WELCOME TO ATLANTA WORLD!!! DEY GOING NAENAE CRAZY OUCHEA LOL
They call it Celebrity Row, the six prime courtside seats in Madison Square Garden reserved for the three most prominent celebrities (plus guests) at any given Knicks game. For the game against the Miami Heat on Jan. 9, they were filled by an actor, a musician and a model: David Duchovny, Paul Simon and Kate Upton.
No other basketball team except the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates the presence of big-name fans at its games as aggressively and as unabashedly as the New York Knicks do. In a city where fame is its own reward, and proximity to fame is nearly as exciting as the thing itself, celebrities in the stands help promote the exceptionalist notion that the city is special, the Knicks are special, the Garden is special and Spike Lee is a better kind of fan than Jack Nicholson.
Celebrities, of course, are different from you and me, and the Garden has developed a well-oiled system of cultivating and cosseting them.
“If you’re an A-level person and we know the fans are going to go bananas when your picture goes up on the scoreboard, then there’s a value having you there,” said Barry Watkins, the Madison Square Garden company’s executive vice president for communications and administration. “We think it’s a big part of the brand. Win or lose, it’s one of the reasons people come to the games.” (In fact, at 15-26, the Knicks have been doing a lot of losing this season.)
How these celebrities end up at the games; how they get assigned their particular seats; how they are treated when they arrive at the arena; what they do in return — all these apparently simple issues are in fact immensely complicated, reflecting the Garden’s policy of never missing an opportunity and never leaving anything to chance.
The Garden, it turns out, has an ad-hoc celebrity-handling team whose members determine who in fact counts as a celebrity and to what degree; pursue relationships with those people (or their representatives); and deflect demands from lower-level personalities who wish they were celebrities but in fact are not. On game nights, the team also has to contend with such tricky questions as, is Katie Holmes more important than Liam Neeson? And, when you have two rappers with the same last name — Mike D. from the Beastie Boys and Chuck D. from Public Enemy — should you seat them near each other?
At the recent Knicks-Heat game, the answers could be found, as is so often the case, on an Excel spreadsheet. Entitled “VIP Locations” and organized according to some mysterious proprietary formula, it mapped out exactly who would sit where — John McEnroe in the third row, the boxer Miguel Cotto in the fifth row, a gaggle of New York Rangers in the 17th row — and it reflected various unspoken rules of V.I.P. placement.
Make sure they all have decent seats. Make sure that some, but not all, end up sitting with other celebrities. Make sure to put the most important people in Celebrity Row — this calculation is “based on the A-level nature” of those celebrities, Mr. Watkins said — while not hurting the feelings of the people whose level hovers down at the sad end of the alphabet.
The arena has lots of seats suitable for famous people, including courtside spots not along Celebrity Row. Depending on demand and availability, the Garden often finds itself accommodating 20 or more celebrities at a time (some pay for their own tickets).
Celebrities who become “friends of the Garden,” as they are called, get plenty of perks. Among them are a special side entrance into the Garden; a special elevator, so they do not have to ride the common escalators; a special V.I.P. clubhouse known as Suite 200 that is free of charge and that has an open bar, a frozen yogurt station and an extravagant buffet always featuring a special item by Jean-Georges Vongerichten; and a personal escort to usher them to their seats.
But there is a quid pro quo, and agreeing to be filmed at your seat for broadcast on the GardenVision screen during games is only the beginning. Some of the celebrities work for the Knicks’ Garden of Dreams foundation, a charity that helps disadvantaged and ill young people.
Others appear in interviews and promotional spots during games and on the MSG Network; attend parties for Garden employees; shoot scenes from movies and TV shows at the Garden; or even appear in recruitment videos designed to lure potential players to the Knicks. The late James Gandolfini appeared in character in two such videos alongside his “Sopranos” co-star Edie Falco, explaining to Amar’e Stoudemire and LeBron James why New York was a good place to relocate. (It worked for Stoudemire, but not for James.)
“You don’t get something for nothing, and if it helps the Garden if they see someone of my celebrity status — however high or low that is — I’ll put on my best Armani suit and go out there,” Mr. Neeson said in a telephone interview. He was there alongside the other V.I.P.’s — figures like Prince Amukamara of the New York Giants and Damaris Lewis of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition — in Suite 200 before the game. (The Garden let a reporter visit Suite 200, as long as she agreed not to approach any famous people or “talk about any celebrity interactions,” as one staff member put it.)
Michael J. Fox, who in his memoir “Lucky Man” discusses the celebrity-camaraderie phenomenon wherein they all know one another, even if they don’t, said that the Garden really takes care of its celebrities.
“It’s all very managed — the line blurs between what’s an extended courtesy and what’s a special attention to keep you from going rogue — but in a very nice way,” he said in a phone interview.
He added: “It’s not a thing that any of us deserve or any of us earn — it’s just something the Garden does to make our life happier.”
Normal fans do not get to enjoy the ministrations of Ken Zrubek, Suite 200’s longtime maître d’, who among other things keeps an array of emergency supplies — phone chargers, laptop cords — in his office. “I get them things they need in order to keep going,” Mr. Zrubek said in a brief glide-by interview, “and right now” — here he named a celebrity wife — “needs some Advil.”
One of the most prominent celebrity Knicks fans, Woody Allen, is no longer welcome in Suite 200. He pays for season tickets and used to be a Suite 200 regular — albeit without ever talking to any of the other guests, Garden staff members said — but was asked to stop coming after, the Garden said, he refused on three occasions to do small favors for them. His spokeswoman, Leslee Dart, said that he had been asked to do only one thing — film a short promotion for a movie of his that was being shown on the MSG network — and that he declined because he never promotes his own movies. In any case, she said, when the Garden told him not to come to the suite anymore, “he understood completely.”
During the games, the transmission of celebrity images is just one of many diversions the Garden uses to keep the crowd perpetually entertained. Some fans find this more thrilling than others.
At a recent game against the Phoenix Suns, Samir Patel, 43, who owns a liquor store in Parsippany, N.J., pronounced himself mystified by the evening’s celebrity offerings, which included Michael Zegen, identified on the screen as an actor from “Rescue Me.” “I’ve heard of ‘Rescue Me,’ but not him,” he said sadly.
But Sabrina Rogers and Ariana Bruschi, both 17-year-old high school students from New Hyde Park, N.Y., said that to them, it was all about fame. Once they spotted Chris Rock at a game, they said, and this time they saw a famous person they referred to as “that baseball player.”
“It makes a huge difference,” Sabrina said.
For a brief, giddy moment the other night, the pair thought they had spotted Kim Kardashian.
“It was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve seen her,’ ” Sabrina said.
They immediately posted the news on Instagram and other social media outlets, only to realize they had been mistaken. “We tweeted it,” Ariana said, “but then we had to un-tweet it.”
Mr. Watkins said that the Garden occasionally gets snippy queries for “front row or nothing” tickets, to which the Garden’s response is, generally, “nothing.” Leslie Sloane Zelnik, co-president of BWR Public Relations, said that most of her clients are grateful to get tickets at all.
“I’ve honestly had A-listers sit in the second or third row and not complain,” she said.
Lincoln has unveiled the 2015 Navigator ahead of February’s Chicago Auto Show. The Navigator has not changed a lot since 2007, so what will you find special in the 2015 model? First, the updated Navigator gets it own take on the Lincoln’s signature split-wing grille. Next, there’s a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine (which is also used in the Lincoln MKS and MKT), which will produce 370 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque. The new engine replaces the 5.4 liter V-8, which only produced 310 hp. Lincoln says the new engine will produce best-in-class tow ratings.
You’ll also find redesigned lights, standard 20-inch wheels and Lincoln’s SelectShift manual control. 22-inch wheels are available as an option. The Navigator will be available in four-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive configurations.
The “Butler” duo will reunite for the drama series from exec producer Brian Grazer.
Fox going to explore hip-hop with The Butler‘s Lee Daniels and Danny Strong.
The network has picked up Empire, a drama pilot from The Butler‘s Daniels and Strong, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The family drama is set in the world of a hip-hop empire — think the Jay Z story. The drama will feature both original and current music. Strong, who penned the script for The Butler, which was produced and directed by Daniels, is attached to write the, while Daniels will direct. From 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine, Brian Grazer will exec produce alongside Daniels, Strong and Francie Calfo. Grazer, who is passionate about hip-hop music and culture, has been wanting to do a character-driven series that gives the audience a behind-the-scenes look
The NFL needs brash personalities such as Richard Sherman to keep fans engaged. This presentation discusses the outspoken Seattle Seahawks cornerback in context of the rise of the modern-day NFL player/brand. The presentation asserts that the NFL should be thankful for Sherman: no doubt he will be good for Super Bowl XLVIII ratings. The presentation contains speaker notes.