Senator Theatre is stop on McConaughey tour

February 26, 2005|By Linell Smith | Linell Smith,SUN STAFF

It's not every day that Belvedere Square is a stop on a movie star's publicity tour.

On Monday evening, however, actor Matthew McConaughey, star of How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days and newly confirmed fiance of actress Penelope Cruz, is expected to park his Airstream trailer - where else? - in front of the Senator Theatre.

Inside he'll attend a premiere screening of his new movie Sahara, an action-adventure a la Indiana Jones that is set to open in April. It is expected that he will introduce the film to an audience limited to local members of the military and their families. About 700 active servicemen and servicewomen based in Maryland, Washington and Virginia have reserved seats, according to the United Service Organizations of Metropolitan Washington.

McConaughey's Baltimore stop is part of a four-month cross-country tour to promote the film. Based on the novel by Clive Cussler, Sahara brings hero Dirk Pitt (McConaughey) to the desert in search of a Civil War battleship with a secret, perhaps deadly, cargo. He teams with a beautiful public health physician played by Cruz.

Tom Kiefaber, owner of the Senator, is quite tickled about McConaughey's visit, even if it does tie up his theater the night after the Oscars. (The Senator is showing Million Dollar Baby, a favored contender.)

"About two weeks ago we got an inkling that [this visit] might occur and cleared the decks," he says. "This is as close to spontaneous [for us] as you can imagine." Most events involving film stars - think the Senator's premiere of Ladder 49, for instance - require laborious negotiations and planning, he says.

The 35-year-old McConaughey is traveling with an assistant in his own personal RV, a vehicle that is currently decorated with photos from his film. The down-home publicity tour began a week ago in Florida, where McConaughey was invited to utter the immortal lines "Drivers, start your engines."

Since then, he's been motoring his way through movie markets on the East Coast and should be parked somewhere in Washington, D.C., at Oscar time, according to his itinerary.

Because of the short notice, Kiefaber has not prepared the theater's movie star salute - a personalized section of sidewalk.

"We'll get his signature for that purpose and commemorate it after the fact," he says.

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