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Best Bets / MAY 16-22

May 16, 1999

Movies

"Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace," the most eagerly awaited prequel ever, finds Darth Vader a hopeful 9-year-old named Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi a brash young Jedi knight. Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman star. Opening Wednesday in wide release.

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Theater

In the Los Angeles premiere of Donald Margulies' drama "Collected Stories," directed by Gilbert Cates, Linda Lavin headlines as a veteran writer who mentors and befriends a young novice writer (Samantha Mathis), but the relationship darkens. Opens Wednesday at the Geffen Playhouse.

Art

"On Location in Malibu: Paintings by the California Art Club," a new exhibition of 65 paintings opening Saturday at the Weisman Museum, demonstrates that Malibu is more than shoreline and sunsets as California's oldest art club captures the streams, woods, canyons and mountains of the seaside community.

Music

Currently featured with conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen on the soundtrack of the film "The Red Violin," Joshua Bell plays two violin concertos with the L.A. Philharmonic and Music Director Salonen this week. Thursday and Friday it is the Goldmark Concerto; Sunday afternoon it's the popular Concerto by Sibelius. At all three performances Salonen leads the First Symphony by Sibelius.

Dance

Choreographer Liz Lerman, members of her Maryland-based Dance Exchange and CalArts students mix text and dance to evoke defining moments of Jewish history in "Moving to Hallelujah" twice next Sunday at the Skirball Cultural Center in West L.A. Part of a three-year Lerman project, the performances complement an ongoing major exhibit at the center.

Pop Music

Gospel matriarch Shirley Caesar and fellow Grammy winner Hezekiah Walker head the lineup at the inaugural L.A. Gospel Festival on Saturday and next Sunday at the UCLA Tennis Center. Other participants during the two days of concerts include Donald Taylor and the L.A. Mass Choir, the T.P. Mob and jazz musician Kirk Whalum.

Jazz

The Jazz Bakery will be hosting a series of recordings this year, all piano duets to be released on the new Jazz Bakery label. For the initial project, Mulgrew Miller and Billy Childs, both distinctive and adventurous pianists, will be performing live and recording for three nights this week, starting Tuesday.

Video

Stanley Tucci, who received raves for starring in and co-directing "Big Night," follows up his indie hit with the slap-happy comedy "The Impostors." Tucci and Oliver Platt play two goofy unemployed actors who become stowaways on an ocean liner. Campbell Scott is also featured in the farce due Tuesday in video stores.

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