By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated October 16, 2002 01:00 PM

Eminem put in a surprise personal appearance at Michigan State University, in East Lansing, Mich., late last week, following an advance screening of his upcoming film, “8 Mile,” reports.

As nearly 1,700 students in the school’s auditorium were watching the movie’s final credits — which are run over the rapper’s track “Lose Yourself” — the screen rose up to reveal the Michigan-born Eminem, who turns 30 on Thursday, and his protege group, D12, performing the number.

Sporting an oversized white T-shirt, baggy jeans and a yellow baseball cap, the rapper and newly minted movie star launched into a 45-minute set that included his single “Cleanin’ Out My Closet.”

The MSU student paper, the State News, reported that rumors of an Eminem appearance had been running rampant around campus for weeks, leading to an eight-hour line for tickets to get in to see the preview. (The movie, which also stars Kim Basinger as Eminem’s mother, opens nationwide Nov. 8.)

Inside the auditorium, however, a spokesperson for Universal Pictures first announced that “Eminem isn’t here. In fact, he’s in the studio finishing up the soundtrack for the film right now.”

“We wanted to keep this as low-key as possible,” Tim Liss, president of Resident Halls Association, which co-sponsored the event, told his school paper. “We only wanted people there who wanted to see the movie. The students got a great movie and an unexpected bonus.”