Okay. We expected a fair share of celebrities last night for the premiere of Harold Ramis’s summer comedy, “Year One.”

The stars came’Michael Cera and Jack Black. Gia Carides, who plays a Queen, was accompanied by her famous actor husband Anthony La Paglia. Oliver Platt, fresh from the closing night of “Guys and Dolls” on Broadway, brought his co-star from the show, Lauren Graham. Jeff Garlin, of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fame, showed up. So did Andy Samberg from “Saturday Night Live” and the “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” whoever they are. “Men in Black” and “Addams Family” director Barry Sonnenfeld played it low key.

But expect the unexpected in New York. Rihanna, the current reigning pop goddess, and subject of an unabated scandal since February, just showed up with some friends at the AMC Lincoln Square theater, skipped the red carpet, and took seats up front for the show.



Why was she there? We couldn’t figure it out at first. She loved the film, laughed a lot, had a good time, and left when it was over.

At the post-party on the Empire Hotel roof, publicists said she’d simply called up, asked if she could attend, and came on over. No one asked her why. The flacks said she was coming to the party. And she did, eventually.

Unfortunately, Cera and Black did not make their own party. Reps said they each had to fly off to movie sets. In Black’s case that would be “Gulliver’s Travels.” In Cera’s, he’s filming “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”

So when Rihanna and co. did show up at the Empire, I do think she was disappointed. But one week before her scheduled public hearing with boyfriend Chris Brown in Los Angeles, the pop star looked stunning, showed no evidence of a winter and spring of tabloid headlines and police interviews. She wore four inch heels and her hair was so high that she totalled about five foot eleven. (She is tiny in reality.)

Why was she there, I asked when we met?

“I love Michael Cera. I love his sense of humor, his sarcasm. So I wanted to see it. And I love Jack Black, too.”

It was that simple. She needed a laugh, wanted to go to the movies, and here she was. We talked for a couple of minutes about her music. I mentioned that a lot of singers were looking to copy her “Umbrella” success by using her songwriters and producers. Rihanna said, “I’m always looking for new producers, you know.” She’s starting work on a new album.

In the end, she got her picture taken with director Harold Ramis, who she may or may not have known starred in “Ghostbusters.” But it didn’t matter. Out on the terrace, Jeff Garlin told jokes. We also got to meet Eden Riegel, Emmy winner from “All My Children,” who makes her motion picture debut in “Year One” and acquits herself nicely. Riegel plays the most famous lesbian on TV, Bianca, daughter of Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane, on “AMC.” But the “Year One” producers didn’t know that when they cast her. “And now I play the first lesbian in history,” joked the married (to a nice guy) beauty. One thing’s for sure: this is going to be the first of many film roles for Eden.

And Rihanna? I know you want me to say she seemed “troubled,” or was “bearing up nicely.” But you know, she seemed just fine.’Whatever happened back on February 8th doesn’t seem to have haunted her in any way. Good for her.

By the way, the whole thing reminded me of a scene from long ago. Jackie Onassis and Maurice Templesman took in a showing of Richard Pearce’s stunning film, “Heartland,” at the famed Paris Theater, circa 1980, across from the Plaza Hotel. When the film ended, no one in the house moved. Finally, someone asked Jackie in a loud voice, “Why are you here?”

Without hestitation she replied, “I have to go to the movies, don’t I?”

She had a point.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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