By BABITA PERSAUD, AMY WIMMER, AMY HERDY, KATHRYN WEXLER, JEAN HELLER, KYLE PARKS and KELLY RYAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 29, 2001
Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf appeared on the field at Raymond James Stadium with other military officers, as the Backstreet Boys sang the national anthem. The Boys only had to rehearse the anthem once, they said. Before the performance, Brian Littrell said, "Usually I'm so nervous, I'll sing with my eyes closed." But not this time. Littrell said he decided not to stress out.
Seen at the game: Comedian Joe Piscopo, walking around with the media; filmmaker Spike Lee; wrestler Hulk Hogan, wearing a black bandana and sitting near one of the goal posts; actor Tony Danza; Miami Heat point guard Tim Hardaway and Survivor I winner Richard Hatch, who was clean shaven and chewing gum.
Wise-cracking chef Emeril Lagasse, sporting a Super Bowl jacket, got pats on the back from fans as he made his way back to his seat in section 110.
Actor Kirstie Alley, who owns a house in Clearwater, arrived at the stadium in style: in a limo, wearing sunglasses and a bandana tied around her hair and face like a kerchief.
Singer James Ingram flew in from Los Angeles just for the United Negro College Fund benefit at the Wyndham Harbour Island Hotel. He plannned to be in the air Sunday, heading home, by game time. "I hate all those crowds. It's always more interesting to me to watch it at home," he said.
The Edinburgh ballroom at Westin Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor can accommodate 800 people, but Indianapolis Colts' owner Jim Irsay rented it Saturday night for a private party with 75 of his closest friends. Making a special appearance at the party was Jay Leno, whose helicopter landed on the resort's golf course at 6 p.m. Saturday, just in time for the late-night talk show host to change clothes in a hotel room and entertain the small party. He stuck around to shake hands and pose for photos with each of the partiers leaving for other appearances. Some Colts players weren't ready for the party to stop. They were spotted looking at maps of Tampa, trying to figure out how to get to the Playboy.com party at Rain in Tampa.
Jay Leno, playing a packed Mahaffey Theater later on Saturday night, made jokes about everything from the airlines, to parents, to pets. On a recent flight, he said, the pilot came back to meet Leno, who asked if the pilot had been in the military. "Oh no, my eyes weren't good enough for the military," Leno said the pilot told him. Leno wisecracked about California, but, unlike media in town for the big game, didn't make a single disparaging remark about Tampa Bay.
Tangi Miller from Felicity, also at An Evening with the Stars at the Wyndham, said she didn't go to the Gasparilla parade and was frustrated because she couldn't figure out the event's significance. "I kept asking people to tell me what this parade is about. I couldn't find anyone," she said. "Someone, some pirates, take a key from the mayor and no one can tell me why."
The sports crowd continues to flock to Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Tampa. Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. threw a private party there Friday. Former Bucs defensive lineman Lee Roy Selmon ate there Saturday along with Rams running back Marshall Faulk and former Redskins QB and ESPN sportscaster Joe Theismann.
- Compiled by Babita Persaud, Amy Wimmer, Amy Herdy, Kathryn Wexler, Jean Heller, Kyle Parks and Kelly Ryan.