Dave Brown

Rampart” director Oren Moverman struck a nerve with his 2009 debut, “The Messenger,” a quiet drama about the costs of war that garnered a lot of attention for Woody Harrelson’s live-wire performance. The idea of Moverman re-teaming with Harrelson for an examination of LAPD corruption is a compelling one. Though the film is unfortunately a bit of a disappointment, Harrelson’s performance is anything but.

Harrelson stars as Dave Brown, a police officer who finds himself the last dirty cop in an LAPD ravaged by allegations of corruption and criminal activity. Dave has to juggle between police brutality complaints, two ex-wives (who happen to be sisters, played as wonderfully weary by Anne Heche and Cynthia Nixon), each with their own daughter and an Internal Affairs agent (Ice Cube) with a target on Dave’s back.

Despite all this, “Rampart” is ultimately a mood piece about a man under remarkable pressure, and Harrelson makes every moment we spend with him valuable. He plays Dave’s many facets with equal fervor and packs the character with all of the ambiguity we find among the great dramatic antiheroes. It’s fascinating to watch Dave eloquently lie in his own defense even as he deteriorates before our eyes and Harrelson brings his decline home with remarkable focus.

Harrelson is backed by a remarkable ensemble, and its most compelling members are the ones most poisonous to Dave. Ned Beatty shines as Dave’s mentor, a reflection of the LAPD Dave is the last member of and the devil on his shoulder, always prodding him towards another bad decision. Robin Wright plays Dave’s love interest, and she’s fascinating to watch as she slowly realizes who she’s gotten involved with. Shockingly, the most effective of all might be Brie Larson, playing Dave’s daughter. All the other characters Dave bounces off of choose to be involved with him for one reason or another, but Larson truly strikes a nerve as a poor girl trapped with this irredeemable mess for a father.

Most of “Rampart’s” weaknesses lie in its aesthetic and screenplay. The film is often confidently directed with a precise sense of place, and Moverman sometimes holds on shots for a startlingly long time, forcing us to relish in the destruction his hero creates. Other times, shots can call undue attention to themselves, particularly in Steve Buscemi’s single scene, which is filmed as if the characters aren’t even in the same room together.

“Rampart’s” story isn’t exactly weak, as Dave’s downfall is enormously compelling, but it fails to build to a satisfying conclusion. Once the credits roll, there’s no sense there’s been any concrete change for Dave or the people around him, leaving “Rampart” as a sometimes unfulfilling but enormously watchable showcase for Woody Harrelson, who never disappoints, even when the film around him does.
 

KUT’s reporter Ben Philpott, far left, interviews ESPN’s Dave Brown and Stephanie Druley, along with UT Athletics Director Chris Plonski on Tuesday night.

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

Although many Central Texas UT fans still cannot watch the recently launched Longhorn Network, channel officials said Tuesday greater access should be available soon.

Athletics director Chris Plonsky joined Dave Brown, Vice President of Programming for the Longhorn Network, and Stephanie Druley, Vice President of Production for the Longhorn Network, to discuss the distribution, programming and coverage of the network onstage at the Cactus Cafe. The network is a collaboration between ESPN and UT.

The network first aired last Friday to a limited audience, but according to Brown, deals with the major cable companies are still being negotiated and most fans still do not have access to the content.

Druley said the lack of widespread access will be worked out to address the concern that the network is still unavailable to many fans.

When asked what made the Longhorn Network a good investment for ESPN, Brown said that it was due in part to the “great economic power“ of Texas’ large fanbase. He said that this was a groundbreaking and unique project. Brown said the strength of the Longhorn brand is part of the reason that this will be a successful project for ESPN.

Representatives at the public forum discussed the availability of a suitable amount of content for the network. Plonksy said finding quality events would not be a problem for the network.

“There are a whole lot of other events left over once the conference takes its selection [of events],” Plonsky said.

She said that usually these lower-profile events are aired online, but with the Longhorn Network fans will be able to watch them on TV.

“The production is incredible,” Plonsky said. “It’s like ESPN with an orange tinge.”

In addition to game coverage, Druley spoke of original content which will air on the network, including an all-access show with the football team and coverage of Longhorn football practices. Druley said that as an ESPN project quality is a priority for the network.

“The bar is set higher for us in terms of what we must achieve because of those four letters,” she stated.

KXAN sports director Roger Wallace discussed the effects of the Longhorn Network on local news stations such as his own. He believed the Longhorn Network would not have an adverse effect on local sports coverage.

Wallace said that KXAN will maintain the same pre-game and post-game coverage for UT football and will continue to report on other events such as women’s basketball.

“I don’t think it really will [affect sports coverage at KXAN]. Our access will be essentially the same and, if anything, [the Longhorn Network] could enhance it,” Wallace said. “We could even receive access through the Longhorn Network to some events that we normally couldn’t get to.”

Printed on Wednesday, August 31, 2011 as: Officials discuss Longhorn Network's limited audience.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of press | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorn Network will launch Aug. 26, just in time for a new school year and football season, according to an announcement Wednesday.

The 24-hour subscription-only cable channel will launch the first week of the fall semester and one week before the first football game, said Dave Brown, vice president of programming and acquisitions for the Longhorn Network. First announced in January, the 20-year contract between ESPN and UT guarantees roughly $300 million for the University.

“We want to capture the excitement of a football season to coincide with the launch,” Brown said.

ESPN and UT also revealed several of the shows on the lineup, including “Longhorn Extra,” a nightly UT sports news show, and “Texas All Access,” a weekly show that will give behind-the-scenes looks at University teams and groups, including the football team. The shows will give fans a look at UT football “like nobody’s seen before,” said head football coach Mack Brown in a press release.

Local sports journalists worry that giving ESPN exclusive access to athletes and programs will limit their ability to bring sports reporting to readers and viewers.

“It’s going to make our journalistic lives a living nightmare,” Kirk Bohls, an Austin-American Statesman sports columnist, wrote in a public, online Q&A chat session. “Who do you think will get all the scoops? Terrible news for us. Texas basically just bought a network.”

Daily Texan Sports Editor Trey Scott said the University closely controls the media’s access to the football program because it makes so much money for UT. He believes the Longhorn Network will create resentment among local media who have not had the level of access to UT football that ESPN will have.

“Viewers will finally be able to see more behind-the-scenes stuff, but I believe that Mack Brown is going to be very particular with what ESPN shows, the agenda it sets and how it presents the news,” Scott said.

Although the facility will be off campus near Interstate Highway-35 and Eighth Street, the network will still have a large presence on the 40 Acres, said women’s athletics director Chris Plonsky.

“[Longhorn Network] will have two facilities on campus with a direct fiber link [to the studio],” Plonsky said. “They will be on campus a lot.”

Despite the off-campus location, Dave Brown said there will still be plenty of opportunities for student internships, though the selection process won’t start until July.

The network will later announce non-athletic shows, including speakers who visit UT and faculty and student work, he said.

“[Longhorn Network will] highlight the mission of the University, and what faculty and students are doing,” Dave Brown said.