Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

'Tis the Season to Be Jolly

Holiday lights at Atlantic Station in AtlantaChristmas was very congenial and brotherly lovely this year, although I missed not being with my biological family. We'll rectify that situation on New Year's Eve. That's the night we traditionally gather together to evict our rental tenants. End of the month, you know. Pay up or hit the road, Eunice. Eggnog?

Hark, the merriment!

Oh, to hum a little traveling music while we fling underwear out the bedroom windows at the frosty curb, as the countdown commences upon 2006.

Little Mommy Nap N Play CribThen, as in past revelries, at the stroke of midnight, we drop the Little Mommy Nap N Play Crib onto the lawn. Happy New Year, everybody!

Concerning the holiday season as a whole, if I had to choose a single pleasure amongst our Christmas celebrations it would be this one because I have a bit:

Escorting Donna to hear the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra perform Handel's "Messiah."

I'll be the first to proclaim the music was majestic and inspirational. I'd never take that away from her. She was awash with delight.

But, give me Carrot Top's "Messiah." That's righteous and zany with a trunk full of schtick props.

Carrot TopAnd we'd all leave the theatre in blessed reverence, stifling snorts amid giggles, cherishing visions of Carrot, the miraculous Son of Rip Taylor, prancing in our heads. Fa la la la la!

Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

And My True Love Said to Me

Overheard on Christmas
Twenty-four years of marriage. Actual conversation.

First thing Christmas morning, I opened my eyes to the new day. While I looked out the window, behind me in the bed, my wife spoke, sounding sweetly frisky.

Donna: Did you find your toy this morning?

Mike: Yesss.

Donna: Have you been playing with your toy?

Mike: You betcha!

Suddenly magnetic, I flashed the come-hither gaze back over my shoulder.

Mike: Oh. You're talking to the cat.

Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

Urgent to Dearest Santa Claus, Beloved Relatives, Gallant Friends

We have reached our quota on Chia Shrek.

You have been most kind, but please stop.

It is, after all, time to stop.

We must insist you cease all deliveries of Chia Shreks to us immediately.

Chia ShrekMany stores will be open until 6 tonight, Christmas Eve, for your returns and replacement gifts.

Thank you for not delivering Chia Shrek to within 1000 yards of our tree.

It's the law!

Chia Donkey, Chia Bugs Bunny, Chia Daffy Duck, Chia Tweety, Chia Taz, Chia Garfield, Chia Shaggy, and Chia Scooby-Doo refused separately.

Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

"NG KO"

We were force-seated no more than 15 feet from the giant wall-to-wall screen, looming nearly two stories above our tilted way back faces. The opening title lettering sprawled across the moving picture.

"NG KO?" I asked out loud. "We're seeing 'NG KO?'"

Donna elbowed me in the ribs, pointing off to the perpendicular left. I turned my head around to look.

"KING KO?" I asked out loud. "We're seeing a copy center commercial?"

Donna elbowed me in the ribs, suddenly a bit tender for some reason. She pointed off to our perpendicular right. I turned my head around to look.

"KING KONG?" I asked out loud. "We're seeing 'KING KONG?' Shouldn't that read "PING PONG?' Why do I feel like I'm at Wimbledon?"

We spent the next three hours moving our eyes and heads in frantic desperation to follow the action. We were like cats watching a hyper moth, up, down, and all around.

I must say, sitting too close to the fuzzy, out-of-focus film, I observed several items I might not have otherwise noticed.

1. In the 1930s, during The Great Depression, many poor people wore expensive, not-yet-invented contact lenses.

2. Jack Black has a close-up with a goo bubble visible in his nostril. Considering the film's $200 million budget, I couldn't determine if it was real or computer-generated.

3. 25-foot tall apes have mites the size of the head of Wink Martindale.

4. Kong is not anatomically correct. He has no penis. Nothing. Not even a stack of IHOP Harvest Grain 'N Nut® Pancakes. Hearty grains, wholesome oats, almonds and English walnuts with your choice of cool strawberry, warm blueberry or warm cinnamon-apple topping and whipped topping, plus the Never Empty Coffee Pot®. Nothing.

The sound was excellent. I heard vivid roars and screams. But, those might have been in-the-dark shenanigans with Security's electric wand.

At the end of the night, "King Kong" appeared to be a remarkable film.

I wish I had seen it.

Unfortunately, our hosts had ruined what should have been a wonderful moviegoing experience.

It was beasts that killed the beauty.


Previous | Beginning

Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

Seeing Red

After an eternity, as the guards grilled the crowd and examined personal effects, Donna and I were deemed camera felon-free and admitted to the auditorium of the "King Kong" benefit screening.

Being lowly $75 ticket holders, part of the "red" wristband group, we had been forced to wait until the larger contributors to The Gorilla Fund International were processed, an extra perk of their deluxe bonus packages of cocktails, schmoozes, and snoots.

Ho hum. I would have paid the $400 not to endure the cocktail party.

I assumed, since my looked-down-upon $75 contribution only bought me a body search with an electric security wand, the more opulent benefactors got special treatment.

For $200, there was the security wand and a hernia check with a velvet glove.

The $500 ticket holders got the security wand, a hernia check with a velvet glove, and a shiatsu massage and wallet fluff.

I guess things could have been worse. If there had been a $50 ticket, I'd probably would have been made to undergo the security wand and the security colonoscopy.

"There are plenty of seats left," said Bill, as we inched into the stadium-tiered theatre for a first look-see.

I spotted four empty chairs a few rows up and motioned to my companions to follow.

"Red ticket seating is down there," said the usher pointing to rows of seats crammed too close to the screen.

"What? Those seats are horrible," I protested. "We can't see the entire picture down there."

He was adamant, pointing us into the underbelly of show business. For our measly $150 per pair sins, we were treated as if we were lucky to be within Milky Way distance of this event.

We marched on to Death Camp.

Someone was teaching us a lesson for sure and I learned it well. Namely, this shabby, unacceptable handling was not the way to make friends nor finesse patrons. I regretted coming. Shame on The Gorilla Fund International, Universal Pictures, and Regal Cinemas -- and welcome to my blog!

Having spent decades employed inside movie theatres, primarily as a projectionist, I can tell you with authority those seats were installed too close to the screen for professional presentation standards. Sure, greedy seating practices go on all of the time in the entertainment industry, but that does not make the contempt for audiences tolerable.

Furthermore, in a huge multiplex like this one, on an otherwise slow Wednesday evening, there is no reason a second auditorium couldn't have been opened to accommodate the crowd and provide every participant a pleasing experience. It happens with considerate hosts.

"What's FEMA's phone number?" I seethed.

We plopped begrudgingly into the best availables on the fifth row from the screen. I eyeballed numerous empty, forbidden chairs remaining on the prime viewing levels behind us as late as showtime. I also learned some jerk had swiped our intended commemorative "King Kong" t-shirts, but that was of minor concern at the moment.

My feet, double swathed in sweat socks and shoes, were turning frigid on the drafty, cement floor. It was cold in the cheap seats.

I anticipated frostbite before we beached on Skull Island. I prayed Kong had a parka.

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Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

Monkey Business

A sign outside the "King Kong" auditorium screamed that cameras and cellphones were prohibited during the premiere. It would have been nice if someone had told us when we pre-ordered the tickets and before we drove 80 miles to the theatre with our cameras and cellphones in hand.

It seems Universal Pictures, distributor of "King Kong," felt us charitable types, who had forked over between $75-$500 each to attend this benefit, were vermin. Hey, thanks for the insult, Universal.

Yep, according to the crowd wranglers at the benefit, Universal was afraid we were going to record "King Kong," being the obvious thugs we all were. So, they hired security (guys in threatening ties) to make us trembly and assure no one duplicated the movie. I understand the concern, but obviously Universal never heard of a little something called The Real World!

"King Kong" will be copied and bootlegged on the streets worldwide in a heartbeat once it opens in thousands of unsecured cinemas. Get over it. It's gonna happen, if it hasn't already.

My friend Bill barged into the men's room. "Mike, Donna gave me your camera. Give me your cellphone. I'll take them to the car. No exceptions."

"Does Universal need a urine sample?" I asked. "I've got an extra."

Returning to the waiting line-up in the lobby, all the intrigue was explained to me. We would be denied admittance to the show if recording devices were discovered on our bodies, so dozens of innocent and expensive gadgets were abruptly and inconveniently transported to the good Samaritan audience's cars in the desolate upscale shopping mall parking lot in downtown Atlanta's crime zone at Christmastime after dark. Oh, the thought made me ever so comfortable.

"Camera phones are a problem," said an official. "Universal doesn't want any recording device inside the theatre."

"Universal thinks we're going to record a three-hour movie on eight seconds of cellphone memory?" I asked, nicely.

"I dunno," said the man.

"Maybe they're afraid we might call up Granny in the hospital and let her listen to ape killings until tapioca time?"

"Maybe. Anyway, folks, you will be wanded at the door."

"Will there be complimentary frisks?"

He turned away.

"Will our minds be erased as we exit?"

The warden shook his head and moved on to ruin other patrons' nights.

"What about artist renderings?" I yelled after him. "Can we have crayons and fingerpaints?"

"Did you bring enough for everybody?" he snapped back.

"Yeah. Enough for their middle fingers."


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Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

Agape With the Ape

We attended the advance preview of Peter Jackson's "King Kong," a benefit for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. The event was held at downtown Atlanta's new Atlantic Station shopping complex. The small crowd of participants, which I would estimate at 200, can be seen in this photo awaiting the arrival of the famous names and faces which were used in promotional materials to lure us into giving charitable donations.

First to demonstrate the fine art of walking into a movie theatre, broadcasting mogul Ted Turner, who stepped out of one of several product placement cars making up the parade.

He was hugging a blonde. I heard someone mistake her for Jane Fonda, Turner's ex. Sure enough, there was a resemblance. I have no idea what this woman did during Vietnam.

Next up, several more tedious arrivals of vehicles burping out folks no one in the crowd recognized or feigned much interest in observing.

"Go ask him if he's anybody," I coached my wife. "They love that!"

When I say "tedious arrivals of vehicles," you must know that these celebrities held court in the bar next door to the theatre during a pre-screening mixer. The choreographed autos which circled the block to return to the multiplex entrance and the hokey red carpet treatment were dim bulb ploys to create excitement.

I've been to Fizzies parties with more magic -- and Fizzies.

Monica Kaufman, a veteran TV news anchor, was the next to arrive. Monica is best remembered throughout Atlanta for her decades of ever-changing hairdos and husbands. She had a new one on her head and arm this night, always good for grins among the locals.

Soon, Sigourney Weaver emerged. The actress was all smiles as she strolled along the pathway, stopping to chat with the press and Clare Richardson, seen here. The ladies represented the Gorilla Fund.

Sigourney also took a moment to listen to the bongo band bongoing outside the cinema in 40 degree weather.

I took a moment to laugh out loud like Ricky Ricardo, croon "Babaloo," and ask assorted redheads to "'splain themselves."

Ambassador Andrew Young and actor Gary Serkis were no-shows. No one with the benefit ever detailed their absences to me or my companions. While I'm proud to have contributed to the Gorilla Fund, I do feel like the movie audience was due the courtesy of an explanation for the switcheroo.

Serkis, who portrayed Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings," has two roles in "King Kong." He's Lumpy the cook and the great ape himself. I suspect he wore lifts.

We hurried inside to wait in line for another eternity, mounting irritation, and more disappointment.


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Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

Giant Monkey Movies Gone Wild!

King Kong
King Kong
Buy this Photo at AllPosters.com

The creator of the original "King Kong" (1933), Merian C. Cooper, has been honored with an extras-packed special edition DVD box set for his signature film, plus simultaneous releases of its direct sequel, "The Son of Kong" (1933), and a partial reworking, "Mighty Joe Young" (1949). I've extolled the virtues of this truly classic material to anyone who will listen.

My understanding is kindly Santa (King Claus) is arranging Christmas delivery to my abode. Someone took the bait. They don't call me Lord of the Stings for nothing.

That is good. Now, I, also known as Prince Kong, shan't have to banish the giver from Skull Island.

To be honest, I don't actually live on Skull Island. Our environs are more Shrunken Head Cul-de-sac.

A few mornings ago, as "King Kong" remake fever mounted, my pal, Bill, phoned with news of a high profile regional premiere for the picture. He directed me to a story in "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution."

"Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson's much anticipated Christmas flick "King Kong" is stomping into town in a big way.

And a whole week before the rest of the country gets its peepers on the primate.

On Wednesday, co-chairs Andrew Young and Sigourney Weaver, the "Gorillas in the Mist" actress and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International board of directors' honorary chair, will be the hosts of the Atlanta red carpet premiere of the three-hour, $200 million thriller at Atlantic Station to benefit the Gorilla Fund International.

...[Also in attendance,] Ted Turner, [TV news anchor] Monica Kaufman and "Kong" star Andy Serkis (who memorably portrayed Gollum in "LOTR" and provides the performance for both the title ape and Lumpy the cook in "King Kong").

I wasn't going to attend until I read: Lumpy the Cook IN PERSON! And THE NIECE of Doodles Weaver!

Besides, it's a monkey movie, I need to go.

I am also yearning against odds for surprise premiere attendee Bonzo or, maybe, a Marquis Chimp or three. I'll have my autograph book and Chiquitas handy.

This shall be a very special night. I must go prepare. It takes time to wash, blow dry, and tease my entire body hair for that de rigueur big fur look.


Previous | Continued

Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

Mike vs. King Kong and Mike and Ike

In recent weeks, my wife and I have been exchanging those three little words which make my cuddly heart swell:
"giant monkey movies"
We're in the midst of a boom market for giant monkey movies. Simian cinema is having a resurgence on television and theatre screens worldwide -- and I've caught the wave. I love them.

Mike is startled when King Kong sneaks up behind him.I've been looking forward to "King Kong," so it was ironic I backed into him at the mall (pictured, right).

He scared the bejesus out of me. I dropped my Coke and got what tastes like chimp fur on my Gobstoppers.

I'm still picking it off. (I hate to dip candy in a dipilatory cream.)

I should have bought the Mike and Ike. I've never tasted Mike and Ike, due to my name. I'm always afraid they'd make me feel gay or something.

Neither a Mike nor an Ike has ever touched these pliant, tremulous lips. Nope, I am a married man and my lips are reserved for her cooking.

Maybe if I separated all of the Mikes into one pile and all of the Ikes into another. But, then, I'd have the dilemma, which gent do I eat?

I mean, if I eat Ike, is that, like, socially acceptable? Especially, after singling him out. It's not weird is it?

Those Mikes are admittedly cute, as I would expect, but eating Mike, for me, would be kind of incestuous AND cannibalistic.

On the other hand, I have never been an advocate of wasting a perfectly good Mike.

I only want to be politically correct. Don't make me do bad.

I'm so flustered over Mike and Ike, I refuse to contemplate the implications of sucking Rainbow Nerds.

There I go getting sidetracked. I've used up all of my Kong time. I've got more to write about him. He's a big subject--

OH, HELL! Look at that giant lizard!!

I just noticed that slimy monster in the photo. At the mall, with all the confusion and the clean-up, I saw Kong there, but never--

Great. I knocked over my Coke.


To Be Continued

Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

Princess Deflowering Kits

Photo: Princess Pop TartsI was shocked to discover Princess Pop Tarts displayed in full view for all to see. There they were on the store shelf, alarmingly endorsed with the wholesome Disney name and harum.

This pretty in pink product, marketed to children, nonetheless, is another sign of our culture's decline. Haven't we learned the bulk of society's ills can be traced back to the popping of tarts?

Some day my prince will come. Yeah, right. Those hussies.

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