Saturday, February 2, 2008

Stars Invade Super Bowl Week


There may be about 400 miles separating Hollywood from Phoenix, but you’d never know it judging from the waves of celebrities that have descended upon the desert for Super Bowl week.

The likes of Diddy, Nick Lachey, Ashlee Simpson and Paris Hilton are just a few of the A-list stars who have made the trip out to Arizona to partake in the festivities leading up to Sunday’s big game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots.

But forget just going to a party – most of the celebs are the ones throwing the all-out bashes.

Nick Lachey and his football friend Matt Leinart got things started on Wednesday night, with an event at the swanky Olive and Ivy restaurant in Scottsdale. Not only was it a party, but it was also for a good cause as an auction inside the event raised money for the Matt Leinart Foundation, which benefits underprivileged youths.

“We raised a lot of money. It was awesome. Nice to see such a great turn out and to see all my friends and the fans come out and support what I’m trying to do and give back to the community,” Leinart told after the event.

Keeping things going, Lachey teamed up with NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson and Diddy for a star-studded bash on Thursday night at Axis/Radius in Scottsdale.

Meanwhile, proving that the fun doesn’t have to be saved for after dark, some of the biggest names in sports and celebrity joined forces on Thursday for the DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bash flag football game, which was hosted by Access’ own Maria Menounos.

Stars like Pete Wentz, Brandon Routh, Stacey Kiebler, Blake Lively and even “Girl Next Door” Kendra Wilkinson hit the field, along with NFL greats including Warren Moon, Desmond Howard and Doug Flutie for a game of beach football on live TV.

For “Gossip Girl” star Lively, she just couldn’t pass up a chance to be part of Super Bowl week.

“It’s madness! It’s really exciting though,” Lively told before the game.

And while some of the stars are focused on the parties and special events, for Lively (who is a New York Giants fan) there is a much bigger task at hand.

“I’ll be at the game on Sunday,” she said, adding that fellow “Gossip Girl” co-star Chace Crawford was also making the trip out to Arizona.

But sorry Chace, there’s another man in Lively’s life on Super Bowl Sunday.

“I’ll be bringing my dad. It’s his birthday,” she revealed.

“Dancing With the Stars” alum Stacey Kiebler was also excited to be amid the action leading up to the NFL’s championship game.

“It’s crazy and it’s only Thursday. It’s just the beginning,” she laughed.

And despite feeling under the weather, Stacey wouldn’t dream of missing out on all the fun.

“Every year I try to come to the Super Bowl. It’s always such a great mix of musicians and celebrities and athletes. There’s so much going on. You’re guaranteed a fun time,” she said. “Plus, you get to get out of LA.”

And while Stacey relished the opportunity to have some fun in a new city, for any stars who might be feeling a little Hollywood home sick during the days leading up to Sunday, don’t worry – Brent Bolthouse has you covered.

The founder of Bolthouse Productions (who “Hills” fans will recognize as Heidi Montag’s boss) has brought a taste of LA right to the middle of the Arizona desert.

Beginning on Thursday, and every night until the game, Bolthouse has brought LA hot spot Hyde into Scottsdale to host star-studded parties.

“We wanted to create a refuge for our friends back home. There’s a lot of people from Hollywood out here and we wanted to create a home away from home for them out here,” Bolthouse told

Bolthouse, who called the Super Bowl and Hyde the “perfect combination,” said he expected a collection of both celebrities and athletes to enjoy the new, albeit temporary Hyde, which was hosting from the grounds of the Audi Forum Phoenix.

Not to be outdone, the athletes also made their presence felt at red carpets across the Phoenix area.

San Diego Chargers superstar Shawne Merriman spoke with on Wednesday night at the Lachey/Leinart event, where he talked about the best part of Super Bowl week.

“The festivities,” the all-world linebacker smiled. “The worst part is not playing in the game.”