Let the games begin -- and we do mean "games." Atlanta's NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND pits the playas against the ballers. And from the looks of the hefty extracurricular schedule FEB. 6-9, there's a serious chance someone's gonna be MIA before he has a chance to tear up the floorboards at Sunday's game. Our money's on the chronically late Allen Iverson, who's hosting no less than three parties and is likely to show up at who knows how many more. Other social butterflies include Magic Johnson (who's throwing at least three parties of his own) and novelty-rapper-turned-DJ Biz Markie, whose name is on too many guest lists to mention. Along with the usual fleet of NBA superstars and Hollywood celebs such as Jamie Foxx, this year's entertainment marquee is crammed with some of the biggest names in urban music, including Usher, Justin Timberlake, the Roots, Ja Rule, Christina Aguilera, Eve, Nelly, Bubba Sparxxx and Cee-Lo -- many who are in town to perform at the three-day ALL-STAR JAM SESSION (see Vibes, p. 105). And Friday, AT&T Broadband's new best friend, Comcast, presents the third annual HOOP MAGIC BASKETBALL GAME, a chance for streetballers to show up Queen Latifah, Snoop Dogg and other entertainment types.
Jam Session: $10-$15; Thurs. 4-10 p.m., Fri. noon-3 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Georgia World Congress Center, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd.; 800-4NBA-TIX. www.ticketmaster.com.
Hoop Magic: $25-$100; 7 p.m. (doors); GSU Sports Arena, downtown. www.hoopmagicgame.com.
All-Star Game: 8 p.m.; Philips Arena, One Philips Drive; www.nba.com/allstar2003/.
-- Hobart Rowland
Alliance Theatre's latest two plays are directed by African-Americans. Otherwise, they couldn't be more different. On the main stage FEB. 5, SAINT LUCY'S EYES begins with the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and goes on to cover several major events of recent history from the perspective of a single brave woman. Billie Allen directs renowned actress Ruby Dee (above) in the central role. On the Alliance's smaller Hertz Stage, Associate Artistic Director Kent Gash presents SHAKESPEARE'S R&J, which invites audiences to view Romeo and Juliet through the eyes of four prep-school boys, who find unexpected relevance to their own lives as they act out the parts. Saint Lucy's Eyes: Feb. 11-March 9 (previews begin Feb. 5); $17-$46; Wed.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Shakespeare's R&J: Through March 2. $25-$31; Tue.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 2:30 and 8 p.m., Sun. 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-5000. www.alliancetheatre.org.
-- Curt Holman
TERENCE BLANCHARD (below) finally makes his appearance at the Ferst Center FEB. 8 after a Golden Globe Award nomination for Spike Lee's 25th Hour forced him to reschedule his original January concert. And while he didn't win, it's not the first time the New Orleans jazzman has received such an honor. Known for his definitive trumpet work, Blanchard helped launch a rebirth of jazz in the orchestral world, and his compositions for small jazz groups have made their mark in film. Here in Atlanta, his sextet performs originals and old favorites. $39.50. 8 p.m. Ferst Center for the Arts, Georgia Tech, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-9600. www.ferstcenter.org.
-- Jerry Portwood