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The national Amber Alert system, which highlights when children go missing, is the subject of a new original documentary streaming on Peacock TV.

Called Amber: The Girl Behind the Alert, the show recounts the history of the Amber Alert and its origins in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Amber Alert broadcasts across 50 states when a child goes missing, with details that include the child's appearance and possible abductors. The system has led to the recovery of more than 1,000 missing children.

The show delves into the case that inspired its creation: the 1996 abduction of Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old who was kidnapped on January 13 while riding her bike in Arlington, Texas.

She was reportedly taken by a man driving a black pickup truck, but there was little for police to do but search the surrounding area.

Her remains were found four days later by a man walking his dog, in a stream of water that was eight miles away from where she was abducted. An autopsy determined she died of stab wounds to the neck. The case remains unsolved to this day.

The documentary includes never-before-seen footage of Amber's family leading up to and after her disappearance, as well as an interview with Amber's mother.

It also interviews Fort Worth resident Diana Simone, a massage therapist who saw the story on the news and called a local radio station, urging them to air details about the child's disappearance and the suspect’s vehicle, so that those driving could take part in the search, too.

Eventually, this idea became the Amber Alert (which stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response).

The alert was used for the first time in 1998, when eight-year-old Rae-Leigh Bradbury of Arlington was abducted by her babysitter. She was missing for 13 hours.

The documentary interviews Bradbury's mother, Patricia Sokolowski, who recalls when the alert was sent out that evening and a driver called in to report that he had seen the babysitter on a local highway.

"That’s her!" the driver says in 911 audio, played in the documentary. "I can't believe it."

The next day, Patricia and baby Rae-Leigh were reunited.

There's a trailer on Oxygen.com.

Courtesy photo

Documentary digs down on Barney, the purple dinosaur created in Texas

Purple News

Hit children's TV series Barney & Friends, which was created by a Texas schoolteacher and filmed around Dallas in the '90s, is the subject of a new documentary airing on Peacock.

Called I Love You, You Hate Me, it's a two-part series debuting on Wednesday, October 12 that documents the mixed feelings that the lovable purple dinosaur drew.

Barney was created by Sheryl Leach as a way to keep her son, who was enchanted with dinosaurs, entertained. It started out in 1988 as a home release called Barney and the Backyard Gang. That became Barney & Friends which debuted on PBS in 1992 and aired through 2010.

The show was filmed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, first in Allen, then the Studios at Las Colinas in Irving, then to a space in Carrollton.

The Peacock documentary was produced by Scout Productions, the company behind Netflix's Queer Eye.

I Love You, You Hate Me is a limited series chronicling the rise and fall of Barney the Dinosaur’s furious backlash — and what it says about the human need to hate. From Barney-bashing to frat parties to homicidal video games, something in American society broke into a million pieces, and it’s never been put together again… or is this just who we were all along?

Scout senior VP Joel Chiodi tellsTV Insider that the show traces the creation of the character and inadvertently helped sow the seeds of modern-day hate culture, stating that it "unpacks how a children’s character who stood for inclusion, understanding, and kindness birthed a movement of anger and criticism that threatened the show, its creators, and their futures."

A trailer gives a peek into how the backlash affected Leach, with quotes from luminaries such as Al Roker and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Leach's son Patrick was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2015 for shooting his neighbor in Malibu, California following an argument.

This is not the first Dallas-Fort Worth subject for director Tommy Avallone, who also produced a documentary on North Texas metal band GWAR.

Photo by Shelley Neuman

Texas Tribune co-founder presents a trail guide to 2022 festival

Everything is Political

Believe it or not, politics can be fun, even if it’s all you talk about for days. The Texas Tribune is proving that once again with incumbent CEO Evan Smith’s last Texas Tribune Festival. From September 22-24, this long-standing annual event will bring together more than 350 influential speakers for more than 100 panels, from politicians in office to journalists and cultural wave-makers.

“It's become a major part of the Tribune's brand,” says Smith. “An important person I respect said to me in 2019, looking around the festival that year — the last year we did it in person — that we used to be a news organization with a festival, and we're becoming a festival with a news organization. And I thought, I'm actually okay with that.”

Smith announced his impending departure from the Tribune in January 2022, in a simultaneously wistful and tongue-in-cheek farewell address that acknowledged his “sentimentality and nostalgia.” He will be finished with his tenure by December, but will continue through 2023 as a senior advisor to his yet-unnamed replacement.

“I will be sentimental about it being my last. Of course, I'm also nostalgic, and I'll be nostalgic about the early days of the festival,” says Smith. “But one of the great things about leaving the Tribune now is that everybody here is in the best possible position to carry the important work that we've been doing forward to the next 13 years. And so I'll be watching like everybody else, with a lot of pride.”

This year, the festival broadened its scope from 2021 and earlier to include even more interests tangential to politics, aiming for the same bullseye as the Tribune always does: the average reader. The festival is always as jargon-free as possible, this year including topics like Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner’s memoir and 50 years of cultural change, retired top tennis player Andy Roddick’s opinions on the duties of nonprofits, and singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett’s experience as a Texas legend.

To help attendees start building their itineraries (or give keen readers at home some things to research), Smith selected the following must-attend events for CultureMap readers to keep on their radar.

Thursday, September 22
Thursday is a shorter day with “a couple of sessions to get peoples’ appetites going,” according to Smith. Of the 10 events, he chose two not to miss:

A Conversation with Katy Tur
9:30 am - 10:30 am

The MSNBC anchor will discuss journalism with Smith himself, with special attention to her recent second book that stretches all the way back through her childhood, Rough Draft: A Memoir. This chat will be in-person, kicking off the festival.

One-on-One with Anthony Fauci
10:30 am - 11:30 am

This prerecorded conversation is only available virtually. Smith interviews Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the U.S. president, about the “layered” public health emergencies of COVID-19 and monkeypox as it emerges.

Friday, September 23
This mid-size day has 43 scheduled sessions. Smith chose one from each time slot:

One-on-One with Glenn Youngkin
8:45 am - 9:45 am

The Virginia governor is, in Smith’s words, “one of the big Republican success stories of the last couple of years,” and will be interviewed by senior correspondent David Drucker of the Washington Examiner. Some speculate that Youngkin will run for president in 2024.

The Forward Presents: One-on-One with Deborah Lipstadt
10:15 am - 11:15 am

U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt is talking about the issue nationally and worldwide, interviewed by Forward editor-in-chief Jodi Ruth Warren. A recent report found that 2021 was a record year for antisemitism in Austin.

One-on-One with Walter Isaacson
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tulane University professor Walter Isaacson discusses Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and his current work with Elon Musk. He is interviewed by Pushkin Productions CEO Jacob Weisberg, former editor-in-chief of the Slate Group.

One-on-One with Hillary Clinton
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Former U.S. Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is interviewed by New York Times podcast host Kara Swisher about progressive values in the United States. Swisher runs the Vox Media Code Conference, and is no stranger to the stage.

One-on-One with Ben McKenzie
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Austin-born actor and writer Ben McKenzie is one Austinite speaking out on a large scale about “the case against crypto” as the city grows more and more entangled with it. He is interviewed by Bloomberg Digital executive editor for news Joe Weisenthal.

Saturday, September 24
The longest day of the festival, Saturday hosts 68 sessions. Smith chose one for each time slot:

After Roe
8:45 am - 9:45 am

This panel addressing one of the hottest topics in recent politics is run by Ana Marie Cox of The Cut, and features Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson, Texas state representative Donna Howard, and former state senator Wendy Davis, famous for her abortion filibuster.

One-on-One with Annette Gordon-Reed
9:00 am - 10:00 am

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Harvard professor Annette Gordon Reed discusses the legacy of slavery and the morals of studying history. She is interviewed by Errin Haines, editor-at-large for The 19th, founded by former Tribune editor-in-chief Emily Ramshaw.

One-on-One with Ted Cruz
10:30 am - 11:30 am

U.S. Senator and Texan Ted Cruz is slated to talk on Saturday, although he hasn’t yet been matched with a conversation partner. He’ll talk about tension with the Biden administration, the “soul” of the Republican party, and a possible reprisal of his 2016 presidential campaign.

One-on-One with Chris Bosh
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

NBA Hall of Famer Chris Bosh is interviewed by ESPN commentator Kirk Goldsberry on sports, being retired, and voting. Bosh has spoken out about social justice, and always ties it to a message of using one’s voice to create change.

Below the Line
2:15 pm - 3:15 pm

Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and urban development Julián Castro joins former mayor of Stockton, California, Michael Tubbs and ProPublica-Texas Tribune investigative reporter Vianna Davila to discuss Texans living disproportionately below the poverty line.

One-on-One with Gavin Newsom
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

California Governor Gavin Newsom takes a leadership role, telling MSNBC anchor Alex Wagner about what the rest of the United States can learn from his state. The Democratic governor leans toward messaging about innovation and creating precedent-setting big change.

Tickets for the Texas Tribune Festival ($269 general admission) from September 22 to 24, both virtually and in venues across Austin, are available at texastribune.org.

Photo courtesy of the Tejano Music Awards

Tejano Music Awards stages return at San Antonio's new Tech Port Arena

Best of Tejas

Just about every musical genre has some type of heritage, but Tejano music is ripe with it. The Mexican-Texan-Central European hybrid has simultaneously embodied values of a select few, and a huge range of cultures, and it’s time to celebrate its success at the annual Tejano Music Awards on November 26.

The TMAs are produced by the Texas Talent Musicians Association, and should draw thousands of fans to the Tech Port Arena for the first time in the event’s history. The TMAs haven’t been onstage since 2019, the year before which 90,000 fans in total were estimated to have attended the award show. Founded in 1980, this will be the 42nd ceremony.

“The Tejano Music Awards Industry has not had this following in many, many years,” TTMA President Robert Arellano told the website Tejano Nation. “We believe this is going to give a jump-start to the industry.”

This year, special performances will include Da Krazy Pimpz; 2021 Entertainer of the Year Eddie Gonzalez; 2021 Song of the Year winner Jay Perez; and a young artists segment featuring rising Tejano performers, among several others. Almost all 2022 performers were nominated or had music videos shown at last year’s virtual ceremony.

The Tech Port Arena opened in May on the Port San Antonio campus, and has already featured legendary bands and solo performers, has boxing on the schedule for this fall, plans to host conferences, and is positioning itself as an esports hub. The TMAs are an early example of the special events to which the arena could lend its more than 3,000-person capacity.

“Tejano music has a rich history in San Antonio and South Texas,” said Tech Port Arena general manager Eric Blockie, in a press release. “Hosting this event live for the first time in two years is a dream come true for our venue and for fans. Our location, our amenities, and our world-class guest services will make each performance at the 42nd Annual Tejano Music Awards something to remember.”

Arellano added, “We look forward to seeing the arena filled with Tejano music fans from around the world."

Tickets (starting at $30) to the 42nd Annual Tejano Music Awards are available at tejanomusicawards.com.

Photo courtesy of KLRN

San Antonio TV show celebrating Latina leaders returns for second season with new host

Presentadora Means Host

A toast to the women of San Antonio, especially Melanie Mendez-Gonzales. She is hosting the second season of original series ¡Salud! on KLRN, featuring local Latinas in leadership positions. The season premieres September 8, following up an eight-episode debut season with then-host Jenna Saucedo.

“I am excited to explore the stories and experiences that made these women into the leaders they are today,” said Mendez-Gonzales in a press release. “Although we come from a wide variety of backgrounds, we have so much in common when it comes to being Latinas in leadership.”

Mendez-Gonzales, a seventh-generation Tejana, comes from a blogging background, having launched Qué Means What, her award-winning lifestyle blog that covers entertainment, leadership, and family from cultural and local lenses. She is neck-deep in qualifications, including training from the Latina Leadership Institute and the San Antonio Independent School District, and work with the City of San Antonio.

More relatable, perhaps, Mendez-Gonzales did not arrive at her proud Mexican-American identity without a lot of legwork and at least a little internal conflict. The blog is named for her fourth-grade failure to define the Spanish word “qué” to her teacher, panicking as she hears “what” repeatedly and confronts the language that was not passed down to her naturally.

“This might have been my earliest encounter of ‘we hear what we want to hear,’” Mendez-Gonzales writes on the blog. “My teacher was giving me the answer and all I heard was interrogation.”

Now Mendez-Gonzales occupies this answer-giving role in a similar way — though hopefully with a little more clarity — gently steering influential local women as they tell their stories, whether that’s through handing out digital media tips on the blog, or interviewing them on ¡Salud! Some of those interviews this season include first lady of San Antonio Erika Prosper, county court judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez, and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta.

Season 2 of ¡Salud!, premieres Thursday, September 8 at 7:30 pm. It airs weekly in the same slot on KLRN and streams online at klrn.org.

Photo courtesy of Brasao

3 San Antonio steakhouses make the cut among Bumble's date night destinations

It's A Date?

There's still something romantic about meeting someone you really click with over a meal, and it looks great to suggest a cool, delicious restaurant for that first get-together. But it also adds to the pressure: According to a press release, an OpenTable and YouGov survey found that the top “stressor” for people going on first dates is “picking the right spot/activity.”

To address that unfortunate idea gap, OpenTable and Bumble teamed up to create a dining guide in 2021, listing the 100 Best Restaurants for a Date in America. This year, they reprised the popular list across Bumble’s three verticals — romance, friendship, and business — and three of those standout restaurants are in San Antonio.

“At Bumble, we’re fueled by bringing people together to build genuine connections across every stage of their life: dating, making friends and professional connections,” said Olivia Yu, Bumble’s global vice president of partnerships, in the release. “We saw great feedback from our community following our partnership with OpenTable last fall … [and] couldn’t wait to partner with OpenTable again.”

Before going any further, it’s time to acknowledge any weirdness in categorization. The methodology compared user ratings on OpenTable to determine the “best” restaurants, and then sorted them based on tags indicating whether each was "romantic," “good for groups,” and “good for business meals.” Although Bumble and OpenTable teamed up for this, the data is all automated.

In San Antonio, Brazilian steakhouse Chama Gaucha appears on the Best Restaurants for a Date list, while Brasao Brazilian Steakhouse lands on the Best Restaurants for a Friend Date. (Some crossover is probably permissible, but the OpenTable hive mind makes the rules). J-Prime Steakhouse makes the cut among Best Restaurants for a Business Meeting. Apparently San Antonians enjoy steak.

Austin also scored three restaurants on the lists, with a lot more variety. For dates, sushi restaurant Uchiko charms as always, and Trattoria Lisina (technically out in Driftwood) transports visitors to Italy. Both restaurants are often cited as must-tries, and have earned their popularity in large part because of atmosphere. One other Austin restaurant, Steiner Ranch Steakhouse, made the friendship list; none made the business list.

“People are craving connection, and partnering with Bumble to debut curated diner guides means skipping the dreaded ‘where should we go’ question and instead focusing on nailing that first impression,” said OpenTable chief growth officer Susan Lee in the release. “The win-win is that this movement for in-person socialization also supports the still-recovering dining scene.”

Now through August 18, these lists will pop up for users in Bumble, who can swipe for a link giving recommendations. Those who would like to browse more intentionally can view the lists on OpenTable. All can book, and if they don't agree with this year's lists, feel free to leave the reviews that build next year's.

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Sweet Los Angeles salad chain plants first San Antonio store

LETTUCE CELEBRATE

One of America's buzziest fast-casual brands has found its way to San Antonio. Sweetgreen, a Los Angeles-based chain known for locally sourced bowls and a contemporary brand identity, debuts at Quarry Village on June 6.

Founded in Washington, D.C., in 2006, the chain has become one of the U.S.'s fastest-growing concepts by reimagining fast food. Its menu focuses on gourmet grain bowls and salads augmented with healthier drinks and desserts.

Highlights include a spring asparagus salad overflowing with green vegetables and za'atar breadcrumbs, the warm Shroomami bowl with roasted sesame tofu and portobello, and a protein-packed green goddess salad with black lentils and chickpeas.

With a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2027, Sweetgreen commits itself to sustainable construction, a plant-heavy menu, and local sourcing when possible. The San Antonio newcomer works with local farms when possible, like Rio Fresh Farm, Fredericksburg Peach Co., Kitchen Pride, Village Farms, Bowers Shrimp Farm, and Banyan Foods.

That community commitment extends to working with locally serving nonprofits. For every meal sold on opening day, the restaurant will donate a meal to Brighter Bites, a national organization delivering fresh produce to underserved elementary school families.

Sweetgreen will also be bringing some opening day fun. The first 50 guests will receive a mystery box from Austin-based brand Kendra Scott, and the first 100 guests will receive a free print from local artist Maya Sokovic. Diners will also enjoy gelato and coffee from Paciugo and a live set from San Antonio deejay Alyson Alonzo.

San Antonio is a city with so much history, with a vibrant food and dining scene to match, and we couldn't be more excited to be joining the community," said Sweetgreen cofounder and CEO Jonathan Neman via a release. "We look forward to continuing our commitment of connecting residents in Texas to real, healthy, convenient food."

Once opened at 340 East Basse Rd. #101, Sweetgreen will have daily hours of 10:30 am- 9 pm.

Sweetgreen San Antonio

Photo courtesy of Sweetgreen.

Sweetgreen greets visitos with a fresh, clean aesthetic.

Controversial comedian Dave Chappelle plots out 4 Texas arena shows, including San Antonio

Chappelle's Show(s)

Comedian/actor Dave Chappelle will soon bring his "Dave Chappelle Live" stand-up comedy show to arenas in four cities in Texas, including the AT&T Center in San Antonio on July 12

Other dates include the American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 29, the Toyota Center in Houston on July 1, and the Moody Center in Austin on July 14.

Chappelle is a complicated figure who's been celebrated for his trailblazing comedy and vilified for his controversial stances. Chappelle's Show, which ran from 2003 to 2006 on Comedy Central, was widely praised, and Chappelle remained extremely popular despite the abrupt end of the show and him choosing to recede from the spotlight in the following decade.

His re-emergence in the late 2010s brought success in the form of three straight Grammy wins for Best Comedy Album, but also continued jokes aimed at transgender people. He has been the subject of multiple protests over that material, and has even had a show canceled by a venue in Minneapolis after receiving criticism for hosting him.

As if to underscore the contentious nature of his comedy, no cellphones, cameras, or recording devices will be allowed at any of the four shows. All phones and smart watches will be secured in special pouches that can be unlocked at the end of the show. Anyone caught with a cellphone in the venue will be immediately ejected.

Tickets for the four shows will go on sale at 5 pm on June 5 at ticketmaster.com.

Endless creativity of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse keeps superhero story in overdrive

Movie Review

The blast of pure fun that was 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse accomplished several goals, but none more important than reclaiming the character from being part of just the Marvel Cinematic Universe. By not participating in the never-ending connecting stories of the MCU, the filmmakers could do whatever they wanted, first and foremost using Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) instead of Peter Parker as its main character.

It was also at the forefront of multiversal storytelling that has become the rage in the MCU and elsewhere. Given the multitude of Spider characters that have existed in the comics over the years, it was uniquely suited to telling a story with people from multiple universes. That concept is taken to the nth degree with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, a film that has seemingly limitless levels of creativity.

Miles, having separated from Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), and other Spider-people at the end of the first film, is doing well as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, casually protecting people from threats big and small. But when a highly unusual villain named The Spot (Jason Schwartzman) proves especially tricky, a series of events has Miles follow Gwen into a portal where he encounters every other Spider character in existence.

Lest you think that’s hyperbole, among the people he meets are Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman (Issa Rae), Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac), Hobie Brown/Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya), Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider (Andy Samberg), and Spider-Man India (Karan Soni), and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Revelations made while meeting all of them lead Miles to a whole new understanding of himself and the multiverse in general, with far-reaching consequences.

The filmmakers, once again led by writers/producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, fill the screen with so many visual elements that at times it can be overwhelming, but in the best possible way. Unlike most animated films, there are multiple different styles employed throughout, and never knowing what to expect gives the film a kineticism that borders on manic, although it always stops short of being incomprehensible.

The storytelling is much more complex this time around, no surprise since it involves so many more characters. But the personal stories of each of the Spider characters, especially Miles and Gwen, maintain a grounded nature that keeps the plot anchored even while delving into increasingly fantastical territory.

Although this film deals with some darker themes, there is still plenty of humor to be had. The intersection of so many Spider characters highlights their differences, and the way they interact can’t help but be entertaining. Miles is still a 15-year-old kid, and the way he navigates the world(s) has a lightness to it that is a sharp contrast to the various adults in his life.

Moore, who’s not as well-known as some of his co-stars, has proven to be the perfect voice for Miles, making him relatable and powerful at the same time. Everyone else gives similarly great performances, although the fact that many of them are famous for their non-voicework doesn’t really play a factor in how well they come across here.

A third film, Beyond the Spider-Verse, is teased with a cliffhanger, and unlike other franchises where multiple films are unnecessary, there are no such reservations here. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse equals the success of the first film, and there is no doubt that the filmmakers will bring the same level of attention to detail to the end of the trilogy.

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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is now running in theaters.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.