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On the scene: 'Harold' dinner party

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Cuba_l_2When Hollywood rolls into New York City, you better believe they hit all the hot spots: Marquee, Butter, Nobu, and…Pop Burger? It was here at this Manhattan burger joint that the cast and crew of the comedy Harold (slated for a summer 2008 release) celebrated their pre-wrap party — and stars Cuba Gooding Jr. (pictured), Nikki Blonsky, Spencer Breslin, Chris Parnell, and Ally Sheedy consumed  POP Burgers, French fries, shrimp cocktails, and, of course, alcohol. The film is  about a 12-year-old boy (played by Breslin) who must deal with male-pattern baldness and some unlikely friends (Blonsky and Gooding).

Because the event was really more of a dinner party (set to techno beats), some of the cast brought some family members to chow down. Blonsky had her mother in tow, Breslin chilled in the corner with his parents, and Gooding even brought his cousin (who, it turns out, is Cuba’s stand-in for all of his movies). Absent were Rachel Dratch (darn!) and Colin Quinn, but there to fill the SNL quota was Chris Parnell (reprising his role as Dr. Leo Spaceman on 30 Rock) and ex-SNL writer T. Sean Shannon, who happens to be the director of Harold.

addCredit(“Cuba Gooding Jr.: Mychal Watts/WireImage.com”)

As I navigated my way through the crowd, I felt like I was travelingthrough time. First stop: 1996, when Gooding played Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire (and Daddy Day Camp never existed). When Gooding  invited me to join his table, I surely didn’t decline. He radiates joie de vivre— all smiles, all laughs, very “show me the money” if you will. It mademe pine for the good old days, when Cuba made good choices in filmroles.

Back to the party. Next stop: 1985. Though I tried to control myself, I couldn’t not tell Ally Sheedy, who plays Harold’s mom, that I loved The Breakfast Club,even though I knew every 20-something probably accosts her on thestreet about it. Fortunately, she was gracious and didn’t mind my JohnHughes-geekdom. My next and final stop was the present, where Blonskyseems to be thoroughly enjoying her newfound fame.

Tell me, PopWatchers, how long do you think her run will last? Isour new Tracy Turnblad here to stay? And will Cuba be able to reclaimsome fame in the upcoming Russell Crowe-Denzel Washington movie American Gangster?