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WHAT'S HAPPENING : COMEDY.

More than magic: One of them doesn't talk, and the other one doesn't seem to stop. Together they are magic - literally. Well, almost literally, because calling them magicians apparently irritates them. Nevertheless, the duo of Penn & Teller brings their offbeat sensibilities and outrageous acts of prestidigitation to Los Angeles for the first time in seven years. Even if you caught them in their many TV appearances, such as the NBC special ``Don't Try This at Home,'' seeing them in person is believing. They are performing at the Wilshire Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays; through April 5. For tickets, call Ticketmaster at (213) 365-3500.

- Rob Lowman

film

Really `Wild': For pure, disreputable fun, ``Wild Things'' is hard to beat. Equal parts soft-core porn and deliriously complicated mystery-thriller, the movie would be irredeemably sleazy if it wasn't also the funniest comedy of the year.

Directed by John McNaughton (``Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer''), ``Things'' trashes soap opera and neo-noir conventions as gleefully as it exposes its attractive young cast's physical assets. Set in an affluent Florida enclave, it has an entertaining bent for minimal clothing, maximum mendacity and, when all that gets to be too much, lots of alligators.

``Starship Troopers' '' Denise Richards and ``Scream's'' Neve Campbell are two dangerous vixens embroiled in a plot to bring down their hunky high school counselor, played by Matt Dillon. Kevin Bacon's obsessive cop suspects there's a deeper, darker scheme afoot, but he truly doesn't know the half of it. For a movie that can't dislodge its tongue from its cheek, ``Wild Things'' is tightly, cleverly scripted to a remarkable degree.

You'll have to stay through the closing credits to find out what was really going on - and to laugh even harder.

- Bob Strauss

television

Tragedy of addiction: The impetus for ``Moyers on Addiction: Close to Home'' (9 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday on KCET, Channel 28) was the drug and alcohol addiction of Bill Moyers and Judith Davidson Moyers' own son. Tempered by their own experiences, the husband-and-wife team have produced a crucially important documentary series that addresses addiction's continuing conundrums. Who gets addicted? How and why? Is addiction a disease? Which recovery programs work? Do addicts belong in jail? Can we ever win a ``war'' on drugs?

As narrator, Bill Moyers speaks out against simplistic, moralistic responses to a pressing national health problem. You may not agree. But the series' clear-sighted craft and compassionate vision are undeniable.

- Kinney Littlefield

Orange County Register

music

Jazzy evening: Veteran songbird Barbara Morrison is known for her ability to belt out down-home, soul-stirring blues, traditional jazz, gospel and pop standards.

Entering her 25th year as one of jazz and blues' most respected singers, she has worked alongside some of the great names of music, including Ray Charles, Etta James, Esther Phillips, Nancy Wilson, Mel Torme and Tony Bennett.

Morrison, along with tenor saxophonist Teddy Edwards, singer Ernie Andrews and trumpeter Harry ``Sweets'' Edison, appears Saturday in a jazz benefit at the Luckman Theatre at California State University, Los Angeles.

Renowned for the singles ``Blues in Teddy's Flat'' and ``Sunset Eyes,'' Edwards will lead his brass and strings ensemble. He is mentioned often in ``Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles,'' a new study of the local jazz scene of the '20s to early '50s written and edited by the musicians themselves.

Andrews honed his voice while singing with the Harry James Orchestra in the '60s and is known as a fine blues, ballad and standards stylist.

Edison, a member of the International Jazz Hall of Fame, has been featured by most of the famous big bands and orchestras. The nickname Sweets stems from his trumpet tone.

Cal State L.A. is at 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles. Show time is 8 p.m., and tickets are $27.50 and $32.50. Information: (213) 343-6600.

- Fred Shuster

CAPTION(S):

4 Photos

Photo: (1) Penn & Teller appear through April 5 at the Wilshire Theatre.

(2--3) Saxophonist Teddy Edwards and singer Barbara Morrison are among the performers at a benefit concert Saturday at California State University, Los Angeles' Luckman Theatre.

(4) Denise Richards, left, and Neve Campbell star in ``Wild Things.''
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Title Annotation:Review; L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 27, 1998
Words:714
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