By Nekesa Mumbi Moody ,AP
NEW ORLEANS — CeeLo was looking for a little New Orleans action. David Gregory was taking the weekend off from “Meet the Press.” And Paul McCartney was hanging out at a party that included Pitbull and Flo Rida.
It was a rich and eclectic mix of stars of all wattages on Friday night, as partying got under way in earnest before Sunday’s big game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.
CeeLo was the featured performer at ESPN Magazine’s “Next” party, which had a guest list that included Michael Phelps, NASCAR driver Kyle Bush, Kelly Rowland, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Piven, Josh Hutcherson, and current and former football players like Emmitt Smith, Cris Carter and DeSean Jackson.
CeeLo performed with his old rap clique Goodie Mobb: The group, which was an offshoot of OutKast before CeeLo became a solo hit, is coming out with a new album later this year. Though the ESPN party was the main event of his night, he made it clear it would not be his only one: “New Orleans has got a lot to offer, I may get into a little trouble.”
The stars were spread out across New Orleans: McCartney gave a rock royalty air to the Rolling Stone magazine party, which featured performances by Flo Rida and Pitbull and guests that included Chace Crawford and Sofia Vergara.
At Audi’s Super Bowl lounge, Will Ferrell, Jeremy Renner and Olivia Munn mingled, and Playboy attracted Neil Patrick Harris, David Arquette and others. Back at the ESPN party, Gregory, a Redskins fan, admitted to playing hooky from his weekly political show for the big game.
“To get a chance to come to New Orleans on top of it all, it doesn’t get much better than this. I love sports, I love the Super Bowl, so this is a great opportunity,” said Gregory, who was rooting for the Ravens.
Mackie, an actor and New Orleans native, was excited to have the Super Bowl in his hometown once again, though he’s still smarting that the Saints aren’t in it; the team fared poorly this season after being hit with significant sanctions by National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell over allegations that players received bounties for hard hits on opposing players.
When asked what he would say to Goodell if he saw him, Mackie said: “I’d tell him congratulations. What he wanted to happen happened, so now the Saints are going to come back twice as hard next season.”