Following the 3-D roller coaster ride of a movie, Heartland head honcho Jeff Sparks introduced Josh Hutcherson, one of the trio of stars of the film. (He would have been to the first show as well, but he was delayed flying out of New York.)
Cincy native Hutcherson, all of 15 years old, was as charming and funny live as his is on screen and gave spry answers to a series of sometimes repetitive questions from the kids in the audience. This seemed a combination of good-guy-ness mixed with savvy marketing. Right now Hutcherson is one of those actors who, if you say his name, you also have to add "you know, the kid from "Zathura" and "Bridge to Terabithia." To jump to the straight-up name recognition category requires more than just good film choices (so far, he's doing pretty well in that regard).
The other factor: I'm not sure. But the fact that, even after being given the opportunity to slip out a back door after the Q&A he stayed for more than a half hour in the lobby signing posters, answering more questions, and taking pictures indicates that the guy's willing to go the extra mile.
Here's hoping the transition to older roles goes well for Hutcherson. Here's hoping the movie does okay (It's no great art, but it's a fun throwback to old-fashioned adventure films, stripped of such pesky things as subplots and villains.) And here's hoping Hutcherson is able to make it to the Heartland gala this year. It would be nice to have him back in town.