It’s So L.A.: Super Bowl Goes Show Biz


The Super Bowl. It’s not just for sports fans anymore.

Super Bowl XXVII brings head to head not only the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills, but also two of the biggest names in pop music--Garth Brooks and Michael Jackson.

Brooks is singing the national anthem. Jackson is headlining the halftime show, which in recent years has involved thousands of people, with a finale by an entertainer. This year’s, Sunday afternoon at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, will focus on Jackson as he performs a mini-concert, culminating with his “Heal the World” anthem. Producer-director Don Mischer said it will be unlike anything the Super Bowl audience has ever seen.

“Michael chose to do this because he is trying to get a certain message out,” Mischer said. “He realized a potential in terms of an audience around the world.”


The Super Bowl grabbed the top spot in the 1992 Nielsen ratings; the pregame show took a close second, and the post-game show came in at No. 7. The NFL estimates the 1993 contest will draw an audience of more than 1 billion people in the United States and 86 other countries.

Jackson’s deal with the NFL includes a 30-second ad spot, $100,000 in donations from the NFL and game sponsor Frito-Lay, and several stories in the Super Bowl program--all for his Heal the World Foundation.

A 260-person team assembled by Radio City Music Hall Productions has about five minutes to assemble a 22-piece 75-by-75-foot concert stage, complete with audio, lighting and pyrotechnic equipment. About 3,500 children, ages 5 to 17, will take the field as part of a spectacle using the whole stadium and its 102,000 spectators in a massive card stunt.

Still, Mischer said, he is trying to maintain an intimate feeling.

“Can we, in this environment, create something that will feel emotional?” he said. “Stadiums are very irreverent places. People don’t pay much attention to what’s going on. The spoken word, or the words to the song, are hard to understand.”

The “King of Pop” will not be lip-syncing, but may “sing along with a track,” Mischer said, which is common during such large-venue events.

Jackson’s rehearsals were closed to the media to preserve the mystery of the show. Executive producer Arlen Kantarian insists it will be the “most action-packed, must-see 10 minutes in television history.”

And this year, even the expected has a touch of the unexpected. Brooks isn’t just going to croon the “Star Spangled Banner”; he’s “going to be part of an expanded portrayal of the national anthem,” according to Don Garber, vice president of business development and special events for NFL Properties.

Garber wouldn’t go into detail but said, “Never before have we built up our relationship with an anthem singer as we have this year.”

Brooks is also in Los Angeles to perform two benefit concerts at the Great Western Forum Friday. Proceeds from the sold-out shows will go to the NFL Youth Education Training Program to build a recreational center in South-Central Los Angeles.

Brooks will sing two songs as part of TNT’s “Super Bowl Saturday Night” show, starting at 7 p.m. on the eve of the game. Dennis Miller will host from Hollywood as TNT broadcasts live from the NFL Experience, a sports/entertainment theme park adjacent to the Rose Bowl. NFL officials will honor the player and rookie of the year and introduce the 1993 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees.

The lineup leading to the 3:30 p.m. kickoff stacks up something like this:

* Can’t afford game tickets? The “NFL Experience” opens Thursday adjacent to the Rose Bowl, and runs through game day. KPWR-FM 105.9, a co-sponsor of the NFL Experience, will broadcast live periodically and give away Super Bowl and NFL Experience tickets.

* A segment on ESPN’s “Inside the NFL,” 11 p.m. Thursday, will examine the preparations for the big game, and whether Los Angeles is more supportive of the event than in 1987, the last time the Super Bowl was in the Southland.

* “Super Bowl Saturday Night,” will air on TNT at 7 p.m.

* For fans who need a football warm-up, Prime Ticket is offering “Cross-Town Showdown,” a repeat performance of the tense 1990 and 1992 USC-UCLA matchups, starting at 9 a.m.

* If Garth Brooks isn’t your type, Bell Biv DeVoe will perform at the main stage of the NFL Experience Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

* The pregame show starts at 12:30 p.m. on NBC, featuring Mick Fleetwood and Billy Burnette, Tanya Tucker, Glen Frey and Gary Busey, reprising his title role in “The Buddy Holly Story.”