Ultimate Football: The Rise of the Swanky Sports Bar

Recently there has been a change in the way sports bars are run. The old model of sports bar was essentially a man-cave with a liquor license. Neon beer signs and frat boys and old farts screaming at the TV. A burly bartender who maybe took a little book served up commonplace swill and defrosted burgers. There are still plenty of those joints to watch the game, but the new model of sports bar separates the men from the metrosexuals.

The new sports bar embraces women and is run more like a regular restaurant/club. The food is well thought out and good…and pricey. The drinks are made by mixologists or hot bartenders. The prices keep some serving as a sort of door policy against the old guard coming in wearing their team’s smelly jerseys. On a big game day reservations are a must.

The busy season of sports is upon us. Pro and college football bring all the boys to the bars, and these days, the girls too. Monday Night Football packs them in and nowadays, with good food, speciality drinks and bottle service, the steady revenue streams have made this a bigger business. I feel like saying "Duh, why didn’t we think of this before?"

One of the most successful of these new sports bars is Bounce Sporting Club, with two location: one in the Flatiron District and another on the Upper East Side. As their website proudly announces, it is "reinventing the NYC sports bar."

The hospitality business evolves and once one guy or gal shows us the way, the bandwagon gets very big. Tonight, Bounce will celebrate two years of booming business. I caught up with proprietor Cole Bernard, who used to own, operate and promote regular clubs around town, and asked him a few question about Bounce and the new world order for sports bars.

How would you describe Bounce Sporting Club?

It’s a hybrid concept that caters to all different types of customers, ranging from corporate to the young general market crowd.

How dependent is the biz on actual events? Do pro and college football make for a busier season?

For most businesses in the hospitality, food and beverage world, the fall season is definitely one of the busiest times of year. Everyone is excited to have football back and it makes for a great atmosphere where customers come to watch the games and have a good time. Football season is definitely one of the busiest seasons at Bounce followed by March Madness for NCAA Basketball.

What’s different this year from last year at Bounce?

In year two, you can expect a lot of new elements that you didn’t see in year one, ranging from an updated roster of DJ’s to special performances to unique presentations. We will also be updating the menu and adding some new and different items. For example, on Sundays this season, our DJ lineup is ready to kick off. The season features some phenomenal talent, including MOS, Reach, Ross One, Mick Boogie, Sinatra and Dalton. I like to describe it as the "ultimate way to watch football."

Do you miss the "regular" club life?

Even though it’s a different environment, I still get a lot of that same energy from Bounce. Since we cater to such a wide variety of clientele, you will see many table clients that you would see at the most popular nightclubs at Bounce on a Saturday or Sunday for one of our day parties. We are definitely different from most sports bars. From the minute customers enter the venue, to the minute they leave, we want them to feel comfortable and excited about joining us no matter what day of the week or time of day.

image: Bounce Sporting Club

Big Freedia, Ke$ha Getting Reality Shows

With 30 Rock over, Ben & Kate axed, and Parks & Recreation and Breaking Bad coming to an end in the spring, the latter with its ‘polarizing‘ finale, it seems like we’re running out of TV to which we can look forward. If waiting for Game of Thrones or Mad Men just isn’t enough to tide you over, luckily, the good people at your friendly neighborhood music-related channel have a pair of reality shows that actually sound sort of amazing.

After a scene from Teen Mom where the mother asked for a change in her sentencing so she could go to a Ke$ha concert went viral (she called the “Die Young” singer “her idol” and declared, “it’s not just a concert, it’s Ke$ha!”), MTV’s only natural conclusion would, of course, be to make a Ke$ha reality show. The documentary series, which premieres in April and features footage shot by her brother, Lagan Sebert, shares a name with her recently-released memoir, My Crazy Beautiful Life. The show will focus on her life over the past two years, including touring and recording. Ke$ha says the show’s content will be “not all glamorous, but it’s all real,” so hopefully we’ll find out what really happened in that Record Store Day session with Wayne Coyne.

However, our artist-centric reality show cups had really runneth over upon finding out that New Orleans bounce superhero Big Freedia (the Queen Diva) was getting her own show on Fuse. Much like Ke$ha’s, it will be a documentary series focusing on the New Orleans rapper’s life and music, from recording to touring to the more personal.

"We’re working on a reality show that should come out real soon,” Freedia says in a Fuse interview. “I’m very excited about that, but I’ll be a little scared about it, too. They’ll be in my life a full 24/7. It’ll be all of my music and all of a lot of asses all over the world.”

Freedia’s reality show doesn’t have a premiere date yet, so you should probably just clear your calendars for the next few months just in case. In the meantime, watch this interview for more on her music and bounce’s impact on New Orleans.

Oscar Buzz Watch: Ben Affleck Is Definitely Getting Oscar-Nominated

Ben Affleck is definitely getting Oscar-nominated for Argo. When it opens in theaters next weekend, and you make it your compromise movie because nobody can agree on Pitch Perfect or Seven Psychopaths (and no one wants to see Here Comes the Boom, come on), you should watch it with the full knowledge that Ben Affleck is a stone-cold certainty to be nominated come January, for either Best Actor or (more likely) Best Director. It’s just absolutely going to happen.

You can try to pretend it won’t happen—maybe you’d rather it wouldn’t? Maybe you’re still holding on to some of that Bennifer resentment. And who could blame you? He was actually kissing her butt in the "Jenny from the Block" video! That’s how much they thought the public wanted to see them! Or maybe yours is a more high-minded resistance. Maybe it was that five-year-or-so stretch in the 2000s where he made an unbroken string of terrible movies, roughly from Bounce in 2000 through Surviving Christmas in 2004 (we’re being kind and granting his Golden Globe-nominated role in Hollywoodland as a streak-breaker. You’re under no obligation to do so). For a long while, Ben Affleck was about as far from Oscar material as you could possibly be. But that is exactly why it’s even more certain that he’s DEFINITELY getting Oscar-nominated for Argo

If there’s anything Oscar loves more than an actor-turned-director—do I even have to mention the award-winning names? Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner (Kevin COSTNER!)—it’s a comeback story. Particularly a comeback story where the individual is "coming back" from trying to make studio heads and agents lots and lots of money with movies like Armageddon and Pearl Harbor and Daredevil. Oh no! How will these businessmen ever forgive him for pulling in $118 million domestic for The Sum of All Fears?? Of course, what he’s really coming back from is a reputation as a great Hollywood doof. Sure, he won an Oscar seemingly right out of the gate with Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, but having to stand on all those red carpets next to perfect little Hollywood-sized Matt Damon, Affleck couldn’t help but look like the big dumb galoot along for the ride. Then Damon proceeded to go on one of the more interesting career arcs in recent memory, careering from art house disaster (noooooo, All the Pretty Horses!) to Bourne billions, ultimately becoming one of the better-liked A-listers in Hollywood. All of which only made Affleck look even worse in comparison, when people even bothered to think about him at all. (Never mind that while Affleck was getting slammed for cashing a paycheck on a movie actually called Paycheck, Damon wasn’t exactly covering himself in glory as Greg Kinnear’s conjoined twin in Stuck on You. See? You’re starting to feel a swell of sympathy for Affleck even now, aren’t you?) Then, in 2007, Affleck made the dubious-seeming decision to step behind the camera, and the result was the quite good Gone Baby Gone. So good that it nabbed an Oscar nomination for Amy Ryan and at least made people stop chuckling when talk turned to "Ben Affleck: Director." Three years later, Affleck directed The Town which, this writer’s contrary opinion of it notwithstanding, was very well-received by critics and was generally considered to have missed the Best Picture top ten that year by a hair’s breadth.

And next weekend, Affleck will see his third directorial effort hit screens with Argo, the "based on recently de-classified documents" political thriller / Hollywood farce (like chocolate and peanut butter, those genres!) that sees Affleck co-starring with a serious ’70s beard as a CIA operative who gets the bright idea to impersonate a Canadian film crew in order to infiltrate Iran and rescue six Americans during the 1979 hostage crisis. By the way, if the logline doesn’t sell you, Argo might end up being worth the ticket price for the sheer volume of character actors alone: John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Chris Messina, Bryan Cranston, Kyle Chandler, Phillip Baker Hall; I could go on (Clea DuVall!) and on (Titus Welliver!). This is classic Hollywood mythmaking (Zeljko Ivanek! Sorry, last one), where the very idea of The Movies is the apparatus that will free six American heroes during one of the darkest times in American history. Who’s NOT nominating this thing?

"Sure, for Best Picture, maybe," you say. "There could be ten nominees. How can you be so sure Affleck will be one of five directors so honored?" To that I say: ARE YOU SERIOUSLY CRAZY? You’re seeing all the ingredients here, right? Actor-turned-director. A wet dream of a campaign narrative. The slight air of being "owed" for his previous movies coming so close. Oh, and also, everybody who saw Argo at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals freaked out and started screaming "OSCAR!!!!" out their hotel windows into the late-summer air. Not every movie currently sits atop the "Gurus o’ Gold" Oscar prediction charts, you know. Argo also sits comfortably in the Best Picture ranks on both Hitfix and Vulture, though Vulture is RIDICULOUSLY blind to his Best Director chances, which is just too preposterous to consider. This is HAPPENING! Accept it.

Argo opens in theaters on October 12th. Oscar nominees are announced on January 10th. Which leaves Ben Affleck almost exactly three months to figure out how to convince us that he didn’t even know he was nominated until his agent called.

Follow Joe Reid on Twitter.

VH1 Orders New Scripted Series: ‘Bounce’

VH1, which has followed in MTV’s footsteps by cutting bumping most of its music video coverage to other channels, is now adding scripted shows to its already stuffed reality TV lineup. Following the success of the Atlanta-based drama Single Ladies, the channel has now greenlighted the production of another hour-long series, this one called Bounce starring Dean Cain, Kimberly Elise, Charlotte Ross, Taylour Paige, and Logan Browning.

According to Deadline Hollywood:

Created and written by James LaRosa, Bounce follows the lives and loves of the Los Angeles Devil Girls, the dance team for the country’s No. 1 professional basketball team. It centers on Ahsha (Paige), a sheltered woman who joins the team against the wishes of her mother Sloane (Elise), who knows this treacherous, tempting world all too well having been an original Devil Girl herself. Olivia (Ross) is the shrewd squad manager, Jelena (Browning) is the ruthless star captain of the team, and Pete Davenport (Dean Cain) is the former all-star who’s come back to coach his old team only to have to contend with the girls stealing the spotlight and distracting his players. Maggie Malina and LaRosa executive produce the series, which will begin production in 2013. The cast includes Valery Ortiz, Katherine Bailess, Jonathan McDaniel and McKinley Freeman. Sanaa Hamri directed the pilot, which marks VH1′s first hourlong pilot.

Here’s the positive: VH1 is at least bringing series featuring diverse casts to the small screen, which isn’t really happening on other mainstream cable shows. (Sorry, HBO. We love The Wire, but nothing about Girls, Veep, The Newsroom, or Game of Thones is particularly diverse. Same goes for the much-loved AMC series Mad Men, Breaking Bad, or The Walking Dead. Orrrrrr ABC Family’s Bunheads. Et cetera!) The negative? It’s not that the channel is moving away from being all about the music, albeit the softer adult-contemporary variety it was typically known for. I’m more bummed that Bounce is not based on the Gwenyth Paltrow/Ben Affleck vehicle. Remember when Bounce was supposed to be a thing? RIP Bounce: The Movie

Oh well. Dean Cain is back, so I guess that’s something.

A Spirited Selection of Upscale New York Sports Bars to Watch (the Giants Win) the Super Bowl

On Sunday, the most important sporting event in the world will be held, assuming by "world" you mean "United States." This year’s Super Bowl is particularly significant, as it pits the Giants of East Rutherford, New Jersey New York against the Patriots of Foxborough, Massachusetts New England, two of the biggest television advertising markets most historically rich cities in the country. A list of Boston sports bars can be found here. As for my fair city, New York is filled with sports bars, but there are a handful of particularly upscale joints that break the lager-and-wings mold with fancy cocktails and haute cuisine – particularly important if you’re trying to make a date of it. Here are a few of our favorites. 

Bounce Sporting Club – Downtown

This upscale sports lounge attracts fans from far and wide with artisinal cocktails, delicious food, and more TVs than you can shake a thunderstick at.  In honor of the home team, order a Blueberi Bounce cocktail, which is made with Stoli Blueberi vodka, fresh lemon, smashed blueberries, and ginger ale.

Bounce Sporting Club – Uptown

The original location of Bounce strikes the perfect balance between clubhouse and fancy restaurant. If you wanted to watch the game and your better half was counting on date night, this is your spot. 

Snap

The sports bar reimagined as a nightclub. Clubby feel, football-leather banquettes, and sophisticated sips abound. 

The Ainsworth

This posh Chelsea sports bar has 40 flat screen TVs, along with miso duck spring rolls and 100-ounce beer tubes.

Warren 77

Sean Avery and Beatrice bloodlines make this about as trendy as sports bars get. Plenty of fun even if the Giants lose, not that there’s any chance of that happening. 

The Windsor

British-accented sports pub has Guinness-battered fish and chips and porn star martinis. Also, sports. 

The Fulton

Sophisticated sports bar way downtown goes the gastropub route with a killer menu and craft beers from here to eternity. 

Firefly

Proving that fancy sports bar is not an oxymoron. Big screens and quality burgers will make you cheer. 

40/40

Party like a rap star while watching sports stars at Jay-Z’s super club. 

Village Pourhouse

This East Village sports mecca gets rowdy, but that’s to be expected when you’ve got 50 bottles and 24 draft beers going at any given time. A nice, comfy hang. 

[Photo: q1077.com]