Actress Melissa McCarthy came to town this week, accompanied by cast members and husband and director Ben Falcone, for the premiere of her new movie, "Life of the Party."
The movie premiere was held locally after Auburn University students won a contest that brought the event to their area.
While in town, McCarthy and cast — which included stars like Julie Bowen ("Modern Family"), Gillian Jacobs ("Love," "Community") and Debby Ryan ("Insatiable"), among others — ate at local restaurants and made a stop at Toomer's Corner, where McCarthy led them in rolling a tree in Samford Park.
The group then took a ride through campus, followed by a crowd of students, before returning to Samford Park to present a check to the Auburn University Foundation for $50,000.
McCarthy and Falcone donated $25,000 to the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center for the naming of the stage door. Warner Bros. and New Line matched the donation to bring the total to $50,000. Jane DiFolco Parker, Auburn University vice president for Development and president of the Auburn University Foundation, accepted the donation.
“We are extremely grateful to Melissa and Ben, as well as Warner Bros. and New Line, for their recognition of Auburn’s dedication to advancing the arts,” Parker said in a news release. “This gift will embolden Auburn’s efforts to make this a world-class facility for our students and our community.”
McCarthy and Falcone wanted to get involved when they learned of a new arts district being developed on campus as a result of construction of the performing arts center, according to the release.
After visiting campus, the cast made their way to the red carpet at Tiger 13 in Opelika, where crowds of Auburn students cried for selfies with the stars, and community members waited in line to be seated for the movie premiere.
Filming for the movie wrapped up about two years ago, but McCarthy said she remembers the first day on set and how well she and the handful of young actresses, who play college students in the film, connected.
"They're all very different, and yet on the first day we clicked in such a weird way," she told The Villager on the red carpet. "It just seemed like we had known each other; we had all these weird jokes immediately ... Having two daughters and seeing this many young women that really know how to stand in their own shoes, be confident and be kind, I think, 'Oh, there's hope!' "
"Life of the Party" will begin showing in theaters on May 11. It is a comedy written by Falcone about longtime housewife Deanna (McCarthy) going back to college after a divorce. Her daughter (Molly Gordon) is a freshman at college and not entirely sold on the idea.