The synergy was almost palpable last Saturday as CBS honcho Les Moonves and New England Patriots CEO Robert Kraft engaged in an electronic ribbon-cutting of sorts, simultaneously pressing a button on a pair of oversize TV remotes to officially announce the opening of the CBS Scene in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
“He said he wanted to build the best sports bar in the world, and I think we’ve accomplished that,” Moonves said of his friend and partner Kraft.
That was the original, simple concept behind the establishment, located adjacent to the Pats’ Gillette Stadium. CBS, of course, carries the NFL’s American Conference games on Sunday afternoons. In fact, the eatery was originally called the CBS Sports Cafe.
But somewhere along the line, the net spied a more self-aggrandizing angle. “I said, we should try to spread this out, be more horizontal,” said George Schweitzer, CBS Marketing Group’s prexy. The result is what Moonves has tagged “sort of the CBS museum.”
Its focal point is a vertiginous spiral staircase leading up to the dining floors and encircling a supersized CBS “Eye” logo. As if there were any doubt that it’s all about the eyeballs, there’s nary a square foot of vertical space left bare by the Scene’s 137 plasma and LCD televisions and graphic projector displays.
But competing with the far-flung monitors serving up the sporting events du jour is “Heritage Wall,” a panoply of screens paying looping tribute to CBS’ TV archives with clips spanning “The Honeymooners,” “The Munsters,” “All in the Family,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “60 Minutes” and vintage nightly newscasts a la Walter Cronkite, all the way to “CSI’s” greatest hits.
“We’ve always said our philosophy is, ‘How do we use our content in a hundred different ways?’,” Moonves reflected. “This is another way to use our content and to expand our reach into the restaurant business.”
Moonves admitted that if the Scene is a success, the net would very well considering expanding the idea to some of the 15 other cities that are home to CBS owned-and-operated stations (the greater Boston area’s got two).
Which raised a tantalizing question, what with Brett Favre in play and Tom Brady out with a season-ending injury: If the Jets beat their AFC rival Patriots in their two meetings this year, will Gotham get its own Scene? Yes, promised Moonves, but said of a Gang Green sweep, “I wouldn’t bet the house on that.”