'Playtime' screening spoiled by sneaky skunk

Talk about uncanny timing.

A special screening of Jacques Tati’s 1967 “Playtime” at the Telluride Film Festival last week was disrupted by the incursion of a skunk. Darting underneath the seats of the Galaxy Theater, the freaked-out critter sprayed just as the film — Tati’s treatise on the horrors of modern life — reached its climax.

“There was this rustling right under where I was. People had their feet up and sideways. Everybody was looking at each other,” recalls producer Albert Berger. “Row by row, you could see people realizing it was a skunk, and sharing the news with their neighbors.”

“Then it sprayed, dosing the audience… It was almost as if the skunk was delighted the movie was coming to an end,” Berger says.

Dale McKittrick, who works for the city’s animal control unit, wasn’t surprised by the infiltration, although no one phoned him (he said people usually don’t call, since local law requires that a trapped skunk be destroyed). “Someone had probably left the door open at some point, and the skunk hid somewhere.” says McKittrick. “When it got dark, he came out.”

Skunks are plentiful in remote Telluride and its environs, as are black bears. Picturehouse topper Bob Berney says he was riding in the gondola with a woman who had seen a black bear and her cub on the outskirts of town.

And the Telluride fest wasn’t the only media faction skunked in recent days. Last week, a skunk found its way into CNBC’s New Jersey studios and sprayed as Maria Bartiromo and Jim Cramer were on the air.

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