August 4, 2017: New York Hotel Debuts Politically Charged Phone Booth, Why Two Pennsylvania Pierogi Festivals Are Feuding, Disney to Bring 'Star Wars' VR Attractions to Its Malls

By Ian Zelaya August 4, 2017, 8:42 AM EDT

1. NEW YORK HOTEL DEBUTS POLITICALLY CHARGED PHONE BOOTH: The Standard hotel in New York, which is known for its activism, has unveiled a politically charged phone booth in front of the property. Women’s Wear Daily: “But don’t expect to phone your mother from this mirrored call box. The telephone has a direct line to the U.S. Capitol switchboard, which gives hotel guests and passers-by the ability to ring up their congressional representatives and voice opinions on current hot-button issues from the environment to immigration and education. ‘We’ve seen firsthand that taking action and speaking up is contagious,’ The Standard explained in a statement. ‘We want to encourage our guests, our staff and the public to make their voices heard on the issues that matter to them.’ Dubbed #RingYourRep, the project is another effort by the chain to encourage awareness in the wake of last year’s polarizing presidential election.”

2. WHY TWO PENNSYLVANIA PIEROGI FESTIVALS ARE FEUDING: Two Pennsylvania festivals that celebrate pierogis and Polish culture are at the center of a federal lawsuit over festival trademarks. Chicago Tribune: “Tom Dabertin, the chairman of Pierogi Fest in Whiting, said he just wants to protect Pierogi Fest's trademark. But attorneys representing the Edwardsville Hometown Committee, which runs Edwardsville Pierogi Festival in Pennsylvania, argues it has not infringed on Pierogi Fest's trademark. The suit was filed after the committee received two letters from the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce, which runs Pierogi Fest, ‘threatening to sue the Hometown Committee for infringing on the federal trademark 'Pierogi Fest,' which the defendant owns,’ according to the complaint. … Both festivals describe themselves as nonprofits and run by volunteers to celebrate the Polish heritage in the communities they're held in with parades, vendors and games. Edwardsville Pierogi Festival has been held since 2014 in Edwardsville, Pa., a borough of less than 5,000 people, according to the complaint.”

3. DISNEY TO BRING 'STAR WARS' VR ATTRACTIONS TO ITS MALLS: While Disney is already slated to bring Star Wars attractions to its theme parks, the company is also planning to bring Star Wars virtual-reality experiences to its malls. The New York Times: “Lucasfilm, the Disney division that manages everything “Star Wars,” and the Void, a Utah start-up focused on walk-through virtual-reality experiences, plan to offer an attraction called Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney Springs, which is part of Walt Disney World outside Orlando, Fla. The companies said the experience would open 'beginning this holiday season.' The companies gave few additional details, omitting how much tickets would cost or exactly what participants would encounter. The Void described Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire this way in a news release, 'Guests will move freely throughout the untethered, social and multisensory experience as they interact and engage with friends, family and ‘Star Wars’ characters.' The attraction will probably be similar to one the Void created last year at Madame Tussauds in New York. Featuring a 'Ghostbusters' story line and costing $20 a person, that experience allows participants — outfitted with special virtual-reality gear — to feel as if they are searching for ghosts in a New York apartment building. Each person (four people can participate at once) carries a plastic gun that becomes a functioning proton pack, just like in the 'Ghostbusters' films, through the magic of virtual reality."


CHICAGO:  The Chicago Hockey Charity Classic will take place Saturday at Fox Valley Ice Arena. The event benefits Special Olympics Chicago.

DENVER:  The organizers of Bonnaroo will host a new music festival in Denver next year. Denver Post:

LOS ANGELES:  The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles has announced that director Ava DuVernay will receive the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing at the 2017 AMD British Academy Britannia Awards. This year’s event will take place on October 27 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. 

Hollywood nightclub Warwick LA has named nightlife entrepreneur Eli Wehbe as a partner.

The Academy of Country Music has appointed Tom Torii senior vice president of finance and operations. 

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

NEW YORK:  Grand Central Terminal will host a family-friendly end-of-summer event August 22-24. The event will feature kid-centric entertainment such as face-painting, as well as performances from the Big Apple Circus and several Broadway shows. 

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

PHILADELPHIA:  The Philadelphia Music Alliance has announced artists and music groups including Jill Scott, Sister Sledge, and Labelle will be added to the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame as members of its Class of 2017. The ceremony will take place October 4 along the Avenue of the Arts, with a gala event taking place at the Fillmore Philadelphia that evening. 

PORTLAND, OREGON:  Dossier, a new upscale hotel from Provenance Hotels, has opened downtown. The 205-room hotel has a 50-seat restaurant, Omertà, which serves Italian-American cuisine from chef Mark Barnett, as well as four meeting rooms and a 1,252-square-foot ballroom that seats 120 theater-style.

TORONTO:  Art & Music Ontario, a free art and music event celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary, will take place today through Monday at Ontario Place. 

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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Jill Menze, Rayna Katz, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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