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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facebook.com/thejonesfamilysingers

The Jones Family Singers is made up in part of five sisters, two brothers and their father. The gospel music band is based in Bay City, Texas – outside of Houston.

For the last several decades, the Jones Family Singers have been touring churches and winning singing competitions. But it wasn’t until recently that the group started getting some real attention.

That’s thanks in major part to music critic Michael Corcoran. Austin-based Arts and Labor produced an album last year. And now, their story is being told in a film getting its world premiere at South by Southwest: The Jones Family Will Make a Way.

Cody Rea for Texas Standard.

From Texas Standard:

The SXSW Film Conference marks a sort of homecoming for MacArthur genius and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer’s 2012 film, The Act of Killing, looks at how the perpetrators of Indonesia’s military coup cope with their past. His new documentary, The Look of Silence, follows victims of the coup and how they continue to live alongside the people who killed their family members.

Cody Rea for Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Robert Rodriguez is one of Texas’ most high-profile contemporary filmmakers — best known for Sin City, Spy Kids and From Dusk Till Dawn among other films. So, why has he set up a temporary art museum in Austin?

Rodriguez has taken over a space near the Capitol and has lined the exposed brick walls with framed work by fantasy artist Frank Frazetta.

Rodriguez says when he was a kid growing up in San Antonio, he devoured Frazetta’s work – which showed up on the covers of comic books and paperbacks including "Conan the Barbarian," "Tarzan" and "The Death Dealer." Some of the art in the downtown space once even hung on his bedroom wall.

Micah Magee, Petting Zoo

Filmmaker Micah Magee has been all over the world – but just wanted to capture the Lone Star State in her SXSW Film "Petting Zoo."

Micah Magee directed "Petting Zoo." It's making its North American premiere at SXSW.

"When I was in film school in Berlin I’d go like sit in the cactus section at the biological gardens because I missed the way it smelled so much and you can’t really get smells to be in a film," Magee says. "So I had to find the ways to have that feeling of really being there that I really missed so much. I wanted to like transport that to everywhere else in the world where the film could and, hopefully, would go."

South by Southwest is the biggest conference of its kind in Texas. It draws in tens of thousands of people and has an economic impact of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Janet Pierson heads up SXSW Film, which is screening 150 films this year – the most ever.

“We actually really wanted to show fewer films. The last couple of years we had settled on about 130-133 features – down from 140 – and we wanted to actually pull it down to about 125, and then there was just too much work that was interesting,” Pierson says.

Flickr User Katie Haugland

From Texas Standard: 

The Spurs recently won an award for using analytics – but do they use them?

Courtesy of Longhorn Network

The quarterback is sacred in football. It's a job that wasn't entrusted to a black man at UT-Austin until 1978.

UT's first black quarterback was Donnie Little.

"It's more prevalent now in the last 10 years. You see more black quarterbacks in the NFL, all over. It wasn't like that when I came through," Little says.

Little sort of dismisses the racism he faced. He talks about it in a special Longhorn Network program in recognition of Black History Month.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT

You’ve opened all the gifts and enjoyed a nice big meal. Now, you’re surrounded by mountains of wrapping paper and piles of disposable dinnerware.

But don’t grab the trash bags just yet. Here are some tips for getting more of that waste into the recycling bin this holiday season.

"Tissue paper is definitely recyclable," Austin Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert says.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachypsylla#mediaviewer/File:Hackberry_Nipplegall_Maker_1.jpg

Hackberry trees are pretty common in this part of Texas. If you’re not sure whether you have one in your yard – there’s a pretty obvious sign.

Insect experts say hundreds to thousands of the little insects that love hackberry trees are swarming right now.

"I’ve been getting lots of calls on hackberry psyllids," Texas A&M Agrilife Extension program specialist Wizzie Brown says.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

For well over a decade, Austinites have been calling 3-1-1 to report graffiti or a pot hole to city officials. While that’s not going away, a new way to report problems and get questions answered could offer more benefits.

For example, say you want to report that there aren’t any doggie clean-up bags at the park down the street or that there’s a pothole down the road. But, uhh, what’s the address exactly where you’re at? Austin’s 3-1-1 mobile app lets users do many of the same things that can be accomplished with a phone call.

But there are also things the app does that a phone call can’t.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT

It’s a familiar scenario: you’ve finished a product and are ready to dispose of the packaging. But wait… does it go into the recycling bin? Or the trash can? Recycling is something most of us strive to do. But waste management experts say many of us do it wrong – at least some of the time.

Step 1 to better recycling is NOT putting something in the bin if you're not sure it can be recycled:

"Part of the problem with recycling is if you throw it in with doubt, it could be a contaminate and it can slow down the process in the recycling stream," Austin Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert says.

Update: Denton Police have discontinued an AMBER Alert for a missing 4-year-old boy. But Ricardo Lara has not been found yet.

Police say the investigation no longer fits requirements to continue the Amber Alert – though they are still pursing all leads to find the child.

Police still believe Lara is with his father – 23-year-old Ricardo Martinez. The two were last seen in Denton on Friday afternoon. Martinez is also a suspect in the murder of Lara’s mother.

Original Story (Dec. 15, 2014, 6:04 a.m.): Law enforcement officers across the state are keeping an eye out for a missing 4-year-old boy.

Photo courtesy of Endocrine Entertainment.

Austin has a brand-new film festival and it’s all about science fiction. The first-ever Other Worlds Austin Sci-Fi Film Festival is happening this weekend.

I know what you’re thinking – just what Austin needs – another film festival. But that’s exactly what Other Worlds Austin Director of Programming Bears Fonté thought.

“I had a science fiction film a couple years ago that wound up playing about 40 film festivals. So as I was going around the country with the film, I just saw so many great science fiction films and I was like, this isn’t playing Austin and I want to do that, I want to bring those films to Austin and give those filmmakers a chance to play in front of an audience that’s going to be really receptive," Fonté says.

Lionsgate Publicity

The third film in the popular “Hunger Games” series hits theatres on Friday. To drum up anticipation for “Mockingjay Part-1," the filmmakers are traveling the globe for special premieres. So far they’ve been to London, L.A. and Austin. 

KUT sat down with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson to talk about the film and why they made a stop in Central Texas.

Michael Wilkinson

Oscar-nominated costume designer Michael Wilkinson is making his first-ever trip to Austin this weekend. He's the subject of a special event with the Austin Film Society on Sunday.

Wilkinson is known for his work on films including "American Hustle", "Man of Steel" and "Noah". He's also working on the upcoming film "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." Wilkinson spoke with KUT about his varied collection of work and some of his favorite past projects.

On His Goals for Superhero Costumes:

With superhero films, you want people to come out of the theatre and talk about the costumes and how inspiring they are and how cool they look when they're on a billboard that's like 10 stories high and you want to show people different creative worlds that they haven't seen before and take them to new inspiring, compelling places."

"Winter in the Blood"

The Austin Film Society is screening “Winter in the Blood” this evening.

The film’s been on the festival circuit for more than a year – and has been picked up for national distribution. Some of the attention it’s gotten is thanks to its star – Chaske Spencer – who fans of the “Twilight” movies know as an ab-bearing werewolf.

In this film, Spencer plays Virgil First Raise – an Indian cowboy who struggles with questions of identity and heritage while on a mission to get his gun back from his runaway wife.

The filmmakers describe “Winter in the Blood” as a neo-noir – mixing dream elements and flashbacks with the modern tale. But much of the focus and coverage of the film has actually not been on the film itself but over issues of race. That’s because “Winter in the Blood” is based on a book by Native American author James Welch and it features a mostly Native American cast. But it was written and directed by white men – including Austin-based filmmaker Alex Smith.

Mengwen Cao/KUT

Election Day totals are in.

Republicans swept the statewide elections, with Greg Abbott winning the gubernatorial race and Dan Patrick besting San Antonio Democrat Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor in the top two races.

Citywide races weren't so clear-cut. There will be nine run-offs in races for Austin City Council and for Mayor of Austin. Council Member Mike Martinez trails Austin attorney Steve Adler 29.63 percent to his nearly 37 percent. Delia Garza and Ann Kitchen were the only two Austin City Council candidates to win their districts with more than 50 percent of the vote in Districts 2 and 5, respectively. The rest of the races will be decided in run-off elections in December. 

Additionally, three Austin School Board elections went to run-offs; Sarah Eckhardt became the first female Travis County Judge; and Texas passed a statewide road improvement bond.

While Austinites couldn't forge consensus on council candidates, they did vote down by a wide margin a billion-dollar proposition to build a light rail system and accompanying road improvements, with 57 percent of Austinites voting against and nearly 43 percent voting for it.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

The task force put together by Texas Governor Rick Perry to evaluate the state’s response to Ebola has come out with a list of recommendations for how to handle health care workers exposed to the virus.

The Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response has outlined four categories of exposure – from no identifiable risk to high risk. Those at a lower risk would just take their temperatures twice a day while high risk people would be restricted in their movement for the 21-day incubation period.

The task force says it "does not support mandatory government-imposed strict quarantine" for those who are cooperative and not showing symptoms – unless they meet the high risk description.

"Phantom Halo"/Station 8 Films

KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

Antonia Bogdanovich is filmmaking royalty.

Her dad is Peter Bogdanovich – the director of films including “Paper Moon” and “The Last Picture Show.” Antonia’s mother – the late Polly Platt – also worked on that film among many others. She produced “Bottle Rocket” – the movie that launched Wes Anderson's award winning career.

But while Antonia Bogdanovich has worked in and around the film business for decades – it took her a while to get behind the camera.

She's making her feature directorial debut at the Austin Film Festival with “Phantom Halo.”

"That Which I Love Destroys Me"

KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

Austin-based filmmaker Ric Roman Waugh got his start in the stunt business. His film credits include "Gone in 60 Seconds," "Total Recall," and "Hook." He then went on to work with tough guys including Val Kilmer and Dwayne Johnson as a director and screenwriter.

"That Which I Love Destroys Me" is Waugh's first documentary. It follows two special operations soldiers as they explore the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It screened at the Austin Film Festival.

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