The question that has probably been most asked in the Music Mix corridors over the past month is, “What in the blue blazes is Ron Howard doing in the video for Jamie Foxx’s ‘Blame It’?” (You can watch it below.) The clip features everything you might expect a club-jam video to contain: expensive car, champagne, good-looking women, Samuel L. Jackson, slick direction by Hype Williams. But the video for the hit song also boasts an unlikely cameo from the Oscar-winning director and onetime Happy Days star, who looks oddly gangsta while he parties it up with Foxx, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Forest Whitaker.

So how did this bizarre cameo come about? We recently ran into Howard, who gave us the story. “We were at the inauguration,” he says, “and there was this tent full of showbiz people and their families. Jamie came over and said, ‘Hey, I’m shooting a video in L.A., will you come by?’ I was picturing a sort of ‘We Are The World’ thing. So I showed up, and Jamie said, ‘It’s this party scene, and you’re going to drive up with Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker and me. The only thing is that you’ve got to wear your party face.’ I said, ‘I don’t think you want my party face, because this is it [Howard grins ear-to-ear in the manner of a Richie Cunningham who has been raiding Mrs. C’s sherry supply]. That may not be what you want.’ Jamie and the director, Hype Williams, said, ‘No, we want your game face, very serious.’ So we’re getting ready to roll and all we hear from the director is, ‘Uh, hey Ron, no smiling, remember, real serious, real serious,’ and, ‘RON, NO SMILING, NO SMILING,’ and, ‘RON, NO SMILING!’ and, ‘ACTION!’ So we did that a couple of times, and then we went in and sat with the girls and toasted champagne. I had no idea what in the world it was or what I was doing. I do not have a secret night-clubbing side. I’m the opposite of a big pimpin’ kind of dude. Probably the last time I was in a club was doing research for Night Shift in 1981. Discos, they were called then. When I saw the finished result I did ask around: ‘Is it okay that I did this?’ I mean, I am one of the whitest men in the world. I like singer-songwriters. But I thought it was funny that I was in it. Jamie sent me a case of champagne and I asked him if I could now blame everything on the a-a-a-alcohol. I haven’t heard back from him on that.”

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