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Laugh Lines


April 27, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

Wacky Publicity Stunts Inc.: We have always been suckers for strange publicity gimmicks. Here are three of the latest media-attention-getting schemes:

* The Astor Chocolate company is asking people to send pieces of garbage to 304 Hudson St., Suite 700, New York, NY 10013. The trash will then be forwarded to the "Jerry Springer Show" as a protest against its "trashy" content. The first 1,000 people to submit garbage (along with a signed promise to stop watching Springer) will receive a free sample of Astor's new Square One Belgian chocolate.

* Artists who prefer cheese over watercolors can enter the American Dairy Assn.'s edible art contest. Prizes are $2,000 and a trip to Hawaii and $1,000 and a trip to Washington. Entries so far include a whistle made of cheese and a cheese Picasso. Submit up to four photos of your cheese masterpiece--along with a 25-words-or-fewer explanation of the art and 50 words on a memorable cheese-eating experience to P.O. Box 81830, Chicago, IL 60681. Due by May 15.

* Perhaps stung by director Michael Moore's latest corporate satire, "The Big One," in which the Pillsbury Doughboy goes bilingual but comes across like a pastry version of the Taco Bell Chihuahua, Pillsbury has announced a nationwide giggle contest, with a prize of $50,000. Call (888) WE-GIGGLE before May 30 to enter your laugh. Ten finalists will then be chosen for a September giggle-off. Pillsbury is also selling T-shirts of its flexible-tummied mascot. When poked, the $15 shirts play a recording of the Doughboy's chuckle.

Anti-Cognoscenti Department: This is what passes for theater in the 1990s: a giant wadded-up piece of paper inching across a stage at continental-drift pace; a guy on stilts walking in slow motion behind a woman whose dress is longer than two stretch limos; a woman standing with her hand in a fish tank for 10 minutes while a flame burns nearby.

It's like watching a 70-minute Calvin Klein commercial. No plot. No dialogue. And, despite a few intriguing images, no meaning.

We're talking about "Monsters of Grace," the "revolutionary" new musical theater production by composer Philip Glass and director Robert Wilson, whose previous "brilliant" collaboration, 1976's "Einstein on the Beach," featured a bar of light moving from a horizontal position to a vertical one--over a 30-minute time span.

Uh, sorry we missed that one. And we wish we'd missed this one, which is set for an international tour after debuting at UCLA's beautifully restored Royce Hall. No doubt we'll hear from the cultural elite about what bumpkins we are, but so what. It's time someone called this pretentious, emperor-has-no-clothes art for what it really is: laughable.

Even Glass, who wrote a mesmerizing score for the movie "Koyaanisqatsi" a few years back, admits there is absolutely no connection between his music, the libretto (adapted from the inane poetry of a 13th-century mystic) and Wilson's images, which also included a series of weird 3-D film clips (such as a Conestoga wagon hovering near the Great Wall of China) that would've been amusing except nobody in the 3-D-glasses-clad audience was laughing. Maybe Glass and Wilson can do an all-cheese theater production next.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Forgetful Parents Lost Four Children--and Never Found Them! Dingbats Misplace Kids Like They Were Car Keys" (Weekly World News)

* Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at

Contributors: Wireless Flash News Service, Performing Arts magazine

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