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Hollywood, bikers descend on Ga. Capitol

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Posted: February 6, 2007 5:13 p.m.
Updated: February 23, 2007 5:00 a.m.
    ATLANTA — It’s not everyday that hundreds of bikers descend on the Georgia state Capitol to ogle John Travolta. But Tuesday’s event — part movie promotion, part motorcycle safety public service announcement and part legislative press conference — was far from an everyday happening at the typically staid gold dome.
    Gov. Sonny Purdue cooled his heels on the state Capitol steps with state lawmakers as ‘‘Slow Ride’’ by Foghat blared from speakers.
    The Hollywood stars arrived on four throaty Harleys. Travolta, and co-stars William H. Macy, Martin Lawrence and Tim Allen motored up behind a Georgia State Patrol escort.
    The stars were in town to promote their movie ‘‘Wild Hogs,’’ billed as a motorcycle comedy. They talked up the need for motorcycle safety, although Travolta conceded that the film contained ‘‘the occasional no helmet use.’’
    ‘‘Don’t like the helmet but I wear it all the time,’’ Allen said, as he described how the movie had sparked a new love for biking.
    Perdue made use of the banks of cameras on hand to catch the stars to reveal a few details about his new proposal to hike fines on so-called super speeders. State Sen. Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone, will introduce the proposal on Thursday in the state Senate.
    Drivers cruising at more than 85 mph anywhere in Georgia or more than 75 mph on a two-land road will have an additional $200 fine added to their ticket. Habitual offenders who lost their license for violations such as DUI and vehicular homicide will be slapped with a $300 fine to get behind the wheel again.
    Perdue, who has admitted he has a bit of a leadfoot himself, said the crackdown is expected to bring in as much as $25 to $30 million a year and will be used to boost the state’s struggling trauma care network.
    But Perdue was clearly not the main attraction for the leather-clad bikers lining the streets. A woman shrieked as the governor spoke, clamoring to hear from one of he stars.
    ‘‘Honey, you’ll get your chance in just a minute,’’ Perdue said with a smile.
    After all the buildup, the celebrities appeared for just minutes. Travolta said the stars had trained for a month before the movie began shooting and learned how to drive safely.
    As they moved into the Capitol, state employees and lobbyists lined up for autographs, jockeying with the star’s sleek Hollywood handlers.
    The movie ‘‘Wild Hogs’’ is set to debut in theaters March 2.
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