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Super Bowl journal: Life of the party

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

HOUSTON – What the movie Barbershop 2: Back in Business has to do with the Super Bowl is still a bit of a mystery. But the good folks at MGM Studios held a premiere here on Thursday anyway, apparently seeking a buzz among the shared target audience of NFL fans and looking for a bit of publicity from the more than 3,000 media members in town.

Why really isn't important because we got invited, and we are always up for a free movie and an after-party all in an effort to make sure you, the valued reader, are getting all the pertinent Super Bowl info. possible. So we attended. But not before checking out a party hosted by the tremendous sponsor partnership of Coors Original and FHM Magazine. Talk about two great tastes that go great together.

Thursday was the night the Super Bowl circus finally came to town. The crowds started flowing in from around the country. Celebrities arrived. People began claiming they had seen Pam Anderson. Kid Rock and P. Diddy held a press conference. The street festival scene on Main Street downtown - where there are concert stages, tents and places to hang out - got pumping, even if it did rain intermittently.

Basically you don't need to have a ticket to the actual game or even be a fan of Carolina or New England to have a great time in Houston this weekend.

Part of this is the party scene, which has taken on a life of its own at the Super Bowl. The NFL itself has even rented out its own downtown bar calling it "The Point After" and hoping to become the most exclusive of all spots. They'll have to compete with some swanky places such as The Whiskey (where Nick and Jessica are supposedly hanging out), the martini bar at the Icon Hotel and other celebrity-driven spots.

On Friday Maxim Magazine throws its highly anticipated party, and Saturday Playboy does the same (although Hef and the harem aren't coming. "He doesn't travel well," a publicist said). Even Paul Tagliabue holds his own Commissioner's Ball. Tickets to these events are tighter than the skirts on some of the women who attend.

For the next three days Houston, generally business-minded, family-oriented Houston, is trying hard to be Hollywood.

So maybe the Barbershop 2 premiere made sense after all.

Here is what we can say about the movie: We laughed, we cried and it was better than "Cats." It's the feel-good movie of the winter. A winner, you'll stand up and cheer. Two thumbs up.

Seriously, when it opens Feb. 6 go see it, you'll enjoy it. Cedric the Entertainer is back and watching him do just about anything for an hour and a half is worth a ticket. Eve, Queen Latifah and Ice Cube also star, and the movie is truly funny. If you were into the original, you'll love this one. The sequel fall-off quotient is fairly minimal.

Meanwhile, at the party, MGM erected this giant, two-story tent and made the front look like the outside of a barbershop. Then they packed the place with four open bars, tons of food and a host of hot women hoping to meet Ice Cube.

The Cube didn't show, though. But Cedric did along with The Rock, Daryl from Run DMC, Deion Sanders and Shannon Sharpe. Also one of those sort of annoying guys from the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" movies whose name we didn't know was flocked by women, anyway.

The surreal highlight for us was when Daryl, after going to the bathroom, started, for no apparent reason, free-styling in the bathroom, laying down a couple-minute rhyme in a rather surreal scene. We are talking about a pioneer in hip-hop rapping inside a five-hole Port-O-John. Which is why Nic, a waiter who was there too, was left almost speechless, just mumbling, "My friends are never going to believe this."

Earlier at the Coors and FHM "VIP Guys Night Out Super Bowl Party" at the trendy Red Star Night Club, they were threatening to body paint bikinis on some women, but we never saw that actually happen. Basically it was free beer and food, waitresses wearing revealing outfits, some women in very tight FHM T-shirts and a couple hundred guys trying not to get caught staring. And not doing a very good job of it.

We'll let you know how the battle between competitors FHM and Maxim goes in terms of parties, but there was everything to like about this. It wasn't over the top or pretentious, just a pretty good time. Maybe that is just the vibe FHM and Coors were going for.

At the Super Bowl everyone has an angle.

THE BACKLASH

The good thing about hosting a Super Bowl is it brings about $300 million in revenue to a metropolitan region. The bad part – at least if you are not New Orleans, Miami, Tampa or San Diego – is the unmerciful ripping you get from the national media.

Houston currently is under such a barrage from columnists around the country who hate the sprawl, the lack of culture, the bizarre zoning laws (you can apparently throw an 80-story high rise up in the middle of a neighborhood and open a strip club between a couple of churches), the traffic and the sleepy nightlife. Some even ripped the town for the early week weather. Fifty degrees apparently is arctic to some of these guys.

The Baltimore Sun concluded Houston was "ugly, hot, humid and (has) unpredictable weather for about six months ... (it) is a Dallas wannabe without the landscape. Yes, Houston, you have a problem."

Who knew the media lived such lavish, high-rolling, lace-curtain lives that spending a week in Houston was so beneath them? Somehow we've turned into Paris Hilton.

Houston is fine with me. It might try gentrifying a neighborhood rather than just abandoning and extending further into the farmland, but the people are great, the restaurants good and there is plenty to do. It's a good solid place. Which is why almost two million people call it home.

I don't see how you could not have a great time downtown on Thursday night whether your interests are in free concerts, bars and parties or family events such as the NFL Experience.

The city will just have to deal with the bad pub and take everyone's money. Besides, this will be nothing compared to what happens to next year's site, Jacksonville, Fla., which is a small, conservative, Southern city that should be ripped to shreds out of media boredom.

Then there is the 2006 site, Detroit, which promises to get worse press than Scott Peterson.

VALUED READER EMAILS OF THE DAY
Regarding the Leon (Budweiser) commercial mentioned in your Jan. 29 column. The following is an actual exchange between my high school basketball coach and a fellow player during a practice in the 1984-85 basketball season....

Coach: "There's no 'I' in the word team."

Player: "Yeah, but there's an M and an E."

After which, I seem to remember a lot of running.

Give the credit to Tim Braden of Oakville High School in St. Louis, Mo.

Dave Fox
Farmington, Mo.

This isn't a question, but merely a comment. You stated in your story about Julius Peppers achieving the "holy trinity" of sports fame in Charlotte. You stated it was NASCAR, North Carolina basketball and Panthers football. Having once lived in Charlotte, I always thought that the "holy trinity" was: (1) NASCAR, (2) North Carolina basketball and (3) pro wrestling.

To buttress that argument, one summer day in the early '90s, the three lead stories in the sports section of the Charlotte Observer were NASCAR, wrestling and UNC basketball. Nonetheless, I moved away before Charlotte got the Panthers, so I would assume you are correct. Great article. Keep up the good work.

Grant Mason
Millersburg, Ohio

Nice bit on Dick Enberg and brevity in broadcasting. I've pretty much quit watching sports for a variety of reasons, and poor broadcasting is right near the top of the list. Other than Doug Collins, who is great, and Joe Buck, none of them are worth unmuting the TV for.

I seem to remember NBC doing a football game with no announcers back in the '80s. When are we going to see more of that? When broadcasts come with multiple audio feeds and one of them is sans announcers, maybe I'll tune back in to pro sports.

Dan Spurrier
Seattle, Wash.

They did do a game with no announcers, and for whatever reason the experiment didn't turn into a trend. Unfortunately it seems to be going in another direction. These days ESPN even uses four-person teams (including a sideline reporter) to announce a college basketball game. It's overkill. Half of the comments aren't even about the game.

NOTES
• Considering the Patriots have been around a lot longer than the Panthers and New England has a much bigger population than the Carolinas, it stands to reason the Pats have way more fans. It is not surprising that it already it looks like two-to-one New England fans in the streets down here.

• Bill Belichick was asked why no one on his team has marked the scoring of a touchdown with any orchestrated celebrations, such as signs, cell-phone calls or Sharpie pens. "Maybe we don't score enough touchdowns," he laughed.

• In a possible fashion faux pas the Panthers' Deon Grant met with the media Thursday wearing an old-style sweater of the Boston Red Sox. The Patriots, of course, are located in the Boston suburb of Foxboro, Mass. Grant tried to shake it off. "It just shows I don't care who we are playing, I'm giving my A-plus game."

• We have already found Patriot fans whose sole goal of the week is to stake out the ESPN set outside the Convention Center and heckle Tom Jackson for claiming, early in the season, that the Pats hated Bill Belichick. TJ, you've been warned.

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