As tbt* speculated in October, ESPN's Super Bowl party will feature an appearance by Lil Wayne. But it won't be Lil Wayne the rapper — it'll be Lil Wayne the journalist.
Weezy, who in recent months has blogged for ESPN about the Rays-Phils World Series and gone head to head with Skip Bayless on ESPN First Take, will report as a blogger from the red carpet of ESPN The Magazine's NEXT Big Weekend presented by Ford F-150.
Weezy will camp out to stalk celebrities from the red carpet at the Mag's VIPs-only NEXT Party at 9 p.m. Jan. 30 in a converted parking lot at 202 S Morgan St. in downtown Tampa. Wyclef Jean is the headlining performer, with DJ appearances by Samantha Ronson and ESPN's Marcellus Willey.
You probably won't get into the NEXT Party. But that's okay, because on Saturday, Jan. 31, ESPN is hosting its NEXT Day Tailgate, a free fan event at the same location. Fans can check out the APV Pro Beach Volleyball team on a custom sand court throughout the day, a special live jump from the Red Bull Energy Drink Aerial Skydive Team, appearances by NFL players and the No. 14 Tony Stewart Old Spice NASCAR racer, and a host of interactive games, activities and food from Skipper's Smokehouse. Expect entertainment, too — Sean Kingston is your headliner, with support from Tampa's own reggae rockers Impulse and the USF marching band.
The bunnies are coming!
Playboy officially canceled its annual Super Bowl party last week. But fear not — Tampa Bay will still be stocked with Playmates during Super Bowl weekend.
Want proof? Check out Pied Piper Productions' Models and Bottles Party on Jan. 31 at Jackson's Bistro in Tampa. The bash will feature no fewer than 11 Playboy Playmates, including: Sara Jean Underwood and Jayde Nicole, the mag's Playmates of the Year in 2007 and 2008, respectively; the Ikki Twins from MTV's A Double Shot at Love; WWE diva Ashley Massaro; and DJs Crystal Ellis and Tamara Sky. With all the Bunnies on hand, it's easy to overlook the other stars: DJ Benji Madden of Good Charlotte (and Paris Hilton's ex) and WWE diva Kelly Kelly.
General admission tickets are $45 for women and $95 for men, with VIP tickets at $75 for women and $175 for men. All-access tickets, tables and cabanas are $350 to $1,995. For more info, visit piedpiperproductions.com.
Sparks lights it up
American Idol sweetheart Jordin Sparks will host two family-friendly events to benefit her nonprofit, Sparks Charities. At 6:30 p.m. Jan. 27, she'll appear at Roy's Restaurant across from International Plaza The evening will include Roy's Hawaiian fusion cuisine, a VIP meet-and-greet with Sparks and an auction. The grand prize is dinner for 12 in your home, cooked by Sparks and Chef Roy Yamaguchi. Tickets are $250 to $400.
At 6 p.m. Jan. 28, Sparks will give concert at Grace Family Church in Lutz. Joining her will be fellow AI alum Chris Richardson, singer-songerwriter Christa Black and the Grace Family Church "iO Band." Tickets are $35-$45. Get details on both events at sparkscharities.org.
Bucs getting charitable
The Bucs' Earnest Graham is hosting a weeklong series of celebrations titled Game On! Celebrity Week. Graham's Earnest Giving Inc., the Antonio Tarver Foundation and the 1Voice Foundation will team up for the Shower of Giving, a day of pampering, lunch and children's fashions from noon to 3 p.m. Jan. 27 at Saks Fifth Avenue at WestShore Plaza in Tampa. Tickets are $175.
On Jan. 29, Graham and Tarver will host the Celebrities 4 Charity Golf Tournament at Cheval Golf and Country Club in Lutz. The tournament will include sports memorabilia auctions and the chance to play with celebrities. Individual entries are $1,000; foursomes are $2,500. That night, Graham and friends will gather for a celebratory VIP dinner at Whiskey North, where Sister Hazel will perform. General admission tickets are $100; VIP tickets are $1,000. For info on any of these events, visit 1voicefoundation.org.
And the Bucs' Brian Griese and Kevin Carter will host an Inside the Huddle Party from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at Shula's Steak House in Tampa. The evening promises mingling with NFL all-Stars and other celebrity guests. Tickets cost $800 each, and only 150 will be sold. Another 50 packages are available for $7,000, and include one Super Bowl ticket.
The event benefits Judi's House, located in Denver, and Carter's children's foundation. Griese founded Judi's House, which helps grieving children and families, in honor of his mother, who passed away when he was a child. For more information, go to judishouse.org.
More party tidbits
• Off the Field, a group of NFL wives, is plotting its annual charity fashion and awards show for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 30 at the India Conference Center, 5511 Lynn Road in Tampa. Off the Field: Celebrating the Beauty Within will be hosted by gospel star Kirk Franklin and wife Tammy, and will feature a performance by Qui. Jerry Rice, Steve Young and Emmitt Smith are among the players scheduled to appear; among the honorees are Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, Cindy (wife of Jon) Gruden and Kiersten (wife of Bruce) Allen. Tickets start at $150. For details, visit lifeoffthefield.com.
• In addition to his big Good Life Experience party with Diddy at the Venue, boxer Winky Wright is hosting the TD Cassaway Breast Cancer Awareness Walk at 8 a.m. Jan. 31 at North Straub Park in St. Petersburg. Named for St. Pete native Tisha Cassaway, Wright's cousin who died of breast cancer in September, the 5K will feature appearances by Wild 98.7's Orlando and Fisher and Boy from 97X, as well as live music and a kids' health zone. Registration is $25; proceeds benefit breast cancer research. To register, visit winkywrightfoundation.org.
• Former Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica will host an exhibition at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at the museum, 200 N Tampa St. in Tampa. Tickets are $100. On Jan. 28, the museum will host "Dinner with the NFL and Getty Images" at the Tampa Club, 101 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. For details, call (813) 221-2222 or visit fmopa.org.
— Jay Cridlin, Dalia Colon, Janet Zink