We've all asked questions about exactly how the courtside seats on Madison Square Garden's Celebrity Row get doled out. Is there a ranking system that determines which celebrities get the best seats? Do those rich people even have to pay for their seats? Thankfully, The New York Times has provided some answers.
The paper provides a behind-the-scenes look at MSG's celebrity culture as well as some delightfully gossip-y anecdotes. (Did you know that Woody Allen is banned from hanging out in MSG's special celebrity suite?) Most importantly, The Times sheds some light on how tickets get distributed, and it's a much more complicated process than you might think:
The Garden, it turns out, has an ad-hoc celebrity-handling team whose members determine who in fact counts as a celebrity and to what degree; pursue relationships with those people (or their representatives); and deflect demands from lower-level personalities who wish they were celebrities but in fact are not. On game nights, the team also has to contend with such tricky questions as, is Katie Holmes more important than Liam Neeson? And, when you have two rappers with the same last name — Mike D. from the Beastie Boys and Chuck D. from Public Enemy — should you seat them near each other?
At the recent Knicks-Heat game, the answers could be found, as is so often the case, on an Excel spreadsheet. Entitled "VIP Locations" and organized according to some mysterious proprietary formula, it mapped out exactly who would sit where — John McEnroe in the third row, the boxer Miguel Cotto in the fifth row, a gaggle of New York Rangers in the 17th row — and it reflected various unspoken rules of V.I.P. placement.
Mysterious proprietary formula! I'd pay damn good money to see the construction of that formula. Speaking of which, if you happen to be an MSG employee who has access to that information, maybe you should consider sending it to your friends at Deadspin dot com?
The other revelation from The Times piece is that the celebrities who sit courtside don't have to pay for their seats. They are expected, however, to trade on their fame. In return for tickets, celebrities agree to appear do in-game interviews, appear in promotional spots for MSG, and attend corporate parties, among other things.
Now go read the whole thing, so you can find out what Woody Allen did you make the MSG bosses so mad.