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CNN comes to Selma

The sound of an elevator and clanking metal caused some heads to turn during Tuesday night’s city meeting at Selma City Hall. A cameraman walked through the back door. Mayor George Evans paused in his report, nodded and grinned.

“That’s just CNN,” he said. “They’re here to interview me.”

More heads turned.

John King, anchor of State of the Union for CNN, strode into the room.

“There’s John King,” the mayor said. “He’s going to interview me.”

King grinned, ducked his head and waved off the attention.

Several minutes later, Evans left the room, following King. They interviewed as the two men walked down Broad Street.

Later, most city council members and others joined King and his crew at Grumbles for a late dinner.

The crew stayed in town for a couple of days, examining the impact of high unemployment in a small city. The segment on Selma will broadcast Sunday around 11 a.m., according to a public relations person at CNN headquarters in Washington.

King might have been all business during the interview with Evans early Tuesday evening, but he had some fun, food and a couple of beers at Grumbles, patiently answering questions from curious city officials. He paused and excused himself from the table to catch the last shot of the Celtics – Magic match that pushed Boston over.

“I think this is just marvelous,” said Council person Susan Keith as she visited with the crew.

Plenty of people from both sides took photographs to mark the occassion.

King and his crews do this every week — pick out a city and a story. They cultivate good will among people, looking for sources, just as any community newspaper reporter good will among people, looking for sources, just as any community newspaper reporter, said his producer, Laura Bernardini.

King spent most of Wednesday in Selma, interviewing people who had lost their jobs at The Cigar Factory late last year.

He sat down with some local folks to talk over a meal at the Downtowner.

“We appreciate him being here,” said Evans. “We enjoyed eating dinner with him and getting to know all of them.”