First Zika-Related Death in Texas Reported in Houston

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelAugust 9, 2016 11:33 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Harris County officials have confirmed the first Zika-related death in Texas. And infant died soon after being born, with birth defects associated with the virus. According to the Houston Chronicle, the mother recently travelled to South America where she was likely infected.

Last night, Texans were feeling the heat. The Texas electric grid set a record Monday for the most power used at one time – over 70,000 megawatts. For reference, one megawatt can normally power 200 homes on a sweltering Texas day.

Wild Turkey recently added a famous Texan to its ranks of pitchmen: Matthew McConaughey. The Kentucky bourbon company approached McConaughey to be a celebrity spokesman a couple of years ago. But in a 6-minute film the company released, McConaughey explains that he wanted to be more than that:

“And I really liked the idea but the more I thought about it, I said look I want to be more than just the face of the campaign. I want to have my hands in the clay of how we tell the story. And I want to be a part of the whole story not just a character in it, so this is my new gig, creative director of the new Wild Turkey campaign.”

This latest move got Texas Monthly’s Emily McCullar thinking about the McConaughey brand. 

“At first, it seemed like this funny, ‘ugh, what’s he doing again?’” McCullar says. “The more I thought about it, I thought this is actually kind of perfect for what he’s been building the last five years that still contains elements of Matthew’s inherent goofiness.”

What he’s been building over the last five years is a reputation as a serious actor. But at the same time he’s become the face of brands like Lincoln and now Wild Turkey. McCullar wanted to see how these career highs and advertising gigs intertwined in the so-called McConaissance. So, she made a spreadsheet.

“I just wanted to think about Matthew McConaughey for a little bit longer and the ways he’s been successful and the flops he’s had recently,” she says. “And to organize that I was looking at box office websites, that I look at all the time, but to organize that I had to put it in spreadsheet form, and it took a couple of hours of pulling the information and organizing it and color coding it.”

McCullar found some interesting timing.

“The Lincoln commercials, I realized later – I don’t know if he did this on purpose – but he was in that movie ‘Lincoln Lawyer’,” she says. “The first film after that break, the first serious role he did, was Lincoln Lawyer and I think the Lincoln commercials are also supposed to be, maybe, a callback to that.” 

The spreadsheet suggests that McConaughey’s success at the box office declined while his visibility as a pitchman increased. But McCullar says it’s too soon to tell if there’s any correlation. Still, there’s a lot of overlap between the imagery and themes of his roles and his ad campaigns.