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NEW YORK It's good to have friends who have celebs as friends: In the case of the 52nd Street Project, that friend was Tim Blake Nelson, director of O, the soon-to-be-released teen adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello. The nonprofit association--dedicated to theatrical development for children who reside in Hell's Kitchen--held a benefit screening and sort-of New York premiere of the film at the United Artists Union Square 14 theater. The benefit was a sold-out success, with guests craning their heads to get a peek at the film's stars Julia Stiles and Mekhi Phifer, plus a gaggle of other celebs who came out to support the nonprofit, including Nicky Hilton, Marcus Schenkenberg, Scarlett Johansson, Liev Schreiber, Macaulay Culkin, Taye Diggs, Jennifer Esposito and Natasha Lyonne.
An after-party at the Park was overwhelmed with guests, who packed into the venue's upstairs V.I.P. room and adjacent patio. The large space, furnished with white bed seats and dark couches, was mystifyingly dark, save the blinding flashes of light from photographers' cameras. The venue's decor--quite a departure from the film's high school setting--includes a bizarre glass table supported by a leather-lingerie clad mannequin, and a red-backgrounded fish tank behind the bar, which provided some of the only light for the entire space. A good scene for celebs to hang out and not be bothered--after all, everyone looks the same in the dark.