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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