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HAPPENINGS
George Lucas Launches a Strike Against Cancer


Yesterday, LucasFilm announced it would partner with Major League Baseball to raise money for cancer research by holding photo ops, gift auctions, and t-shirt sales. No word yet on whether the Yankees will officially change their name to The Evil Empire.

The effort, which is bringing together Ambassadors Aziz Ansari, Zach Galifianakis, Seth Rogen, and Star Wars alum Samuel L. Jackson (who made a hilarious promotional video), is intended to raise awareness for cancer research, by tapping into a fan base of hundreds of millions around the world. Stand Up 2 Cancer is helping organize a massive campaign bringing together LucasFilm, eBay, and Major League Baseball.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
L.A.'s Most Traumatized Date: Interview with Comic D.C. Pierson


"I was in the 6th grade's Gifted and Talented Program," says D.C. Pierson, still torturing himself 15 years later.

"There was this girl who I kind of arbitrarily picked to be the object of my affection. All throughout elementary school she had kind of been a buddy, so I finally said, 'Uh, I think I like you.' She was completely creeped out."

He still hasn't recovered. On Sunday, Pierson premieres his new show, "D.C. Pierson Is Bad at Girls," at the UCB Theatre in Hollywood. The storytelling hour will trace his sad, pathetic, and hilarious path through the treacherous world of dating. "It's kind of a running theme," he says. "Someone I know is a pal, then I'm like, "Uhh? And they're like, "Ughhh!" And I'm like, "Ugh."

GET THE PARTY STARTED
Your Night Out at the San Gennaro Festival

On Saint Patty's Day, everyone gets to be Irish for a day. On Valentine's Day, we all get to pretend that we have a loving, stable relationship for 24 soul-crushing hours. And every fall, New Yorkers are encouraged to eat pasta, take the cannolis, and talk with their hands at the San Gennaro festival.

The best part? It's over a week long.

Today the Feast of San Gennaro takes over Mulberry Street for its 85th year. While officially a religious festival celebrating the patron Saint of Naples, the festival is always more reminiscent of a block party. But from September 15-25, this block party will feature pastries, gelato, and veal parmigiana that will put your neighbors to shame.

WEBSITES
Improv Everywhere Goes Global


Improv Everywhere, New York's perennial pranksters, are at it again. But this time, they're getting performers around the world to join the act.

Drawing on the eye-catching success of last year's "Black Tie Beach" at Coney Island, hundreds of jokers donned formal wear this weekend and took off for the shoreline (this year they were at the Rockaways), where they spent a day splashing water and turning heads. When asked by lifeguards and curious onlookers why they were dressed up, they nonchalantly answered that they "just liked dressing up for the beach."

TRAVEL
Couple Cuffed On Plane for Joining the Mile High Club

Note to travelers: don't be getting freaky on a day where national security officials are on edge. You'll get yanked off your plane faster than you can say "Mile High Club."

When airline staff aboard Sunday's Frontier flight from Denver to Detroit noticed a couple in the bathroom for "an extraordinarily long time," they notified the Transportation Security Authority. It quickly turned into a scene reminiscent of a high school gossip movie...starring our scariest government agencies.

The TSA told the FBI who told NORAD, who immediately told two F-16 fighter jets to escort the plane to Detroit's Metropolitan Airport. After a SWAT team with boarded the plane on the tarmac, three people were escorted from the plane in cuffs.

CULTURE CLUB
New York's Funniest Up and Coming Comedians

Let's face it, comedy is a hard business. Even the Jerry Seinfelds and Jon Stewarts of the world have their share of hecklers. Hell, Louis C.K. made a career out of telling people how much his life sucks. So it's a wonder that there are any newcomers who want to join the club. Lucky for us, New York has always been the epicenter of standup, and after all the abuse, an exciting new crop of comics have arrived on the scene. So if you can't score the Chris Rock tickets, rest easy. These are New York's up and comers:

Harrison Greenbaum

WEBSITES
Groupon discounts COLLEGE TUITION

The deal tipped yesterday morning with 15 bought. But this wasn't pizza-making lessons or eyebrow threading. This was a discount on tuition at a university.

Today, National Louis University officially offered discount college tuition through Groupon. The deal, designed specifically to boost enrollment in its graduate teaching program, knocks $1,282 off the sticker price of Intro to Teaching, down to $950 for the semester.

The agreement between the monster tech company and the Chicago-based university leaves plenty of room to wonder whether we'll see more deals like this, and whether institutions can use large scale discounts to boost their numbers. With only 25 slots available, it seems clear that National Louis University is banking on national exposure, as well as price, to raise its profile.

CULTURE CLUB
Must-See Indie Films

As the indie film circuit wraps up for the year -- the Venice and Toronto film festivals are upon us, leaving the New York Film Festival as the only major prize still out there -- many low budget films are seeing their last chance at getting wide releases. But among the throngs of movies currently being screened by juries, there are already a few consensus picks. With U.S. release dates already locked up, here are the Must-See Indie Films in 2011:

George Clooney snatched up the rights to Beau Willimon's play, "Farragut North," before it premiered in New York in 2008. After adapting the play with Willimon, Clooney also directs and stars in the political drama about a young, dynamic political strategist (Ryan Gosling) trying to get ahead while getting his candidate elected. The rest of the cast aren't exactly slouches, either -- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood had plenty of audience members excited when it opened the Venice film fest last week. It makes its U.S. debut on October 14th.

EARGASMIC
Just Announced: Petty Fest 2011

The Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg have just announced they will host "Petty Fest 2011" on October 5 & 6. The event will feature musical performances by Norah Jones, Ryan Miller (Guster), and Jody Porter (Fountains of Wayne). Comedy personalities Will Forte, Justin Long and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) will also be performing, presumably giving the evening a fun, if not ironic, atmosphere. Forte has performed with Guster before, though, so perhaps he's had some singing lessons in the meantime.

CULTURE CLUB
Lower East Side Galleries Open on September 7th

On Wednesday, Lower East Side galleries are trying something we haven't even seen from its older, gayer cousin known as Chelsea -- a "Grand Opening" featuring more than 70 galleries on the same night. Exhibit rooms, most of which have been closed throughout August, will open and host a new influx of artists, complete with schmoozing, smirking, and hopefully a free glass of wine or two.

The event only lasts from 6-8pm, and with so many artists and venues, planning ahead is essential. Check out Joonbug's interactive map of the event, complete with a 1-mile walk with 20 galleries, to decide your plan of attack. For listings of every Lower East Side gallery, go here.