No one is calling him the next Martin Luther King, Jr., nor is he claiming the title. But in his own way, Tavis Smiley is continuing the good doctor's work. He's host of the Black Entertainment Television talk show BET Tonight With Tavis Smiley, on which he and guests gab about issues that affect black communities. Now in his mid-thirties, the left-leaning Smiley got his start in public life working as an intern for the late Tom Bradley when he was mayor of Los Angeles. Smiley's also been a political commentator on radio, and he wrote the book Hard Left: Straight Talk About the Wrongs of the Right. Smiley is a special guest during the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Carnival, Parade, and Gala, a five-day celebration in Hollywood leading up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday. Festivities begin today with the 5 p.m. opening of the carnival at Young Circle Park (Federal Highway and Hollywood Boulevard) and continue Friday with a parade at 6 p.m. and Musicfest in the park at 7:30 p.m. The gala banquet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Clarion Hotel (4000 S. Ocean Dr.) features special guest Smiley. Admission to the gala, which will be followed by a book-signing, is $50 per person. All other events are free. Call 954-924-8175.
The theme of this year's South Florida Fair, "A Century of Progress," provides visitors with a nostalgic look at how far Americans have come in the last hundred years. In the Expo U.S.A. hall, history is illustrated with plenty of exhibits, including full-size replicas of the Wright Brothers' rickety plane and a sleek Stealth bomber. In an exhibit space that resembles a drive-in restaurant from the '50s, a series of magazine ads traces the evolution of the automobile. Sculptor Dave Henderson will also turn a pile of sand into a floor-to-ceiling replica of the Statue of Liberty. The fair begins today and runs through January 31 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, 9067 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach. Ticket prices range from $5 to $8 in advance and $7 to $12 at the gate, and three-day passes cost $20 and $26. Call 561-793-0333. See "Concerts For the Week" for the lineup of national acts scheduled to perform at the fair, and see "Events" listings for daily hours.
In 1981, when a civil war was raging in San Salvador, the small village of El Mozote was almost entirely wiped out. Only one person, Rufina Amaya, survived the massacre. Amaya's story, which she originally shared with the New York Times, serves as the basis for El Mozote, an interpretive modern-dance piece. A narrator sets the scene as Amaya's struggle is played out by members of the Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre. For centuries, natives and Europeans have clashed in Amaya's part of the world, and a mixture of indigenous folk dances performed by dancers wearing ritual masks and medieval and Renaissance music performed by Lake Worth's CORE Ensemble plays up the conflict. Meanwhile, Amaya's ability to endure serves as an example of human resilience. El Mozote will be presented tonight at 8 p.m. at the Duncan Theatre (Palm Beach Community College, 4200 S. Congress Ave., Lake Worth). Ticket prices range from $20 to $30. Call 561-439-8141.
At Today's World of Design, members of the public can rub elbows with some of today's top home decorators and check out the high-end home furnishings at the Design Center of the Americas (1855 Griffin Rd., Dania Beach) today and Sunday. The center houses 116 interior-design showrooms usually only open to interior designers shopping for clients. But this weekend anyone can check out the showrooms or the 16 room settings created especially for the event by visiting designers. The professionals will conduct seminars and offer advice throughout the weekend; attendees are even advised to bring in floor plans. Admission is $15 per day ($25 for both days), and proceeds benefit Habitat For Humanity International, which builds homes for the disadvantaged. Hours are today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Call 954-920-7997.
You can only sit through a Zeppelin laser-light show so many times, but Lazer Vaudeville is something entirely different. Hoping to revive the campy, variety-show format of vaudeville, creator Carter Brown decided the best way to bring the old stuff to a new, younger audience was to make it look like TV. He did so by simply adding laser, strobe, and black-light special effects to traditional vaudevillian entertainments: juggling, magic, comedy, and slapstick acrobatics. As a wizard performs illusions, for example, the light crew adds thin beams of colored light to his tricks, and when a cowboy puts on a rope-spinning display, it's jazzed up with flashing lasers and strobes. The show will be presented at 1 p.m. today at Bailey Concert Hall, 3501 SW Davie Rd., Davie. Tickets cost $10. Call 888-475-6884.
Playwright Jerome Kilty used passages from letters, diaries, and poems to patch together Dear Love, a play about the lives of the poet lovers Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. The English poets -- she was popular when they met, he was virtually unknown -- began their courtship under the watchful, disapproving eye of Elizabeth's father. As lovers are wont to do in such situations, they blew off dad and eloped. The pair lived happily in Italy from the time of their marriage in 1846 until Elizabeth's death in 1861 at age 55. Shortly thereafter Robert returned to England, where, after 40 years of relative obscurity, he finally found success with his epic poem The Ring and the Book. The Delray Beach Playhouse (950 NW Ninth St., Delray Beach) presents a staged reading of Dear Love at 8 p.m. tonight. Ticket prices range from $3.50 to $7. Call 561-278-3523.