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Texas scores big in Oscar nominations, with Renée Zellweger and Kathy Bates packing a one-two punch

They’ll be among the contenders at the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9.

From Renée Zellweger’s twang to Kathy Bates’ Park Cities college connection — she’s a proud graduate of the theater program at Southern Methodist University — Texas was well represented in the Oscar nominations announced Monday.

Zellweger, born and raised in the Houston suburb of Katy, landed a Best Actress nomination for her knockout performance as Judy Garland in Judy. Zellweger is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where her friends and fellow Longhorns included Matthew McConaughey, who himself went on to win an Oscar in 2014 for Dallas Buyers Club.

Bates, who won the Oscar for Best Actress in 1991 for her role in Misery, earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing the troubled mom of the title character in Richard Jewell. SMU awarded Bates an honorary doctorate in 2002.

As she told Anderson Cooper in 2012: “We started out with a regular little theater program and then came out with a proper conservatory by the time I left. It was such a great time to be there and to learn and to be trained — and to be taken seriously, to want to be an actor. It was a great school to attend, and they gave me a great start.”

Zellweger won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2004 for Cold Mountain, but there was also her underrated star turn in Jerry Maguire, a 1996 cult favorite that featured cameos by multiple Dallas Cowboys, including a speaking part for Troy Aikman.

But when it came to Texas connections in the Oscar nominations, Monday offered even more. Ford v Ferrari, which earned a Best Picture nomination, stars Matt Damon, who plays auto-racing icon Carroll Shelby. Born in Texas, Shelby grew up in Dallas, where he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School.

And as we’ve written before, the No. 17 jersey of Dallas Cowboys great “Dandy” Don Meredith makes a mysterious (albeit as yet unanswered) appearance in the final scene of Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, which earned multiple nominations, including Best Picture.

During his long career, Bill O’Reilly worked at WFAA-TV (Channel 8) before becoming a highly paid executive at Fox News, which landed an ignominious place in Monday’s nominations for having served as a focal point of sexual-harassment allegations, as depicted in the movie Bombshell. Bombshell earned three nominations.

Although Bombshell deals primarily with allegations surrounding Fox’s former chief, the late Roger Ailes, O’Reilly also became a casualty of the #MeToo movement when revelations about his behavior at the network emerged. The New York Times reported that O’Reilly had paid six women nearly $50 million to settle various sexual harassment lawsuits. After The Times revealed that O’Reilly and Fox News had settled five sexual harassment lawsuits totaling $13 million, Fox News terminated his employment in 2017.

During his time at Channel 8, O’Reilly won a Dallas Press Club award for investigative reporting.

Michael Granberry, Arts Writer. Michael Granberry was born and grew up in Dallas. He graduated from Samuell High School in Pleasant Grove in 1970 and from Southern Methodist University in 1974. Between his junior and senior years, he interned at The Washington Post during "the Watergate summer" of 1973. He spent 19 years at the Los Angeles Times before returning to Dallas. @mgranberry
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