Thursday, February 11, 2010

The cast of "Valentine's Day" (The movie)

Here's my story that came out today...
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Stars turn up the romance
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent

MANILA, Philippines - When this writer received an e-mail from Warner Bros. asking me if I wanted to do the junket for its current Valentine offering, the aptly-titled romantic-comedy Valentine’s Day, I didn’t waste a second, didn’t even check my calendar, before immediately shooting back an e-mail confirming my availability.

Who would be crazy enough to say no to the opportunity to interview the likes of Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, the two Jessicas, Alba and Biel, Ashton Kutcher, Bradley Cooper, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, and the biggest superstar of all, Julia Roberts? Not me!

It was as an unbelievable opportunity. Seldom does one get the chance to interview any of these stars. And yet, to have them all together in one room for 45 minutes two weekends ago was sort of magical. To be among only about 20 other international journalists in a room with 10 superstars felt extraordinarily good.

Valentine’s Day director Garry Marshall ushered us into the ballroom and introduced the stars as they came in and took their designated seats in a slightly elevated platform that had two long tables adorned with cute little bouquets of dark red roses. The roll call was really unnecessary but it added some sort of pageantry in an otherwise already star-studded room. A writer from Romania commented to everyone’s agreement that it felt like being on the Oscar red carpet.

It was an interesting afternoon as the stars opened up about their thoughts on romance, love, plans for Valentine’s and, for Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx, his thoughts on being single and the dating scene in a town like L.A. where a person’s looks usually spell the difference between a fleeting one-night-stand and a long-term, more serious relationship.

“I enjoy the challenge,” Jamie said. “Living in L.A. is, you know, you gotta up the ante because am not really married and all that stuff so it’s tough on me sometimes but I (try to) enjoy it. Sometimes I meet a girl and I don’t know who she dated before me so that is like, ‘Hey, you see this, it’s Crystal’ — Oh, please, she owns Crystal! And then, I have to stay hot, too. As long as I stay hot, am cool. When I got a billboard up then I am kinda cool.”

His advice on how to get a date on V-Day: “Just stay hot.”

But a married guy like Ashton would rather eliminate Valentine’s Day altogether. “I actually think that we only have one day in the year to celebrate love,” he mused. “I think that we should have one day to celebrate hate — it’s just like we have to hate everybody that we want to hate on that day and then every other day should be the day that you celebrate love.”

“I’d rather go out on a Tuesday and be perfectly happy with that as Valentine’s doesn’t really matter so much,” he added. Ashton, who has been happily married to Demi Moore for a good number of years now, revealed that he and Demi made an agreement to try not to do something big for each other on V-Day, but instead “share the love with others.”

“There is an organization in New York called Gems Girls (www.gems-girls.org) that helps human trafficking victims and there are a bunch of these girls who have come out of the streets that are now being housed by this organization so we are gonna make all those girls our valentines this year.”

“There’s like 270 girls and we are gonna send them flowers so that they can know that they can be loved by somebody without having them asked for anything in return.”

Ashton and Demi recently launched a charity called Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA) to help bring to light the cases of modern-day sex slavery.

On a less serious note, the married women provided the naughty side at the junket.

Asked how they usually celebrate Valentine’s Day, aside from the usual chocolates and flowers, Julia immediately exclaimed, “Sex!”

Jessica A. smiled and nodded. “Am gonna go with Julia, I’d say sex also,” she said.

It just wasn’t all about sex though at the beginning for Jessica A., who shared that she and her future husband, film producer Cash Warren, weren’t exactly physical during their courtship days. The most romantic day for her did not even occur on V-Day, “It would be the day I met my husband,” she said.

“I didn’t sleep at all,” she recalled. “For the first three months, we weren’t physical at all. I just kept staring at him and wondering how this happened. The first day we spent together, we went on a bike ride and tried to do anything so we could keep spending time together. I was like, ‘Wanna go get some licorice at the 7-Eleven?’ I was like doing anything so I can squeeze out another five minutes. Yeah, it evolved into something more but I met my best friend and that was a great day.”

For Jennifer, married to Ben Affleck for nearly five years now, a box of See’s candies would do it for her. “That’s romance,” she said, “I mean, just a gesture, just an acknowledgement.”

To men, like comedian George, however, Valentine’s Day remains a challenge.

“It’s hard to tell how passionate we are because we’re loud when we are sad and loud when we are happy,” he offered. “We are hot blooded and very passionate about everything and I am a little bit disconnected because I am still that guy that gets the card on the day and is writing it on the hood of the car on the way home, so I got a lot of work to do.”

In an interview I had with George a couple of years ago, he recalled the most romantic day of his life: It was the day he received one of his wife’s kidneys. The comedian had a rare genetic condition that caused his kidneys to deteriorate. To survive he needed a donor for a transplant and his wife was his perfect match.

The stars were being funny, alright. Even The Hangover actor Bradley mumbled in a funny way when asked what his worst Valentine’s Day ever was. But the afternoon turned awkward, with a few daring to chuckle politely, after the recently single Jessica B. shared what to her was the most romantic day ever.

“The most romantic day was when I got to work with Jennifer Garner and she beat the s--t out of that piñata. Whew, it was so hot!” she said strangely referring to a scene in the movie where Jennifer’s character takes out a bat and beat to pieces the heart-shaped piñata. The star, who used to date Justin Timberlake, shared that from that day on she had been harboring a “girl crush” on Jennifer. “That’s when my girl crush on her began and it’s all going strong,” she proclaimed. For some inexplicable reason, the sexy actress continued on and said, “I thought we have broken up but we didn’t. It was just a text mistake. So, we’re good.”

Jennifer happily played along with her until director Garry decided to cut into the conversation and volunteered that Jessica B. recently successfully climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.

“So, that how she got so thin,” whispered Shirley, who earlier in the interview, drew so much laughter after she decided to switch tables with a journalist from Taiwan and engaged the poor guy in a funny mock interview about the meaning of love in Chinese. The veteran actress was as funny as ever.

Valentine’s Day opens in theaters today.

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