Before and after the lights went out, the highlights of Hollywood’s weekend in the Big Easy.
After the lights flickered back on and the confetti fell on the victorious Ravens inside the Super Dome, one of the NFL’s top teammates was not done dominating Super Bowl weekend.
In New Orleans, where there’s no such thing as last call, there was a break from tradition in capping the game with a Hollywood style after-party, this time with the big halftime and third quarter blackout winner, Pepsi.
Leveraging an 11-year partnership with Beyonce Knowles, which ESPN reports is the first time a presenting sponsor had an existing deal with the performer, they punted the focus forward to the next big tentpole, this weekend’s Grammys. Like the Super Bowl, this is also a CBS special.
Down an unsuspecting tree-lined street a few miles from the game site, lit in in their blue hue, (the same color that bathed the Super Dome during the blackout thanks to their in-seat finger-light handouts), “Django Unchained” lead Jamie Foxx stole the show from his “Dreamgirls” co-star at Pepsi’s “5th Quarter in the French Quarter,” the official beverage of both events.
The 5th Quarter bash was a perfect platform for the crossover Foxx, a veteran of sports events like the NBA’s E League organized basketball games and also an Oscar winner for his musical performance in “Ray.” Behind several barricades and security checks, Foxx was singing his hit "Blame It" with The Roots, and warming the stage for Trombone Shorty, whose brass reminded everyone of why the Utah NBA team has its mismatched name.
On this night, the dark bubbly pushed Hunter Hayes (a Grammys “Best New Artist” nominee and Louisiana local) and The Roots (“Best Rap Album” nominee) for the postgame set. Looking even further to next year’s Super Bowl in New York, they launched a fan-based contest to win field access to the next NFL championship.
However, Buzzfeed’s widely circulated photo of Jay-Z sharing the glee of his wife’s success with a post-performance hug backstage was all that would come from the Knowles camp for the rest of the night. Though rumored to be in a car en route, she and sister Solange had the rest of this Sunday night off, even if that won’t be the case next Sunday.
Also looking forward to next weekend's Grammys, Justin Timberlake.
In a classic tuxedo, Justin Timberlake was more formally dressed for DirecTV's private party on Saturday than he was at last weekend’s SAG Awards. There, his choice of a checkered suit instead of formal wear drew the hisses of E!’s Fashion Police gaggle.
Turning from acting back to music, Timberlake went “Big Band” with a full Sinatra-style orchestra ("The Tennessee Kids") at his reemergence concert in DirecTV’s mega tent Saturday night. (If the SLS hotel built an arena, it would have looked like this lush space.)
Jay-Z and Timberlake (above, with couple John Legend, left, and Chrissy Teigen) popped up in the hourlong set, with “Cry Me a River” being a high point in the night. Paul McCartney and Will Ferrell were in the mix, and chandeliers loomed over the space where the "Sunday Ticket" purveyors had footballs flying on a sandy field only hours earlier at their Celebrity Beach Bowl, an exhibition game.
Meanwhile, behind the tightly guarded door to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the fashionable crowd shimmied through the four-ring armada of arrivals at Audi's back to back evenings on Friday and Saturday. Inside, the white VIP couches were stacked: Sofia Vergara, Josh Hutcherson, Jeremy Renner and Aaron Rodgers, with Audi president Scott Keogh circled constantly throughout the nights.
“If you are not doing anything on March 26, and you are financially able, please go get my new album,” Wayne humbly asked the crowded backyard uptown at a mansion on St. Charles Avenue. Hayden Panettiere (above left) approved. Kate Upton and Ryan Kwanten were also in the crowd at the LaCoste event.
Earlier Saturday night, despite the disappointment of missing out on the Football Hall of Fame, “Live with Kelly and Michael” host Michael Strahan was a total pro. All smiles and warm as ever, he popped in on Jeremy Piven and his entourage who had their own flat-screen hideaway in a nook to watch the UFC fight at Don Julio's dinner.
On jumping in to the celeb game earlier in the day, in which he was only supposed to coach but ended up winning the MVP award as a player, Strahan displayed typical humbleness. “I put on my shorts and jumped in. I was a little worried,” the successful retired footballer-to-TV-personality told TheWrap of playing with "short actors" like Hutcherson.
The NFL Network's Warren Sapp landed on the good side of the vote, getting in to the Hall of Fame, and celebrating with another winner, NBA champion Miami Heat's DJ Irie, at the Pepsi afterparty.
The night before, Jamie Foxx reprised with another “Dreamgirls” co-star, Jennifer Hudson, during his 45-minute set (including Ray Charles songs) at the Samsung Galaxy party. At this one, it was Olivia Munn in the celebrity-shooting-phone-photos role.
The local CBS affiliate reported that 500 private jets were landing at the airport. Presumably, many were for the Forbes crowd at the Giving Back Fund’s “Big Game, Big Give” dinner party, heavy on corporate leaders Saturday night.
Eloise DeJoria, John Paul DeJoria (Paul Mitchell/Patron), and Michael Bay (at left). The Giving Back fund guides celebrities’ philanthropy efforts, consolidating the back of house administration for several star charities under one roof to stretch gifts farther.
Not a Bad Bench: E! News’ Alicia Quarles, Lil Wayne, Tom Arnold, SI Swimsuit model Chrissy Teigen, Leah Gibson and Lolo Jones came up on the short end of the scoreboard at DirecTV’s Celebrity Beach Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
At this game, the announcement of starting lineups provided unintended entertainment: a real-time popularity contest based on fan cheering. The bleachers loved teen fantasy stars Josh Hutcherson (“The Hunger Games”) and Ian Somerhalder (“Vampire Diaries”), with Neil Patrick Harris, Snoop Dogg, and local hero Lil’ Wayne also getting the loudest pops. The celebrity newsmagazine correspondents drew a hush.
On Friday, Sir Paul McCartney was just a face in the crowd.
Missable unless you were looking, he was the first one dancing at Rolling Stone’s party. The rock legend was shuffling in a VIP riser to DJ Samantha Ronson's warm-up set song, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” Two historical footnotes on the connection between this Michael Jackson hit and McCartney. First, Jackson and McCartney once had a hit duet with “Say, Say, Say.” Second, Jackson also bought a share of the Beatles catalogue, but back to the present.
Flo Rida spit out hit-after-hit, a hulking presence on stage whose lack of sweat-control led to a gradual disrobing. He opened with “Right Round" in a hat and glasses, but by the time he was closing with a cover of Journey’s “Don't Stop Believing” an hour later, he took up the Matthew McConaughey wardrobe…shirtless.
The crowd was a mix of sports (Aaron Rodgers, Dallas Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett and Bill Simmons), Hollywood (Jeremy Renner and Sofia Vergara, who loved Pitbull’s Latin-themed closing set), and crossover personalities (Mark Cuban, who was there until the lights came on).
This event underlined the championship performance by entertainment marketing and PR firm PMK*BNC. With five official NFL partners under retainer and activating simultaneously, they pulled this and several other activations off, all while COO and entertainment EVP Lewis Kay was hobbling up and down stairs and across truss on crutches all weekend.
While the police presence was huge all over the city (including state troopers brought in from Mississippi), it was concentrated around Snoop Dogg, in a good way. While Flo Rida and Pitbull did their thing at Rolling Stone, the lanky football fan’s entourage included six uniformed police officers as he arrived at Playboy’s party in the quarter. He soon traded them out for a feminine huddle.
With cold medicine in short supply nationwide, David Arquette and other Playboy guests cleared the sinuses at a hellish vat of Tabasco mash on the way in to the Playboy party, a taste bud test, that earned iron-tongued survivors a silver spoon prize.
A few blocks away, the W Hotel was a hotspot all weekend.
Shaquille O’Neal was barely able to check in on Friday around 9:30 p.m., surrounded by fans and completely unable to disappear into a crowd. Steps away in the garden patio, Hall of Fame coach and current ESPN personality Mike Ditka, whose Chicago Bears hammered the Patriots in a New Orleans Super Bowl 27 years ago, was smoking a cigar on the patio the next afternoon as clueless fans strolled by on the sidewalk.
Also unable to hide in a crowd: Michael Phelps. Phelps came to ESPN with two female friends, who are not the ones in this photo.There was no sign of “Mama Phelps”.
Shawn Johnson, Kelly Rowland, and Jeanette Jenkins at ESPN Next, where Rowland scaled a couch to get a better view of Cee Lo covering David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”
Stephanie Pratt, Audrina Partridge, Jenny McCarthy and Kendra Wilkinson host the Tenth Annual Leather & Laces party on Friday night
By Sunday afternoon, three hours before kickoff, a few thousand Ravens fans decided they would march down Poydras Avenue to the game, shutting down one of the main avenue to the Super Dome. It was not planned, but police just let it go. “It just happened,” said a New Orleans Policeman who moved barricades to close off side streets and watched alongside thousands of others. (From the History channel, “Pawn Stars’” Rick Harrison was one of the amused spectators, tossing beads down from a balcony.)
Only a city as idiosyncratic and laid back as New Orleans could be this elastic in the middle of a national security event. If the Ravens are to repeat and return to the big game, a word to the wise: The NYPD are big, and not easy.
All Photos by Getty Images. Jamie Foxx by Johnny Nunez. Audi images by Michael Buckner and Jason Merritt. Timberlake and Paul McCartney by Christopher Polk. ESPN by Robin Marchant; Phelps and DirecTV images by Michael Loccisano. Josh Hutcherson by Stephen Lovekin. David Arquette by Craig Barritt. Leather and Laces by Erika Goldring.