Tinseltown in Cowtown
Fort Worth has always been "where the West begins," and now it's where TV's hottest Western drama begins, too. The 2022 Lone Star Film Festival Gala leaned hard into the city's connections to Yellowstone and its prequel, 1883, with signs and programs that boasted "The Road to Yellowstone Began in Fort Worth."
It was more than a clever tagline. The glittering annual gala was held November 11 at Hotel Drover in the Stockyards, mere steps from where the first few episodes of 1883 were filmed last year. Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan — who went to Paschal High School and lives in the Fort Worth area with wife Nicole — as well as with two of the shows' biggest stars, Ryan Bingham and LaMonica Garrett, were honored with the Lone Star Film Festival's most coveted awards.
It was a star-studded evening in which cast and crew of the Yellowstone franchise mingled with Fort Worth movers and shakers and fans of the show. Among the A-list crowd: Eric and Sainty Nelsen, Hassie Harrison (Yellowstone's Laramie), Kelsey Asbille (Monica Dutton in Yellowstone), Wendy Moniz (Sen. Lynelle Perry in Yellowstone), Dawn Olivieri (Sarah Atwood in Yellowstone), Mina Garrett, Parnell and Charlotte McNamara, Stacie McDavid, Marisa Wayne, Ethan Wayne, David Glasser, and Craig Cavileer.
As guests mingled with drinks in hand, some sipped craft beer from 6666 Grit & Glory, created with the essence of the legendary Four Sixes Ranch in the Texas Panhandle. The 6666 Ranch figured prominently into the last season of Yellowstone, is reportedly the name of a forthcoming spinoff, and has a strong Fort Worth connection — it belonged to the late oil heiress Anne Marion. Sheridan purchased it after Marion passed away in 2020.
Inside The Barn event space, guests were given a warm welcome by Bob Jameson, president & CEO of Visit Fort Worth; along with Chad Mathews, director of the Lone Star Film Society, and Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker.
Big awards for big stars
Eric Nelsen, a Fort Worth actor who played fan-favorite "Ennis" on 1883, gave a rousing tribute to Taylor Sheridan, before Lone Star Film Society board member Red Sanders presented Sheridan with the 2022 Larry McMurtry Award. The award honors native Texans who have made great contributions to the film, television, and creative industries. It is, of course, named after the iconic Texas novelist and screenwriter Larry McMurtry, who died last year.
Fort Worth Film Commissioner Jessica Christopherson then presented LaMonica Garrett with the 2022 Spotlight Award. Garrett portrayed "Thomas" on 1883 to great acclaim. The Spotlight Award recognized his work on implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry.
The final award of the evening, the Stephen Bruton Award, was presented to Grammy award-winning musician and actor Ryan Bingham (Yellowstone's "Walker") by Tom Martens, director of the Fort Worth Music Office. A highlight of the evening was a performance by Bingham (who is coming back for a sold-out show at Billy Bob's Texas on December 9).
After closing remarks by Visit Fort Worth chief operating officer Mitch Whitten, the after-party kicked into high gear thanks to Disko Cowboy's Vinyl Ranch DJ Set.
The gala was presented amid the 16th annual Lone Star Film Festival, during what could have been branded "Yellowstone Week" in Fort Worth.
Festivities kicked off with a special conversation at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, co-hosted by Nicole Sheridan and Kit Moncrief, at which Yellowstone director/cinematographer/producer Christina Voros (and 2021 Cowgirl Hall of Fame honoree) gave an insightful keynote exploring the depth of the strong female characters Taylor Sheridan has created.
Two days after the Lone Star Film Festival Gala, on November 13, Yellowstone stars gathered in the Stockyards again for the premiere of season 5 at the Downtown Cowtown at the Isis theater and after-party back at Hotel Drover. (With 12.1 million viewers worldwide, the premiere reportedly was the most popular scripted series episode so far in the new TV season.)
Two days after the premiere, on November 15, the Yellowstone cast and crew (including its biggest star, Kevin Costner) headed to the Johnson County town of Venus for filming. Meanwhile, the two biggest stars of 1883, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, came to Fort Worth, where Hill received the Patsy Montana Award at the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon and Ceremony at Dickies Arena.
Sheridan and the Yellowstone franchise aren't done with Fort Worth yet. Another spinoff, 1883: Bass Reeves, is also being filmed in the area. The new six-part series is a sequel to 1883, about a former slave (played by David Oyelowo) who became one of the first Black U.S. deputy marshals west of the Mississippi River in 1875.
Filming for Bass Reeves is expected to bring millions of dollars to the local economy, Mayor Mattie Parker said during her State of the City address in late September. The show will continue to put Fort Worth on the map, she said.
Powered by the success of 1883 and Yellowstone, Fort Worth in 2022 shot onto a prestigious list of top filmmaking cities for first time.
In 2023, Sheridan will receive the state's highest honor for achievement in the arts, a Texas Medal of Arts Award.