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Toyota is pumping $391 million into a major tech upgrade at its San Antonio truck manufacturing plant, officials said September 17. This project will push the Japanese automaker's overall investment in San Antonio past $3 billion.

“What a huge win for San Antonio,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg says in a release. “This is exactly the kind of project our city has strategically been preparing for — it shows we’re a competitive region ready for big investment from large manufacturers.”

Melissa Sparks, a Toyota spokeswoman in San Antonio, says the $391 million project won’t create more jobs. Rather, she says, the investment will focus on installing advanced technology that’ll boost “flexibility,” enabling the automaker to keep up with strong customer demand for pickup trucks. The plant will continue to manufacture about 208,000 Tundra and Tacoma trucks per year.

The Toyota factory employs more than 3,200 people. Including 23 on-site suppliers, employment at the South Side complex surpasses 7,200.

Separately, Japan-based Aisin AW Co. Ltd., a supplier of transmissions, drivetrains, and navigation systems to Toyota and other automakers, said September 17 that it’ll invest $400 million to build a plant in Cibolo. The facility, about 25 miles northeast of San Antonio, will bring 900 new jobs. Toyota owns a stake in Aisin AW.

The nearly $800 million in combined investments were announced during a news conference at the Toyota plant.

“The Lone Star State continues to build on its reputation as a manufacturing powerhouse, thanks to investments from innovative companies like Toyota and Aisin AW,” Gov. Greg Abbott says in a release. “Their combined new investment of nearly $800 million in the San Antonio area is a testament to Texas’ unrivaled workforce and commitment to creating an environment where businesses can thrive free from the heavy hand of government regulation and over-taxation.”

According to a study commissioned by the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, the total economic impact of the Toyota and Aisin AW investments will exceed $10 billion, generating more than 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region over the next 10 years.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas Inc. opened the San Antonio plant in 2006. It’s the only one of the company's 10 U.S. plants that makes trucks. The factory initially manufactured Tundra pickups. In 2010, the plant gained about 1,000 jobs through the $100 million addition of Tacoma production.

The Tundra and Tacoma are among the 10 best-selling pickup trucks in the U.S.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris for Getty Images

Heidi Klum causes stir in faux leather at New York Fashion Week celebration

Klum Causes Stir

Heidi Klum proved you don't have to spend a lot to look good. At a party on the opening night of New York Fashion Week to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Macy's INC International Concepts collection, the model and Project Runway host drew admiring glances in a form-fitting, sleeveless faux leather dress from the collection, which retails for less than $120.

"It's very affordable, which is great," she told reporters. Of course it helps to have a killer figure and good genes. (She's 42, but she looks a decade younger.)

Klum, who appeared in some of the first ads for the Macy's private label 18 years ago, returned for the current ad campaign with 40-year-old model Gabriel Aubry (Halle Berry's ex and father of the couple's 7-year-old daughter). Aubry was on hand for the celebration, along with actress Christina Milian and models Karolina Kurkova, Candice Huffine, and Shaun Ross.

A limited-edition men's and women's capsule collection in honor of the brand's anniversary, available at Macy's stores this month, was on display. Women's apparel ranges from $35 to $200; men's goods range from $15 to $175. The INC brand also includes shoes, handbags, jewelry, and home goods. The latter launched last year.

Heidi Klum wore a faux leather dress ($119.50) from the Macy's INC collection.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris for Getty Images
Heidi Klum wore a faux leather dress ($119.50) from the Macy's INC collection.
Courtesy photo

David Yurman breaks the Midnight Ice with dramatic new jewelry collection

Fab Find

Jewelry designer David Yurman has hit black gold. We’re not talking about oil — but the new Midnight Ice Collection, a dramatic mix of rings, cuffs, bracelets, and earrings in darkened silver with gold, as well as intricate beaded stone necklaces in onyx, pyrite, and citrine that reflect fall's folkloric influence.

The collection, which retails from $650 to $3,850, features some of Yurman's most iconic silhouettes — Renaissance, Albion, and Chatelaine —in the new darker look, with black diamonds and volcanic rock. The collection’s showstopper belt buckle features 21 carats of black diamonds.

Yurman recently unveiled the brand at the Neiman Marcus NorthPark store in Dallas with Vogue market stylist Cara Crowley. “We don’t make stuff. We make pieces that meet our desires,” he told the crowd.

The collection is available exclusively at all Neiman Marcus stores through the end of the month and then at David Yurman boutiques and other stores that carry the brand.

David Yurman Midnight Ice Osetra bracelet with black onyx, garnet, and 18-karat yellow gold in darkened sterling silver, $2,750.

Courtesy photo

New high-tech smartshirt senses your best workout plan

High-tech Fashion

We've heard of smartphones and smartwatches. How about a smartshirt?

Ralph Lauren has unveiled the PoloTech smartshirt, the latest in wearable technology. The black T-shirt with the yellow Polo pony trademark is made of a “second-skin” compression fabric with silver fibers woven directly into the fabric that track biometric stats like steps taken, heart rate, and calories burned. A sensor-filled black box that snaps into the shirt at the rib cage streams information to an app on your iPhone, iWatch or iPod touch to create customized workout programs with more than 10,000 combinations in the areas of cardio, strength, and agility.

Now, if it only it could exercise for you.

"This is a bridge between technology, fitness, and style that approaches wellness and well-being in comprehensive and complementary ways," Executive Vice President David Lauren said in a statement. "It will touch many parts of your life."

The washable PoloTech shirt, developed in partnership with Canadian-based OMSignal, retails for $295 and is available at RalphLauren.com, the Polo Ralph Lauren flagship store in New York, and at the U.S. Open tennis championships that run through September 13.

The technology was tested at the last year's U.S. Open, where some ball boys and a top-ranked college player Marcos Giron wore the smartshirts during practice.

The PoloTech shirt signals the relaunch of the Ralph Lauren Polo Sport line, which was discontinued in 2000. David Lauren told the Wall Street Journal that the technology could show up in ties, polo shirts, and suits in the future.

Photo by Aaron Epstein, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Lily Tomlin is brash and unforgettable in Oscar-worthy turn as Grandma

Tour de Force Performance

As the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Even though Lily Tomlin has continued to have a presence on television, including her new Netflix show Grace and Frankie, her days of being anything more than a supporting actor in movies seemed to be long gone.

But it only takes one filmmaker and a special role to make people realize what they've been missing, and for Tomlin, writer/director Paul Weitz and her starring turn as Elle Reid in Grandma are it. Elle is an aging poet whose granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner), comes to her for help when she gets pregnant.

Sage needs money to have an abortion, but since both she and Elle are near broke, they must call in favors far and wide to scrounge up the necessary funds. It's a day-long journey that forces Elle to confront many of her personal demons, including a recently ended relationship with the much younger Olivia (Judy Greer), her testy bond with her daughter Judy (Marcia Gay Harden), and other things she thought she had left in the past.

To say that Tomlin's performance is a tour de force is putting it mildly. Weitz has gifted her with a role that plays to all of her strengths, but more importantly, one that never reduces her to a pile of clichés. Elle is brash and foul-mouthed, smokes pot, and has a checkered romantic history, but she is never defined by any one of those things.

Instead, they all add up to a perfectly complex character, a person who more often than not leads with her heart instead of her head. But she's far from unintelligent, and the decisions she makes throughout her day with Sage are ones designed to get them to their goal, even if it costs Elle some temporary pain.

Tomlin is as funny as she's ever been in the role, but it's her level of dramatic emotion in the film that carries the day. Whether it's Elle's reaction to her break-up with Olivia, the way she interacts with Sage, or her confrontation of old wounds, Tomlin never fails to impress with her range. She was nominated for an Oscar nearly 40 years ago, and she wholeheartedly deserves another nod for this part.

The supporting actors are mostly strong, though none match Tomlin's power. Garner is a rising star who only stands to get better. Greer and Harden are great in limited roles, as is Sam Elliott in an extended cameo. Laverne Cox and Nat Wolff are fine in their small roles, but they don't make much of an impression.

Grandma is the Lily Tomlin show through and through. After bearing witness to a performance like this, anybody who ever doubted Tomlin's talent should bow their head in shame.

Julia Garner and Lily Tomlin in Grandma.

Photo courtesy of AMC

Iconic author of best Texas novel ever wins National Humanities Medal

Big Honor for McMurtry

Acclaimed novelist Larry McMurtry, whose many works are predominantly set in the old West or in contemporary Texas, will receive a 2014 National Humanities Medal for outstanding achievement at the White House next week.

President Obama will present the award to the 79-year-old author and nine other noted Americans, including food writer and activist Alice Waters, and architect/preservationist Everett L. Fly, during a ceremony on September 10. "Mr. McMurtry's work evokes the character and drama of the American West with stories that examine quintessentially American lives," the White House citation announcing his selection stated.

McMurtry is the prolific author of 29 novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove and The Last Picture Show; three memoirs; two collections of essays; and more than 30 screenplays, among them the Academy Award-winning adapted screenplay for Brokeback Mountain.

"I don’t remember either of my parents ever reading me a story — perhaps that’s why I’ve made up so many,” he wrote in his first memoir, Books.

The current issue of Entertainment Weekly picks the one work of fiction that best defines each state in the union, and for Texas, it's Lonesome Dove. "Everything is bigger in Texas, including this novel's ambition," the writers state, adding the "cattle-drive epic features some of the most beautifully descriptive prose put to paper."

McMurtry, who received a master's degree from Rice University in 1961 and was a lecturer of freshman English and creative writing, set several of his best-selling books, including Terms of Endearment, in Houston. The novel, which was made into an Academy Award-winning movie, was part of a trilogy that includes Moving On and All My Friends Are Going to be Strangers.

McMurtry also set three other books in modern-day Houston: Somebody's Darling, Some Can Whistle, and The Evening Star.

He was one of the country’s most accomplished book collectors, with stores in his hometown of Archer City; Houston; and Washington, D.C. at various points in his life, until he sold most of his prized books in 2012.

The award honors an individual or organization whose work has “deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history and literature or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources,” according to the National Endowment for the Humanities. Previous recipients include authors Joan Didion, Frank Deford, Phillip Roth, Joyce Carol Oats, and playwright Anna Deavere Smith.

“No other author has captured the spirit and imagination of his home state and the American West than Larry McMurtry,” Rice President David Leebron said in a statement. “His work speaks to people and their challenges everywhere. We are proud of Larry’s extraordinary body of work and join President Obama in celebrating his remarkable legacy.”

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Comedy heavyweights can't find the funny in racially-charged You People

Movie review

While the idea of systemic racism is a generally accepted fact in American society, a more indefinable concept is the cultural biases that people hold. It can be easy to spot someone who wears their racism on their sleeves, but sometimes a prejudice only reveals itself when someone is confronted with a world that is not their own.

This idea is attempted to be played for laughs in the new Netflix comedy You People. Ezra (Jonah Hill) is a 35-year-old stockbroker/aspiring podcaster who has yet to meet the right woman, much to the chagrin of his mother, Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). He has a meet-cute with Amira (Lauren London), a graphic designer, when he mistakes her car for an Uber.

While Ezra and Amira bond quickly over a number of shared likes, it’s the ingrained beliefs of their parents that threaten to stand in their way. Shelley and dad Arnold (David Duchovny) are a Jewish couple who either rely on Black stereotypes or go overboard in their attempts to relate to Amira. Meanwhile, Amira’s parents, Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long), want her to stay true to her Black Muslim roots, and do all they can to discourage the relationship.

Directed by Kenya Barris and written by Barris and Hill, the goal of the film – to shed a funny light on how awkward it can be when people of different races spend time in each other’s spaces – is clear, but the execution is sorely lacking.

The first mistake they make is that the film is almost exclusively focused on Ezra; while Amira gets a small introduction prior to meeting Ezra, there’s never a true exploration of who she is or what she wants outside of her relationship with him. Consequently, their bond is never believable; there appears to be little chemistry existing between the two, and any moments that might endear them to the audience are yada-yadaed for the sake of expediency.

The second is the strange way in which the film’s biggest star – Murphy – is withheld until 20-30 minutes into the movie, introduced in a lackadaisical way, and then given precious few opportunities to showcase his comic skills. Barris and Hill can never seem to find a great way to use the legendary comedian, giving him tepid scenarios that don’t come close to eliciting the big laughs for which he is known.

Ultimately, the film feels more like a series of barely-connected situations than a cohesive story. Any incisiveness that might come from putting the two racially- and religiously-disparate families together is lost because the filmmakers constantly jump from scene to scene in search of laughs. You’d think that Barris, who knows the value of establishing characters from sitcoms like Black-ish, would have figured out how to do that by now, but the film flails its way through its nearly two-hour running time.

Hill, as star, co-writer, and co-producer, is obviously the driving force behind the film, and he is given plenty of time to dole out his brand of comedy. London is likable enough, but we never get to know her character well enough to fully judge her performance. The wealth of talent on the supporting side – including Murphy, Louis-Dreyfus, Long, Duchovny, Sam Jay, Rhea Perlman, Molly Gordon, Deon Cole, Andrea Savage, Elliott Gould, and Mike Epps – is mostly wasted.

Finding comedy in race relations has been done many times in movies and on TV, and can be a winner if done properly. The story of You People can never find its footing, opting for a haphazard approach that doesn’t make good use of its greatest assets.


You People debuts on Netflix on January 27.

Photo by Tyler Adams/Netflix

Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy in You People.

H-E-B opens first location in growing San Antonio suburb


Cibolo may have experienced explosive growth in the past two decades, but one nagging thing was missing. While Main Street was blossoming into a dining destination, the bedroom community still didn’t have its own H-E-B.

That changed on January 25, when the beloved San Antonio-based grocer debuted at 850 FM1103 #100. Complete with curbside and home delivery and a full-service pharmacy, the state-of-the-art facility offers 110,000 square feet of floor space, providing everything from cat food to charcuterie.

Other highlights include a bakery making artisan bread and the chain’s signature tortillas, a deli with an expansive cheese selection, a meat market with upscale cuts like Wagyu, and a demo and sampling kiosk. Those looking for less prep work can snag rice bowls and rolls from Sushiya or grab a chef-inspired meal from H-E-B Meal Simple.

Guests can also take advantage of their larger suburban plots by outfitting the backyard with grills and plants (and the beer and wine to sip in them). True H-E-B fanatics will flock to the H-E-B Brand Shop for baby onesies, décor, and canvas shoes.

Behind the scenes, the store has another cool feature. The design and construction team were led by an all-woman crew with an eye towards sustainability through CO2 refrigeration, LED lighting, and native landscaping. The retailer is even helping the City of Cibolo complete a hike and bike trail connecting to the City’s Master Parks Trail System.

As typical for the company, H-E-B opened its newest store with a big community commitment. The company not only gave Schertz Cibolo Universal City Education Foundation a $10,000 check but is also building a 55,000-square-foot e-commerce fulfillment center to open next year.

“We are excited to serve our new neighbors, and our H‑E‑B Partners are eager to earn the confidence of many new shoppers throughout the community,” said Cibolo Top Store Leader Jamie Pomykal via a release. “We look forward to serving Cibolo with the best of H‑E‑B, offering the products and services our customers have come to love and expect.”

Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

All eyes are center stage thanks to this list of music-forward performances in the next few days. See Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in concert or enjoy lights and lasers accompanied by the music of Pink Floyd. Check out the top five things to do in San Antonio this weekend. For a full listing of events, go to our calendar.

Friday, January 27

The Public Theater of San Antonio presents Nina Simone: Four Women
Experience the gripping and personal journey of four women and their individual experiences with colorism through the lens of Nina Simone’s music. This production at The Public Theater of San Antonio will examine how Simone’s songs related to the struggles, suffering, and healing of a group of Black women living in the throes of the Civil Rights Era. Shows are scheduled through February 12.

AT&T Center presents Jo Koy
Stand-up comedian Joy Koy brings fresh material to the AT&T Center. Since his humble beginnings performing at a Las Vegas coffee house, Koy was a regular panelist on E!’s late night show Chelsea Lately, and is best known for his specials on Comedy Central and Netflix. Visit the ticketing website for more information.

The Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular
The multimedia laser and light show featuring master recordings of Pink Floyd illuminates the Majestic Theatre for one night only. This production includes a combination of classic hits and cutting-edge effects for an immersive experience and the ultimate fan event. Get ticketing information here.

Saturday, January 28

The Fab Four in concert
Premiere tribute band The Fab Four reimagines some of the most iconic Beatles performances for a live audience. The Emmy Award-winning foursome will take fans through every era of the Beatles’ career with a production that features three costume changes and countless renditions to songs such as “Hey Jude,” ‘Twist And Shout,” and “Yesterday.” This show is suitable for audiences of all ages.

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in concert
Fans will get the chance to experience a collection of songs by legendary group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons performed live in concert. The Majestic Theatre show will feature timeless hits such as “Sherry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” for an unforgettable evening. For seating options and ticket availability, click here.

Photo courtesy of Tobin Center

Premiere tribute band The Fab Four reimagines some of the most iconic Beatles performances.