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Halt and Catch Fire: New AMC Program Focuses on Texas' Silicon Prairie

Tina Rowden
"Halt and Catch Fire" premiered on AMC Sunday night. SXSW audiences got a sneak peak in March.

Texas is the setting of a new AMC show touted as the next “Mad Men.”

Halt and Catch Fire” made its television debut last night. The show follows an unlikely group of computer geniuses in the early 1980's in the so-called "Silicon Prairie."

KUT talked with the show’s creators – Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers – at a busy downtown Austin restaurant when they premiered the program at South by Southwest.

On Texas's Computing History:

"We learned about Michael Dell and EDS and Compaq and Texas Instruments and all of these companies. Charles Tandy – who was a leather maker before he started making computers and selling them at RadioShack – all that happened here. And I think it's a story you don't know and something that will provide a nice contrast against the Silicon Valley, IBM, Microsoft versus Steve Jobs aspect of the conventional computer stories we've seen executed so well previous to this."

On the Dallas "Feel" of the Show:

"I love how we have introduced Texas and the Dallas metroplex area into the show because, for me, growing up there, I've never seen a more accurate representation of the Dallas area than I think what we're working – even though we're actually shooting in Georgia (Atlanta) – we really take great pains to make sure that the Dallas of it all comes through really clearly."

On Comparisons to "Mad Men":

"'Mad Men' is a show that is very much a paradigm in cable television. There is no following "Mad Men," there is no following "Breaking Bad," there is no emulation of shows like that. There's really only us and our writers and our cast and our really talented crew buckling down and trying to tell the story that we want to tell to the upmost of our abilities. If people make comparisons, that's fine, we will always be flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as any of those shows – which will go down in history as some of the greatest TV ever made."

On Sharing the Airwaves (and SXSW) with HBO's "Silicon Valley":

"I believe it comes from a place of a bunch of us asking 'how did we get here?' And I think that is a great question to be asking and I want to see that dramatically represented in as many ways as possible and our show is but one entry into that discussion... It's going to be super exciting and fun to see how many facets of technology we can dramatize."

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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