‘Mile’ arrives at start line

Hanks' beard and image questioned

At 7:40 p.m. Monday, Castle Rock’s Martin Shafer began his pre-screening speech at “The Green Mile’s” Village theater preem by saying: “I guess putting ‘Please arrive early. The screening starts promptly at 7 p.m.’ on the invite doesn’t fool anybody anymore.”

Shafer was followed by director Frank Darabont who cautioned the audience to take the necessary steps to avoid fluid retention by saying “as many critics have pointed out, this is not a two-hour movie.”

Between the late arrivals, the speeches and the film, it was 11ish when guests strolled into the Armand Hammer Museum for the after-party. The most notable arrivee was a bearded Tom Hanks (one guest said he resembled Stonewall Jackson).

Hanks said over the weekend he did “that celebrity mule train — the press junket — and they were all asking ‘What’s with the beard? What about your image?’ Hey, it’s for a job, and it’s just a beard.”

And while Hanks said some Stephen King novels are perfectly suited to the screen, Darabont felt there’s a “real pulse of humanity” even in the author’s scarier novels and “that’s what gets jettisoned first in the horror movies. You’ve got to go straight for King’s heartbeat.”

Among those who went straight to the preem were Castle Rock’s Greg Paul, Rob Reiner and Liz Glotzer; Warner Bros.’ Barry Meyer, Alan Horn, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Brad Ball; stars Hanks with wife Rita Wilson, Michael Clarke Duncan and James Cromwell; plus 1,000 guests including Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Bay, Mark Johnson, Jean Firstenberg, Mark Canton, Joel Silver, Brad Krevoy, Jim Katz, Nancy Davis and Kevin Huvane.

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