He was short, about 50 pounds, with handsome, almost sinister features: white fur, a prodigious underbite, and eyes (and snout) as black as the tinted windows of the sleek limousine from which he had just emerged. Standing on the red carpet outside the Savannah (Ga.) Civic Center last Thursday night before the celebrity-studded premiere of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, he appeared unfazed by the swooning fans, the paparazzi's flashbulbs and the custom-made Nonie Sutton tuxedo that adorned his frame. UGA V, English bulldog, University of Georgia mascot, SI cover boy and screen star, was ready for his close-up.
"He loves being where the action is," says UGA's handler, Charles Seiler, whose daddy, defense attorney Sonny Seiler, is a prominent character in John Berendt's best-selling book. "Truth is, UGA doesn't know a movie from Shinola."
UGA (pronounced UH-gah) had taken a meeting with Midnight's director, Clint Eastwood, while Eastwood was in Savannah last year scouting locations to shoot. He cast UGA on the spot to play the role of UGA's sire, UGA IV. (By comparison, Eastwood's daughter, Alison, had to audition for her part.)
Before the curtain rose, UGA worked the room where some of the film's other stars were holing up: Kevin Spacey, Jack Thompson and the drag diva known as The Lady Chablis, who could not resist giving UGA a friendly pat. The dog responded to her affections with an aloofness worthy of Brando, turning his hindquarter to her. "UGA isn't being rude," said Charles. "It's just that his face and neck become irritated from being touched so often."
As a scene of him strolling, picnic-bound, through a park played to a rapt hometown audience, UGA lay curled up on a soft spot on an office floor, asleep, tuxless, collarless. After the nap he slipped back into his tuxedo, scratched his ears and prepared to attend the after party. A familiar voice cut through the din as he made his way through the crowd. "Somebody tell my husband to wait up." It was The Lady Chablis. "UGA, wait up for me, darlin'."
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