Far-flung fans and lots of locals howl for stars at 'Twilight' benefit screening

Adam Brimer/News Sentinel 
Anna Hoppestad, Jane Francis Nowell and Brooke Hurst, from left, chant as they wait at the Regal Cinemas' Pinnacle Stadium 18 during the Variety - The Children's Charity of Eastern Tennessee benefit screening of 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

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Adam Brimer/News Sentinel Anna Hoppestad, Jane Francis Nowell and Brooke Hurst, from left, chant as they wait at the Regal Cinemas' Pinnacle Stadium 18 during the Variety - The Children's Charity of Eastern Tennessee benefit screening of 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Lauralee Rast, second from right, holds a sign outside the Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 before the Variety - The Children's Charity of Eastern Tennessee benefit screening of 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Lauralee Rast, second from right, holds a sign outside the Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 before the Variety - The Children's Charity of Eastern Tennessee benefit screening of 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009.

“Twilight” fan Danielle Vaugh waited eight hours Tuesday outside Regal Cinemas’ Pinnacle 18 at Turkey Creek but she got her autograph.

Actress Kristen Stewart signed a photo of herself that Vaugh had ripped from “People” magazine.

“She said, ‘Hey’ to me and asked me what my name was,” said Vaugh, a University of Tennessee sophomore. “I’m probably going to put this on my wall.”

Vaugh was one of 1,500 to 2,000 fans who lined a barricade outside the theater Tuesday hoping for an autograph, photo or glimpse of Stewart and “New Moon” co-star Taylor Lautner.

Stewart and Lautner made their first – if brief and somewhat delayed — trip to Tennessee Tuesday. The two actors walked the red carpet before a Tuesday screening of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” They did not stay for the movie itself.

Stewart plays lead character Bella Swan and Lautner werewolf Jacob Black in the second film based on Stephenie Meyer’s four-book series. In the film, Bella and vampire Edward Cullen, portrayed by actor Robert Pattinson, are in love. But Edward leaves Bella to keep her safe, and Jacob steps in to play an important part in her life.

The stars’ Tuesday arrival in shiny black Cadillac Escalades onto the Regal red carpet was delayed by more than an hour. When they arrived around 7:45 p.m., Stewart and Lautner posed for photos outside the cinema. Fans screamed, jumped and flashed cameras as Knox County Sheriff’s Department deputies kept them behind metal barricades.

But fans got an unexpected treat. Seconds after she entered the theater, Stewart turned on her black stiletto heels and walked back outside to the barricade. Surrounded by security, she signed posters, books, scraps of paper and photos as she worked her way down some 20 feet of screaming, smiling fans. One young woman reached over the bars and hugged the actress’ slender shoulders. A few minutes later, Lautner came out of the theater and signed autographs for other fans. Shouts of “Taylor, Taylor” and “Kristen, Kristen” replaced the screams.

The sold-out event was the only official screening of “New Moon” outside of Los Angeles. The film opens nationwide Friday.

The screening raised more than $442,000 for the charity Variety of Eastern Tennessee, Regal Entertainment Group CEO Amy Miles announced. Ninety percent of that money will help several area charities and organizations, said Variety of Eastern Tennessee Executive Director Dena Pinsker. The other 10 percent will pay for the cost of the benefit.

“New Moon” has raised the most money of any of Regal’s seven charity screenings. The previous record was held $380,000 by Brendan Fraser’s 2008 “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

Some 1,000 ticketholders saw the film Tuesday. Ticketholders included event sponsors, Variety patrons and “New Moon” fans who won a drawing. Each drawing winner bought two $100 tickets.

But as many or more “Twilight” fans without tickets lined up outside the theater. They stood three to 10 deep in the Pinnacle parking lot: five young women scaled four slender, leafless trees for a better view.

Some fans like Vaugh arrived around noon Tuesday. Others, like four teenagers from Crossville, skipped a half-day of class. A bachelorette party trio from Michigan showed up Monday and slept overnight in their van in the parking lot.

Seven admittedly obsessed women, ages 29 to 46, drove 10 hours from Morrilton, Ark., without tickets for a chance to see Stewart and Lautner. The women have devoured the books and hold “Twilight”-themed dinner parties. Julie Session, 40, plays the first “Twilight” film daily on her computer while she’s working. “I just listen to it,” she said.

They also own a large cardboard cutout of Pattinson as Edward Cullen. “He looks good,” says 43-year-old Stephanie Lipsmeyer. The romance between Bella and Edward and the devotion Edward has for Bella appeals to their hearts. “It’s what we all want,” says Session.

Their husbands have their own opinion of their wives’ interest. “They think we’re crazy,” said Megan Voss, 29.

Amy McRary may be reached at 865-342-6437.

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Comments » 1

TNVolGirl1 writes:

Good story, however you need to change Cullum to Cullen.

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