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Celebrities keep popping up in Austin

Matthew Odam
Imagine sitting in class when Jack Black starts making the announcements. That happened at Westlake High School.

While many Austinites pride themselves on being the type of folks who don't harass visiting (and local) celebrities, there has undoubtedly been a good amount of breathless tapping of friends' shoulders during the past month thanks to the presence of two major films shooting in town.

"Hey, look over there \u2026 that gorgeous brunette \u2026 I think that's Jessica Alba."

While the stars in town to shoot Richard Linklater's "Bernie" and Robert Rodriguez's "Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World" might have been able to go about their business unimpeded, they certainly have not gone unnoticed.

Seven years after the success of "School of Rock," which marked Jack Black's emergence as a comedic star able to carry his own film, the actor has teamed up again with Linklater for "Bernie."

Based on "Midnight in the Garden of East Texas," a Texas Monthly article written by Skip Hollandsworth, who co-wrote the screenplay with Linklater, the film will recount the bizarre mystery involving Bernhardt "Bernie" Tiede, an assistant funeral home director in Carthage, who admitted to murdering eccentric widow Marjorie Nugent, played by Shirley MacLaine.

Principal photography for "Bernie" wrapped in Austin this week, but during the shoot, Black was seen all over town. The jolly comedian, dressed as Super Mario, popped up at the Zombie Ball at Seaholm Power Plant during the Halloween weekend and was also in attendance, along with "Spy Kids" actor Jeremy Piven, at Lyle Lovett's performance in the final "Austin City Limits" taping in Studio 6A on Monday.

But it was the mustachioed actor's impromptu performance at the Westlake High School public address system that probably turned the most heads.

Following introductory notes by principal Linda Rawlings on Nov. 2, Black grabbed the microphone and, speaking with a Texas accent, told students he was taking over their radio waves. He then proceeded to finish the announcements while having a little fun with the pronunciation of Pflugerville.

Black was at the campus to shoot scenes for "Bernie" at the Westlake Community Performing Arts Center. In his announcement, which apparently had surprised students scrambling for their phones to record the moment, Black called "Bernie" a "very independent think-piece."

Local filming is scheduled to wrap next week on the fourth installment of Rodriguez's family-friendly "Spy Kids" franchise.

Taking a break from shooting during the Austin Film Festival in October, Alba, along with actors Daryl Sabara and Alexa Vega — who have played the titular kids in each of the four movies — took part in a script reading for a forthcoming comedy by University of Texas alumna Maggie Carrey.

The ethereal Alba, who has appeared in Rodriguez's "Sin City" and "Machete," has turned heads all over town and raved about her time in Austin, taking to her Twitter feed to tell her fans about experiences at 24 Diner, Lambert's, Uchiko and the band Die Anterwood's Halloween performance at La Zona Rosa.

The unassuming star was also spotted at La Condesa and Whole Foods.

When Hollywood's A-list actors leave town, that doesn't mean work comes to a halt. Indie feature "Boneboys" is entering its final weeks of shooting, and another film, "Beneath the Darkness," reportedly starring Dennis Quaid, will be being filming in the area after the holidays, according to the Texas Film Commission.