We've always thought Star Search was pretty creepy, with its 6-year-old girls wearing more blue eye shadow than Tammy Faye Bakker and singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Then there was the always thrilling and vital spokesmodel competition, and we did always like the train-wreck aspect of coached amateurs snapping under the pressure. (Downside: LeAnn Rimes.) The bad news is that the show's creators and producers are creating a modern version of the series "to provide a launching pad for the next millennium's hottest talents." The new twist is that the live audience and home viewers (via the Internet and a hotline) will choose the winners. The good news is that they are holding auditions in Dallas to find singers, dancers, models, comedians, variety acts, and family acts for the new variety-show series, which will air on the God-fearing PAX-TV. Those chosen will get a trip to Hawaii to appear on the show and compete for $325,000 in cash and prizes, including a career contract and a starring role in a PAX-TV series (presumably, not the syndicated reruns). Submit head shot, performance videos, and demo tapes to Riddle-Weinstock Entertainment, 956 Seward, Suite 100, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Or call 1-888-617-6666 or 1-323-860-5452 to schedule an audition.
The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs sounds like a great idea. Pianists with a love for music greater than their skills, training, or opportunities can compete on an equal ground with others who have chosen another profession over music. However, these competitors aren't the kind of "amateurs" we had in mind. Sure, there is a minimum age of 30. And, granted, the people have jobs such as art critic, mathematician, news anchor, and philosophy professor--but they're amateur musicians only in the way Olympians are amateur athletes. Their amateur experience includes degrees in music and performing with and conducting orchestras. One guy even gave piano lessons to composer Philip Glass in college. Preliminaries, June 10, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 3 p.m.-7 p.m.; June 11, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 3 p.m.-5 p.m., 8 p.m.-11 p.m., $5-$25. Competitor discussion panel, June 12, 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m., free. Semifinals, June 12, 2 p.m.-5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.-11 p.m., $10-$15. Finals, June 13, 3 p.m.-8 p.m., $20. Bass Performance Hall, 330 E. 4th St., Fort Worth. Call (817) 212- 4280.
Poor Johnnie Gray can't fight in the Civil War, because he's too valuable as a train engineer. His girlfriend, Annabelle Lee, thinks he's a coward, but he proves her wrong when he must venture into enemy territory to save her and his beloved engine The General, which is stolen by enemy soldiers with Annabelle on board. Sounds like the standard, unoriginal movie plot, right? Nowadays it is, but The General is the original 1927 silent comedy starring Buster Keaton. Known mostly for his amazing feats of physical comedy, Keaton also co-wrote and co-directed The General, using fewer than 50 title cards to tell the whole story. The General is known for its comic chase scene through the narrow-gauge train lines of Oregon. Forbidden Books, Videos & Music and the Dallas Video Association are sponsoring a screening of the movie, which DJ Planet Skippy will re-score as it is being shown. 10 p.m. Free. XPO Lounge, 408 Exposition Ave. Call (214) 821-9554.
The Michael Johnson/Ray Crockett Celebrity Basketball Game is open to the public this year, which means that anyone who can get a seat at the game can watch football players play basketball--which has to be more interesting than watching NBA players, at least around these parts. This year's guests are scheduled to include Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis, Tennessee Titans wide receiver Yancey Thigpen, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Antonio Freeman, and Dallas Cowboys Kevin Mathis, Izell Reese, and Kevin Smith. Expect lots of penalties for traveling and the occasional tackle, and Kevin Smith might have trouble catching the ball. Still, while they may look a little silly out on the court, it's all for a good cause. The Celebrity Weekend benefits Easter Seals of Greater Dallas and the United Negro College Fund. The Celebrity Weekend also includes a party at 10 p.m. June 12 in the Grand Hall of the Adam's Mark Hotel, 400 N Olive Street. $15. Celebrity Basketball Game: Doors open at noon. Seating is limited. Spectators suggested to arrive early. Game begins at 2:30 p.m. Free. A.J. Loos Athletic Complex, 3815 Spring Valley Road. Call (972) 818-1235.
Night & Day's chi, or life force, must be flowing very smoothly, as this is the second week in a row we've mentioned feng shui, the Chinese art of placement. Usually we'd try to mix up the subject matter a little, but how could we resist when Richard Webster, the New Zealand master of feng shui, is bringing his book tour to the metroplex? Webster has written several books about balancing personal chi with environmental chi, including Feng Shui for Beginners and Feng Shui for the Workplace. He also teaches aura reading, dowsing, astral travel, and Chinese numerology--but who doesn't? During his bookstore visits, he will sign copies of his books and suggest some ways to increase chi, such as adding wind chimes and crystals to a home. June 10, 6:30 p.m., Overtones Bookstore, 800 N. Coit Road, Richardson, (972) 705-9933. June 11, 4 p.m., Enchanted Forest, 6619 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, (817) 446-8385. June 12, 3 p.m., Barnes and Noble, 401 Commerce St., Fort Worth, (817) 332-7178. June 14, 7:30 p.m., Barnes and Noble, 14999 Preston Road, (972) 368-5898. June 15, 7 p.m., Barnes and Noble, 8525 Airport Freeway, North Richland Hills, (817) 281-7042.
When we were children, the only music we listened to were the Alvin & the Chipmunks Christmas album, "Froggy Went a Courtin'," and our older brothers' KISS records. Children today have Eddie Coker, a Dallas children's rock star. He records CDs and cassettes, tours public elementary schools, and performs at bookstores and Reunion Arena. He sings "Happy One" and "Nine Inch Whales," a song about removing sharks from swimming pools, which is meant to teach addition, subtraction, and multiplication--while sounding just like Devo. Coker raps, dances, sings, and plays guitar, all while teaching kids that hitting is bad, which makes him the anti-Manson. He makes kids scream just like Ricky Martin does with the preteen girls, so Coker's shows tend to be very loud. Catch him on tour this week. June 10, 11 a.m., Barnes and Noble, 8525 Airport Freeway, North Richland Hills, (214) 281-7042. June 12, 11 a.m., Las Colinas Medical Center, 6800 MacArthur Blvd., Irving. June 15, 1 p.m., Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur, Irving, (972) 252-7558.
We're not an art critic--thank goodness, since we don't want to find a death mask on our desk--but we're still curious to find out how the artists of The McKinney Avenue Contemporary's new exhibition post-hypnotic will use materials such as resin, wood, pharmaceuticals, stainless steel, and light bulbs to create optical effects that "read" as paintings. Or why would someone want to create two-dimensional optical illusions using pharmaceuticals. Maybe post-hypnotic contributor Susie Rosmarin and three other painter-panelists will cover this during MAC's panel discussion "Current Trends in Abstract Art." Reception, 6:30 p.m. Art Talk '99, "Current Trends in Abstract Art," 7 p.m. Moderated by John Pomara with Susie Rosmarin, Ted Kincaid, and Scott Barber. Post-hypnotic runs June 12-July 25. McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney, Suite 100. (214) 953-1212.