The NFL has announced Jennifer Hudson is planning to sing "America the Beautiful" before the game with the chorus from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Just add her to the already packed list. It also includes:
— Justin Timberlake, in his first major musical performance in four years (hosting Saturday Night Live doesn't count — he hasn't been an official musical guest on the show since 2006).
— Stevie Wonder
— CeeLo Green with his old hip-hop clique, Goodie Mob.
—Rascal Flatts with Journey.
And then there's the parties. Lil Wayne is throwing a bash. Jay-Z will host another event the night before his wife, Beyonce, takes stage. Jamie Foxx and Santigold are also performing, while DJs including Diplo and Questlove from The Roots are spinning.
Not that it's ever difficult, but it's extra easy to find a party in New Orleans the next few days.
— Stacey Plaisance
PUTTING POLITICS ASIDE FOR NEW ORLEANS
Long working on opposite sides of the American political spectrum, James Carville and Mary Matalin are pulling in the same direction when it comes to promoting their adopted home of New Orleans as a Super Bowl host.
Carville, a longtime Democratic strategist, and Matalin, a Republican pundit, are the co-chairs of the Super Bowl host committee. They're also married.
They've been making the rounds together from one event to the next in the convention center, which houses both the NFL Experience theme park and work stations for several thousand international media.
Carville is from Louisiana and the couple married in New Orleans. Then in 2008, they decided to move here from Washington, D.C. Now living in a stately home just two blocks off of historic St. Charles Avenue, they've been among the biggest boosters of the Big Easy's recovery from Hurricane Katrina, lending their support to a variety of community projects with goals ranging from restoration of fragile coastal wetlands to education and economic development.
The pair agree that while organizing a Super Bowl doesn't cost as much as a presidential campaign, it's just as hard because it's a multiyear project with a lot of moving parts.
Carville says he's always been a sports fan so the transition was natural for him. Matalin says one obvious goal is to get New Orleans back in the regular rotation as a Super Bowl host, but the larger goal is to help the city's future by demonstrating how successfully it can host one of the biggest single events in the sports world. While New Orleans is hosting its 10th Super Bowl, the NFL championship has not been played there since 2002.
Says Carville: "If it goes the way we hope it does, it'll go beyond economic impact. It'll go beyond who won the game. It think there's something significant that's coming to a point here in the city."
— Brett Martel — http://twitter.com/brettmartel
ZOO VS ZOO
File this in the quirky Super Bowl wager department: Zoos in Baltimore and San Francisco are gambling with the homes of two ravens and a rhino.
Leaders of The Maryland Zoo and The San Francisco Zoological Gardens have wagered naming rights to their respective exhibits with ties to their hometown football teams.
The zoo in Baltimore is home to official Ravens mascots, Rise and Conquer. If 49ers win, it will rename the ravens' enclosure the "San Francisco 49ers exhibit."
If the Ravens win, the San Francisco zoo has agreed to re-name the enclosure of its black rhino "Boone," who is named after the 49ers offensive tackle Alex Boone, in honor of the Ravens.
The new name would last one month, starting Feb. 11.
CATCHING THE COUNTERFEITERS
Shop wisely when looking for those Super Bowl souvenirs.
Federal officials have seized more than 163,000 counterfeit items worth more than $13.6 million over the last five months as part of Operation Red Zone, John Morton, director of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, said. That's a "significant" increase from last year, when about $5 million worth of merchandise was seized.