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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Watts Playing For Symphony Benefit Concert

The Spokane Symphony, hurting financially because of low attendance during the ice storm and its aftermath, is getting a big boost from one of the world’s top piano stars.

Pianist Andre Watts has agreed to be the guest artist for a special benefit concert with the Spokane Symphony on March 7 at 8 p.m. at the Spokane Opera House.

Watts has agreed to a special reduced fee for this concert. Also, the symphony musicians themselves have agreed to donate their services. Even music director Fabio Mechetti will be conducting gratis.

All proceeds will go directly toward reducing the symphony’s projected deficit. Not only did the winter storms affect one of the Classics concerts in November, but it hurt attendance at “The Nutcracker,” an important money-maker in early December.

Watts has been an international star since age 16, when he appeared on television with Leonard Bernstein. More than 30 years later, he remains one of the giants. In this concert, he will perform Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1, and the orchestra will perform Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Leonore Overture No. 3.

Tickets are $20, $30 and $40, available at the symphony box office (624-1200) or through G&B Select-aSeat (325-SEAT).

A new nostalgia station

A new AM station hit the airwaves last weekend: KKPL-AM, 630 on the dial. It plays nostalgia: songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s, or, as they have been saying on the air, “Sinatra to Streisand, Miller to Manilow.”

The programming is supplied via satellite from an ABC service called “Stardust.” This particular AM spot has been dark for years, ever since the old KKPL-FM (which was simulcast on KKPL-AM) mutated into KNFR-FM, the Frog. It has now has been revived by Bob Hauser of Colfax, who also owns two radio stations in Colfax, KCLX-AM and KZZL-FM.

However, the ownership may change soon. The KXLY family of stations has applied to purchase this station from Hauser and his partners. Final approval from the FCC is pending.

KXLY vice president and general manager Steve Herling said he will keep the same format if the sale goes through, possibly within a month or two. This would give KXLY five radio stations in this market.

Waiting for ‘The Postman’

Kevin Costner’s “The Postman” is now virtually a dead cinch for filming in Metaline Falls this summer.

The only change from last week is that there is now a possibility that the moviemakers will stay a little longer than two weeks.

“It looks like we’ll have a big summer up here,” said Metaline Falls Mayor Lee McGowan.

Location manager David Israel is holding a series of meetings today in Metaline Falls to explain the project to the city council, the business community and the general public.

Meanwhile, the official word from Warner Bros. and TIG productions is that filming will begin March 10 in Tucson. It’s “too early” to announce anything else, said the publicist.

However, word is out that filming will move to Oregon in April. One site will be near Smith Rock State Park outside Redmond, and the other site will be near Estacada, in the mountains southeast of Portland.

By the way, Israel is no stranger to this area. He was one of the people involved in filming “Vision Quest” in Spokane in 1983.

Good and bad box-office news

The idea of an “Inland Northwest Curse” seems laughable after “Dante’s Peak” raked in $18 million in its first weekend. This was the biggest February opening ever, although the movie still finished second for the week to “Star Wars.”

Actually, the Curse was already vanquished three years ago by the success of the low-key “Benny and Joon” (in contrast to the disasters “Heaven’s Gate,” “Vision Quest” “Toys” and the “Amazing Grace” TV show).

However, since “Dante’s Peak” cost so much to make, the Curse could still grab it by the throat. It must stay strong for the next few weeks in order to be considered a hit. This weekend’s box-office results will be telling.

Meanwhile, the Curse appears to be intact for “Prefontaine.” Although this movie was made in Seattle, it features plenty of Spokane people on screen. It proved to be up to Curse form by failing to make the Top 20. The word “video” may be in its immediate future.

Chris Anderson gets top billing

It’s worth your while to stick around for the lengthy credits at the end of “Dante’s Peak.”

There, under “Drivers,” you’ll see the name of Chris Anderson, our own beloved ex-City Council member. He’s first on the list because he was so vital to the success of the movie, or maybe because the list happens to be in alphabetical order.

During at least one Spokane showing, people stood up and cheered sarcastically when his name appeared.

Advance warning for concerts

Vince Gill and Bryan White will be coming to the Spokane Arena on May 1 in a concert named after a cheese (it’s called the Kraft Country Tour). Tickets are not yet on sale.

Meanwhile, Metallica is all but confirmed at the Arena for a May date. This is a massive show, 16 semi-trucks worth, with a stage that will take up virtually the entire ice floor. By the time you read this, the official announcement may have already been made. (Or maybe not; there’s no such thing as a sure thing.)

The Steve Miller Band, with Curtis Salgado and Terry Robb, has been confirmed for April 1 at the Beasley Coliseum in Pullman. Tickets go on sale Friday, 10 a.m. through G&B Select-a-Seat.

Also, No Doubt with Weezer and Edna Swap has been announced as the first Gorge concert of the season, May 24. Tickets go on sale Saturday, 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster.

U2 fans will have to head west if they want to see the just announced “Popmart” tour. Bono and his pals are playing big stadiums: Eugene’s Autzen Stadium on May 8, Vancouver’s B.C. Place Stadium on Dec. 9, and Seattle’s Kingdome on Dec. 11. (They’re squeezing in a tour of Europe between these U.S. dates).

VH1, the video channel, is selling U2 tickets live on the air every Friday at 5 p.m.

The Gorge gets some respect

We knew The Gorge had developed into a fine concert venue.

But here’s some outside validation: It has been named the country’s “best large outdoor venue” for the second year in a row by Pollstar magazine, the nation’s leading concert industry publication.

‘Spider Woman’ run shortened

The Spokane run of the Broadway musical “The Kiss of the Spider Woman” has been shortened from four days to two.

The explanation from G&B Presents is straightforward: Ticket demand was high enough to fill two shows, but not four.

So the April 28 and April 29 performances have been canceled, leaving only the April 30 and May 1 shows. Those with tickets for the canceled shows can exchange them for the other dates. Most ticket-holders should be getting notices in the mail. If not, call G&B Select-a-Seat for an exchange or a refund.

The top morning teams

The Radio Men of KKZX-FM, Jim Arnold and C. Foster Kane, have firmly established themselves as the morning team in Spokane, according to the most recent Arbitron ratings.

Here are the top five morning shows, based on average quarter-hour share, all listeners 12 and over:

1. KKZX-FM’s Radio Men, 11.3.

2. KDRK-FM’s Diamond and Gold, 9.4.

3. KXLY-AM’s AM Northwest, 7.5.

4. KZZU-FM’s Breakfast Boys, 6.9.

5. KNFR-FM’s Good Morning Guys, 6.5.

The Radio Men lead is even more impressive in the 25-54 age group, most coveted by advertisers. The Radio Men share is 16.8; the next closest, Diamond and Gold, get a 9.

A Hampton Fest Web site

Anybody who needs schedules, news or even tickets to the University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Feb. 19-22, can now get it on the World Wide Web at

Check it out.

, DataTimes

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