest features more than 89 world premieres and a total of 133 feature films. Janet Pierson heads SXSW Film. And it’s ultimately her job to weed through the thousands of submissions to come up with the slate of film offerings.

Janet Pierson stopped by KUT to talk about this year’s lineup.

On What Makes a Good SXSW Film:

"It's a total picture that we're looking for. You know, you look for a lot of things. Original voices is a big deal, something that surprises you, something that really works - that has a depth. We look for a transformational experience. We want to be moved somehow."

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SXSW
7:27 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Lady Gaga to Perform at SXSW (Update)

Flickr user Jason H. Smith, http://flic.kr/ps/2pqMoZ

Update: South by Southwest announced this morning that Lady Gaga will perform at this year's festival. She's set to take the stage Thursday, March 13. The City of Austin had originally denied a request to have Lady Gaga perform, citing concerns that the Doritos venue wasn't big enough.

So, SXSW is moving that venue for one night to the Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater at Eighth and Red River streets.

Click here for details on how to get tickets.

Here's @SXSW's announcement on Twitter:

Original Story (Feb. 26, 2014): The city of Austin is denying a request to have Lady Gaga perform in a downtown parking lot during South by Southwest.

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Politics
11:21 am
Wed March 5, 2014

On to November: The Winners in the 2014 Texas Primaries

Attorney General Greg Abbott delivers his primary acceptance speech in San Antonio.
David Martin Davies, TPR

The results are in for the 2014 Texas Primary Elections. We now know who most of the candidates will be in the November general election, but several statewide races are headed to a runoff on May 27.

We've compiled a list of the top vote earners for the major statewide and Travis County races. The percentage of votes received (as of this writing) is shown next to each candidate's name. Races with an asterisk are heading to a runoff.

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Primary Election Day
3:10 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

You Can Now Vote Until 9 p.m. in Travis County Primaries. Here's Where.

Primary voters can cast their ballot at any polling place with a "Vote Here" sign.
KUT News

Update: It's worth noting that ballots accepted from 7 to 9 p.m. will be provisional ballots. A press release from Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir has more: 

Pursuant to Texas election laws, ballots cast by individuals who arrive at a polling place after 7 p.m. but before the polls close, will be voted as provisional ballots.  Ballots cast provisionally are reviewed by a ballot board and will be accepted as long as the voter is otherwise qualified.  Votes casts by eligible voters during extended hours will be counted and included in the final tally, however, results from these ballots will not be included in this evening’s unofficial vote totals. 

“We appreciate the dedication and stamina of our election workers who will be working long into the night.” said DeBeauvoir.  “Elections wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of these steadfast and faithful citizens who conduct elections under extraordinary circumstances.” DeBeauvoir added.

Some observers are already discussing what effect those ballots could make – especially in one Travis County race. Jim Henson, director of UT-Austin's Texas Politics project, tweets "That ringing sound you hear? Calls from[Andy] Brown, [Sarah] Eckhardt to election lawyers." 

Update (2:40 p.m.): A judge has granted a request to keep Travis County polling places open an extra two hours tonight - until 9 p.m. - after icy weather caused voting officials to delay opening polls until 11am this morning.

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Weather
7:12 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Winter Storm Warning for Monday Evening, Tuesday Morning

While the National Weather Service is forecasting sleet and freezing rain, accumulation is not expected.
National Weather Service

The Austin area could see freezing rain and sleet tonight and tomorrow. There’s a Winter Storm Warning in effect from 8 p.m. on Monday until noon on Tuesday.

Many Texans may be cranking up their thermostats to fight the cold. But the operator of the state’s electric grid hopes people won’t turn the heat up higher than 68 degrees.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas – or ERCOT – is asking Texans to conserve so that there’s enough energy to meet the increased demand.

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Life & Arts
7:05 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Prodigies or Not: Menuhin Competition Inspires Young Austin Musicians

Parent Daniella Sideh says she finds music is a place where she can bond with her children and understand how they learn.
Laura Rice, KUT News

The best young violin players in the world are in Austin right now for the Menuhin Competition. It’s the first time the prestigious contest featuring players under 22 years old has been held in North America.

UT’s Butler School of Music is hosting the 10-day competition. And it’s a rare opportunity for aspiring young string players in the area to see what’s possible with a lot of hard work.

“It’s considered the Olympics of the violin. It’s also called the F1 of the violin," Butler School of Music Interim Director Glenn Richter says. “We’re getting an international and a national exposure and flair that is very special for Austin.”

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