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News Every Day |

Bill Murray kept organizers guessing before Groundhog Day event at Navy Pier

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (left) greets Bill Murray at Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier as Grant DePorter (far right) looks on on Feb. 2. 

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (left) greets Bill Murray at Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier as Grant DePorter (far right) looks on on Feb. 2.

Matt Mansueto/Courtesy of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group

Where’s Waldo?

Finding the slippery “Waldo” of storybook fame can be exhausting.

Same for keeping track of Hollywood’s “Waldo,” the elusive actor Bill “Ghostbusters” Murray, who is as hard to find as a camel in Carmel. 

A notorious expert in hide and seek, Murray eschews e-mail and techno stuff, famously employs no agent, and connects via a 800-phone number message system to fend off nattering nabobs.

Just ask Grant DePorter, a huge Murray fan and CEO of Harry Caray’s restaurant group. He fretted for months over the invite he had dispatched to Murray last December to attend a special “Groundhog Day” event on Feb. 2 at their Navy Pier eatery. DePorter resorted to a special Murray telegraph system involving Murray’s brother, actor Joel Murray.

Harry Caray’s CEO Grant DePorter (left) poses with Bill Murray at Navy Pier on Groundhog Day.

Harry Caray’s CEO Grant DePorter (left) poses with Bill Murray at Navy Pier on Groundhog Day.

Matt Mansueto/Courtesy of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group

“The event was to honor Harold Ramis, [Bill] Murray’s co-star in the hit 1984 film ‘Ghostbusters,’” and who had co-written, directed and produced Murray’s 1993 hit film “Groundhog Day,” said DePorter.

“But I was never sure until the last minute Bill would ever show up,” he said. “I had never really talked to him! It felt like a game of smoke and mirrors.”

Finally, on Dec. 7, DePorter said he received word via the family circuit that Bill Murray was “aware” of the event; “indicated” he was coming; but DePorter was also advised “that was the most I could hope for.” 

Thus, DePorter, a man with a showman’s streak, promised the actor’s intermediaries the event would include a genuine, real live groundhog, a real tree stump for the elusive animal’s emergence and a very special “Groundhog” ceremony at the Ramis event. 

(In case you are one of the few who haven’t seen the movie, now firmly ingrained in popular culture, Bill Murray plays a cynical TV weatherman who gets trapped in a repeat Groundhog Day time cycle.)

On Feb. 2, shortly before the Groundhog event, DePorter slipped into retriever mode when the elusive Bill Murray “was not on the shuttle bus to the event with the rest of the film’s cast,” DePorter said. 

Bill Murray shakes hands at Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier as Sun-Tiimes columnist Richard Roeper (left) looks on.

Bill Murray shakes hands at Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier as Sun-Tiimes columnist Richard Roeper (left) looks on.

Matt Mansueto/Courtesy of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group

“I never really talked to Bill,” said DePorter. “I wasn’t even able to nail down Bill’s plane schedules or even pick-up dates.   

“It is just how it is with Bill. He does things his way.” 

Film producer Pam Kasper, who once worked for Ramis, tells Sneed: “I had to keep reassuring Grant that Bill would be there. I knew — well, pretty much — that once the travel was set he’d be at the ceremony. I just didn’t know how it would happen. But that’s how Bill Murray lives — and you just have to go with it.”  

DePorter was now getting agita.

Then 10 minutes before the event, Bill Murray suddenly showed up alone, no security, sporting a well-worn orange and blue Chicago Bears knit winter cap. He was smiling and eating a mint chocolate chip Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cone he had just bought at Navy Pier, DePorter tells Sneed.

And the actor was “amazing, spending hours with everybody, happily jumping into the Ghostbuster Ectomobile, checking out his old Ghostbusters jumpsuit and then disappearing as mysteriously as he had arrived,” DePorter said, painting the actor’s appearance as “gifting us with lightning in a bottle.” 

 “We no longer had to search for our Holy Grail,” he quipped. “Bill Murray was here!”

Vous Who????

 Ooh La La…

Sandra Hindman, a Chicagoan and world-renowned scholar and dealer of medieval art, has been awarded a French knighthood.

Congrats, kiddo … er, La Chevaliere! 

Specifically, Hindman, whose father was a member of the (“Oppenheimer”) Manhattan Project research team at the University of Chicago, has been named “Chevalière de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” ... er, Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters … for furthering the arts worldwide.

Raised in Downers Grove and Hyde Park, Hindman now operates three galleries (“Les Enluminures”) in Paris, New York and Chicago; working with museums, libraries, and private collectors to buy, sell and maintain books and art painted by hand. 

“My job is so much fun; a great visual pleasure of life; a detective of the past between the 13th and 15th century produced by people who lived as far back as 500 years ago,” said Hindman. 

Hindman is also noted for her scholarship finding a missing page from a historic “Book of Prayer” stolen from a famous Italian artist 500 years ago.

“Not every page was stolen; the book had been finished by someone else,” she said. “So I was able to locate an actual missing page painted by the original artist and put it back in the book! How fun is that!”

Sneedlings

Saturday birthdays: George Stephanopolous, 63; actor Robert Wagner, 94; singer Roberta Flack, 85; actress Laura Dern, 57; Elizabeth Banks; 50 … Sunday birthdays: U.S. Supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh, 59; Arsenio Hall, 68; actor Josh Brolin, 56; Christina Ricci, 43; Jennifer Aniston; 55; Sergio Mendes, 83; Sheryl Crow, 62.  

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