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Once upon a time, the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Tex., was just a launching pad for up-and-coming bands. What an innocent time that was. Now it’s a major marketing opportunity for brands from all industries, a free-for-all that stretches nine days and draws everyone from the worlds of technology and entertainment so they can push their latest products, be they apps or feature films. Despite rainy weather throughout the weekend, Saturday saw two premieres for “Veronica Mars” and an after party at the Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline. “Veronica Mars” was a short-lived but beloved television series that was canceled seven years ago, but, against all odds, was revived as a film thanks to a highly successful, fan-driven Kickstarter campaign.
Like any star of a cult series, Kristen Bell commands tremendous goodwill from fans, and when she arrived at the premiere, they and even some cast members could hardly contain themselves.
“KB’s here! Kristen Bell’s here everybody!” announced Krysten Ritter, who was with the show in its original incarnation. The actress had a handful of screen credits by the time “Veronica Mars” first aired in 2004, but it was her first series as a regular.
“It was like a high school reunion,” she said of filming the movie. “We were all very excited to see each other and supportive, and we met at such a young age.”
Bell credited the fans as the driving force behind the scrappy revival. “We felt South by was the perfect place to premiere there the film,” the actress said. “This project has always been about friends, family and grassroots movements, so we felt right at home.”
Another actress who got her start on television was also honored Saturday night — Mindy Kaling, the star of her namesake sitcom.
“I want the rain to let up so I can go out and explore,” said Kaling at a dinner for her and Nasty Gal chief executive officer Sophia Amoruso held by Marie Claire magazine at the so-called Spotify House, a venue sponsored by the music streaming service. The two of them warded off the cold, rainy weather by wrapping themselves up in Southwestern-style blankets slung over every chair. “They’re the best,” said Kaling, who admitted to struggling with the Austin dress code. “Dressing for Austin to me is intimidating. Anyone can wear a dress or a gown, but Texas artsy is very hard to pull off, if you’re neither of those things,” she said. “Brooklyn Decker nailed it — she’s wearing like a cool leather jacket and a maxidress.” While Decker may have “nailed it,” she certainly paid the price by the end of the night, as she dashed out of the soiree to her waiting car, shivering the whole way.
Rosario Dawson, Olivia Munn, Lauren Bush Lauren, Randi Zuckerberg, Seth Meyers and filmmaker Jon Favreau also turned up at Spotify House and stayed warm with tequila shots.
Amoruso was basking in the attention she and her various projects have gotten from some of the more famous names at the festival, like “Girls” star Lena Dunham.
“I don’t think I’m as good as a writer as Lena Dunham, but I did the best I could with the time I had, and I feel like it’s a pretty good book, and [the fact that] she likes it, it’s super cool,” the e-commerce dynamo said of her first book, “#Girlboss,” about being an entrepreneur. “Rosario [Dawson] went to my talk earlier, and she and her business partner sought me out. They wanted my advice. I was like, ‘Rosario Dawson wants my advice!’ So we’re like buddies now.”