In texting war, Alamo Drafthouse makes stance clear amid iPhone rumors

Also: Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson’s smoky friendship gets in holiday spirit.

What do you love more: your iPhone or Alamo Drafthouse? The time to choose might be nigh.

According to several news outlets, rumors began to swirl at the end of last year that a new “theater mode” is coming to iOS 10.3, complete with a popcorn-shaped icon in the device’s control center. I know, I know. The idea of using your phone in a theater at all, special mode or not, is anathema to any conscientious Austin moviegoer.

Apple has had a patent on such technology since 2012, according to the website Apple Insider. An excerpt of the patent’s abstract on that website mentions a wireless device capability “useful for a variety of reasons, including for example to disable noise and/or light emanating from wireless devices (such as at a movie theater).”

As you can guess, one local cinema institution is having none of that.

Alamo Drafthouse is renowned for its strict “no talking, no texting” policy, which promises swift theater ejection for anyone bold enough to whip out their phone during a screening. It’s so ingrained in the theater chain’s identity that their pre-show PSAs, which are often star-studded, have become as much a part of the experience as the movie itself. On Wednesday, Alamo Drafthouse tweeted “That’s weird. Our phones already have theater mode….” along with a screenshot of an iPhone’s shutdown screen.

On Thursday, Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League issued a statement, which the theater tweeted, too.

“I see nothing but rumors swirling around this alleged functionality, so I can only say the following at this point: if this enhancement turns out to be a means to make it easier to text in cinemas, I may have to book a ticket to Cupertino and pack my can of whoop-ass,” League said in the statement. “I have confidence, however, that a fellow Tim would not make such a mistake.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook might want to think twice before crossing a man who once got former Texas Gov. Ann Richards to throw a man out of a theater for talking. It was in one of those PSAs, sure, but the point still stands.

A tree under the tree

What does a successful, weed-loving rapper get his similarly successful, weed-loving country singer friend for Christmas? Not your average holiday sweater, obviously, but a weed sweater.

Willie Nelson took to Facebook on Tuesday to thank his good friend Snoop Dogg for his new sweater, which has a less novel mantra, “Smoke weed everyday,” printed across the front.

Although Nelson and Snoop Dogg’s friendship seems pretty exclusive (there weren’t any tagalongs on their impromptu trip to KFC, as recounted last year on “The Tonight Show” last year), you can feel at least laterally included by purchasing the same sweater off Snoop Dogg’s “Get Deez” website.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

Social spaces

You’ve heard of “sanctuary campuses.” Now, two Austin restaurants have signed a petition from workforce rights organization Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and Latinx social activism group to promote “sanctuary restaurants.”

According to a news release from the restaurant rights group, Black Star Co-Op and L’Oca d’Oro have signed a petition that promises to “promote hate- and discrimination-free workplaces” by refusing to allow “any harassment of any individual based on immigrant/refugee status, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation to occur in their restaurant.” Other restaurants throughout New York, Michigan and Massachusetts have also signed the petition.

The call for sanctuary restaurants seeks “to create the world we want – establishments free from hate and discrimination, where everyone has a seat at the table,” Restaurant Opportunities Centers United co-founder and co-director Saru Jayaraman wrote in the news release.

Among the requirements for establishments to join the movement: prohibiting harassment of any individual based on immigration status, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation within the restaurant, as well as placing a prominent “SANCTUARY RESTAURANTS: A Place At the Table for Everyone” sign in the establishment.

— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff

Pop(star) culture

People may be looking to turn over a new leaf in the new year, but one trend surviving 2016 is internet dance challenges.

Perhaps the first to make its way around social media is the “Demi Lovato challenge,” which originated from a song by a YouTube user named Kandi Reign. That’s right, it’s not even inspired by a song sung by Dallas-raised pop singer Lovato — the chorus just repeats the line “I feel like Demi Lovato.” With more than 15,000 subscribers and more than half a million video views on her account, however, Kandi Reign’s new challenge went viral all the same.

These challenges often have a brief lifespan, and Lovato is all for it.

“Umm.. this #demilovatochallenge is giving me LIFE,” the “Confident” singer tweeted Jan. 2. Demi’s sister, Madison De La Garza, also rounded up a dance crew to take the challenge, video evidence of which she posted to Twitter.

— Maribel Molina, American-Statesman staff


• “Silence” star Andrew Garfield knows how to have a memorable birthday. According to the actor in an interview with W magazine, he and eight of his closest friends marked his 29th trip around the sun with some pot brownies and a trip to Disneyland. The erstwhile-Spider-Man told the magazine that he rode Space Mountain three times in a row and freaked out on It’s a Small World because, as grating theme park ditties are wont to do when heard under the influence of chemical alteration, it made Garfield realize it is indeed a small world, after all. Bonus: As Page Six points out, “La La Land” star and former paramour Emma Stone was one of Garfield’s partners-in-mouse-ears on that trip.

• Singer Frank Ocean’s mother wants gospel singer Kim Burrell removed from her son’s critically acclaimed album, “Blonde.” On New Year’s Day, Katonya Breaux tweeted “Me: Son, can we crop Kim Burrells voice out of your song??” Burrell has come under fire for homophobic comments delivered in a recent sermon. An appearance with recent collaborator Pharrell Williams on “Ellen” was canceled in the wake of the controversy. Ocean opened up about his attraction to men in a 2012 post on Tumblr.


Catch up on the week’s viral headlines and entertainment buzz, brought to you by social media editor and pop culture writer Eric Webb.

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