The Fourth Annual Valentine Romance Oscar Lounge & Party at Café la Boheme in West Hollywood drew scores of celebrities eager to sample gourmet food, drinks and freebies from a wide variety of vendors offering clothing, jewelry and accessories while giving back by donating clothing to the homeless aid nonprofit Operation Dress Up!
"Once Upon a Time" star Raphael Sbarge wanted to come to support small businesses like Baron Hats, which gifted attendees with lightweight chapeaus made from recycled paper (it also has a Splash collection made from recycled plastic bottles). The founder of the nonprofit Green Wish, which collects money to support green charities, Sbarge is producing the Web series "On Begley Street" with Ed Begley Jr. about the building of Begley's new LEED platinum-certified home. "It's going to be the most sustainable home in North America," said Sbarge, who's promoting it via Kickstarter, which solicits micro grants for arts projects, and expects the series to launch within the month. Ten episodes have been shot so far.
Although he lost his hybrid car and (not quite as green as Begley's) home in his divorce and is now living in an apartment, Sbarge is in the market for an electric car he can drive to work at his ABC fantasy series, in which he plays both Archie Hopper and Jiminy Cricket. "It's every actor's dream to be able to have that kind of range in a role. It's really fun," he said.
Reigning "Dancing With the Stars" pro champ Karina Smirnoff — who drives an Escalade hybrid, uses energy-saving light bulbs, and recycles both at her dance studio and at home — snapped up earrings from Twisted Silver and Lusciouss, a pink leather Charlie Lapson bag and treats from Pauline's Pecan Brittle.
The midseason "Dancing" cast won't be announced until Feb. 28, but rumors are already flying. "I don't know how it got started that I asked for Tim Tebow," said Smirnoff, calling him "an amazing athlete," but conceding that it will be hard to top J.R. Martinez. "He's a sweetheart, he's such a positive person, and he was ready to rehearse as much as we needed to," she praised, hoping for the same in her partner for the 14th season that begins March 19. "It's a lot more fun when you go into the competition with the position of defending the title. Now I know what it feels like to win," she smiled.
"Castle" medical examiner Tamala Jones, a diligent recycler who gets "very frustrated" by litter and often does beach cleanup on her own, is looking into solar panels for her home, doing lots of research. "I'm taking my time going green. You've got to educate yourself and know what you're doing," she said, adding that the "Castle" set is "very green. We don't have plastic water bottles, we have cups."
Jones was scouting for items she might wear to the Grammys and an Oscar party and enjoyed a makeup demonstration from Michael Marcus cosmetics. She's pleased that this season on "Castle" she's had the chance to get out of the morgue and into the field and the police precinct more often, but the highlight so far has been the most recent "film noir" episode in which she got to play a Billie Holliday-esque singer. Having never sung outside the car or shower before, she was nervous but got through "with a little help from my friend Grey Goose," she laughed, adding that the episode's apex was a kiss with star Nathan Fillion. "Fresh breath and soft lips," she shared. The Feb. 13 episode kicks off a two-parter in which Jennnifer Beals guest stars as a CIA agent "who's not taking any crap from Beckett or Castle."
"Criminal Minds" star Thomas Gibson told us about some newly acquired "nuts from India that have sap inside that washes your clothes" but he hasn't used them yet. He's happy to try things that are better for the planet, he noted. "It's nice that everybody's consciousness has been raised." He was glad to attend the event and support the charity while looking for items to bring home to his wife in Texas, where he commutes from for work. An admitted romantic, he was looking forward to Valentine's Day. "Romance should be alive and well. Some combination of diamonds and chocolate usually works," he said.
As for his CBS procedural, Gibson hinted at an upcoming event that will replace the usual year-end "Criminal Minds" cliffhanger. "We're going out on something very nice this year, something different from the usual grim and terrible," he said.
Accompanying girlfriend Omarosa Manigault to the event, Michael Clarke Duncan didn't reveal what he got her for Valentine's Day, but she took out her iPhone to display her already-presented gift, a Shar-Pei puppy he named Leo after his character on "The Finder." The deep-voiced actor and the reality star-turned-West Coast editor of Reality Weekly magazine met two years ago in a supermarket, where he approached her with a "goofy line," she walked away, but he went after her, apologizing. They now share a similar organic, meatless diet, differing only in that she eats fish and he does not. She makes him meals based on Morningstar Farms and Gardein meat substitutes, bean dishes like chili and jambalaya, and vegetable juices. "You don't have to get your protein from meat," Manigault reminded.
Musician Kevin Eubanks, another vegetarian, talked about a memorable performance at a castle in Prague for the president of the Czech Republic on a fall trip to Europe and his plans to play the states, return to Europe this summer, and release a new album in August. Not sure he'd be able to pull off a Valentine's Day surprise that involves getting a lady friend into a limo naked (everything she'll need will be inside, he assured), he acknowledged that convincing her to play along might be tricky. Eubanks was most impressed with his new Baron hat, a bottle of Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Plata tequila, and a black leather and silver bracelet from Lyon Fine Jewelry, which is donating 15 percent of the sale of its $35 Rock the Vote bracelet to that organization.
Other vendors included Qmadix snap-on iPhone protectors and noise-cancelling earphones; Dulcenea Lingerie; Smyle T-shirts; Single party dresses; a silicon shield called Eye Makeup Fallout Protector; vintage, retro and rockabilly inspired fashion from Roadkill Ranch; and the book "California Girl Chronicles" by Michelle Gamble-Risley, available from 3L Publishing.