- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Garage idols

Load up the gear, gas up the van. If you’re a band looking for a way out of the garage, “Little” Steven Van Zandt might have your ticket: a nationwide talent search.

“American Idol” it sure ain’t.

“More like ‘American Hoodlums,’” Mr. Van Zandt, who hosts a syndicated radio program dedicated to garage rock, told Associated Press. The nationwide talent search starts April 15 in Boston, where the first of nine local “Battles of the Bands” will produce finalists before a New York finale in July.

The winner of the competition will get a spot at a Van Zandt-sponsored “garage rock festival” this summer, along with brand new equipment.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is encourage new bands,” Mr. Van Zandt said. “Bands don’t have local support from radio, the clubs aren’t filled with bands. As part of our culture, they’ve been driven underground.”

Locally, the competition will take place at the 9:30 Club on April 22, 23 and 24.

Tortuous role

In the role of a lifetime as Jesus in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” which opens today, actor Jim Caviezel had to endure some suffering of his own.

Of course, it couldn’t compare to the real thing, but Mr. Caviezel racked up an impressive array of bodily injuries: He was accidentally struck during a scourging scene; suffered a separated shoulder carrying the cross; was struck by lightning.

Hypothermia was a continual threat as he hung on a cross, wearing only a loincloth during winter weather. He got a lung infection, then pneumonia.

And those were just the accidents. There was the script, too.

“For day after day of filming, I was spat upon, beaten up, flagellated and forced to carry a heavy cross on my back in the freezing cold,” Mr. Caviezel told the Calgary Herald. “It was a brutal experience, almost beyond description. But I considered it all worth it to play this role.”

Carrying the torch

At the Athens Olympics this summer, the “Tomb Raider” will be the “Torchbearer.”

Angelina Jolie, star of the “Lara Croft” adventure movies, has agreed to run one of the very last legs of the relay in Athens, the day before the lighting of the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony Aug. 13, according to Reuters News Agency.

Not surprisingly, in a letter to Olympic organizers, Miss Jolie said her torch duties will dovetail with her role as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

“I would consider it an honor to run with the Olympic torch as a gesture of hope for refugees and to express my active support for sport and world peace,” she said.

McLean’s ordeal

“I’m not a formula songwriter,” “American Pie” singer-songwriter Don McLean told Associated Press. “It’s nerve-racking for me.”

“You write the song and as it’s coming out, and you get emotional about it and you get very rushed to try and grab it,” he said. “It’s like catching something — an emotion — and putting it in a bottle.”

Remind us, when was the last time Don McLean had a hit song?

Media, be gone

Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger can’t agree on much these days, but one thing the splitting couple have decided jointly is that the media shouldn’t be covering the case for custody of their daughter, Ireland.

Earlier this week, Judge Roy Paul agreed with lawyers for both parties that reporters from outfits such as National Enquirer and Celebrity Justice should be booted from the courtroom, according to E! Online.

“The idea is to keep Ireland protected,” Mr. Baldwin’s lawyer said. “This is of critical importance.”

The case is expected to continue through next week, by which time Mr. Baldwin may or may not have won his first Academy Award.

He’s nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of a Vegas casino boss in “The Cooler.” Miss Basinger won the female equivalent of the same award for 1997’s “L.A. Confidential.”

Compiled by Scott Galupo from wire and Web reports.

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