Doug Hendrickson, middle, joked with Nancy Hunter, left, and her daughter Katie Hunter, right,during a mid-afternoon snow shower before the Kentucky premiere of George Clooney's new movie Leatherheads, at the Washington Opera House in Maysville. (Below) George Clooney's costume from the movie stands at the entrance to the theater's auditorium. Copyrighted Herald-Leader photos by Charles Bertram.
Click here for our coverage of the big night in Maysville.
Driving into town, the sign at the Bank of Maysville reads, "Welcome, George and Renee," and a few blocks down, the McDonald's marquee says, "Welcome Home George Clooney."
The little Northern Kentucky town has rolled out the reddest of carpets for tonight's gala premier of Clooney's latest acting and directoral effort, Leatherheads, with Clooney and co-star Renee Zellweger in attendance. The stars reportedly landed in Georgetown and were heading up to Maysville as the crowd outside the Washington Opera House began to build.
At the entrance to the theater, guests will walk past posters for the movie and one from his aunt Rosemary's effort, The Stars are Singing, which had its gala premier at Maysville's Russell Theatre in 1953. They'll also walk past Clooney's costume from the movie, which is a comedy about the dawn of the National Football League. Theater manager Mike Thomas happily guided a tour of his place, which is usually home to the Maysville Players. In fact, tomorrow night, he'll be heading up auditions for the company's upcoming production of Nunsense.
But tonight, it's glitz and glamour, with a guest list that includes Clooney's parents, Nick and Nina; his Aunt Rosemary's lifelong friend Blanche Chambers; Gov. Steve Beshear; one of Maysville's other sweethearts, former Miss America Heather French Henry and her husband, former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry; and Lexington's own Wayne Bell, who emceed that 1953 premier.
Interesting story about Ms. Chambers and that premier, which Maysville Mayor David Cartmel relayed: Chambers rode to the premier in the open Cadillac with Rosemary Clooney, but then she had to go sit up in the segregated balcony. Rosemary defied the law though and had Chambers sit with her.
Tonight, Chambers has a seat down front, and it's not an issue.
A lot of folks in Maysville -- and coming in from places as far away as Clarksville, Tenn. -- don't have seats for either the 8 p.m. showing or 10:30, which will be attended by the state champion Mason County Boys Basketball team. Clooney, Thomas said, is set to meet the team during the first screening, but also intends to watch the movie with his mom and dad.
Even if they couldn't get in, a steadily growing throng started gathering at 10 a.m. in the subfreezing temperatures to watch the celebs arrive.
Herald-Leader ace party correspondent Beverly Fortune was out chatting up the crowd. She ran into Karen Edwards of Edgewood, who was celebrating her 44th birthday standing in line for the procession down the red carpet.
"I'm so excited he's coming back to Maysville," she said, "I'm so glad he's coming to honor the city."
UPDATE -- As afternoon is wearing on, more people are gathering on Third Street in front of the Washington Opera House, and celebs such as Nick Clooney are beginning to appear. While some of the folks joining the throng are getting off work, some folks who work in offices around the theater are hanging out and inviting friends and family in for bird's-eye views of the action.
Standing in a bathroom at Carlson Software, Judy Brown, whose daughter Lauren Brown works for the company, said, "You've gotta get close to Hollywood when you can."