Who From Hollywood Got Prime Seats for the L.A. Rams

Miller Mobley
Patrick Whitesell, left, and Ari Emanuel

After 37 years, the city's former NFL heroes are back in the Coliseum as everyone from Warner Bros. TV's Peter Roth to WME's Ari Emanuel grab a front-row spot (even without luxury boxes).

The last time the NFL's Rams played a regular-season game inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum — a loss to New Orleans on Dec. 16, 1979 — Jerry Brown was California's governor, gas was expensive at 86 cents a gallon, and the Iran hostage crisis was six weeks old. Thirty-seven years later, Brown is governor (again), Iran remains a hot spot, gas is cheap at $2.70 a gallon, and — after 15 seasons in Anaheim and 21 in St. Louis — the Rams are back, opening at home Sept. 18 against Seattle. David Arquette and Warner Bros. TV's Peter Roth are slated to attend along with Fox Sports' Joe Buck and Emmy-nominated Modern Family star Ty Burrell, who will attempt an athletic feat of their own: racing from the game to Microsoft Theater for the Emmys.


Warren Beatty (center) played the L.A. Rams’ quarterback in Heaven Can Wait (1978).

The romance between the Rams and Hollywood began before the team arrived from Cleveland in 1946: Quarterback Bob Waterfield was married to his Van Nuys High School sweetheart, Jane Russell, and halfback Tom Harmon (father of Mark) to Elyse Knox. Kirk Douglas and Telly Savalas roamed the sidelines, Jim Nabors sang the national anthem a cappella, and Rock Hudson hosted players at parties. The Fearsome Foursome defensive line of Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones cut an album and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show (Olsen later acted on Little House on the Prairie).


The scene Aug. 13 for this year’s first preseason game.

But before that final Coliseum season, the Rams' story darkened when owner Carroll Rosenbloom drowned while swimming in the ocean. His widow, Georgia Frontiere, moved the team to Anaheim, mismanaged it (Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson was traded) and squeezed the budget. Attendance flagged, and she took the team to St. Louis in 1995.


Running back Todd Gurley, the team’s offensive star, warmed up before the Aug. 20 preseason game against Kansas City.

Now the Rams are back to play three seasons at the Coliseum while their $2.6 billion future stadium is built in Inglewood. About 70,000 fans have ponied up for season tickets (from $360 to $2,025), including WME CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell and agent Richard Weitz and his stylist brother, Andrew. Others signed on include CAA's Nick Khan and Adam Biren and UTA's Josh Hornstock, Ryan Hayden, Allan Haldeman and Leslie Schuster; they'll rub shoulders with Universal's Jeff Shell and Wasserman head Casey Wasserman. (While the aging stadium lacks luxury boxes, VIPs will be welcomed in tented hospitality suites on the field and the peristyle level.) HBO's Bill Simmons, for one, believes the team's return will be triumphant. "The fan base for a typical NFL game is rich people and blue-collar people," he says, "and SoCal is loaded with both."

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COLISEUM BASICS

Built: 1923
Seating Capacity: 93,607

Milestone Events: Summer Olympics, 1932 and 1984; Super Bowls I and VII. Its largest crowd (134,254) was for a Billy Graham crusade in 1963.

TICKETS

Thousands of seats for the season opener ($121 to $10,000) still are available from the team and on StubHub and other outlets.

GETTING THERE

By Car: Official Rams parking is sold out to season-ticket holders. Be prepared to pay upward of $100 to park in a private lot nearby.

By Rail: The Expo Park/USC Station and Expo/Vermont Station are within a 10-minute walk of the stadium. Metro promises trains about every 6 minutes on game day.

GO CLEAR, OR GO HOME

A new NFL policy this season allows only clear plastic or vinyl bags no larger than 12 by 6 by 12 inches. Team versions are available for about $20. (Exceptions for medically necessary equipment.)

This story first appeared in the Sept. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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