Super Bowl Smackdown: How Hollywood Celebrates the Big Game

2:40 PM PST 02/03/2012 by Gary Baum, Degen Pener
Illustration: John Ueland

It's on as execs (private) jet to Indy, Harvey throws his latest booster bash and the Giants continue to rule the Patriots, at least on the Hollywood playing field.

This story originally appeared in the Feb. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

While few are going as far as New York Giants fan 50 Cent -- who made a bet with a Twitter follower that he will post a NSFW (not safe for work) picture of himself if his team loses -- emotions are running high in Hollywood in anticipation of Super Bowl XLVI. Happy Madison's Jack Giarraputo, Friday Night Lights creator Peter Berg and Paramount vice chair Rob Moore are among the execs said to be heading to Indianapolis to watch their Giants square off against the New England Patriots in Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 5. Harvey Weinstein, also expected in Indy, is such a Giants booster that he's been staging game-viewing parties for weeks, including one in St. Barts over New Year's and another in Park City during Sundance. On Feb. 1, he's hosting -- with his brother Bob, Matt Lauer, Lorne Michaels and Brian Williams -- a high-powered sendoff party for the team at New York media-world lunch spot Michael's. (The players already are in Indy.)

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Although far less provocative than Fiddy's bet, Discovery/TLC president and Patriots fan Eileen O'Neill has a wager going with the company's senior vp advertising sales, Scott Felenstein, a Giants rooter. "When the Patriots win, he will have to wear a Patriots jersey for a day in the office. If by some terribly wrong, wrong event the Giants win, I have to wear the Giants jersey," says O'Neill, a native of Holyoke, Mass., who will watch at home wearing her lucky Patriots socks.

O'Neill is unbowed by those who say the Giants will win as they did in the 2008 game, when they stunned the undefeated Pats, 17-14, with a dramatic last-minute touchdown. "I'm hoping the agony of that loss puts a real glint in the Patriots' eyes and helps them to play their best," she says, "which is what they'll need to beat the Giants."

WHY THE GIANTS OWN HOLLYWOOD

The playing field is not exactly level when it comes to the entertainment biz. While the Patriots have their high-profile native-son supporters -- including Steven Tyler, Mark Wahlberg, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon -- the sheer number of New Yorkers in the industry gives the Giants a manpower advantage, notably at the top levels of the studios, where their fans include Moore, Sony's Amy Pascal and Warner Bros.' Barry Meyer. "I think watching Giants games is a way that New Yorkers preserve the piece of New York that they moved out here with," says Giants co-owner and film producer Steve Tisch. (They can't be thrilled with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and model wife Gisele Bundchen building a $20 million mansion in Brentwood.) "Pretty much every person in the world has asked me for tickets," says Tisch, the only person to have both an Oscar, for Forrest Gump, and a Super Bowl ring, for the 2008 win.

And billionaire businessman Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, has a toehold in the biz with his investment in the theatrical and live arm of Scott Sanders Productions, which is bringing Evita back to Broadway in the spring.

The Giants also benefit from the fact that L.A. lacks a pro team, and Angelenos seeking a live NFL fix can get it during business trips to the Big Apple. "When L.A. gets a football team, I will not become a fan. I will always be a Giants fan," says Access Hollywood host Billy Bush, who'll be fronting live shows from Indianapolis during Super Bowl weekend as part of NBCUniversal's all-out blitz for the game. He also plans to tailgate in a rented RV with friends including Howard Owens, president of National Geographic Channels U.S., and actor Scott Wolf. "We'll park it and have it there for four nights," says Bush.

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To top it off, the Giants have two "It" girls in sisters Rooney and Kate Mara. Great-grandfather Tim Mara founded the team in 1925, uncle John is the club's other co-owner, and their dad, Chris, is head of scouting. (The Steelers have a claim on the actresses' devotion, too; their maternal great-grandfather, Art Rooney, founded that team.) Expect to see Kate, who has performed the National Anthem before Giants home games, at the Super Bowl. The actress has it written into her contracts that she be free to attend the game if either team gets there. (She's not currently filming a project.)

HEADING TO GAME TIME

No one THR talked with wanted to engage in trash talk. Which perhaps isn't surprising, given that this rivalry can't match the heated competition between the Yankees and Red Sox. But that could be changing, especially with the Giants and Patriots each after a fourth Super Bowl crown. "They are building a rivalry," says actor Pooch Hall, a former University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, player who stars as a pro wideout on BET's hit series The Game. "It's going to be amazing, a grind-dog, battle-on-the-gridiron-type game."

Others couldn't care less who prevails. They're waiting to see Madonna perform (lip-sync?) at halftime, or they're interested in the high-stakes action from the advertisers, who are paying NBC a Super Bowl-record $3.5 million to air a 30-second spot before a TV audience that could approach 115 million in the U.S. "I'm rooting for the commercials," says cable TV and film executive Mark Cuban, who also owns the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks and recently bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers. "I really don't care who wins the game. It's the commercials that matter!"

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THE BIZ ROSTER: Hollywood heavyweights line up on either side of the 50-yard line.

  • NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: John Krasinski, Maria Menounos, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler,Conan O'Brien, David E. Kelley, Authentic Entertainment co-founder Tom Rogan, Kinetic Content CEO Chris Coelen
  • NEW YORK GIANTS: Spike Lee, Stephen Levinson, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Alec Baldwin, Univision CEO Randy Falco,CAA's David O'Connor, Chase Carey,Viggo Mortensen, Jon Bon Jovi

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PRIVATE PARTIES: The industry power players' exclusive bashes, from L.A. and Vegas to New York City

While Michael Chiklis traveled to see his Patriots the past four times they've made it to the Super Bowl, this year he's staying put and throwing a bash at his house in the Hills. "I have no desire to be around thousands of cold, angry and horribly disappointed Giants fans on Sunday night!" he says. … Steve Wynn's annual bash will take place in the ballroom of his eponymous Vegas hotel. "Vegas is the best place to see the game, and you can bet," says hotelier Rick Hilton, who's heading there with wife Kathy. … Prospect Park CEO Jeff Kwatinetz will likely move his long-standing Malibu bash to his NYC abode to accommodate his NYG friends. … Bob Daly and Carole Bayer Sager are hosting at their Bel-Air house. … Former Ticketmaster CEO Fred Rosen and his author-producer wife, Nadine Schiff, are throwing their annual Bel-Air party, which drew Clint Eastwood last year. Says Irena Medavoy, who'll attend with producer husband, Mike: "It reminds me of Pierre Cossette's party at Chasen's. It's a great group of people, and Nadine has mani and pedi for the girls." … G-men fan Doug Ellin plans to watch in L.A. with some of his Entourage cast, though he's not sure Jerry Ferrara will be there. "He gets too nervous, so he might want to sit by himself," says Ellin. "I get worked up, too. Whether they win or lose determines my mood for at least a week afterward."

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PARTIES IN INDIANAPOLIS: Naptown will be anything by sleepy as Indy celebrates.

With the key exceptions of Detroit and Minneapolis, the NFL typically has opted for much warmer climes for its biggest game. But 150,000 fans are expected to descend on chilly Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI -- bringing with them, according to the city's Convention & Visitors Association, more than 1,000 private jets.

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For many, the party-palooza is just as important as the matchup itself. At least 130 special events will be held in Indy, centered on the domed Lucas Oil Stadium and a three-block stretch of downtown that will be transformed into a Super Bowl Village (expect two concert stages and zipline rides).

The giant corporate-sponsored bashes are booming again, with budgets not seen since before the 2008 bust. On Feb. 3, ESPN the Magazine will present a warehouse performance by Drake, and Playboy will host 1,500 at a Parisian cabaret-themed bacchanal at the Bud Light Hotel (a gussied-up Hampton Inn), where the entertainment comes courtesy of Pitbull, 50 Cent and Lil' Jon. Audi will throw a more intimate soiree, welcoming the likes of Neil Patrick Harris and Kellan Lutz to the penthouse of the Conrad Hotel.

The following day, DirecTV will present its flag-football Celebrity Beach Bowl at a sand-strewn minor-league baseball park (Eli Manning, the Giants' QB, was one of the game's coaches last year), and Maxim will take over the Indiana State Fairgrounds for a superhero-themed shindig. "It's funny that Playboy and Maxim do the parties yet the [game] advertising is Viagra and Cialis," observes Billy Bush.

Also Feb. 4, Rolling Stone and Bacardi will partner for yet another warehouse blowout, with sets by LMFAO and Lupe Fiasco. Management firm Axxis Sports and Entertainment has reserved the Regions Bank Tower for a two-night fete, and HDNet has booked Katy Perry's first post-separation performance. "If it's anything like last year, when we had lines two miles long trying to get in, it will be a blast," says network owner Mark Cuban. Even though it's not broadcasting the game until 2014, Fox Sports is said to be throwing a private party at an undisclosed location.

Expect insiders to tie up tables at the city's top restaurants. "People make a round of parties and then wind up in very small groups for dinner," says Sports Illustrated editor-in-chief Terry McDonell. One of the most popular is St. Elmo Steak House ("It's one of the coolest restaurants, loved by all the locals," says Giants co-owner Steve Tisch), while NBC football analyst and former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy suggests a trio of soul-food spots: Mississippi Belle, Kountry Kitchen and Marble's. "All three serve great 'home-style' food," he says. But you'd better have a car: "They're off the beaten path."

 

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