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ShoWest: A visit from housewives J. Lo and John Travolta

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Hairspray_l

Hairspray_lHey again, PopWatchers, from dusty Las Vegas, where the ShoWest convention concluded its third and penultimate day and, much to my dismay, I misplaced my ChapStick. Man, it’s dry in this desert! My lips’ll never forgive me. And that’s not all that’s parched; it’s hard to imagine anything dryer than this year’s ShoWest, which the studios all but deserted. While previous ShoWests featured elaborate presentations showcasing big blockbusters like I, Robot, Spider-Man 2, and Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, this time around the program has left attendees more than a little bit thirsty.

Still, a few of the smaller studios sought to sate that desire at a handful of events yesterday:

• Lionsgate unveiled its upcoming lineup during a star-studded luncheon. A number of famous folks were on hand: Bug director William Friedkin, disheveled Saw villain Tobin Bell, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin of The Condemned, Hostel II mastermind Eli Roth, War hero Jason Statham, Delta Farce anti-hero Larry the Cable Guy, and Dane Cook from the sex comedy Good Luck Chuck. The comedian and friend of nearly two million MySpace users took the stage to accept the inexplicably named “ShoWest Breakout Performance of the Year” award and to introduce his film, which also stars Jessica Alba. I learned two major things at this event: 1) Lionsgate has a lot of loud movies coming up, and 2) if I ever want to make 2,000-plus conventioneers split their sides in laughter, all I have to do is suggest that Jessica Alba is a pothead. It worked wonders for Dane Cook.

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• Picturehouse screened its sultry Latin epic El Cantante,about salsa-singing pioneer Hector Lavoe. (It’s due out August 1.)Crooner Marc Anthony plays the Puerto Rican legend who died in 1993,while his wife, one Jenny From the Block, plays… his wife. And, yep,there was J.Lo herself, appearing on a panel discussing indie movies inthe afternoon, and making ShoWesters hearts go pitter-patter all daylong.

• Finally, last night, New Line threw a party in honor of its big summer musical, Hairspray, which is based on the Broadway show, which is based on the John Watersclassic. The crowd roared as it soaked in a series of musical numbersperformed both in a handful of clips from the film (how about Waters’cameo as a flashing pervert?!) and onstage by the likes of Zac Efron,James Marsden, and Queen Latifah. They were joined in a final bow bytheir director, Adam Shankman (The Pacifier), and fellow starsNikki Blonsky (pictured, right), Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer,Brittany Snow, Elijah Kelley, Allison Janney, and John Travolta. And,boy, I can’t remember any other ShoWest crowd going wilder than whenthis one caught a glimpse of Travolta all dolled up in drag as thecorpulent mama Edna Turnblad (left). “I was very excited about that,”the star told me after the event, which was the first time a largeaudience got to see what he had cooked up. “My choices seemed to work,and I seemed to pull off what I was hoping I could pull off: I washoping to do it as a woman, not as a man doing a woman.” His costarPfeiffer (a fellow Grease movie vet!), meanwhile, seemedthrilled as well, if a little befuddled by the whole Vegas experience.”I forgot where I was,” she laughed backstage, while staring in shockedawe at her seat, the tackiest white-velvet sofa in the history of theworld. “Honest to God, I forgot where I was for a minute! I forgotwhere I was. I’m in Vegas.” Funny, Michelle. But, hey, have you got anyChapStick?

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