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Willie Nelson praises isles at film screening on Maui


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POSTED: Thursday, July 09, 2009

A pungent aroma briefly wafted across the open air Celestial Cinema — definitely not cigarettes — as legendary singer (and an actor with close to 40 movie and television credits) Willie Nelson grabbed his guitar and sang a brief, charming song to celebrate the moment. The Maui Film Festival honored Nelson last month with the Maverick Award, to which he said in his distinct, soft-spoken drawl, “;I looked it up to make sure I was one.”;

Earlier in the evening, the unassuming Nelson arrived with filmmaker Turk Pipkin for media interviews. The singer sported gray stubble, long braids (of course), jeans and a T-shirt advertising his latest film “;One Peace at a Time,”; screening that night at the festival. During those brief interviews he spoke of his love for Hawaii, where he's stayed at intervals over a span of approximately 35 years.

“;The first time I came here, I knew this was a special place,”; he said. “;I love Maui; I love Hawaii.”; It's a healing area, he explained, a place to “;come to get your stuff back together.”;

When asked to reflect on his life, Nelson said, “;First of all, if you're doing what you love and you're making money, you're as successful as you'd ever want to be.”; His favorite composition remains “;On the Road Again,”; but he's less discriminating with movie roles. “;I don't know that I've ever turned down a part,”; he admitted with a chuckle.

Up next? “;Brain surgery,”; he joked.

A longtime political activist promoting world peace, sustainable agriculture and legalized marijuana, Nelson adopts a global, grass roots perspective, saying he is “;hopeful for our future in spite of whoever is president ...”;

ALL THE SINGLE ladies should know that ABC's “;The Bachelorette”; is coming to Hawaii! Bachelorette Jillian Harris and the final three men will enjoy a romantic getaway (not simultaneously, one presumes) on Maui. The trip to the Valley Isle (gotta love press materials that call it the “;Magic Isle”;) starts with a two-hour episode airing Monday. Apparently they'll stay at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa and the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa.

So who's left? Ed, Kiptyn and Reid. We'll see which one is still standing when the rose ceremony takes place at the oceanfront Olowalu Plantation House ...

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CHECK OUT the second annual Surf Film Festival, which starts tomorrow and runs two weeks at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Academy of Arts. As explained in a larger story appearing in tomorrow's HiLife section, it's an opportunity to see six diverse films about surfing and the ocean. Visit www.honoluluacademy.org for trailers and showtimes.

Because Jackie Walden of Chinatown Boardroom served on the advisory committee of the Academy's Surf Film Festival, she managed to secure renowned filmmaker Jack McCoy for double duty. His film “;Green Iguana”; will screen at the festival at 7:30 p.m. on July 19, when he will speak with the audience and show clips from his latest venture. You can also talk story with the Hawaii-born McCoy (who now resides in Australia) during Chinatown Boardroom's Surf Discussion Series from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at 1160 Nuuanu Ave. For more details, visit www.chinatownboardroom.com, or call 585-7200 ...

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DANCER AND actress Amanda Schull will teach an advanced ballet master class from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Ballet Hawaii's Dole Cannery Studios. The Hawaii-born Punahou graduate has starred in several television and studio film productions, including “;Center Stage”; from Columbia Pictures.

Her next film, “;Mao's Last Dancer,”; is slated for release later this year. After training across the country, including here at home, Schull danced for the San Francisco Ballet from 1999 to 2006.

Enrollment for Schull's master class is limited and costs $25. Ballet Hawaii members pay $20. To register, call 521-8600.

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Contact Katherine Nichols at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).