Spirit of the Night

Empire's LA premiere brings out the suits and the stars

By Lapacazo
Published on LatinoLA: December 9, 2002

Spirit of the Night

The red carpet was out for the Los Angeles premiere of EMPIRE an Arenas Entertainment and Universal Pictures release starring Award-winning actor/writer/producer/director John Leguizamo. The drama was written and directed by Franc Reyes and produced by Daniel Bigel and Michael Mailer of Bigel/Mailer Films.

Multi-Grammy Award winner and Latin music legend Rub?n Blades composed Empire?s original score and executive produced the soundtrack. In addition to the highly acclaimed Leguizamo, the cast of Empire includes such international talents as Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet, Big Night), Sonia Braga (Kiss of the Spider Woman, television?s Sex and the City), Denise Richards (Wild Things, The World is Not Enough), Peter Sarsgaard (Boys Don?t Cry, The Salton Sea), Delilah Cotto (A Whole New Day, Girl-6) and Nestor Serrano (Bait, City by the Sea). Rounding out the cast is an impressive group of musical talents turned actors, including rappers Fat Joe (Prison Song, Blazin?) and Naughty by Nature?s Treach (Juice, television?s OZ).

7:00 PM: The stars drank in the flashlights as fans from both sides of the rope tried to snap pictures of their own. Latino fans are loyal and maintain a type of ?family love & respect.? The attire was sleek, all-out-glamorous as clear when the stunning Denise Richards and Roselyn Sanchez sauntered down the carpet. Andy Garcia was decked out in black. Funny man Tommy Davidson mugged for the cameras and the very handsome Nicholas Gonzalez was elegant in a dark blue suit. John Leguizamo (held up by L.A. traffic) was the last to arrive in a very expensive black leather jacket that screamed expensive.

Inside free popcorn (yum) and other movie treats awaited the guests. Two screens were taken over to debut Reyes film and the response was so great that there was not a single empty seat in the house. The very handsome Nicholas Gonzalez (?Resurrection Blvd.?) was told to stand as a seat was found. He displayed a sense of patience that would make his great-great-great grandmother proud. I bumped into Leguizamo, who was moving from theater-to-theater, and we hugged briefly. He asked me why I was leaving, I mumbled something about violence and he instructed me to ?get back inside, the most violent scenes are yet to come.? I obeyed and returned to my seat: there was already someone else in it!

8:30PM: The HardRock @ Universal City Walk was the site of the Empire after-party with a sounds of a live Cuban band, Los Cimarrones, filling the night air. A well choreographed collection of waiters carried plates of delicious finger foods throughout the dancing crowd. Usually at Hollywood premiere parties the crowd descends on the food tables like hungry locusts, devouring everything in sight. Universal and ARENAS presented such an enormous and diverse spread of delectable food, for once, I think the crowd was actually full. Intoxicated with the sounds of the band and urged on by sultry dancers from the Yemaya Dance Company the crowd began to salsa.

Although the crowd was as thick as molasses, I caught-up with Roselyn Sanchez @ the bar drinking club soda. We chatted about her upcoming projects one being an indie film that will debut at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. The film is called ?Nightstalker,? and is directed by Chris Fisher. She plays a cop. She also found time in her busy schedule to appear on THE DREW CAREY SHOW and THE IN LAWS. Roselyn, one of the stars of Linda Mendoza?s ?Chasing Papi,? is busy in the studio working on her first album. Much like JLo, Ms. Roselyn is a triple threat: actress-singer-dancer. More on her album as the news unfolds!

Trying to make my way to director Franc Reyes, I spied Eduardo Verastegui being mobbed by fans. He was accompanied to the party by his high powered manager from THE FIRM. He was unable to attend the screening because he was looping ?Chasing Papi.? I wanted to introduce Eduardo to Leguizamo but getting through the crowds was extremely difficult since Eduardo was literally stopped, every two feet, to take pictures and sign autographs. I finally had to take his large, wonderful hand and pull him through the throngs of fans. We finally made it to John?s table. I left him to chat as I made my way to Franc Reyes, holding court on the other side of the party.

The party was thick with the powerful suits that can take a simple dream and ?green light? it into reality. It was packed but I did spot from ARENAS Entertainment CEO, Santiago Pozo; CFO Arturo Barquet President of Marketing and Distribution, David Acostal; President of Production, Jordi Ross; Executive VP of Talent Ivan De Paz; Senior VP Media Director, Elizabeth Barrutia and Alejandro Kahan, Senior VP of Marketing and Business Development. Making the rounds from the Universal team was Marc Schmuger, Vice-Chairman Marketing; Eddie Egan, Co-and President of Marketing Jeff Sakson, Head of Publicity

As the end of the night approached the crowd, fueled by the spirit of the night, took every single available spot to dance. In L.A. most parties end when most New Yorker are just leaving the house.

This one rocked on into the night.

The goodie bags (my personal favorite part of party) contained the Empire soundtrack, an Empire T-shirt and Towel and a Bacardi Mini.

About Lapacazo:
Originally published in LatinReview at http://www.latinoreview.com./dish/2002/12-dec/empire-wp.html

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