A week before Valentine’s Day, stars did some early celebrating while snagging free gifts and sampling food at the fourth annual Valentine Romance Oscar Lounge and Party, held at Café La Boheme in West Hollywood.
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder) tagged along with his girlfriend Omarosa Manigault (of the original Apprentice, now West Coast editor of Reality Weekly). “I already got her a big gift,” said Duncan, planning to surprise Manigault, who’d just given him her present: an adorable three-month-old shar-pei puppy he named Leo after his Finder character. The couple met in a grocery store two years ago, when he approached her “with some goofy line and she walked away from me.”
“He said, ‘Aren’t you the mean girl from that reality show?’ I was like, ‘Nobody talks to me like that,’ so I walked away,” explained Manigault. That didn’t deter Duncan. “Life is short and sometimes you only get one opportunity and I thought I might never see her again, so I followed her,” he said. “I apologized for saying my stupid line, and she smiled.” What hooked her? Laughter. “He has the most incredible sense of humor,” she said.
Kimberly Elise, who’ll star in the Hallmark Channel western Hannah’s Law this June, doesn’t have Valentine's Day plans but found a great burnout velvet dress from Single by Galina Sobolev that she could wear if something comes up (she liked their free vegan cupcakes, too). "I like a classic silhouette that flatters a woman's shape," she said.
Tamala Jones, who plays the medical examiner on Castle, got lots of jewelry to wear to the Grammys, a makeup lesson and freebies from Michael Marcus cosmetics and a Charlie Lapson wallet, and hung out with entertainer Obba Babatunde. “Now that I’m singing maybe we can do something together,” said Jones, who made her vocal debut in the just-aired “film noir” episode of Castle. She’s not attending the Academy Awards but will be at an Oscar party, rooting for Octavia Spencer. “I worked with her years ago in Blue Streak and she’s still sweet, still amazing and this is her time,” she said.
Kevin Eubanks, who recently toured Europe and will perform there again this summer following scheduled American tour dates starting next month and a new album slated for August, was happy to take home Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Plata Tequila, a Lyon Fine Jewelry bracelet and a Baron hat made from recycled paper. He revealed big Valentine’s Day plans for his girlfriend that posed a tricky problem. “I have a surprise, but I have to get her into the car naked. Everything will be inside, and the driver will put up the privacy panel,” he said. “It’ll be fun if I can pull it off.”
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(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)