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WE were first introduced to him as Kunta Kinte in the iconic miniseries Roots, but LeVar Burton boosted his profile when he starred as Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation and as the longtime host of the PBS children’s show Reading Rainbow, which has been instrumental in making reading more attractive to youngsters. During a stop in the Chicago area, the actor, director, author and educator was presented with the Facets Award at "The Facets Boo! Bash" for his role in promoting children’s literacy. “Few individuals in the entertainment industry have shown the breadth of vision and commitment to education as LeVar Burton,” said Facets Director Milos Stehlik at the Park West event. “An entire generation understands the value of reading because of his iconic presence as the host of Reading Rainbow.” The day after receiving the award, Burton was front and center, greeting fans of his first children’s book, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, at Beebe Elementary School in Naperville. He wrote the book, he says, to help children understand their feelings and deal with difficult experiences. “It took me this long to write this book because I was waiting until I had something to say. This is all an homage to my mother, Erma Jean Christian. Whenever I get a chance to say my mother’s name in front of people, I do because she is the reason I do what I do. I’d like to say I am the man I am because she is the woman she is,” say Burton, who studied for the priesthood during his early life. “The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm is my way of dealing with a subject we all face as parents, 'How do we get our children to cope with the difficult moments in everyday life?' In Rhino, kids meet a character who is confused and sometimes frightened by what happens in his world. Not knowing what to do, he holds in all his anger and fear, which only makes him feel worse. Bravely traveling the life journey we all must take, he discovers that––thanks to friends, family and love––painful problems can be made to feel smaller and sometimes even resolved. The book reminds us that we are all on this earth to learn and to grow. Allowing yourself to start feeling your feelings is the very first step on the journey toward healing.”
Chicago Is Talking About . . .
LeVar Burton's Award And His New Book
Insurgent Movie Scenes Filmed In Chicago
EXTERIOR scenes for the science fiction film Insurgent, which is the sequel to this spring’s popular Divergent––based on the books by Northwestern alum Veronica Roth––were recently shot in downtown Chicago. A noisy, low-flying helicopter descended along the Chicago River near Dearborn Street and ascended around Columbus Drive. Streets were closed and the five bridges from Dearborn to Columbus Drive were raised to allow the helicopter to fly at very low altitude along the river. None of the movie’s stars (Shailene Woodley and Theo James (left), Ansel Elgort, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer, Maggie Q) were a part of the shoot. The movies Divergent and Insurgent are both set in Chicago, but moviemakers decided to film the sequel in Atlanta, primarily because of the benefits of Georgia’s film incentives. “We are excited to return to Chicago to capture the same unique Chicago look and remarkable architecture we found so cinematic in Divergent,” according to Insurgent producers. Divergent, which made $288 million at worldwide box office, filmed in Chicago for three months in 2013. Insurgent, set in the year 2150 and focuses on a futuristic society divided into factions, is scheduled for release in theaters on March 20.
'The Chicago Battle Of The Salsa Bands'
ONE of the most popular Latin Street Dancing events is continuing at Mambo Café with some of the city’s hottest bands going head-to-head in the “The Chicago Battle of the Salsa Bands.” For the first time in Chicago, 12 salsa bands began the competition on October 17 and will continue each Friday with performances until one group is crowned on December 12. Among those in the competition are Papo Santiago & Infraverde, Samuel Del Real, Angel Melendez 911, Suena by JC Delgado, Rica Obsesion, Conjunto Saldaña, Joe Rendon & Friends, Jose Valdes & La Orquesta, Carpacho & Su Super Combo, Yvonne Curet Orchestra, Afinca'o and Charangueo. The winner will receive a $2,500 prize. The rules indicate that each band must play one 45-minute set and each group’s performance must include at least 60 percent salsa tunes. Judges will use a point system that focuses on the performers’ intonation, rhythmic precision, stage presence, showmanship, balance and dynamics, interpretation (of cover songs) and originality. The Mambo Café is located at 3336 Milwaukee. General admission is $10. For more information, call 312/427-2572.
Foo Fighters To Perform At Wrigley Field
AFTER performing an intimate set at the Cubby Bear, the rock band Foo Fighters further excited their fans by announcing an appearance next summer at Wrigley Field on August 29. A special guest will be named later. The Friendly Confines has been the setting for many top performers, including Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Elton John, Dave Matthews Band, Blake Shelton, Zac Brown Band, Kelly Clarkson, Jimmy Buffett, Brad Paisley, Roger Waters, Pearl Jam, The Police and Rascal Flatts. The Foo Fighters, currently being featured on the HBO series Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways, will be in the midst of their “Sonic Highways World Tour” to support their latest album Sonic Highways. Tickets go on sale Monday, October 27, at 10 a.m. CDT. There is a four-ticket limit for general admission tickets and a six-ticket limit for reserved seats. For more information, go to www.cubs.com/foo.