According to the folks who put on the annual South by Southwest Film and Music Festival in Austin, attendence is up some 40 percent this year--which, by my estimate, would put the number of registrants close to 1.2 million. Granted, that's a rough estimate, and I did get into journalism because there was no math, but in order to pick up your registration badge this year at the Austin Convention Center, you had to wait in one enormous line that fed into another enormous line that fed, finally, to the check-in counter, where you had to wait in another line to actually get the badge that allows you into, whadyacallem, screenings. (I am pretty sure the woman standing behind me played Gail Stanwyck in Fletch. I put my festival registration fees on Mr. Underhill's bill.)
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No one's quite sure what accounts for the drastic rise in attendence--fest bossman Matt Dentler says it wasn't even this nuts during the dot-com heyday--except, perhaps, there is a swell opening-night movie this year (Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion, which press-screened this morning and is a joyous, occasionally heartbreaking rendering of Garrison Keillor's famed radio show), and there might be the Lindsay Lohan pop-in at the Paramount Theater for tonight's 9:45 p.m. screening. (As if.) If she shows, I'll miss it: I'm going to the annual Texas Film Hall of Fame induction dinner-drinkyfest, to see Matthew McConaughey, JoBeth Williams, Kris Kristofferson and The Last Picture Show (that is, Cybill Shepherd) get inducted into...what, Canton, Texas? --Robert Wilonsky