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Hey, where are all the famous people?

The Super Bowl party announcements read like a who's who list of famous people: Lance Armstrong, Jon Bon Jovi, Janet Jackson, Jamie Foxx and Donald Trump.

Unfortunately, none of them showed up — or even offered an excuse, at least publicly. In some cases, the celebrities never even knew about the parties.

Promoters chalk it up to a case of celebrities, well, being celebrities. Unless you pay for an appearance, you have no idea a star will come out, even if they are confirmed.

Some party guests chalk it up to a rip off.

Lynn Guinagh and her husband, Brennan, had been looking forward to attending the after-hours party last Thursday at the Channelside Cinemas. Brennan's parents drove from Gainesville to babysit their two kids. Lynn bought a silver Sharpie and fresh copies of Bon Jovi CDs for the musician to sign.

"It was my one chance to meet him in person,'' said Lynn, 34.

But when the St. Petersburg couple arrived, the people at the door just scratched their heads. Wade Boggs and Plant High football coach Robert Weiner were in the house for a private charity event. But Bon Jovi and Lance Armstrong (and John Madden and Kenneth Cole, who were also listed on the party flier)? You've got to be kidding.

The couple came back a few hours later only to discover the after-hours party started at 11:30 p.m., not 10 p.m. as their tickets stated.

After some pleading, the Guinaghs got in early but grew bored and went to Bennigan's. When they returned at about 1 a.m., the place was dead.

"There was just a drunk old guy passed out on the couch,'' she said. "It was such a bust.''

The couple has tried all week to get their $100 back. Party Time Productions, which put on the after-hours party, apologized for the confusion, saying charity event organizers told them the celebrities were in attendance.

Absolutely not true, according to charity event officials. They booked the venue from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. and never advertised any big names.

"We are extremely unhappy,'' said Barry Smith, a senior partner with BDK Group of Tampa, which organized the charity event, Champions for Compassion. "It was a gross exaggeration and abuse. We're in the midst of meeting with legal counsel to handle this.''

Party Time Productions did not return phone calls. A spokesperson for Madden said: "John knew nothing about the party and no invitation was received.'' Armstrong's manager said the cyclist left for training camp in California on Sunday and never discussed any Super Bowl-related appearances.

Red carpets were similarly bare at other Super Bowl soirees. No Janet Jackson at the Under the Veil parties last weekend at the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry. No Jamie Foxx.

Admittedly, bringing celebrities to parties is like corralling cats. Their handlers often put them on multiple guest lists and, at the last minute, decide where to go, if anywhere.

Michael Bilello, spokesman for the Good Life Experience, a three-night party headlined by Diddy, Deion Sanders and Winky Wright at the Venue, said just because a celeb is on a guest list — or a party flier — doesn't mean they will attend.

"They're confirmed that it's on their calendar, but you can't make them attend,'' he said. Only contracted guests are under obligation.

Donald Trump and Usher both RSVP'd to the Venue but never showed. Bilello had no idea why but said it didn't matter.

"At the end of the day, the event is always judged on not who shows up but how much fun people have.''

Hey, where are all the famous people? 02/05/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 6, 2009 11:16am]

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