Pic's preem doubled as Afro-American Museum benefit

HOLLYWOOD — At the Sunset Room party following Wednesday night’s preem, key players behind “Deliver Us From Eva” preferred to stay lovers rather than fighters while discussing the upcoming box office smackdown between their movie and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”

“I’m not even going to go there,” said Focus Features co-prexy James Schamus; a few minutes earlier, head had predicted that “Eva” would be the company’s biggest opener ever.

Director Gary Hardwick feigned ignorance about the other glossy romantic comedy vying for moviegoers’ affection around Valentine’s Day, so it was up to first-time leading man LL Cool J to point out that his movie would be released on far fewer screens, thereby reducing its chances to immediately triumph over its rival.

“I think it’s math,” the genial rapper-turned-thesp said.

The hyphenate threw himself into a role playing the romantic fool — singing badly and falling off horses while wooing the witchy elder Dandridge daughter (Gabrielle Union) at the behest of the men in her sisters’ lives — in a manner that reminded Schamus of a certain acrobatic yet debonair Englishman born Archibald Leach.

“To me, he carries the mantle of Cary Grant,” said the clearly biased Schamus, who also called Union a classic movie star in the 1940s vein.

The Cinerama Dome preem, a fund-raiser for the soon-to-reopen California Afro-American Museum, drew black Hollywood heavy hitters from Will Smith to Samuel L. Jackson and Magic Johnson, with Glenn Williamson and Bruce Kaufman stopping by at the crowded after-party.

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