Last night, airline Virgin America celebrated its first flight to Philadelphia with a star-studded red carpet launch party hosted by Sir Richard Branson at Hotel Palomar in Center City. The inaugural flight touched down at PHL yesterday afternoon, and on board were a few Philadelphia-affiliated celebrities like actor Seth Green, who was born here. Virgin will have three nonstop flights to California, two to L.A., and one to San Francisco daily.
Below: Chester County residents M. Night Shyamalan and his wife, Bhavna Vaswani. He’s in town filming After Earth, starring Philly’s own Fresh Prince Will Smith. Smith was rumored to be attending last night’s bash, but bailed at the last moment saying he was too tired as filming for the day ended at 4 p.m. I guess he’s going to escape my lens another day. (In fact, he was the only named leaked to the press that would be there, so we were surprised by the talent that did show.)
Below: Also in town and starring in After Earth is Zoe Kravitz, Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet’s little girl who’s all grown up. She told me that she’s enjoying working in Philly but hasn’t really had a chance to get out much except to shop and hang out at Silk City. The Art Museum and its Van Gogh exhibit is on her list of things to do, though.
Below: Zoe’s boyfriend, Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley, has ditched his character’s clean-cut image and now goes for that “I just woke up and am trying too hard to look laid-back” look.
Below: Philly-born-and-raised Amber Rose was there. She looked fabulous and glowing. Just last month her man “Black and Yellow” Wiz Khalifa popped the question, and she said yes. Although they have a home in L.A. (she was also on the inaugural Virgin flight), he just bought a $900,000 love nest in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) on nearly three acres. She told me she loves living in the woods. Last night, she was going to fly from Philly to Pittsburgh to check out the place. Hope she made her 11 p.m. flight; as I was leaving, her limo driver was looking for her to take her to the airport at 9:30 p.m.
Below: Flyers BFFs Scott Hartnell and James van Riemsdyk pose on the red carpet. Scott is eager to get the “NHL 13” cover this year and keeps tweeting to his followers: “Vote for me at http://nhl.com/covervote for the #NHL13Cover this year. Let’s get a grinder on the cover!!!!! That would be me :)” So let’s vote for him, but not till you finish my column. Other Flyers spotted: Wayne Simmonds and Max Talbot.
Below: Ville Leino, a former Flyer now with the Buffalo Sabres, and his teammate Derek Roy. Ville tells me he misses Philly, especially his favorite hangout, Rouge. Others spotted at the event: Reid Rosenthal, Brent Celek, Darryl Tapp, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Jeremy Maclin.
Below: Nathan Morris from Boyz II Men, with DJ Jazzy Jeff, who got everyone up on the dance floor all night. One of those people was his wife, Lynette C. Townes, who spent a good amount of time dancing with friend Sabrina Tamburino Thorne.
Below: Jon Gosselin is posing with a few of the Virgin America stewardesses. Jon tells me the kids are doing fine, and since the TLC Show Jon & Kate Plus Eight has gone off the air, he’s returned to his IT job. He’s also looking forward to lending his help to children’s charities, and plans to look into the Ronald McDonald house as the organization was very helpful to his family when the kids were born.
Below: It’s always sunny in Philadelphia … especially when actor Glenn Howerton‘s in town. He was also on the inaugural flight yesterday, which was met at the gate by Mayor Nutter, Rep. Chaka Fattah, and other officials at the “Tarmac Gate Party.” Then it was off to Del Frisco’s for a meet-and-greet with people in Philly’s hospitality organizations, before heading over to Hotel Palomar at 7 p.m. Howerton is posing with season five American Idol finalist Ayla Brown, who is also the official singer of the National Anthem at all of the Sixers home games.
Below: Willingboro’s Gervase Peterson greeted Terrence Howard, and invited him to check out his new cigar lounge in Lawnside, New Jersey, Burnz Cigar Vault and Lounge. When asked what he’s been up to, Terrence said he’s just chilling in his Philadelphia suburban house. At the party, he was cool and chatted with many locals like Stephanie Rybczyk, Lindsay Furman, Carmena Ayo-Davies, Kijafa Frink, Reid Rosenthal, Brent Celek, Darryl Tapp and Jeremy Maclin. It was a great launch party for an airline that will inject a little competition in the west coast route. One way tickets run about $159, and that’s a bargain.