Ultimate LA Status Symbol

Hosted by

This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.

I for one am happy that the Lakers and Celtics arranged to squeeze at least one more game into the NBA finals.

My wife has made me into a converted fan since Pau Gasol join the Lakers. But the real reason I'm looking forward to tomorrow night's Game 6 is more journalistic than marital.

I want to find out who manages to sit courtside at the most desirable game of the year.

Desirable in this case equals hard to get. I want to find out who in LA's social hierarchy has the bucks or the juice to flaunt the ultimate LA status symbol.

Seats in the front row at Staples Center, where ABC's cameras are sure to catch them.

So game six, and if there is a game seven, will give me some nice data points.

Who sits where and with who has always been part of the Lakers scene. And as the games become more fraught with meaning, so too does the analysis.

For this series, Bloomberg Business Week did a study that looked beyond the usual Jack Nicholson sightings.

Nicholson, of course, usually sits next to Lou Adler, the record producer and manager who's also a movie producer. They're givens. We don't care so much about them.

Same for the goofy collection of comics that William Morris has been putting in its seats beside the Lakers bench.

By any measure David Spade and Kevin James don't belong on the same floor as Jack Nicholson. They're courtside jesters, just assigned to push a movie.

Celebrity power does count for a lot, though. For the first game against the Celtics, Glenn Frey of the Eagles got a fair amount of face time on ABC. The band's longtime manager, Irvin Azoff, didn't.

TV viewers saw Chris Rock schmoozing with Kobe Bryant during a stoppage in play. But music industry legend Joe Smith didn't make the cut.

For me the more interesting social maneuvering to watch is the presence of LA's emerging class of rich guys.

Patrick Soon-Shiong has become a courtside regular, and if you haven't heard of him yet you should. He topped the list of richest Angelenos in the LA Business Journal a few weeks ago. He's number 65 on the Forbes 400.

He made his money in pharmaceuticals, so he's a refreshing alternative to the Nicholson crowd.

But let's face it. Hollywood remains the dominant player on the Staples Center court. The old Dreamworks team of Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen has all shown up for these playoffs.

David Geffen's high profile has fed a rumor that he's looking to buy L.A.'s other team, the Clippers. Then, by some feat of mogul magic, he would entice LeBron James to come play here.

Not with Kobe, but as a head to head rival for the title of #1 superstar in LA. It's a brash idea that's been denied all around, but it's still kind of fun to think about.

The biggest pending question about tomorrow night's courtside seating is will we see Antonio Villaraigosa. And if so, who paid his way.

The mayor can't afford to buy a $4,000 seat. He's already enjoyed a game a free seatmate of Jeffrey Katzenberg. He's been spotted at courtside with his girlfriend, Lu Parker.

But media attention has been turning up the heat. The mayor says it's legit to accept freebies. The city ethics commission may have something to say about that.

If you watch the game, look for Villaraigosa on ABC. If you spot him, let me know at KCRW.com/LAObserved.

For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.