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Games to feature screening of ‘E.T.’

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The athletes won't be the only ones in Salt Lake phoning home during the Winter Games.

A special advance screening of the 20th anniversary edition of the movie "E.T." has been added as a part of the Cultural Olympiad, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee announced Monday.

The film will be shown at Abravanel Hall on Feb. 20 at 6 p.m.

"It will be the grand premiere of the new edition," said Raymond T. Grant, artistic director of the Olympic Arts Festival. "With the exception of Sundance, it's rare for a release to start in Salt Lake and then go to wider distribution."

The new edition includes never-before-seen footage, computer-generated visual enhancements and a digitally remixed soundtrack by John Williams, who coincidentally composed "Call of Champions" for the 2002 Winter Games ceremonies.

The idea to premiere the movie as part of the Cultural Olympiad came from conversations Grant had with Frank Marshall, famed filmmaker and board member of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Grant said Marshall was excited to get involved with the Arts Festival and that when they tossed around ideas, "E.T." always seemed to float to the top.

Marshall will be on hand at the premier as well as some other "special guests," Grant said.

For Grant, the film seemed like a natural fit for the Cultural Olympiad.

"The IOC charter calls for the Cultural Olympiad to promote harmonious relations among people, which is the central theme of E.T.," Grant said. "I can't think of a better context to present the film than at the Olympic Winter Games where the world will gather as one."

The 1982 film about a boy who forges a friendship with an alien who wants to get home was directed by Steven Spielberg and helped launch the career of Drew Barrymore.

Admission to "E.T." will be $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Tickets can be purchase by going to www.olympics.com or by calling 1-888-451-2787.

E-MAIL: pthunell@desnews.com