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Names

Poet of the people

(patricia mcdonnell for the boston globe)
Email|Print| Text size + By Carol Beggy & Mark Shanahan
February 29, 2008

The poet formerly known as LeRoi Jones spoke at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury last night. Iconic activist Amiri Baraka was in town as part of a discussion series sponsored by cultural org ACT Roxbury. Before his speaking gig, the New Jersey native, who used to run around with Beat poets Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, did a spoken-word workshop with kids from the Cloud Foundation. . . . The always bubbly Rachael Ray hosted her annual South Beach Burger Bash the other night, and Boston's own Michael Schlow walked away the winner. The gastronomic guru, co-owner of Via Matta and Radius, beat last year's first-place finisher Danny Meyer of New York's Shake Shack. Well done. No pun intended.

Status is on the rise

And then there were five. At risk a couple of weeks ago for getting bounced by the show's judges, Boston hip-hop dancers Status Quo have surged from behind in fan voting and become one of five groups left in MTV's "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew" competition following last night's televised episode. Status Quo members Ernest "E-Knock" Phillips, Jamal Weaver, Darius Rutledge, Dwayne Hines, Joshua Green, and Jayjion Greer are vying for a $100,000 prize and an MTV touring contract.

Shooting with the stars

Boston big shots gathered yesterday to play some roundball benefiting Easter Seals. Held last night at BU's Agganis Arena, the Team Easter Seals Celebrity Shootout was expected to feature a few familiar faces, including Pats Ben Watson, Chad Jackson, Kelley Washington, former BC standouts Dana Barros, and Sarah Behn, NESN's Hazel Mae, and comedian Lenny Clarke.

Ben and Jen to host Obama benefit at Rumor
Oscar-winner Ben Affleck and his wife, Jennifer Garner, will host Barack Obama at a fund-raising party at the Rumor nightclub in the Theater District. Tickets for the March 16 event are $50 and $250, which gets attendees into a more private gathering. Affleck endorsed the Illinois Democrat on Chris Matthews's "Hardball" TV show. The Cambridge-bred actor/director just completed filming on the thriller "State of Play" and is back home because Garner just began shooting "The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," with Matthew McConaughey.

Mezrich calls '21' a Vegas winner
We wouldn't expect him to say anything else, but Ben Mezrich swears that "21," the big-budget movie based on his best-selling book, is really good. "This is the Vegas movie," says Mezrich, author of "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions." "Don't get me wrong - I love 'Ocean's Eleven.' But if you're a 21-year-old kid interested in Vegas, this is the movie." Shot in Sin City and Boston last year, the film starring Kevin Spacey, Jim Sturgess, and Kate Bosworth opens nationally March 28, but there's an invite-only screening Monday at the AMC Loews downtown. (Sturgess, Mezrich, and assorted muckety-mucks are expected at the after-party at Mantra.) Judging from the action-packed trailer, the movie takes a few liberties with the book, but that's OK with Ben. "It's a Hollywood movie, no question about it," said Mezrich. "But that's what I like." He says the best thing about "21" may be its portrayal of Boston, which is very different than "Gone Baby Gone" and "Mystic River." "It captures all the elements that you never see in the movies - the young people, the colleges," said Mezrich. "It's the happy Boston of smart kids doing interesting things."

Hollywood comes calling again
If Shirley Walsh doesn't watch out, she just might become a movie star. Last fall, Walsh, who owns Kalembar Dune, a West Roxbury curiosity shop, scored a small non-speaking role in "The Box." (There's a good chance her '66 Dodge Polara will also show up in the Cameron Diaz film.) Now, the makers of "Mall Cop" plan to shoot scenes in Walsh's West Roxbury kitchen and use some items from Kalembar Dune on the set. Produced by Adam Sandler and written by Kevin James, "Mall Cop" is about a security guard (James), trying to thwart thieves who've taken over the mall where he works.

DiCaprio, Wahlberg hook up for 'Cowboys'
Word is Leonardo DiCaprio has joined Mark Wahlberg in the cast of "Cocaine Cowboys," a remake of Billy Corben's 2006 documentary about the Miami drug trade of the '70s and '80s. DiCaprio, who's in Boston to shoot "Ashecliffe" with director Martin Scorsese, will play pilot Mickey Munday while Wahlberg has been cast as drug kingpin Jon Roberts. DiCaprio and Wahlberg worked together on "The Basketball Diaries" and "The Departed."

KISS's Stanley paints a different look
KISS frontman Paul Stanley, whose band is on hiatus at the moment, is coming to Boston to show off his art. Like many other rockers, from Sir Paul McCartney to Ron Wood and Devendra Banhart, Stanley likes to put brush to canvas on occasion. His work will be on display in April in Chestnut Hill's Wentworth Gallery. More artistic, we're sure, than bandmate Gene Simmons's just-leaked sex tape, Stanley's paintings are described by the gallery as "emotionally charged," a mix of portraits and abstracts.

Joe Kahn of the Globe staff contributed. Names can be reached at names@globe.com or at 617-929-8253.

BY CAROL BEGGY & MARK SHANAHAN

For celebrity news updates, go to boston.com/ae

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