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Best Bets / MAY 23-29

May 23, 1999

Movies

"Notting Hill," a romantic comedy, features Hugh Grant as a bookstore owner whose life is turned upside down when the world's biggest movie star (Julia Roberts--who else?) enters his store. It opens in general release Friday.

Theater

La Jolla Playhouse presents the West Coast premiere of "Oo-Bla-Dee," Regina Taylor's new play about members of an all-female African American jazz band who must redefine their professional and personal roles as World War II ends and the soldiers return home. It opens today.

Pop Music

After devoting most of his time to film scoring and musical theater, Randy Newman is back to what he does best: writing and singing darkly comic pop-music contemplations on the human condition. With his new album "Bad Love" due next week, the wry one plays the House of Blues on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

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Apartheid was a favorite target of activist musicians, so it's fitting that Monday's fund-raiser for Artists for a New South Africa and the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust at the Wiltern will feature such pop consciences as Joan Baez and Stevie Wonder. Hugh Masekela, Lebo M and BeBe Winans also play, and Nobel laureate Tutu is keynote speaker.

Video

Though it lost the best picture Oscar to "Shakespeare in Love," Steven Spielberg's harrowing World War II drama, "Saving Private Ryan," is a bravura example of filmmaking. Spielberg, who won the best director Oscar, did a masterful job portraying the horrors of the conflict, as well as the bravery of the soldiers. Tom Hanks, in one of his best performances, stars; the film lands on video shelves Tuesday.

Music

Esa-Pekka Salonen ends the L.A. Philharmonic's winter season in the Music Center Pavilion this week with a Richard Strauss/Hindemith program. Pianist Emanuel Ax is featured in both Strauss' "Burleske" and Hindemith's Theme and Variations, "The Four Temperaments." The agenda also lists "Till Eulenspiegel" and the Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber.

Jazz

Ken Poston has become famous for his ability to organize huge and definitive jazz festivals. Starting Thursday, his Jazz West Coast II, held at the Hyatt Newporter in Newport Beach, will feature four days of all-star concerts, panel discussions and films that celebrate West Coast jazz of the 1950s. Expect lots of sax this year from Bud Shank, Bill Perkins, Harold Land, Herb Geller and Teddy Edwards, along with trombonist-bandleader Cy Touff and trumpeters Bobby Shew and Jack Sheldon, among the cast of dozens.

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