Thursday, February 13, 2003

Knip's Eye View


BenGals join USO for trip to Bosnia

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You'll have to forgive Charlotte Jacobs if she seems a little breathless right now.

Jacobs, see, is the BenGals coordinator, choreographer, den mother, spokeswoman, the squad's biggest fan and the one leading them on a trip to military bases in Bosnia and Kosovo, a trip that's turning out to be bigger than anyone thought at first.

"It's an official 14-day USO tour that will run March 8 to the 23rd," she says. "The Pentagon was originally asking for 18 days, but we couldn't do it with the girls' jobs and everything. There'll be 14 of us going over - 12 cheerleaders, me and an assistant."

And not, mind you, with a rehash of the sideline cheering they do during the season.

"Oh wow, it's a two-hour show. That's why we're rehearsing so much (three times a week). It's a lot of dance and some skits, but we also have one singer. The only time we appear in BenGal outfits is at the beginning so they'll know who we are. The rest of the time, we're mostly in military-themed costumes.

"Really, it's more like a big, old-fashioned variety show with a lot of segments. We have a country segment, some regional stuff, a Beach Boys segment."

One cheerleader making the trip is Seazun Clark, a five-year squad veteran who's back from the Pro Bowl, where fellow NFL cheerleaders voted her 2003 Pro Bowl Cheerleader of the Year.

The squad's final dress rehearsal will be at Paul Brown Stadium and open to the public on a date to be announced.

Sign it: Whoa, here's something different for Valentine's Day - a signing spiked with beer, sausage, music and singles.

That from Julie Fay, president of Merchants on Main and one of the driving forces behind Over-the-Rhine's annual BockFest.

This year's BockFest poster will make its first public appearance 6-9 p.m. Saturday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, where graphic designer Mike Keidel and artist Jim Effler will sign copies.

But not a typical signing, Fay says. "BarrelHouse will supply beer, and the Kroeger brothers of Findlay Market will supply sausages. We're marketing it as a Valentine's Day singles event," she says.

Good thought. Bookstores are a much nicer place to try to meet people than, say, a saloon.

Some applause: This one definitely calls for a round of applause. Clap it, please, for Cincinnati actor Bob Elkins, who won the best actor award at the Dublin Film and Music Festival for his portrayal of Alex in Homefree.

Homefree, shot on the streets of Cincinnati by local filmmaker Greg Newberry, is an 11-minute film that cost less than $500.

"When you consider that Bob was competing against feature films and shorts and had about six minutes of screen time in an 11-minute film, winning best actor at a foreign festival before a hometown crowd is an incredible achievement," Newberry said.

Festival curator David Malocco went even further: Mr. Elkins' performance was so believable that "people on the jury thought he was a homeless guy before they met him."

Elkins, for the record, has appeared in a zillion films, including Coal Miner's Daughter.

E-mail jknippenberg@enquirer.com



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