HOUSTON -- The world premiere of director Peter Masterson's latest film, the romantic comedy The Only Thrill, starring Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard, takes place in Houston tonight, Masterson's hometown. The debut screening, occurring at the Angelika Film Center, is a benefit for the Southwest Alternate Media Project.
A story spanning two generations of unrealized love, The Only Thrill stars Shepard and Diane Keaton (who appeared together in the screen version of Beth Henley's play Crimes of the Heart) as friends who yearn for something more from each other. Robert Patrick and Diane Lane co-star as their offspring who similarly battle unspoken mutual affection.
The movie was written by dramatist Larry Ketron, based on his play The Trading Post. Originally set in the Tennessee Valley, in revisions it was moved to Austin and the Texas Hill Country, to reflect better Masterson's sense of place, the lay of the Texas land as symbolic barometer of sweeping emotions.
Winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship in playwrighting in 1984, Ketron was playwright-in-residence at WPA Theatre in New York. Ketron's plays include Ghosts of the Loyal Oaks and Asian Shade. He adapted another of his plays, Fresh Horses, to the screen in 1987.
Masteron began his career as an actor on the New York stage in 1961. In 1978, he co-authored and co-directed the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which he transcribed to the screen four years later. On both stage and screen, he has become the director of choice of Horton Foote. In a recent interview with Dean Dalton on "The Morning Show" on KUHF, Houston's public radio station, Masterson said he liked most to make personal films, relationship films, character films, such as The Only Thrill.
A thrill for Houstonians is that Masterson will be attending the world premiere. Shepard, who considers himself a Texan even though he was raised in California, might show up. "Sam is an enigma," Masterson joked about the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, whom he first directed in 1995 in Lily Dale, a Showtime movie of a Foote work of the same name. "Just like his writing."
For tickets, $25, call (713) 522-8592.
-- By Peter Szatmary