History will be revisited in a new 10-hour miniseries about the Texas Revolution and the rise of the Texas Rangers. History, of course,will continue to be the subject of intense debate.
HISTORY brought members of the cast as well as Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush to the Alamo on Monday to promote the show’s premiere. A parallel purpose was to launch a campaign to benefit The Alamo Endowment, the nonprofit recently created to preserve the Shrine of Texas Liberty.
Actors Bill Paxton (General Sam Houston), Rob Morrow (Colonel Fannin), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Emily West), Kris Kristofferson (President Andrew Jackson), and others made appearances at Monday’s event.
Bush wants to turn the reconstituted Alamo Endowment board into a fundraising powerhouse for Alamo preservation efforts. Part of Bush’s job is to watch over the Alamo and preserve the historic archive.
“The future of the Alamo lies in preserving and protecting its past and expanding the opportunities for sharing the story of the heroes of Texas’ greatest treasure, our Alamo,” Bush stated in a press release. “This new board represents a new beginning for the Alamo.”
A western theme was appropriate as press handlers moved 40-some journalists and photographers like a herd of cattle in preparation for the dignitaries and stars to walk the red carpet.
Stars of “Texas Rising” shared aspects of their contribution to the miniseries.
Rob Morrow, who plays the character of Colonel Fannin, gave a lot of attention to detail in his portrayal. “Fannin is remembered because he defied Houston’s orders,” he said.
Christopher McDonald plays the character of Henry Karnes, a Texas Ranger.
“Stephen Austin created the Texas Rangers in the early 1820s,” he said. “They were pivotal in the battle of San Jacinto. Every man who fought got 40 acres and a mule.”
Olivier Martinez, born in France, said the hardest part of his portrayal as Santa Anna was perfecting his Mexican accent. Santa Anna was larger than life; he was charismatic, brave, and irrational.
“He was an interesting character,” Martinez said. “He had a lot of faces. It was a challenge to play him.”
Cynthia Addai-Robinson brought dignity to her role as the “Yellow Rose of Texas.”
“I’m happy to be part of a Western,” she said. “And I’m proud to portray the character of Emily. This film fills in the blanks in the period after the fall of the Alamo. Emily is a three dimensional character who helps weave a legend into history.”
Roland Joffé is the director of “Texas Rising.”
“It’s a bit of history after the Alamo,” he said. “Cultures were circling each other and we try to portray the good and bad of both sides.”
Joffé said a little known hero of the Alamo will be featured in the movie. “Juan Seguin finds himself viewed as a traitor but he was not.”
The superstar who brought “Feliz Navidad” to the world of Christmas made an appearance as well. Jose Feliciano performs a song on the soundtrack. “I love Texas,” he said.
Felipe de Lara stars as Francisco, a Mexican spy.
“He plays against both sides,” de Lara said. “His allegiance is to silver.”
But the roots of this native of Monterrey go deep. He is a descendent of Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara, the first governor of a Mexican Texas. His ancestor had the far-fetched idea of Mexican independence from Spain back in the early 1800s.
De Lara said he is not the only one with an ancestral link to Texas history.
“Bill Paxton, who plays Sam Houston, is related to Houston’s sister,” he said.
Perhaps the biggest Alamo fan was Phil Collins.
“Ever since Fess Parker, I’ve been an Davy Crockett fan,” he said.
This iconic British musician was named an honorary Texan by the Texas Legislature in March for his gifts from his expansive collection of artifacts from the Alamo and the Texas Revolution.
“I’m trying to make sure the collection is seen as soon as possible and to be taken care of,” he said.
The Alamo is sure to undergo many changes after its historic shift in caretakers from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas to the Texas Land Office earlier this year. Collins’ gifts will add to the treasure of knowledge. Alamo Plaza faces a re-envisioning process in the coming years and “Texas Rising” is sure to generate new interest in the historic.
Several representatives of an elite group of Texas legends – humanitarians, athletes, artists, and entrepreneurs – were recognized by Texas Honors.
Shanna Peeples, an English teacher from Amarillo, is the first Texan to win the National Teacher of the Year award since 1957.
“It takes a lot of writing to be a teacher,” she said, “but it’s rewarding. I advise every teacher to save every note, every drawing a student gives you.”
Sara Martinez Tucker, from Laredo, was recently named President Emeritus of the National Math & Science Initiative, UT Board of Regents. “I plan to make sure the University of Texas system reaches its potential in the next six years,” she said.
*Featured/top image: Stars of HISTORY’s “Texas Rising” miniseries gather at the Alamo. Photo by Kay Richter.