As Quentin Tarantino proves, there is life for hopelessly obsessed film geeks beyond the counters of the neighborhood video rental store. Thanks to a local casting session (one of seven nationwide) hosted by the Independent Film Channel and Cox Communications, Ultimate Film Fanatic offers movie maniacs the chance to compete for fame and fortune: the honor of programming and hosting IFC for a night, plus 10 grand in cash. Debuting in July, the weekly prime-time series of eight half-hour episodes will consist of three intense rounds. First, there's the typical trivia round, with a question-and-answer format that lets the audience play along. Round two heats up when contestants go head-to-head in a debate over film topics. Finally, the showdown reaches fever pitch with the "Obsession War," a chance for the fanatics to prove their passion by showing off their personal collections of film memorabilia.
"It's amazing what people have," says Debbie DeMontreaux, director of development and production at IFC. During the casting session for the pilot version of the show, she says, one guy brought in the actual fax of the Keyser Soze sketch from The Usual Suspects (that scene was shot at his dad's law firm). Another woman had movie title cards that she found while Dumpster diving.
Think you've got what it takes to outsmart the country's cinema intelligentsia? Reserve your audition spot by logging on to www.ifctv.com. The event's open to the public, but it's not an open call. The session is slated to start at 8 a.m. Wednesday, January 28, at Harkins Camelview, located on Goldwater Boulevard, north of Camelback, in Scottsdale. - Michele Laudig
Craft Fair looks to be thimble
Legions of creative souls take a break from their myriad projects to find inspiration at the Phoenix Craft & Sewing Festival, Thursday, January 22, through Saturday, January 24, at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. "We do nine shows a year throughout the Western U.S., but Phoenix is the largest and most successful one," says Eric Spillett, vice president of Rusty Barn Promotion Group, which hosts the event. "About 3,000 people usually show up within the first hour." Along with hundreds of exhibitors offering supplies for all kinds of crafts, the show features 30 free seminars and a baker's dozen of "make and take" workshops for a nominal fee. The $8 admission fee is good for all three days; visit www.craftandsewingfestival.com for a dollar-off coupon. - Michele Laudig
I Wanna See a Cowboy
Yo yippie, yippie yo yo
She was the West's first girl gone wild. This weekend's "Great American Wild West Show" brings Annie Oakley (or a reasonable facsimile) to town, along with the era's wild boys -- Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Ushering in the Arizona Quarter Horse Association's Sun Country Circuit, which continues through January 31, the family-friendly show celebrates the wild, wild life with world champion trick ropers, daredevil riders, Native American dancers, singing cowboys and the stagecoach-jacking Black Bart and company.
Go west at 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 23, and Saturday, January 24, to WestWorld's Equidome Arena, located at Pima Road and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in north Scottsdale. Tickets -- $12 for adults, $8 for kids -- are available at Bashas' stores, through www.ticketweb.com or by calling 1-866-468-7621. - Jill Koch
Members of the Phoenix Coyotes sign autographs
The ice men cometh to Tempe Beach Park this Sunday, January 25, where they'll signeth autographs and striketh poses for fan photos. From noon to 4 p.m., Coyotes players, coaches, broadcasters and entertainment staff take to the lake for the 2004 Phoenix Coyotes Family Festival, the only meet-the-team event of its kind in Arizona. One lucky fan will take home some ice of her own: To raise funds for Coyotes Charities, attendees can purchase Mystery Mountain Boxes, one of which contains a diamond pendant from Coffin & Trout Fine Jewelers. Fans also can buy raffle tickets to score Coyotes game-worn merchandise. Admission is $6 at the gate; advance tickets are available at Coyotes home games and at www.phoenixcoyotes.com. - Jill Koch
Compose yourself at Songwriters Gathering
Contrary to what Roberta Flack would have us believe, the capacity to kill someone -- at any decibel -- is not a sign of a good song. Stop the badness at the eighth annual Arizona Songwriters Gathering, set for Saturday, January 24, at the Encanto Park Clubhouse, 2605 North 15th Avenue. From 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., free workshops and performances showcase the talent and know-how of industry pros John and JoAnn Braheny (John penned The Craft and Business of Songwriting); local music producers Dave Hilker, Jeff Freundlich and Les Scott; and Diane Rapaport, author of How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording. Topics on tap: "The Business of Songwriting and Collaboration," "How to Make $ With Your Songs" and "Shameless Self-Promotion, Tools You Need and How to Use Them." Call 602-261-8993 for more information.