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Sneed and Friends Plan Thanksgiving Dinner for Thousands

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Sneed and Friends Plan Thanksgiving Dinner for ThousandsComedian Enlivens 'Contender' SetFinalists Chosen for Public Art DisplayNorth Side Church Goes WestLibrary to Display Proposed ChangesSneed and Friends Plan Thanksgiving Dinner for Thousands When Jimmy Sneed read the TelePrompTer for a commercial he was doing last year in San Antonio, he thought it was a mistake. Who would want to spend Thanksgiving Day in a convention center? But according to last year's statistics — 25,000 elderly Texans, that's who. Sneed was so impressed by the turnout and support at the 17-year-old event, which benefits the Texas capital's elderly, that he decided to bring a similar program home to Richmond. And so, he is launching the first Family of Friends Thanksgiving Celebration to be held at the Richmond Centre Nov. 25. Sneed, who owns The Frog and the Redneck and Carnivore's in Shockoe Bottom, has appealed to Richmond's restaurant community for help in feeding what he hopes will be a crowd of 5,000 to 7,000. "Thirty-plus restaurants have jumped onboard," says Sneed's partner, Adam Steely. "We're looking to double or triple that number. We have everything from Buckhead's and Lemaire to Shoney's and Captain D's. We want everybody." Participants are meeting weekly to discuss food donations and cooking strategies for feeding the anticipated crowd. "We're trying to answer the need in the community for people who have been left alone for what is the most family holiday. This is not a hunger relief effort. We've had calls from some folks in affluent retirement communities who say they're coming," says Steely. The Family of Friends Thanksgiving celebration will include a traditional holiday dinner, dancing and entertainment. Transportation to and from the free event will be provided for all those who need it. "It's a big, big deal in San Antonio," Steely adds. "We think we're the same kind of town and we want it to be big here." — Brandon Walters Comedian Enlivens 'Contender' Set Steve Moore isn't just gay, he's ecstatic. Life's been good — "great" — lately for the HIV-positive comedian, pianist and all-around entertainer who calls Richmond home. Fresh off the set of "The Contender," where he did stand-in duty for actor Gary Oldman, Steve's prepping for a three-week, West Coast comedy club tour. It will be a relatively relaxing schedule after 14-hour days on the "Contender" set (the film wrapped Richmond-area shooting around the first of the month). "Boy, they worked my butt off," he says. "I never knew it could be so exhausting doing nothing." As a stand-in, Steve spent time standing and moving as Oldman later would on the set, helping to prepare camera angles and the timing of takes. "They told me, 'Now, just stare into Christian [Slater's] eyes," he recalls, laughing. "I said, 'I can handle that.'" Moore, on Slater: "Very nice ... I talked a lot to his wife," a former 'Roseanne' producer with whom Moore worked during an appearance on the show. On Oldman: "He's a brilliant actor ... a very nice man. It got me excited just watching him." On Jeff Bridges: "Terrific. He came up to me and said, 'Now, I know I've seen you before, I know I've worked with you." Bridges has a good memory: It was on the set of 1975's "King Kong," where Moore was an extra. On Joan Allen: "So talented. Just watching her face — very expressive." "The Contender" was a great experience, but Steve's ready to come out from behind the scenes again. He still gets raves for his 1997 HBO special, "Drop Dead Gorgeous." And after doing standup for more than 20 years, he needs to be in the limelight, at the center of attention. That calls to mind another project of his this summer, filmed at Monticello. Look for Moore in an upcoming television miniseries, "The Memoirs of Sally Hemings," where he plays a rag-tag French revolutionist carrying a torch — and calling out, "Hey, lover!" to Mario Van Peebles. That one may get edited out. Moore says the ad lib was a reference to the movie "Love Kills," in which Moore played Mario's billionaire gay lover. — Rob Morano Finalists Chosen for Public Art Display Sally Bowring wouldn't want to be at the Brooklyn Museum right now. Just look at the feud raging between Mayor Rudolph Guiliani and much of the arts community over a piece in the "Sensation" exhibit up there. Just the kind of fodder the talking heads need to do battle on "Crossfire." Fortunately for Richmond, public art isn't always controversial. Sometimes it's just a matter of picking the blue ribbon. But as Bowring — the former director of 1708 Gallery and now director of the city's 1 Percent for the Arts program — has discovered, this, too, isn't easy. A surprising 30 entries were submitted by artists who want their work to be a permanent part of the city's Pine Camp, the North Side recreational facility chosen as the first site for this year's 1 Percent for the Arts program. After much discussion, Bowring and the public art commission have chosen three finalists: local mixed-media artist Amy Oliver, sculptor Michael Marr and two Hampton artists, Ampopo-Anti and Araya Asgedom, who worked jointly on a project. "They are the finalists at this point, but it's not final," says Bowring. "There's always that ability to scratch everything and start over." The chosen artist will be announced later this fall. With a $21,000 budget approved by City Council, the city's public arts program also has plans this year to add public art to the 2nd Street Precinct and the Richmond Ambulance Authority. — B.W. North Side Church Goes West In his 35 years as minister, Eddie Hendrix has never had this happen. But for the past few months, Hendrix, minister at Hermitage Road Church of Christ, has worked from a church office that's, oddly, not at the church. "We've had to move to an executive office building on Byrd Avenue near Willow Lawn," says Hendrix. The 240-member congregation has outgrown the space it has occupied on Hermitage Road for more than 35 years. Old offices are currently being used for Sunday school classrooms. "We're negotiating a piece of property in Henrico ... we don't really have it nailed down," says Hendrix. "We were boxed-in spacewise, and it's in a historic area and we were limited in what we could do." But even if plans to move go swiftly, Hendrix assures that his church's program with CARITAS to provide food and shelter to the homeless during Thanksgiving week will still be held at the church. The church has occupancy of the space until June 2000, and when it moves, it may lose its Hermitage Road address, but it plans to keep its name. So who's up next for the space? According to Hendrix, it'll be longtime neighbor, Imperial Plaza, an adult residential facility on Bellevue Avenue. "It was such an ideal piece of land. They bought it without even knowing how they are going to use it." — B.W. Library to Display Proposed Changes In an Aug. 17 Style story, some Richmond Public Library patrons expressed concern about recent changes to the Main Library staff and said they were worried the library's unique arts and music archives could be compromised. The outspoken few hoped a public forum would be held to discuss these changes before the library's 10-member board gives the green light for any other initiatives that are part of the "Main Vision" plan. On Oct. 21, they will get their wish. Beginning this week, those who are out of the loop can see what all the fuss is about. "We will have visuals on display which will show the story line of how we've gotten to the point where we are," says City Librarian Robert Rieffel, who says the plan is necessary and progressive. The Oct. 21 forum will be held 7 p.m. in the auditorium foyer of the Main Library, 101 E. Franklin St. "The purpose of the meeting is to present an overview for the library's space and strategic plan, encourage public input and address concerns. I hope it'll be an open exchange about ideas that have been presented," says Rieffel. — B.W.

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