Kilmer named Bacchus King

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2009

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The actor who once played Batman will soon be sporting a different kind of costume.

Val Kilmer, star of 1995’s ‘‘Batman Forever,’’ has been named this year’s King of Bacchus.

His reign will include Kilmer, decked out in royal apparel, riding through New Orleans on a float in the annual Krewe of Bacchus parade. It rolls on Feb. 22, two days before Mardi Gras.

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‘‘He’s very excited,’’ said Bacchus captain Owen ‘‘Pip’’ Brennan, who’s been in contact with Kilmer regarding the event.

Kilmer, 49, is no stranger to New Orleans. He’s filmed at least two movies in the city — ‘‘Deja Vu’’ with Denzel Washington, Paula Patton and James Caviezel in 2006 and ‘‘The Bad Lieutenant’’ with Nicholas Cage last year.

His other credits include ‘‘Top Gun,’’ ‘‘Heat’’ and ‘‘The Doors.’’

‘‘He loves coming to New Orleans,’’ Brennan said. ‘‘He said this has always been a favorite destination of his.’’

But Kilmer tells Bacchus officials he isn’t heading to New Orleans alone. He’ll be making the event a family affair, with his two children — daughter Mercedes Kilmer and son Jack Kilmer, both teenagers — in tow. His children are from his relationship with ex-wife Joanne Whalley.

The Kilmer clan will be arriving days before the Sunday parade. Kilmer and his son, who is serving as a page on his dad’s float, will have to attend costume fittings.

A party is being held in Kilmer’s honor, and he’ll be wined and dined at some of his favorite restaurants, including K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, Brennan said.

‘‘He’ll be spending a lot of time in the French Quarter,’’ Brennan said.

Kilmer will also visit Children’s Hospital, a tradition every reigning Bacchus has participated in for the past three decades, Brennan said.

Past Bacchus kings include William Shatner, Billy Crystal, James Gandolfini, Bob Hope, Michael Keaton, Nicolas Cage, John Lovitz, Jim Belushi, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Ron Howard, Jackie Gleason and Raymond Burr.

Last year, wrestler and reality television star Hulk Hogan was the krewe’s celebrity king. Entertainer Danny Kaye was the first Bacchus in 1969. In 1981, Marine Sgt. John McKeel Jr., one of the former Iranian hostages, reigned as Bacchus.

Bacchus organizers on Friday also unveiled the doubloon that will bear Kilmer’s likeness. A doubloon is a souvenir coin thrown to spectators during the parade. Kilmer and his ‘‘krewe’’ will also be throwing cups and beads to the crowd.


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