How Oil Money From Texas Fuels Hollywood

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“The story begins in the 1930s, with Glenn McCarthy striking oil in Beaumont. McCarthy—who was the inspiration for the Jett Rink character in Edna Ferber’s Giant—used his millions to bankroll the 1949 drama ‘The Green Promise’, starring Natalie Wood and Walter Brennan. The movie was almost immediately forgotten, but McCarthy established a much-repeated role: the Texas oilionaire eager to rub shoulders with the stars.

“Fast-forward to the early 2000s, when Tim Headington, the CEO of Dallas-based Headington Oil, hooked up with Graham King, a British-born producer whose first credit was on the Dallas-shot film ‘Dr. T. and the Women’. The duo has since produced ‘Hugo’, ‘The Tourist’, and last year’s Best Picture winner, ‘Argo’. (The famously press-shy Headington has said little of his attraction to Hollywood, other than to tell Forbes, in 2012: ‘[M]ovies have intrigued me for many years, both as a fan and as a possible participant in the process.’

“Fort Worth-based John Goff, chairman and CEO of Crescent Real Estate Holdings, invested a reported $2 million in the 2012 Glenn Close drama ‘Albert Nobbs’. Businessman Bob Kaminski led a group of approximately a dozen area investors to put up a third of the $12 million budget for the Navy SEAL thriller ‘Act of Valor’. According to Variety, at least one high-profile Hollywood producer, Brian Oliver (‘The Ides of March’, Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’), has been putting together financing packages ‘with coin coming mostly from oil and real estate investments in Texas.’”

— In D Magazine, Christopher Kelly examines the rise of Christian entertainment in North Texas, which is being funded in part with oil money. See more stories about movies.

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Photo: A Scene from the film Hugo

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Mike is the managing editor at Longreads, on the editorial team at WordPress.com, and is the editor of The Billfold. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Pacific Standard, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.
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