Extras eager for premiere

February 06, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

Hagerstown is a long way from Hollywood, but the distance might not seem so great next week when organizers pull out all the stops for the local premiere of the movie "Gods and Generals."

There will be a red carpet, search lights and, among the tuxedos, an actor or two in Civil War-period garb.

Re-enactor Tyler Keeler, 34, of Aldie, Va., said he plans to attend the screening dressed in a Civil War uniform.

"I was just trying to do what I could to make the movie accurate and representative of what happened," Keeler said of his part in the film.

Washington County Commissioners President and movie extra Gregory I. Snook, who had a non-speaking part of a delegate, said he bought two tickets for the premiere and reception and plans to don a tuxedo for the event since he doesn't have period clothes.


The Maryland Theatre will host the first local showing of the film next Tuesday. In addition to red carpets and search lights, there will be ice sculptures of Union and Confederate generals, said Dennis Frye, a local Civil War historian and an associate producer of the film.

The theater's box office had sold 600 tickets for the Hagerstown screening by Tuesday, said Pat Wolford, the theater's executive director.

Of the tickets sold, 400 were for the screening and a catered reception at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts at Hagerstown's City Park before the screening, she said.

Sales of the reception premiere tickets, which cost $130, end today, Wolford said.

Tickets for the screening alone, priced at $65, will be on sale until next Tuesday, she said.

The theater has a seating capacity of 1,325, she said.

Not everybody who appeared on screen will be at the event.

Re-enactor John Desalis, 37, of Chambersburg, Pa., said he plans to buy the soundtrack and wait a few more weeks to see the movie, even though he's excited about the Hagerstown premiere.

"All my money's in my uniforms," he said. "I don't have the money to go to something that costs $65."

First-time actor and long-time re-enactor Don Swope, 44, of Warfordsburg, Pa., said the price of a premiere ticket exceeds his budget, but he plans to see it when it is released to the general audience.

"It was tough work. It was cool. It was like us living our dreams," he said. "I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

Swope and re-enactor Richard Harner, 49, of Dillsburg, Pa., said they won't feel like celebrities until they see their faces on the big screen.

Snook said he's happy the community is getting to play yet another special role in the film's production.

"It meant a lot to our community," he said. "It put about $10 million back into the community."

Snook said he already saw his image flash across the screen during the sneak preview of the movie, but doesn't feel like a celebrity.

Another extra, Ron Bowers, said he worked on the committee to bring the screening to Hagerstown and plans to attend the reception.

"I'm elated to see that we're in the same league as The Kennedy Center," said Bowers, Maryland Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board administrator and a former Washington County commissioner.

The Hagerstown premiere is the first of the film's four advance screenings to be held in each of the three states - Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia - where the movie's scenes were shot, Wolford said.

The film, which is rated PG-13, is 3 hours, 35 minutes long, and will be released to 1,100 theaters in the U.S. on Feb. 21, Frye said.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call The Maryland Theatre at 301-790-2000 or 301-790-3500, or the Apollo Civic Theatre at 1-304-263-6766.

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