- The Washington Times - Monday, March 5, 2007

Lending a hand

John Travolta donated $15,000 to central Florida tornado victims at the premiere of his new film, “Wild Hogs,” Associated Press reports. The movie, which also stars Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy and Tim Allen, was the weekend box-office champ with a $38 million take, according to studio estimates released Sunday.

Mr. Travolta, 53, presented a personal check for $15,000 to Lady Lake Mayor Max Pullen before a screening of the biker buddy comedy Friday night that raised an additional $15,000 in donations. The donation comes in the aftermath of a string of tornadoes that killed 21 people, many from Lady Lake, and destroyed hundreds of home as they skipped across central Florida Feb. 2.

“These things happen in Florida, and when they happen, we all have to do something to help,” said Mr. Travolta, who has lived in Ocala, Fla., for about four years. “I just felt the time was right.”

Strait talk

George Strait led the list announced yesterday for the Academy of Country Music Awards with eight nominations, including entertainer of the year and top male vocalist.

Vocal duo Brooks & Dunn got seven nominations, and Rascal Flatts had six. Season 4 “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood received five nominations, and Big & Rich got four, AP reports.

The nominees were introduced by Kenny Chesney — the reigning ACM entertainer of the year — and the duo Sugarland.

The 42nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be presented May 15 in Las Vegas.

Grand plans from STC

Avery Brooks will star in Christopher Marlowe’s “Tamburlaine” with Artistic Director Michael Kahn directing the first production in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Harman Center for the Arts in late October, theater officials announced yesterday.

The new 775-seat Sidney Harman Hall in the center, scheduled to open Oct. 1, will enable the company to expand its repertory from five to eight plays and give space to other artistic institutions as well as introduce new family and lunch-time programming — plus a $10 ticket program — to attract younger audiences.

The first play of the 2007-08 season, which opens in late September in the company’s 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre, will be the Bard’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” Thereafter, productions will run concurrently in both downtown theaters.

“It will be possible for people to see two plays in the Harman Center and one here [in the Lansburgh] in a single weekend,” Mr. Kahn boasted at yesterday’s press conference called to highlight the company’s calendar through Aug. 3, 2008.

The choice of a Marlowe work to debut the company’s new center isn’t so surprising, Mr. Kahn said, calling the 17th-century playwright “the greatest contemporary of Shakespeare” and one whose plays “are unjustly unproduced.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Ann Geracimos from staff, Web and wire reports

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