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Artists going for the green

Molly Shore

Performers from the U.S. and abroad have descended upon the Hilton

Burbank Airport and Convention Center to compete in the seventh

annual senior World Championships of Performing Arts.

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The weeklong competition, which begins today, will feature

contestants from 34 countries competing in the following categories:

acting, bands, comedy, dance, instrumentalists, modeling, variety

arts and vocals. Participants 16 and older auditioned for the right

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to compete, except in South Africa, where they competed in a national

championship. A separate junior competition for contestants 15 and

younger was held earlier this year.

The winner in each category will compete for $5,000, a gold medal

and a trophy.

The world championships have been dubbed “the Olympics for the

Performing Arts,” said Griff O’Neil, president of the organization.

“The one thing we try to impress, like the Olympics, is that we

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are simply a competition,” O’Neil said. “We are not agents, we are

not managers and we are not casting directors.”

For 25 years, O’Neil worked on event productions, including the

Miss Universe pageant. Traveling throughout the world, O’Neil said he

noticed great raw talent that abounded everywhere, and decided that

just as the Olympics spotlights great athletes, he would spotlight

great talent.

“We try to have the best of the best coming from countries,”

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O’Neil said. “Some are amateurs, some are professionals, just like

the Olympics.”

Opening night ceremonies will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, and will be

emceed by Chelsea Brummet, 15, a 1999 winner in the junior acting

category. Following her win, she landed a starring role in the

Nickelodeon series, “All That,” O’Neil said.

The competition, formerly staged in Hollywood, moved to Burbank in

2000, where local support “has been tremendous,” he said.


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