Channing Tatum proves lucky for Variety premiere

Betsy PickleWest Knoxville

Channing Tatum knows how to work magic.

All he has to do is show up.

The “Magic Mike” star walked both sides of a V-shaped red carpet to greet fans and the press at the Wednesday-night premiere of “Logan Lucky” at Regal Entertainment Group’s Pinnacle 18 theater at Turkey Creek. The event raised thousands of dollars for Variety, the Children’s Charity of Eastern Tennessee.

Regal Cinemas employees wear NASCAR costumes for the premiere.

“Logan Lucky,” about two West Virginia brothers (Tatum and Adam Driver) trying to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway without falling victim to a famous family jinx, opens in theaters on Aug. 18. This was the film’s only U.S. premiere.

After several false alarms that elicited Beatle-esque screams, Tatum arrived later than scheduled, but the reason for the delay soon became obvious: He took time to speak and pose for photos with dozens as he made his way toward a dais in the lobby to address all the attendees.

Fans without tickets had started lining up along the roadway in front of the theater by 9 a.m. in hopes of making some kind of contact with the star. Several had signs entreating him to stop and speak.

WATE anchor Lori Tucker gets a selfie with Channing Tatum.

Even members of the media weren’t immune to his allure. Lori Tucker, anchor for WATE, got a selfie with Tatum to impress her daughters. Tatum was gracious with every request.

Director Steven Soderbergh pauses on the red carpet.

Several producers and director Steven Soderbergh arrived before Tatum, and Soderbergh stopped to answer a few questions.

Having previously directed Tatum in “Magic Mike,” “Side Effects” and “Haywire,” Soderbergh said that what he likes about Tatum as a leading man is “his sincerity.”

“He’s very much what you would imagine he would be like when you see him on screen,” said Soderbergh. “I think he’s what we all want to believe the best version of an American male is.”

More so than George Clooney, another frequent Soderbergh collaborator?

“They’re very similar, in a way, actually,” he said.

Channing Tatum

Tatum is a loyal member of the mutual-admiration society.

“He’s a master filmmaker,” he said of Soderbergh, “and it’s not bad to work with the best that maybe has ever been.”

Tatum humorously shut down an overzealous male fan before continuing.

“I always say that I’m like the little brother that he never wanted and still doesn’t claim. I’ll always basically be knockin’ on his door going, ‘What are you doing next? What are you doing next? What are you doing next?’

“He just empowers you, as an actor and as a creator, just to keep pushing yourself ’cause he’s pushing himself. He’s always trying to break the walls down, break something and try something new.”

Tatum seems to have been fairly lucky since his breakthrough role in 2006’s “Step Up” – on which he met his now-wife, Jenna Dewan Tatum – but he’s hesitant to give luck all the credit.

“My mom used to say that luck is nothing but opportunity and preparation. So you’ve got to get lucky, and you’ve got to be prepared for it to come along.”

Kate Sessoms, a student at West Valley Middle School, and her mom, Lisa Sessoms, got tickets the day they went on sale. The pair spent a day working as extras in a beauty-pageant scene shot in Atlanta last October. Lisa fessed up to being more of a Tatum fan than Kate.

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