If you’ve ever wondered what happens to primetime TV stars when their shows get canceled, just spend some time at the clubs. Last night That ’70s Show’s Danny Masterson was in town to host and DJ an event at The Underground thrown by Maxim and Heineken Light.
The mostly female crowd of so-called “super VIPs” - according to one of the 12 press e-mails I received beforehand - started assembling at 8:30 p.m. and was abuzz with the rumor that Justin Timberlake might show up (he’d played a concert in town the night before). But when Masterson arrived sans Timberlake at 10 p.m., the ladies didn’tseem to mind. Masterson started spinning immediately; tunes ranged from Run DMC’s “It’s Tricky” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” to Bloodhound Gang’s “The Roof is on Fire” and John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane.”
Masterson is no rookie; he’s made a successful post-TV career of his $20,000-a-gig (for this event, at least) pastime, alongside such staples as DJ Vice, who shared turntable duties last night.
Unfortunately, Masterson didn’t spend much time mingling with the “VIPs,” save for pressing the flesh with me before he left - or, rather, pressing the scruff. He could almost go unnoticed these days, thanks to the nappy, two-inch-deep beard he’s sporting. If it weren’t for regular DJ gigs at hot spots like New York’s Stereo nightclub and his high-profile relationship with model Bijou Phillips (daughter of the Mamas and the Papas’ John Phillips), the DJ-ing actor would almost seem content staying behind the scenes. He’s an investor in the L.A. restaurants Dolce and Geisha House with fellow ’70s Show castmates Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama, and has made a few very funny appearances on Kutcher’s MTV prankster show, Punk’d.
While Masterson rocked out in the DJ booth most of the night, former Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams sat perched on the back of a booth at the front of the club with Billy Dec, munching on one of the free burgers being passed around. (Yes, the svelte singer actually eats!) Finally out from under BeyoncÃ©’s shadow, Williams has recently been cast as sexy blues singer Shug Avery in the Chicago production of The Color Purple, which opens April 17th at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. I’m guessing we’ll be seeing less of Williams shaking that little groove thing of hers at Dec’s club once the show gets going.
Also spotted: another actor who likes the stage, 31-year-old Johnny Galecki, who played Darlene’s boyfriend in Roseanne and who, more recently, had a memorable part as the lovable but sleazy “Troutie” in the TBS series My Boys. A veteran stage actor who’s performed at the Goodman and Steppenwolf, Galecki hails from Oak Park. He kept a low profile last night, downing free Heineken Lights and puffing away on Parliament Light cigarettes while telling me about his recent Broadway debut in The Little Dog Laughed; he played a gay male hustler with a full-frontal nudity scene. “We did about 200 shows,” he told me. “I would tell our makeup girl not to flirt with me before I’d go on stage [to avoid arousal]. But it was disappointingly anti-climactic. Although, I do have sympathy for girls now, having to deal with our scruff.” Tell me about it. Galecki was referring to his kissing scenes with stubbled actor Tom Everett Scott; I tried to get him to admit that he enjoyed it a little, but no dice.
About 1,000 people polished off 75 cases in total of Heineken Light. If you missed The Underground event, this weekend offers more celeb-studded opportunities for chasing fame:
Thursday the 15th: Enclave hosts the exclusive after-party for the premiere of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s new flick, What Love Is, following the movie’s premiere at City North 14. Academy Award-winner Gooding Jr. is confirmed to attend, and other castmates - who include Sean Astin, Mars Callahan, Gina Gershon, Anne Heche, Tamala Jones, and Matthew Lillard - may turn up as well.
Friday the 16th: RiNo serves as the official post-concert party spot for 30 Seconds to Mars frontman and actor Jared Leto. Ladies, he’ll definitely be there, so get in line early. Doors open at 10:30 p.m.; the band will probably show after midnight.
Both events are open to the public.
Photographs courtesy of Meghan Teela for The Underground