It's the ticket that all the celebrities are clamoring for this year. No, it's not the Super Bowl or the Oscars. It's President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration.
Obama's historic victory has all the bold-faced names, from the A-list to the D-list, lining up to participate, as Sunday's star-filled concert at the Lincoln Memorial -- featuring performers from country crooner Garth Brooks to the dazzling trio of Shakira, Usher and Stevie Wonder -- showed.
And that may be the problem. "We have a glut of A-listers," Roxanne Roberts, who co-writes the Washington Post column The Reliable Source, told ABCNews.com. "If they came to D.C. at any other time, they'd be completely fawned over. Now it's just, 'Mariah Carey? Yeah, she's there with Jay-Z and Beyonce.'
"There's only one rock star at this event, and it's Barack Obama," Roberts said.
With so many celebrities tapped to perform, host or make appearances, Roberts said the inaugural will be, for some, a humbling reality check. "They're not going to glide around in limos," she said. "Nobody will be gliding around."
"The only person who will be given carte blanche is Oprah," she said, referring to talk show queen Winfrey's early and enthusiastic endorsement of Obama. "Everybody else is getting these reality checks. It's going to take a really cool low-maintenance celebrity to say, 'This is awesome. I'm having the time of my life.'"
That's the approach Blair Underwood, who is scheduled to perform tonight, appears to be taking. "It's a very profound history lesson," he told ABCNews.com. "I'm just grateful that I'm able to provide that for my children."
The family will be watching Tuesday as Obama takes the official oath of office, and Underwood has purchased some heating pads for their hands and feet to help them withstand the chilly morning.
"I have standing tickets, so I'll be standing up in the cold like everyone else," he said, "but at least I got tickets on the side of the Capitol."
Stars Attend Inaugural Events
The prospect of long waits and crowd-choked events hasn't stopped celebrities, no matter where they rank, from jumping on the bandwagon. Some are answering Barack and Michelle Obama's call to make the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday a day of voluntary service.
They include Tobey Macguire and Demi Moore, and Moore's husband Ashton Kutcher, who are scheduled to spend part of their morning painting classrooms and hallways at a school in Southeast Washington.
In another part of the city, David Arquette, Josh Groban and Herbie Hancock are slated to lead a rally, alongside King's oldest son, Martin Luther King III, for the nonprofit group Feeding America.
Later that night, Underwood, his wife and three children will attend the "Kids Inaugural: We Are the Future," which Michelle Obama and Jill Biden will host. The concert, which honors military families and airs on the Disney Channel, will include performances from Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and Bow Wow.
Elsewhere in the city, there will be dinners honoring Sen. John McCain (Patti Labelle headlining), Vice-President-elect Joe Biden (Carole King performing) and Gen. Colin Powell (Faith Hill headlining). There will be concerts by Aretha Franklin (free at the Kennedy Center), Jay-Z, Sheryl Crow and the Beastie Boys. And some preinaugural parties will kick off Monday, including the Hip-Hop Ball, hosted by Russell Simmons and LL Cool J, and The Huffington Post Ball with performances by Sting and will.i.am and invitees Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
Having a bold-faced name does not ensure a celebrity a spot at the swearing-in or, later, at the coveted 10 official balls where the president and vice president are guaranteed to show up. It helps to have a history with the campaign, as Underwood learned.
He campaigned for Obama in Virginia and Columbus, Ohio, which made getting a ticket to the official Western Ball not too difficult. "A great many of those people are on the official [inauguration] committee, and they've been good about not forgetting," Underwood said.
Beyonce and husband Jay-Z earned their stripes by campaigning for Obama just before the election in Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio. They will be headlining the ball where the Obamas are expected to have their first dance.
For the celebrities lucky enough to score tickets to the official balls, Roberts said, "that doesn't say a lot since a lot of the balls are really crappy. The official balls were never really good."
That makes the unofficial events -- and there are dozens of them this year -- the place to party.
Public relations executive Asal Masomi, who hosted several fundraisers during the campaign, has organized the Inaugural Purple Ball to honor diversity, bipartisanship and the troops. She has tapped celebrities Josh Lucas, Amy Brenneman, Patricia Arquette, Ed Harris, Kate Walsh and Ashley Judd to host. And she expects John Cusack, David Alan Grier, Edward Norton, Terrance Howard and Lisa Marie Presley to show.
Another celebrity-heavy ball will be the Creative Coalition 2009 Inaugural Ball, with Sting and Elvis Costello performing. Expected to attend are Spike Lee, Susan Sarandon, Ron Howard, Kerry Washington, Adrian Grenier, Marisa Tomei, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Underwood.
Winfrey's show will cover the event, but there's no confirmation of an appearance by the talk show queen. And the event location has reportedly been swept by Secret Service, which could mean an appearance by the real star of the inauguration, the new president.
"You have an embarrassment of riches," Roberts said. "Everybody is going to have a psychic stomachache."