Hudgens at Heartland, poker with Mel Daniels, and more

September 20, 2013
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—The Heartland Film Festival announced its lineup Thursday. The Oct. 17-26 festival opens with a screening of "Gimme Shelter" which, no, is not the Rolling Stones documentary concert. It's a drama about a pregnant teen, and star Vanessa Hudgens is expected to attend. She'll be receiving a Rising Star award at the Oct. 19 award ceremony (which I'll reserve judgment on until seeing the film, which also features Indianapolis native Brendan Fraser). The festival closer is "The Book Thief" with star Geoffrey Rush expected to be here. In between, look for 132 other films. Watch IBJ for my picks closer to festival time. (FYI: I served on the documentary jury this year and have some definite favorites.)

—Speaking of Heartand, founder Jeffrey Sparks is stepping down as the name above the title. Story here.

—Meanwhile, the spell-checker's nightmare, Krzysztof Urbanski, has renewed his contract with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchesra. The new deal will keep him at the podium through 2018. More here.

—A number of weeks back, I blogged about the Celebrity Poker Tournament I was invited to compete in at Indiana Grand Casino (See posts here and here). Rather than pick a charity to represent, I opted to blindly draw from among not-for-profit central Indiana arts groups that posted on the blog. The recipient turned out to be Heartland Actors Repertory Theatre, presenters of summer Shakespeare at White River State Park. And I'm happy to report that after a brutal four or so hours of play, I outlasted the likes of Rik Smits, Slick Leonard and others as the field whittled down from 84 to 19. At that point, the collective decision was made to chop the pot which, combined with cash for being one of the last two "celebs" in the game (NBA Hall-of-Famer Mel Daniels being the other), allowed me to check out with $900 for HART. Almost as fun as the game was dining with Daniels and his teammates, and hearing stories of the early days of the Pacers. (No, I'll never tell.)

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