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Current Events

Damon Wayans stars in "Behind the Smile," which has its world premiere in Aspen at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. The drama, set in the world of stand-up comedy, was written, directed and produced by Wayans, who also hosts the festival's Round Midnite late-night stand-up shows. (Courtesy U.S. Comedy Arts Festival)

The talents of Garry Shandling aren’t conveyed too well in every setting; for one of his less-successful projects, see the 2000 film “What Planet Are Your From?” which he wrote and starred in. “The Larry Sanders Show” is the flip side, the perfect vehicle for Shandling’s singular sensibilities. The show, which aired on HBO from 1992-98, was an offbeat, wicked satire of the late-night TV industry. Shandling, starring as the neurotic talk-show host, exposes all the sucking up and bending over of the TV world. The show earned a record-breaking 78 Emmy nominations. The USCAF’s Salute to the “Larry Sanders Show” (Friday, March 10, St. Regis Aspen) has Shandling reminiscing with co-stars Jeffrey Tambor, Rip Torn, Janeane Garofalo and Wallace Langham.

Damon Wayans comes to Aspen with a fire lit under him. The former star of TV’s “In Living Color” makes two live appearances at the USCAF: hosting the ‘Round Midnite late-night program (Thursday, March 9, St. Regis Aspen) and performing at the Wheeler Opera House (Friday, March 10). But Wayans’ biggest project is the film “Behind the Smile,” which has its world premiere in Aspen. (Friday and Saturday, March 10-11, Isis Theatre). Wayans makes his directorial debut with the film, a drama set in the world of stand-up comedy. He also produced, wrote and financed “Behind the Smile,” and stars in the film about a comic seduced and then spit out by the entertainment industry. Also in the cast is Marlon Wayans, one of Damon’s nine siblings.

Some people are cosmically attracted to odd excursions, strange relationships and bizarre jobs. Brian Finkelstein is one. Finkelstein once spent a night in Tijuana; he finally left six weeks later. The New York State Jew fell in love with a Muslim woman from India, only to have his heart broken as he watched her marry her own cousin in an arranged wedding. Those two stories made up his one-person show, “Same As It Ever Was.” In his latest show, “First Day Off in Long Time” (Wednesday, March 8, Thursday, March 9, and Saturday, March 11, at the Tent), the 37-year-old Finkelstein details his time spent volunteering for a suicide hotline in New York City. In fact, the show is set in the last hour he spent there, though it manages to weave together the training process; characters like Glen, the hippie who runs the hotline, and Amy, a would-be suicide; and a tribute to late monologuist Spalding Gray, who neglected to call in before he pitched himself off a boat to his death.

Goldie Hawn hasn’t been in a movie since 2002 (“The Banger Sisters”), hasn’t been in a good movie since 1996 (Woody Allen’s ensemble musical “Everybody Says I Love You”), and hasn’t carried a memorable movie since 1984 (“Protocol”). Still, it’s hard to deny Hawn’s movie-star status. Keeping her in the spotlight has been daughter Kate Hudson, who reminds audiences of Hawn’s charms, and last year’s best-selling autobiography, “A Lotus Grows in the Mud.” The years since her best work don’t obscure too much the lovable, comedic persona that lit up “Foul Play,” “Seems Like Old Times,” and “Cactus Flower,” which earned Hawn a best supporting actress Oscar in her first major screen role. A part-time Aspen-area resident, Hawn should get a huge reception when she receives the AFI Star Award Saturday, March 11, at the Wheeler Opera House, in an event moderated by “Sex and the City” writer Michael Patrick King.

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