Hollywood Rule No. 1: Anytime gold is handed over on a big stage, there has to be an after-party.
Team USA learned this the easy way this weekend at the conclusion of the London Olympic games.
Hollywood’s hospitality dream-team popped up in London over the weekend to shepherd Olympians-turned-stars through their first red carpet nights out at Club Bud, a two-night party venue of imported U.S. nightlife brands TAO and Marquee.
New “faces” like Lolo Jones and men’s gymnasts Sam Mikulak and John Orozco (from the left) mixed with “Dancing with the Stars”-level names like Hope Solo and Justin Gatlin, and top-tier limelight veterans of Team USA like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant at a series of exclusive after- parties in the Camden neighborhood on Saturday and Sunday night.
Behind the curtain, a heavyweight credit block: Hollywood studios’ preferred event producer Jeffrey Best, Budweiser, nightlife royals Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss of TAO Group, and power entertainment marketing firm PMK*BNC.
Nas and Swizz Beatz arrived on Sunday night for the TAO night, leading the men’s basketball team superstars in to what became a TAO “morning” as the party stretched on to 3 a.m.
At right, gold medalist Carmelo Anthony is patriotic in the DJ booth.
A similar late night at Sundance is highly popular with hundreds of talent, media, scenesters — and occasionally Harvey Weinstein — flowing late in to the night beneath the “Village at the Lift” on Main Street each year on the festival’s first weekend. There, Tepperberg personally cleared bodies from the front of the stage to make room for Paris Hilton to prance with indoor earmuffs on the opening night last January.
Unlike film festivals, where the blowouts are front loaded while media attention is fresh, or other major sporting events, where beer is baked in to the live and televised experience, this curtain call of “who made a name for themselves” could only happen at the end — after medals are awarded and athletes are available for nightlife.
Yet, beer and nightlife are rarely a part of any elite athletes food pyramid.
“We’re all human beings,” says Brad Brown, vice president of sports & entertainment marketing at Anheuser-Busch. “We all like to, at some point, have fun. Obviously these athletes are unbelievably disciplined, but at some point in time, whether its during training or after the games, whatever the case may be, this is an opportunity for them to celebrate. In the spirit of that celebration that’s exactly where Budweiser wants to be and that’s what we’ve done the past six years.
Unlike Beats by Dr. Dre, whose athlete seeding program paid off by playing on-camera and in the press, Budweiser is an official U.S. Olympic Committee sponsor and has hosted Club Buds in Vancouver, Beijing and Torino.
“The opportunity presented itself in London and we are excited to bring our unique blend to London,” Best says.
Unlike working on the friendly grid of the 323 and 310, the destination presented a challenge.
“I have no relationships, no warehouse and no advance team here,” Best told TheWrap of converting the 19th-century railroad crossing into the event venue, Roundhouse. “We have had to use renderings and plans as our only guide.”
Hosting more than 2,000 VIPs each night this weekend is old hat on the social side. Marquee and Tao in Las Vegas have reported revenues of $130 million for 2011, according to hospitality trade outlet Nightclub and Bar.
While the venues should have their own guest star credit on the Kardashian franchise for regular appearances, the talent relationship network run deep and stays fresh.
Melanie “Scary Spice” Brown wasn’t home resting her vocal chords the night before the Spice Girls reunion in the closing ceremonies. She hit Club Bud with husband, Stephen Belafonte (Pictured left).
For entertainment, producers netted live musical talent in the sweet spot of the cross-Atlantic Venn diagram: entrenched in the U.S. but with U.K. roots. Popular British L.A. personality Zen Freeman, who went from spinning CAA and Relativity Golden Globes parties and hosting happy hours at the Mondrian to opening for Paul Oakenfold, spun in his hometown during the Marquee branded night on Saturday.
At right, If this equation of Lebron wearing his own face on a T-shirt while celebrating a championship in a club a few hours after a victory looks familiar, it should.
After winning the NBA title in June, the post celebration at Miami hotspot LIV lad the sports news the next day. It’s not a stolen blueprint: Tepperberg just returned from an annual rat pack pilgrimage to Ibiza with LIV’s managing partner Dave Grutman and other captains of the nightlife industry.
“Just like the movie stars and pop artists who frequent our U.S. venues, the Olympic athletes all seem to be looking for an appropriate, safe and controlled environment to let loose after long weeks, months, and years of hard work," Tepperberg tells TheWrap.
"That's what we strive to provide at all of our events,” .
Not all of NBC’s primetime-caliber names were there.
Michael Phelps had already departed London on a well publicized victory vacation with friends. Serena and Venus Williams celebrated their tennis gold medals with a low-key Wimbledon village dinner party with close friends and family when the tennis competition ended a week earlier.
Diamond-mouthed swimmer Ryan Lochte will cap his high profile Olympics (both in the pool and in the London nightlife tabloid awards) by hosting back-to-back nights back home — at the venues in Las Vegas this upcoming weekend.
The freshest run from the star machine rolls on.
Photos by Tim Whitby and Ben Pruchnie for Wireimage.