Somewhere--hidden behind the festivities--there was a football game. But it was frequently hard to find, as hundreds of thousands of fans went into a weekend-long Super Bowl Party Shuffle and moved this city to a different beat.
At times, in mammoth tents and intimate restaurants, it was super surrealistic. Polyester met silk, as movie magnates mixed with New York's Metropolitan Transit regulars, hot dogs were served in all the best places, limos and buses queued up outside of hotels and restaurants, and the world's largest tailgate party went on, day after day.
But, hey, everybody is a fan--right? And there was a party--or several of them--for every fan.
Party at Universal Studios
There was nothing bigger than the bash for 4,000-plus who packed the NFL kickoff party Friday night at Universal Studios. There, Regal Rents had tented 150,000 square feet of parking lot where guests got to graze and gaze, moving between backlot backdrops and food that reflected the movie theme. Parties Plus, working from seven giant kitchens, served a little hot pasta from "Casablanca's" Rick's Cafe, a little deli nearby a King Kong display, some diner-style desserts near the rock 'n' roll dance floor, and, for "Around the World in 80 Days," hundreds and hundreds of pounds of sushi.
The in-crowd here was a little more carefully designated than at most events--some 500-plus hotshots being permitted into the heavily guarded area where a sit-down dinner was eventually served. It came late, though, so folks like MCA chief Lew Wasserman could be seen bustling back and forth, carrying goodies from the outside buffet tables. The VIP area included close friends of NFL Commissioner Pete and Carrie Rozelle, club owners and their buddies.
Few stars were on hand, but normally blase waiters fell over each other to see one particular VIP, for, as waiter-actor Brian Frank put it, "Hey, this is the one and only Joe DiMaggio."
Postmaster General Bob Tisch worked the crowd, managing to smile even as one old friend approached him, saying: "Hey, I wrote to you. Did you ever get the letter?" Tisch and his wife, Joan, are part of the cadre of special friends, "Rozelle's Rovers," who party with the Rozelles every Super Bowl weekend. Others include Lew and Edie Wasserman, Isabelle and Lawrence Barnett, Gulf & Western's Martin and Luella Davis, Polly Bergen and her husband, Jeffrey Endervelt, Kathie Lee Johnson and Frank Gifford, CBS' Gene and Sally Jankowski, Salomon Bros.'s Ira and Nicki Harris, David and Hilly Mahoney (he's former chairman of Norton Simon Inc.), Time Inc.'s Jack and Jane Meyers, Bear, Sterns' Pat and Joan Rosenwald and locals Juli and Herb Hutner.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) kept insisting that the Giants were "no longer a New York team." He shook his head sadly at table signs that read, "New York Giants," saying people "are not yet aware that they are the New Jersey Giants."
Outside, the non-VIPs were having a swell time--hundreds crowding the dance floors to '50s music. Inside, pronouncements were being made. Like that from the New England Patriots' Chuck Sullivan, casually flashing his Super Bowl ring, and saying, "We are going to do much better next year."
NFL Alumni Dinner Held
On Saturday night, the NFL Alumni held their annual dinner, chaired by Coca-Cola's Jack Attwood, packing the Century Plaza Hotel, honoring Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Los Angeles Area Boy Scout Council and NFL players who retired before 1959 when the pension plan went into effect.
A string quartet played through the reception, and many, many very big fellows kept bear hugging one another. Dr. Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral turned up to be the "chaplain of the night," since Peale had sent him to California 35 years ago. Whom was he rooting for--the Giants or the Broncos? Schuller smiled: "The winner."
At Jimmy's, the dining room was packed with regulars, as Ruth Berle joined Cleveland Browns' Art and Pat Modell and friends. At a private party for Barron and Marilyn Hilton, given by La Jolla's Ann and Bud Lonergan and Bill Black, football talk was everything.
A few blocks away at Chasen's, the dining room was packed with regulars and out-of-towners. Lynne Wasserman and Richard Swan hosted one corner booth, and Armand and Harriet Deutsch dined with former Ambassador Bill and Betty Wilson.
In the party room, producer Pierre Cossette hosted his wrap party for "Super Night at the Super Bowl," shown live in the East earlier in the evening and being screened even as the cast partied. Actor Patrick Duffy wore a New York Giants Super Bowl T-shirt, but at first refused to be photographed, saying he had to keep neutral.
Cossette's Saturday night party was only the beginning. He was set to keep Chasen's until 7 p.m. Sunday for his annual Super Bowl-watching party. The menu was football game fare: "Hot dogs, beer," Cossette said. "If you can't buy it at the Rose Bowl, you can't eat it at Chasen's."
Lining up for a picture, the Raiders' Marcus Allen was asked to hold a Giants helmet. "That would be blasphemy," he declared.
The Super Bowl does turn the most unlikely people into sports fans. Restaurateurs Jimmy and Anne Murphy, she related, were going with Contessa Cohn, who was taking them in a limo to her first Super Bowl experience.
Did the party giver know anything about football? "Well," Anne Murphy said, "We'll have Cristal Champagne and cavier on the way over and by the time we get there, we won't care who's winning."