Celebrity parties going head-to-head at Super Bowl

Mark+Humphrey%2C+The+Associated+Press%0A

Mark Humphrey, The Associated Press

By Mitch Stacy

TAMPA, Fla. – Kevin Costner signed on to host a glitzy Super Bowl party this year, but the truth is he doesn’t really like parties all that much. Too much glad-handing, picture-taking and standing around.

The 54-year-old Hollywood star would much rather be up on stage with his band, Modern West, grinding out original tunes in a dark club somewhere, showing people how serious he really is about music. So if you really want to get Costner to appear somewhere, invite the band, too. Playing live in the middle of the biggest weekend in sports is why he’s coming to Tampa.

“It’s clearly not the need for attention. I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime,” Costner chuckles during a telephone interview. “It’s no fun being a celebrity. I’d rather be a performer. I’d rather sing for my supper.”

But attention is clearly the point for many of the celebrities who stage one of the glitzy, see-and-be-seen happenings that have become as much a part of Super Bowl week as the game itself. Hollywood types are here, along with hip-hop people, dozens of current and former NFL stars, plenty of models, prize fighters and assorted Kardashian sisters.

Ashton Kutcher, Lindsay Lohan and Snoop Dogg are scheduled to be here. Mike Ditka says he’s bringing 100 former NFL stars with him.

The economy this year led some regular party sponsors to cut back or pull out of the Super Bowl scene – Playboy and Sports Illustrated both bagged their annual affairs – but there’s still enough going on in Tampa to keep the paparazzi busy.

Costner and ex-New York Giant Michael Strahan are co-hosting the Saturday Night Spectacular. It’s going head-to-head with gigs by hip-hop artist T-Pain and rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, along with an affair crawling with Playboy hotties called “Models and Bottles,” and an event at a science museum hosted by boxer Antonio Tarver and rapper Nelly.

The night before is the Maxim magazine party, which has become one of the more exclusive celebrity bashes of Super Bowl weekend. Models from the lads magazine will be competing for attention that night with those over at a party thrown by ESPN the Magazine, another at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino hosted by Kevin Dillon of “Entourage” fame, and a get-together featuring the unlikely duo of NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson and pop-music star Nick Lachey.

The annual “Leather and Laces” party is also Friday, hosted by Jenny McCarthy, Carmen Electra and Kim Kardashian. Promoters of all the parties are promising plenty of famous people and professional athletes.

Electra, who hosted a party with McCarthy at last year’s Super Bowl in Phoenix, says it’s a unique atmosphere, even for someone like her who doesn’t care who wins the game or, for that matter, who’s playing.

“I think sports fans are very enthusiastic, so during the Super Bowl there’s a lot of energy, a lot of people,” says the model and sometime actress. “It makes for a much more fun, lively party. … It’s going to be sexy and fun, and it’s always going to be crazy at the Super Bowl.”

Some of the parties are so exclusive that regular folk don’t have a chance of getting inside. Sports agent Leigh Steinberg, for instance, is staging his annual invitation-only gig at the Tampa zoo. Other events are benefiting charities and selling tickets to the public for a few hundred dollars or more.

Some of the proceeds of Costner’s party are going to several good causes via a foundation set up by Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Bryant to honor his 3-month-old son, who died suddenly in September. Costner says the charity aspect was part of the attraction.

While between Hollywood projects, Costner is touring with his band, playing clubs and theaters in places like Omaha, Neb., Des Moines, Iowa, and Columbia, Mo. The roots rock/country outfit released its first CD last fall.

He hopes people will come because he’s Kevin Costner and leave as new fans of Modern West.

“We’re playing original music, so the difficulty in that is inherent with any performer playing songs that (people) can’t tap their toe to because they’ve never heard it,” he says. “I kind of like the challenge of everything that probably goes with being me, the curiosity factor and everything else, and doing songs that they’ve never heard and holding that audience.”

Oh, and the game? Costner likes the Steelers.