The bench that cradled Tom Hanks' rump in the $330 million-grossing Forrest Gump has become a valuable pop-cultural artifact one of the hottest Hollywood collector's items since Judy Garland's ruby slippers. But controversy is raging over who has the real 12-foot-long green prop. The players:
The auction house raised eyebrows when it reneged on plans to sell a Gump bench one of two it claims were used in the film-in June. A Christie's spokeswoman says ''details'' of the deal with the seller couldn't be worked out in time. It now intends to sell the item in the fall.
The movie was filmed on location here, and the mayor's office claims Paramount is donating the ''original'' bench to the Savannah History Museum. The prop is to be kept out of reach but visitors will be able to have their photos taken on a copy. ''You'll have to supply your own chocolates, though,'' says a city spokesman.
The studio insists neither bench is genuine. Christie's, says a studio publicist, has a prop used in print ads. And the museum's is a studio-manufactured replica, like those sent as gifts to Gump's Oscar nominees including producer Steve Tisch. ''The bench,'' says Paramount's spokesman, ''will remain in storage on the lot.'' That's fine with Tisch, who's satisfied with his fake. ''I've got a lot of property,'' he says, ''so it's in my backyard.''
Ken Miller, with reporting by Kathleen O'Steen