Stars brighten wet scene at SXSW festival
The celebrity quotient at South by Southwest soared Saturday as Rainn Wilson, Joss Whedon, Matthew McConaughey, Gina Gershon, Johnny Knoxville and Minnie Driver showed up for various interactive and film festival events.
Wilson, who plays Dwight on NBC's "The Office," spoke at an interactive session about creating an online community, SoulPancake, that's like social networking for those who want to think deeper.
Even though Wilson's character, Dwight, would probably mock the touchy-feely vibe of the website, Wilson said he's using it to ask "life's big questions."
SoulPancake is launching YouTube channels this summer, as well as partnering with the Oprah Winfrey Network.
At another interactive panel, Whedon talked to a packed crowd about "The Cabin in the Woods," which received a rousing welcome as the opening night film Friday, as well as upcoming projects such as "Marvel's The Avengers." Whedon said he was approaching this summer's "Avengers" as a fanboy. "I'm not ready to be postmodern about superheroes yet."
At the film festival, McConaughey and Gershon walked the red carpet for the premiere of the thriller "Killer Joe," while Knoxville showed up for two of his new movies, "Nature Calls" and "Small Apartments."
Driver attended the festival to support "Hunky Dory." And Mark Duplass, Aubrey Plaza and other stars walked the red carpet for "Safety Not Guaranteed," a Sundance hit.
Despite the star power, the skies didn't cooperate, as clouds and rain continued to put a damper on the festival.
Interactive programming that was scheduled for Saturday at Palm Park, between Red River Street and Interstate 35, was moved to the nearby Hilton Garden Inn. Festival officials said today's events in the park could also be moved to the hotel if rain continues.
There were also the usual glitches on Saturday: Parking filled early near the Austin Convention Center; some interactive sessions were so crowded that people ended up sitting outside the main rooms and watching the events on television.
Interactive director Hugh Forrest, who introduced keynote speaker Baratunde Thurston, acknowledged that crowding was a problem and promised that the festival would work to speed up badge pickups next year.
He was responding to Friday's complaints about two-hour waits for registrants as lines snaked around the convention center.
Contact Charles Ealy at 445-3931
Additional material from staff writers Nancy Flores, Sharon Chapman and Sarah Beckham