March of the Penguins
Hallmark Channel -- aka the Celebrities You Thought Might Be Dead But Aren't Channel -- threw Wednesday's Summer TV Press Tour 2006 party, celebrating its recent acquisition of the docu-flick "March of the Penguins."
Anyone who is no longer anyone is there: Shirley Jones, Naomi Judd, John Boy Walton, Dick Van Dyke, Steve Guttenberg, Marion Ross. Hallmark Channel skews seriously old, though Hallmark suits are trying to young-up the channel with some Olsen Twin flicks and two American Girl movies that are part of the package of 39 flicks Hallmark bought to get "Penguins."
Two 20-inch tall Magellanic penguins, who'd been vanned in from Sea World in San Diego, waddle down the blue carpet and under the styrofoam ice arch to the Ritz Carlton Huntington hotel's swimming pool, where the party is happening. The pool has been turned into a globally-warmed iceberg, with styrofoam iceberg shards floating in the water and what looks like fake dead penguins floating about four inches below the water. Pete and Penny - they're the penguins - are followed by Hallmark programming executive vice president David Kenin, who looks like The Mock Turtle on Zoloft.
"Are they gentile, are they Jewish?" asked Shirley Jones' husband Marty Ingels, who is wearing a loud orange jacket over a black shirt; Ingels seems to have an issue with being upstaged by two bewildered 10-pound birds.
Photographers and cameramen bail on formerly famous old folks in favor of adorable penguins, each of whom has a handler.
But before they can get up to the podium, where Kenin is supposed to give a speech, 11-year-old Pete begins to shake violently while clinging to his handler's arm. Pete and Penny, the 4-year-old female, are whisked away as a woman spritzes them with water to keep them cool. It's a very hot night.
We feel very bad for Pete and Penny, who seemed disoriented. One unsympathetic critic says they're like farm-raised salmon.
Pete and Penny bear no resemblance to the penguins in the movie, who are Emperor Penguins -- about four feet tall and about 60 to 90 pounds. No one seems to care.
Some time later Pete and Penny brought back and put in a glass pen on a stand. We are assured Pete was only overly excited and had been humping the handler's arm. He starts again and handler tells him to stop.
"No humping - we hear that a lot at the [press tour]," cracks a publicist.
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