Black and Blues but No Barbecue

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: The West Coast benefit premiere of Gramercy's "Jason's Lyric" at the Mann National in Westwood. A party followed at the Sunset Strip's House of Blues for the film director Doug McHenry called "the first black Generation X movie."

Who Was There: Hollywood's African American community turned out for McHenry and the film. Co-star Eddie Griffin said: "It looks like a mix of the Oscars and the MTV Music Awards if they were held in Ethiopia." On hand were stars Allen Payne, Jada Pinkett and Treach Criss; director McHenry, and producer George Jackson. Among the 1,500 guests were Magic Johnson, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Jasmine Guy, Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur, Polygram's Alain Levy and Michael Kuhn, and Gramercy's Russell Schwartz.

Fashion Statement: Pepa, of the singing group Salt 'n' Pepa, turned heads in a rubber, fuchsia-and-pink halter mini-dress. The outfit fits ultra skin-tight, which means powder is required to slide it on. It also needs a special spray to gloss the rubber. "It's a package deal," Pepa said. "You get the dress, the powder and the spray--then you are ready !"

The Setting: The VIP party was in the House of Blues' upstairs Foundation rooms--a comfy layout decorated with relics from a South Indian maharajah's palace, velvet couches, burning incense and Hindu icons.

Money Matters: Tickets were $150 each. More than $50,000 went to the Magic Johnson Foundation and the United Negro College Fund. Johnson said what he learned from running his charity (which has distributed more than $3.5 million to various causes) "is a lot of great organizations I thought were running smoothly need money."

Chow: Passed trays of chicken on skewers, catfish bites, ribs and, more exotically, blackened ahi tuna on cucumber rounds with wasabi and red ginger. The ahi shows, said sous chef Rob Peters, "there's more to Southern blues cooking than back-yard barbecue."

Quoted: "If I put Jason in Cosbyland, the brothers would be saying 'He's got no problems,' " director McHenry said. "So I put him in a blue-collar environment. He's not a gangster. He doesn't become a rap singer. He deals with crime and other problems while trying to get from here to somewhere. And that's what people can relate to."

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