Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, Rihanna, Mario Get Low At Pre-Grammy Party

Fire marshal turns away countless hopefuls from packed 'midnight brunch.'

HOLLYWOOD — It’s happened to the best of us — all of us, as a matter of fact. That miserable feeling of the “long-line reality check” …

For some us, it’s as simple as seeing said line — whether to get into the new Will Smith movie, a Miley Cyrus autograph-signing session or to purchase playoff tickets — and its ridiculous length. You know there’s no way you’re getting to the front in a timely fashion, so you give up.

Others, like the dozens trying to get into Ne-Yo’s pre-Grammys party here, which was hosted by Def Jam Recordings and Microsoft Zune, at Hollywood 86 on Saturday night, are so relentless they get in said line. They wait, wait, wait … until a police officer, or in this case a fire marshal, tells them to go home. It is kind of tough to put your tail between your legs and bail after you’ve dressed up all hoity-toity and have seen all these other beautiful people get in with either their pure legendary status — as in the case of Stevie Wonder — or some serious verbal Olympics … or running game on the gatekeeper at the door … or doing some politicking so serious Barack Obama would hire you for his campaign … or, of course, if you happen to be with MTV News!

On Saturday night, a fire marshal literally shut Ne-Yo’s door — counting the number of people who left before he’d let others in — before the four-time Grammy nominee had even arrived. When he got there, waiting for him inside were the likes of Jay-Z, Sanaa Lathan and Nia Long, while Chrisette Michele and Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls greeted him on the red carpet.

“It wasn’t supposed to be this big,” Ne-Yo explained about the enormity of his little get-together, which was also in honor of Jay, Kanye West, Rihanna and all the other Def Jam-related artists nominated for Grammy Awards.

“I love my team,” Ne-Yo smiled. On the menu was the “brunch” as promised: omelets however you liked, roast beef, waffles and fried chicken. (Tequila shots were optional.)

Outside, Nick Cannon was getting so antsy, he talked about jumping the steel barrier that separated the street from the red carpet, joking in a “please-don’t-let-me-show-my-’hoodness-out-here-in-front-of-everybody-but-Lord-knows-I-will” type of way.

“You have to pay off the fire marshal in advance,” Cannon joked — but he did get in.

Ne-Yo kept his smile on the carpet, assuring the media that all his famous friends would get in. Inside, songs like Brandy’s “Full Moon” and Cassidy’s “My Drink N’ My 2 Step” played.

Jay-Z — who had business partner Steve Stoute , Lathan and Long at his table — hugged Rihanna when she came in. The singer soon found her way to Chris Brown, and the rumored couple danced — as much as they could in the bumper-to-bumper traffic, anyway. It was hard for shawty to get low, low, low in the lounge, but Rihanna and Brown seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Mario entered the party as easy as possible (he had people call ahead to say, “Mario is not accepting shade tonight, so please make way”). Alicia Keys (who performed earlier in the night at Clive Davis’ legendary party ) made a stress-free entrance as well, but Polow Da Don and Keri Hilson both had to wait a few minutes.

As the night crawled to a close, Prince arrived — fashionably late as usual — around 3:15 a.m., accompanied by several people. He sat at Stevie Wonder’s table and the two talked for about 45 minutes.

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