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Critic's Choice

One of the downsides of the post-September 11 expansion in American philanthropy -- so far, nearly $1 billion has been raised to provide relief to survivors of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks -- is the shrinking of donations to traditional charities. An all-star slate of literary superstars hope to help bridge that gap. The Rock Bottom Remainders derive their name from the off-peak literary product found in bookstore bargain sections everywhere, but there's nothing left over about a lineup that includes Stephen King, humorist Dave Barry, thrill master Scott Turow and ladies' auxiliary favorite Amy Tan. Writers Mitch Albom, Ridley Pearson and James McBride round out the not-so-musical group. The only real musician in the bunch, Steve Miller, dropped out because of a family emergency. (Local light Hazel Miller is expected to fill in.) Tickets ain't cheap: $500 for a downtown VIP reception at the Denver Dry Tea Room loft on Thursday, November 1, and $75 for a show at the Gothic Theatre the following night. But shelling out is what charity is all about. The recipient foundation is Denver Scores, a non-profit providing a mix of after-school literacy and soccer programs for low-income communities in the city's north and west sides. The regional organization is part of a national program (see americascores.org) that works to get books back into people's hands in a dot-com world. The Rock Bottom Remainders admit that they won't be going home with any musicianship trophies: "We suck, but we suck for a good cause," is their motto. Clearly, this celebrity unit is just in it for the money.
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Kelly Lemieux