On a particularly nasty, nearly rainy, ever-windy Sunday night, the red carpet that had been placed at the entrance of the Hippodrome for the premiere of the Lowcountry-shot film Dear John was empty. Instead, Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried were busy meeting fans far away from the carpet. They almost didn’t make it back.

Girls were practically tearing their hair out of their heads for an opportunity to take a picture with Tatum (G.I. Joe, Step Up) and Seyfried (Mamma Mia!, Big Love). Tatum wore “just Gucci” while Seyfried was super sweet (and tiny) in a red Stella McCartney dress and stacked silver pumps, which she promptly changed out of after posing for the press. Both talked of loving Charleston (duh) and buying houses here (insert excited squeal here), and Seyfried casually mentioned she had visited her future house and neighbor (whom she loves) already that day. “Charleston and St. Louis are two of the best places in the world,” she gushed.

When we asked Tatum about his role in the movie, an adaptation of a novel by former South Carolina resident Nicholas Sparks about a soldier who falls in love with a girl before heading off to war, the actor said the part had been more risky than any of his previous endeavors. Tatum said that he went from doing G.I. Joe, “where things are exploding everywhere,” to filming scenes where he had to make a connection with the audience. He admitted that entertaining without the special effects was more work.

Amid all the ruckus of frenzied fans, the principle cause for the event was sometimes forgotten — to raise money for Carolina Autism, an organization that offers therapy for children with autism. The producers of the film chose the charity and the location of the premiere in honor of Braeden Reed, a Charleston native. Braeden, a seven-year-old actor with autism, stars in the film.
Braeden was the first actor to greet the press. He stood alongside his parents, Kevin and Adrienne, and he talked about his favorite scene in the film — one in which he got to be around horses. He reassured us that, no, he did not have any tricks up his sleeve for memorizing all those lines.

“Do all these people make you nervous?” Tatum asked Braeden when they met on the “red carpet.” Tatum then said. “They make me nervous!”

Director Lasse Hallstrom (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat) was delighted with Reed’s involvement in the movie.

“I love mixing amateurs and actors,” said Hallstrom, who brought his 14-year-old daughter, Tora, along for what she assured me was not her first premiere.

We were inches away from having a picture taken with Tatum and Seyfried when the pair were whisked away to the stage to auction off autographed movie posters. The items sold for $800. Impressive.

The general consensus among premiere attendees was that Dear John was a solid chick flick that guys wouldn’t mind watching. And while many agreed it wasn’t at all like The Notebook, a previously successful Sparks’ adaptation starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, most said it was a tearjerker. Surprise, surprise.

Toward the end of the night, we caught up with a very sleepy Braeden Reed. He was slung over his father’s shoulder. Fortunately for the tired child, Braeden was taking the next day off from school.

Kevin Reed told us Braeden has no idea that he is a celebrity. “The best thing about him is he sees everything in black and white, so he has no ego,” the father said.

The Reeds have already planned a return visit to the Aquarium during regular hours when the gift shop is open. Braeden was devastated when he discovered it was closed for the party.

“Not everyone realizes he is only seven,” said Kevin.