John Travolta at Sunscreen Film Festival

It was a weird scene back in March at the Push Ultra Lounge in St. Pete, when superstar couple John Travolta and Kelly Preston turned up for a special kick-off event for the Sunscreen Film Festival. The nightclub was so crammed with publicists, handlers, bodyguards, bouncers, press and various crowd management types that it’s a wonder there was any room left for anybody not actually “working” the event. Still, the place was packed to the rafters with bodies, all trying desperately to act cool while drooling for a glimpse of the guy who strutted his stuff in Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction — and when Travolta finally appeared and was ushered in to a little side room of the club, polite pandemonium ensued. Those crowd wranglers went into combat mode, keeping the mere mortals at a discreet distance while Mr. T made the rounds, exchanging pleasantries with St Pete mayor Rick Baker and other bigwigs who’d stopped by to bask in a little starlight. Travolta’s handlers eventually nudged him into a small corner that had been cordoned off from the rest of the room and allowed a handful of journalists (including your faithful CL correspondent) to chat with the celebrity couple while techno music blared from the overhead speakers and hundreds of gawking fans strained against the velvet ropes separating them from the object of their adoration. For what it’s worth, Travolta was charming and curiously forthcoming in private conversation, casually admitting that he hadn’t seen a single one of the films being shown at Sunscreen but that he had done the event to boost his adopted state (the Travoltas have a home in Ocala) and as a favor to his church (Scientology, in case you didn’t know). Meanwhile, the lovely Mrs. Travolta chatted about the joys of swimming with the manatees, and wound up on her knees in a corner of the club helping a reporter locate his missing cassette tape. Some guys have all the luck. The Fourth Annual Sunscreen Film Festival will take place from April 22-26, 2009 at Muvico Baywalk 20, 151 Second Ave. N., St. Petersburg and the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, 501 Fifth Ave. N.E., St Petersburg. For more information, visit

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