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Usher was Jay-Z’s Super Bowl call, all the way

There’s the show, and the show around the show.

We speak of Usher’s halftime performance at Sunday’s Super Bowl. Reports continue to spill forth. Online reports, led by TMZ, have Alicia Keys as guest star. Justin Bieber has reportedly been “in talks” to appear at the show. If Bieber were to participate, he might be doing so with hardly any rehearsal time.

TMZ also reports someone who looks like Bieber (not a guy who would play him in the “Legends” show) showed up Saturday morning via private jet, along with “KarJenners” Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian and Kendall Jenner.

Lil Jon and Ludacris have also been rumored to be special guests. Usher said last October he would be inviting collaborators to the show.

Amid all this ancillary adventurism, Usher himself and officials at Roc Nation are focused on delivering a topnotch performance. The artist has confirmed he will perform for at least a segment of the show on skates, which would be a Super Bowl first.

The performance is to run 15 minutes , the longest ever for a Super Bowl.

Usher was announced in September as Super Bowl halftime headliner, thus ending a widespread parlor game of guessing who would appear. The headliner and Roc Nation settled on the partnership two months prior, says Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez. The decision on who plays the show comes down down to a single individual.

“I leave that in the hands of our very capable director-slash-producer, Jay-Z. He is the sole person that makes the decision on who performs, and obviously we collaborate and discuss with the NFL,” Perez says. ” Of course, they’re very supportive. I think we’ve earned their trust through the years, especially with (Commissioner) Roger Goodell. And and so it’s really an easy decision.”

It is not a prerequisite for a Super Bowl halftime act to be a Roc Nation artist to secure the gig.

She listed the criteria for those who are considered to play the show.

“I think a world-class performance, like none other, that creates not only a moment for the viewers, but also has a domino effect,” Perez says. “I remember Rihanna, a month later, two nursing homes in Kentucky and Alabama, these elderly incredible ladies re-creating the Rihanna dance … It’s when you can create a moment that’s spectacular, and stays with you.”

This is the fifth straight year Roc Nation has produced the Super Bowl halftime show. Company reps say the partnership will continue for as long as Goodell is commissioner. His contract runs through 2027.

The Super Bowl assignment is unpaid, an issue that seems to surface every year. Usher will not be compensated for his 15 minutes of worldwide fame. But the two-time Vegas resident headliner is using the platform to promote his new album “Coming Home,” and his upcoming tour.

This is a touchy topic among gig workers in Las Vegas, many of whom remark that simple exposure does not pay the bills.

But the Super Bowl show reaches more than 100 million viewers (113 million for Rihanna’s performance last year), and can generate mass media and social media for the artist.

“What the NFL provides, the exposure and introduction to people who are watching who are not necessarily fans, is unequivocal to any other platform that we have in America,” Perez says. “And there is still some of this in show business, where we have a lot of different festivals for radio and DSPs (digital service providers), where there’s not a fee for the entertainer.”

A clear example in Las Vegas is the annual iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas. Those artists are not paid to perform. But they reach radio listeners across the country.

“It’s part of a journey in your career, if you’re releasing an album, or you’re starting a tour where you want to touch your fans in a certain way when you put music out,” Perez says. “So it’s the same with the Super Bowl, what we’ve been doing through the years. It just happens at the NFL has a bigger platform.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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