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Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey TV network to be based in Austin

Gary Dinges
gdinges@statesman.com

Editor’s note: This article was originally published June 10, 2014

A fledgling cable network launched by Robert Rodriguez will be based in Austin, the award-winning Hollywood filmmaker said Tuesday.

El Rey, which debuted in December and is now available in approximately 40 million U.S. homes, will set up its production headquarters and corporate offices at Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios complex in East Austin. The network plans to shoot several upcoming films, TV series and reality shows in Central Texas, as well.

A number of Rodriguez’s films have been at least partially shot or produced in Austin in recent years, including “Machete” and “Spy Kids.” The Texas Film Commission, part of the governor’s office, took some heat – and was the subject of a lawsuit – after allegedly promising, then later denying, incentives for “Machete.”

Tuesday’s announcement represents an estimated $1.5 billion investment over the next decade, El Rey said.

“As a filmmaker and founder of El Rey network, I can’t imagine a more iconic and inspiring location for our production headquarters or for the filming of our upcoming projects,” Rodriguez said in a written statement.

Even before the announcement, some of El Rey’s offerings were already being produced in the Austin area, including “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,” which debuted in March during the South by Southwest festival and has already been picked up for a second season.

El Rey (Spanish for “the king”) specializes in English-language programming targeting men ages 18 to 49, a demographic popular with many big-name advertisers.

City and state leaders were quick to applaud Rodriguez’s decision.

“Austin is home to creative, talented people who do pioneering, game-changing work, and Robert Rodriguez exemplifies our creative base of talent,” Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said. “We’re pleased that the network has chosen Austin, which speaks volumes about our filmmaking environment.”

The city offered no financial incentives to help entice El Rey to locate here, Economic Development Department spokeswoman Melissa Alvarado told the American-Statesman. Neither did the state, according to governor’s spokesman Rich Parsons.

“El Rey is an important part of our burgeoning television production community, helping build our long-term industry infrastructure and making Texas even more competitive for jobs in movies and television,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said.

Combined, Austin’s creative sector – including TV and film productions – has a $4.35 billion economic impact on the city, Leffingwell said, pointing to a recent study. That figure includes contributions from another national cable channel with its headquarters in Austin, ESPN’s Longhorn Network, which is based near the University of Texas campus.

Where to watch El Rey

  • Time Warner Cable: Channel 145