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Grooving with Stella

H'wood hosts pic preem

Friends of Stella gathered Monday to celebrate the premiere of Fox’s bigscreen adaptation of Terry McMillan’s bestselling novel, “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. McMillan’s second foray into films — her first was 1995’s hit “Waiting to Exhale” — again starred Angela Bassett as a divorced woman dealing with difficult matters of the heart.

Supporting cast includes newcomer Taye Diggs, funny lady Whoopi Goldberg, Suzzanne Douglas, Regina King and Michael J. Pagan who is charming as Bassett’s overprotective young son.

Joining the cast on the red carpet were screenwriters Ron Bass and McMillan, producer Deborah Schindler and director Kevin Rodney Sullivan. Fellow thesps Courtney B. Vance, Delroy Lindo, Vondie Curtis Hall, Kasi Lemmons, Natalie Portman, R&B crooners Boyz II Men, William Morris’ Arnold Rifkin and Fox execs Bill Mechanic and Tom Rothman were also on hand.

The festivities headed south to Latin hot spot the Conga Room where partygoers got their groove on to the sounds of Mango Bang, which picked up where the film’s Caribbean-themed soundtrack left off.

Dividing time between the buffet and bongos were “Exhale” vets Forest Whitaker, who directed that pic, and actress Lela Rochon, Tracy Edmonds, “Stella” soundtrack producer Jimmy Jam, Lou Rawls and Mary J. Blige.

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