‘Hairspray’ Premieres, Cont'd.: Newark Loves Latifah

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Latifah arriving last night. Photo: Getty Images

The marathon of Hairspray premieres ran on last night, stopping just over the Hudson in Newark, New Jersey — and, well, those Jerseyans took things seriously. Nearly 2,000 fans were gathered in front of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center as the celebrities arrived, and they were dolled up in their finest. (“I’m, like, the only underdressed person here,” moaned a jeans-clad teen outside the ladies' room.) Hottie Zac Efron and lovable Nikki Blonsky were greeted with cheers as they entered the building, but Queen Latifah’s appearance drove the crowd to a frenzy. The Queen, a Newark native, broke past press lines to embrace fans who had waited hours to see her. “Go with your own path, stop following everybody else’s," she told the crowd. "And go for your goal. You can accomplish it."

Inside, as the screening started, Latifah gave a lusty “What up New Jersey!” from the stage, and she got her answer as the movie played: A rollicking peanut gallery — 700 area kids got free tickets — cheered and applauded through the movie, going crazy after her ballad, “I Know Where I’ve Been.” Flush with Jersey pride, the crowd filed out to the courtyard when the movie ended, where a D.J. cranked up rap faves while TVs displayed instructional dance videos. A ten-minute firework spectacular choreographed to a Hairspray medley — fireworks! For a movie premiere! — capped the night. New York may be hip, but Jersey knows how to throw a party. —Haven Thompson

Earlier: The 'Hairspray' Premiere: Mama, It's a Big Movie Now