Actor Stanley Tucci, star and co-writer of last year's sparkling Big Night, appeared on a recent episode of The Charlie Rose Show to discuss the state of the independent film industry. When he could get a word in edgewise--obviously, Rose is an expert on everything--Tucci said that most independent films released in the last few years are basically cheaper versions of films that came out of the Hollywood studio system. Of course, he's right. The independent film industry is no longer a haven for auteurs forced to work outside of the studio system because they want to stay true to their vision. It's the minor leagues, filled with fresh-faced film-school grads maxing out their credit cards until they can get a three-picture deal from Tri-Star. It's too early to tell what kind of independent filmmaker Stephen Davis is yet. The Dallas director has just completed his first feature, 40, an on-the-road picture that follows the misadventures of an independent film director and his actors on a trip to the Sundance Film Festival. The cast includes Lynn Montgomery, recently named Best Actress in the Dallas Observer's Best of Dallas issue. The Lakewood Theatre, 1825 Abrams, will present a special screening of 40 on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $8.50. Call (214) 827-5253.
Eventually, the Good/Bad Art Collective will put together a benefit concert that is not interesting, but its latest--Benefit 42--is not it. The bill is exciting even without the G/BAC's usual skewed spin (setting up the bands on opposite sides of the room with the audience in the middle, having the bands dress as their favorite fictional characters, staging wrestling matches). Sometime Mazinga Phazer guitarist Wanz Dover's new band, Falcon Project, headlines, picking up where Dover's former band drifted off. Also on the bill is Captain Audio, one of the best new bands in Dallas. Well, the band is new, but its members--singer-guitarist Regina Chellew, drummer Josh Garza (ex-Comet), and bassist-everything else Brandon Curtis (ex-UFOFU) have been around forever, collectively playing in every club from Austin to Tulsa. It should be a great show, but we still wouldn't mind seeing a wrestling match break out. Benefit 42 happens at 9:30 p.m. at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, 411 E. Sycamore in Denton. Admission is $4. Call (940) 387-7781.
The 44,000 panels that make up the AIDS Memorial Quilt represent only a tiny fraction of the estimated 12 million deaths from AIDS complications worldwide. Still, the quilt is a powerful reminder of the impact of AIDS. The 3-by-6-foot panels are silent memorials to parents, brothers, sisters, movie stars, sports stars, and friends. The quilt is made of everything from Barbie dolls and cowboy boots to cremation ashes and car keys, and features names of the dead, unknown and known--such as Arthur Ashe, Rock Hudson, Keith Haring, and Anthony Perkins. More than 2,000 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on exhibit at the Amon Carter Jr. Exhibit Hall in Fort Worth, October 16 through 18. Admission is free. Call (817) 33-NAMES.
When it comes to sci-fi conventions, there are no small parts, only small actors, especially if the role happened to be in the Star Wars trilogy. Anyone who appeared in one of those films is a star on the convention circuit, even if they were only on screen under a rubber suit or inches of makeup. This weekend, Plano's Sci-Fi Expo and Toy Show welcomes two Star Wars cast members who were able to appear in the films sans masks and makeup as members of the Imperial forces: Michael Sheard (Admiral Ozzel) and Kenneth Colley (Admiral Piett). Also appearing are former Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno, and Mark Goddard, Lost in Space's Major West. The event will also have more than 250 exhibit tables featuring toys, videos, and other memorabilia from Star Trek, Star Wars, NASCAR, G.I. Joe, Starting Lineup, and much more. The Sci-Fi Expo happens on Saturday and Sunday at the Plano Centre, 2000 E. Spring Creek Parkway. Call (972) 578-0213.
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Corn dogs are a State Fair of Texas tradition, almost more so than Big Tex or a ride on the Ferris wheel. Hey, we didn't say it was a good tradition. On Sunday, the corn dog is celebrated at the 4th Annual Corn Dog Festival, a carnival of sights and smells with prizes awarded for celebrity look-alike, biggest, best dressed, most unusual, and most disgusting-worst taste (should be tough). It probably seems more moronic than a city council meeting unless you are a big fan of the food, have a good sense of humor, or are blind drunk. It would probably help if you are all three, because any festival that revolves around disguising corn dogs as celebrities, historic events, animals, movie scenes, and appliances can be hard to take if you aren't in the right frame of mind. In fact, we are having a hard time picturing exactly what frame of mind would be appropriate in this situation. Inebriated whimsy, perhaps? Apparently, no one told these people not to play with their food. The Corn Dog Festival begins at 7 p.m. at Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm. $5. Judging happens at 10 p.m. Call (214) 827-8766.
When it comes to longevity, the list begins and ends with the Light Crust Doughboys. The Western swing band has been around long enough that fiftysomething Ronnie Dawson was a member of the band as a teenager. The longest continually performing Western swing band in America, the Light Crust Doughboys have been honored in the Texas Music Hall of Fame and named "Official Music Ambassadors for the State of Texas" by the Texas Legislature. And why not? The Doughboys represent Texas better than cowboy hats and reruns of Dallas ever could. If you haven't ever seen the band perform, it's not just a crime, it's a sin. Repent of your sins when the Doughboys perform at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird, on Monday and Tuesday. Both shows start at 7:30 p.m. $12-$17. Call (214) 821-1860.
Every parent fears the talk about the birds and the bees. It's even worse now that AIDS, safe sex, and pornography have entered the picture. Not to mention The Jerry Springer Show and the Starr report. Sex is talked about so openly that most parents probably assume their kids know everything. Ironically, it's made it harder for parents to talk about sex with their kids. The husband-and-wife team of Linda and Richard Eyre hope to make it easier with their book How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex. The couple will sign copies and discuss the book at Borders, 5500 Greenville, starting at 7 p.m. (214) 739-1166.
Who says Dallas Observer scribe Robert Wilonsky is the man to trust when it comes to picking football games? Well, he probably still is the man to trust, but the mammal that we trust our money with is Rasha, the Fort Worth Zoo's NFL-picking pachyderm. So far this year, the elephant is beating the odds with a .642 record. Every week, an easel displaying logos of competing teams is placed in front of Rasha, and she picks her team by touching her trunk to the logo. It's not exactly scientific, but she does have a 43-24 record. Can animals have a gambling problem? The Fort Worth Zoo is located at 1989 Colonial Parkway. Admission is $3-$7. Call (817) 971-7000.