The late Ray Charles was no doubt a great musician, and no one can dispute Aretha Franklin's gifts as a soul singer; both fully earned the commercial success they received. But it's no coincidence that both used the same producer -- the great Tom Dowd. A musical genius and electronics whiz (he worked on the Manhattan Project before he could even buy a drink), Dowd proved that what happens behind the mixing board is as important as what happens in front of the microphone. Though his dauntless efforts have been appreciated mostly by industry types and liner note-reading geeks, Dowd's life and career were put to film shortly after his death in 2002. The result is the documentary Tom Dowd and the Language of Music, which shows Friday night at Cinema Paradiso (503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale). After meeting Dowd in 1995, Miami filmmaker Mark Moormann (pictured, at right, with Dowd) decided Dowd's life warranted a full-length documentary. The film was shot over seven years and features a series of interviews with Dowd and many of the musicians he worked with. Unfortunately, shortly before the film was released, Dowd died at his home in Aventura. The film's as much a biography as it is a music history lesson. It starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission costs $4 to $6. Call 954-523-3456. --Jason Budjinski
But Toto ate my costume!
If you were ever a Wizard of Ozcharacter for Halloween, now's the time to rummage through your attic for that old costume -- it could win you a prize at this weekend's Wizard of Oz Sing-along at the Eissey Campus Theatre, Palm Beach Community College (3160 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens). After a participatory showing of the movie (which includes singing along and blowing kazoos), a costume contest rewards the most cowardly lion, the wickedest witch, the cutest Dorothy, or any other character from the classic fantasy flick. Of course, costumes are limited to the characters, not the actors; you won't win any points impersonating Judy Garland's real-life tornado of a drug habit. The event takes place Friday through Sunday. Tickets cost $12 to $15. Call 561-659-7644. --Jason Budjinski