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Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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Kevin Spacey headed to Bollywood awards in Tampa

TAMPA — Some of Bollywood’s biggest stars announced early they would play integral roles in the 15th International Indian Film Academy Weekend and Awards to be held in Tampa April 23-26.

The event, otherwise known as the “Bollywood Oscars,” now has its first major American Oscar-winner.

Kevin Spacey, star of “House of Cards” on Netflix and an Academy Award winner for “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty,” will participate in The Indian film academy’s Acting Workshop as part of a panel discussion on a variety of cinema-related subjects.

Bollywood’s Vidya Balan will also be part of what is being called a “masterclass.” Other Bollywood stars to be featured during the weekend include Anil Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra

In the past, the Bollywood awards have drawn Hollywood stars such as Angelina Jolie and Hilary Swank.

Spacey is the first Hollywood star to be announced but more are expected.

“It has been our dream to do this with the participation of Hollywood artists being featured within our events,” Andre Timmons, director of the Indian film academy, said in a statement, “and this year as we debut in the U.S., we are proud to have achieved this with a masterclass that celebrates accomplished actors Kevin Spacey and Vidya Balan from the respective industries.”

Still, local officials hope the city will be the true star of the weekend.

Visit Tampa Bay President and CEO Santiago Corrada announced that the opening segment of the awards show at Raymond James Stadium on April 26 will be a “nod to Tampa.” The five to seven minute opening song and dance number will focus on Tampa’s “treasures, culture and history.”

Corrada would not elaborate.

“It’s a surprise,” he said. “But it will showcase to the world what makes Tampa special. Not only will the over 30,000 at the show see it, but so will the 800 million around the world watching on TV.”

Local promoters of the event recently spent two days in India to promote business and tourism opportunities in Tampa. They included Corrada, Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and Kiran Patel, the local physician and philanthropist who helped land the event for Tampa.

The visitors’ bureau has also filmed a 30-second video that will be used to advertise Tampa on international TV.

The weekend is predicted to bring a $30 million economic impact to the city.

An estimated 120 Indian CEOs — from fields including health care, finance and education — will be in Tampa for the awards ceremony, as will 800 members of India’s film community.

Local leaders hope all of them will return to the city for business and film opportunities.

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