The Larry Munson Movie Group
The voice of UGA finds a way to connect with students
Posted: Tuesday October 24, 2006 10:46AM; Updated: Tuesday October 24, 2006 10:48AM
For the Georgia Girls, game days were the highlight of the weekend. From receiving the name of the recruit and family they would be hosting for the weekend, to fund-raisers and extracurricular activities on campus, Georgia Girls were the girls who did it all. Great students, passionate about football, outgoing and, most of all, hardworking. But for the group, it wasn't all work and no play.
When the NCAA canceled all hostess programs, the group that called itself the Georgia Girls became the GRT (Georgia Recruitment Team). But there is an unlikely tie that keeps the Georgia Girls together: Larry Munson.
Munson, who has been "the Voice of the Bulldogs" for over 35 years, also has been the host since 1991 of a weekly movie group, lovingly called the "Larry Munson Movie Group."
The Munson Movie Group consists of about 38 student-athletes, ex-Georgia Girls, friends of ex-Georgia Girls and graduates from UGA. Beginning on Thursday evenings, Munson calls all the members, and usually takes about one hour and 45 minutes to contact everyone.
A typical voice message from Munson goes something like this: "Erin ... Movie Group ... Sunday ... 1:30 ... this week's movie looks like a stinker, but it's the only one that we have. The movie is __________. Call me and let me know if you're coming, and if you're bringing anyone."
"That's the hardest part about the whole thing," he says. "After calling 20-25 people, I'm just bonkers. It takes a while for me to get the list set up."
The Movie Group, which began in Atlanta with only six or seven people but moved to Athens in 1991, attends a new release each week at Beechwood Cinemas in Athens, then gathers outside of the theater to discuss and rate the movie on a scale of 1 to 10.
Each week, Munson says, he arrives an hour before the movie starts, turns in the list of people who will show up and sets off a section of the movie theater reserved for his group with special white towels embroidered with big red letters.
After the film, Munson takes the opinions and ratings of the group and writes out a detailed synopsis of the movie, and prepares to record his synopsis for WSB radio in Atlanta. Munson says he gets no compensation for doing the Movie Group, and hears from the radio station that his show is "quite successful."
His radio show can be heard not only in Georgia, but in South Carolina and Florida as well. Sometimes in Munson's on-air critiques, he names some of the girls and shares their opinions on the movie.
Although the Movie Group is successful now, it received a major blow when the NCAA issued a ruling canceling all hostess programs. Since Munson's group was made up of Georgia Girls, he said he lost contact with them when the hostess group was dissolved. Luckily, Munson had several contacts within the Athletic Association. With the help of some of the football coaches, Munson was able to get a list of contacts for the girls and was able to build the group from there.
The largest attendance of the Movie Group was reached this year during the movie The Break-up. ("Movie aren't as good as they used to be for the past few years," Munson says. "There have just been no great blockbusters, especially love stories.") Even though the original Georgia Girls have now graduated, the group is still growing.
"When a girl graduated, she was to replace herself when she left school. Some girls stuck to it," Munson said.
Tracey Jones, an ex-Georgia Girl and former Movie Grouper, said she was contacted and asked to join the Group the summer before her senior year.
"Larry Munson Movie Group was the highlight of my college extracurriculars for a movie enthusiast like me," Jones says. "Besides, how many college kids get to critique a movie with Larry Munson and get their critiques on air? It's a unique opportunity to watch movies with a living legend."
While Munson usually chooses the movie each week, he said sometimes he gives some of the "old girls" (Movie Group veterans) an opportunity to help him choose which movie to watch.
The movie group remains a tight and close-knit family. Each year Munson plans a Christmas party exclusively for the members of the Movie Group. The members meet at Munson's house and have dinner with him at the Ritz Carlton.
"[Movie Group is] the highlight of week for me," Munson says. "I really look forward to it. When we come out of the movie to vote, it's just a huge group, everyone really goes at it.... Laughing out loud, noisy, which I don't understand because I know they're still hung over from the night before."