A reboot of the hit 1990s TV series "Walker, Texas Ranger" is coming to Austin to film for its set location. On Thursday, the city offered a financial enticement to help make it happen, with the expectation that area workers will be on the crews that create the show.
Helping to ensure a story with Texas roots stays in Texas, the Austin City Council voted to kick in $141,326 in incentives to the California production company filming "Walker." It is by far the most the city has agreed to pay among the four projects it has attracted through a 6-year-old incentive program.
The state in February agreed to $9.3 million in incentives to help bring the show to Texas.
The series will be carried by the CW Network and will star Austin resident Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker, the Texas Ranger played by Chuck Norris in the original series. It will be a new venture for Padalecki once the show that elevated his career, "Supernatural," wraps up next month after 15 seasons.
Padalecki is an executive producer for "Walker." His wife, Genevieve Padalecki, is scheduled to play his on-screen spouse.
Production is scheduled to begin next week and continue through April, according to a city memo dated Oct. 5. More than 50% of the production is scheduled for Austin, breaking the mold from the original show which was shot in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It is scheduled to premiere in January, with the first of 13 episodes.
A representative for CBS, the parent company of the CW Network, confirmed that the show will be filmed in Austin.
A city staff memo lays out financial benefits and other perks Austin will be receiving in the deal. Eye Productions says it anticipates spending in excess of $17 million on wages for workers in Travis, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays and Williamson counties. Per the contract, wages can be no less than union wages, with exceptions for extras, interns and production assistants.
The memo did not say how much of the wages staying locally will go to the Padaleckis, who have a home in West Austin.
The production company also plans to spend $5.8 million in the Austin area on such things as lodging and food.
The council voted 11-0 to approve the incentives with no discussion ahead of time. City staff, apparently expecting the reboot to be as successful as the original show, suggested fans will visit Austin the same way people once flocked to Wilmington, N.C., to see the filming location of CW Network’s "Dawson’s Creek" and "One Tree Hill."
"Walker will bring the same level of fan devotion to Austin," city staff said in a memo.
This is the fifth project the city has lured to Austin through the Creative Content Incentive Program, which began in 2014. Three completed projects — the TV show "American Crime," seasons 1 and 2, and the video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered" — combined to cost the city $106,000 in incentives.
For all three projects, the city ended up paying less than it had initially agreed to. They led to employment for 1,065 area workers resulting in $21 million in total wages, according to the city.
An application for a fourth project, "Apollo 10.5: A Space Age Adventure," is pending review. The film is directed by Austin resident Richard Linklater and stars Zachary Levi, Jack Black and Glen Powell.
Prior to the Creative Content Incentive Program, the city paid $157,154 in Chapter 380 incentives for the first five seasons of the TV series "Friday Night Lights."
As part of the agreement with "Walker," all episodes filmed in Austin must display a city of Austin logo at the end of the episode with the following language: "Thank you to the City of Austin for its generous support of this production. Filmed on location in Austin, Texas, U.S.A."