December 17, 2018: Why No One Wants to Play the Super Bowl Halftime Show With Maroon 5, LiveStyle Grows Two Years After SFX Bankruptcy, Miss Universe Features First Transgender Contestant

By Ian Zelaya December 17, 2018, 9:08 AM EST

1. WHY NO ONE WANTS TO PLAY THE SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW WITH MAROON 5: The Super Bowl halftime show used to be one of the most sought out live events for musicians. But for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta next year, headliner Maroon 5 is struggling to find artists to perform with them. The event has become one of the most least-wanted gigs in the country, because of the N.F.L.'s position on a player's right to protest, which was sparked by Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. Variety: “According to sources, the band has reached out to more than a half-dozen stars to appear as featured guests during the 13-minute slot midway through Super Bowl LIII, but so far, none have agreed to do it. Among those considering the appearance are Cardi B, who is featured on the Maroon 5 hit “Girls Like You,” which spent seven weeks at No. 1 over the fall (the rapper is also scheduled to appear at the Grammy Awards on February 10) and Andre Benjamin, AKA Andre 3000 of beloved local act Outkast. Others—like Mary J. Blige—had been approached but faced scheduling conflicts; still more, like Usher, Lauryn Hill, and Nicki Minaj, who performed at the 2012 Super Bowl with Madonna, are names rumored to be in the mix. Because the 2019 Super Bowl is being staged in Atlanta—arguably the capital of black music in the U.S.—Maroon 5’s team has been working to find a local act who will perform with them, says insiders (worth noting: the N.F.L. has not yet officially announced Maroon 5 as the halftime show act). The booming Atlanta-based label and management company Quality Control—whose top acts Migos, Lil Yachty, and Lil Baby will be performing at the Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest at the city’s State Farm Arena on January 31—is an obvious candidate to help with that effort, and while the company’s principals, Kevin 'Coach K' Lee and Pierre 'Pee' Thomas, told Variety they have been speaking with reps about the halftime show, both declined to discuss further. A tag-team guest spot featuring Migos and Cardi B, whom the company also consults via its management division, seemed like a strong option until Cardi announced that she and her husband, Migos member Offset, are separating. ... Curiously, the Super Bowl halftime show doesn’t pay, which makes it even trickier to book an A-list act. And while the viewing audience is undoubtedly enormous, the criticism over aligning with the N.F.L. promises to ring as loudly. 'Nobody wants to be associated with it,'  says one insider privy to talks about the halftime show. (That statement also begs the question of who will deliver the National Anthem at the game’s start.)"

2. LIVESTYLE GROWS TWO YEARS AFTER SFX BANKRUPTCY: Two years ago, electronic dance music festival producer SFX Entertainment went bankrupt and reemerged as a new company called LiveStyle. Now, the company, which helmed by entertainment veteran Randy Phillips and Hard founder Gary Richards, has seen profitability again by holding marquee events and expanding Beatport, an online marketplace for music creators. Billboard: "'This year was the year when everything kind of really came together for us,' said Phillips, citing the success of the company's marquee events Electric Zoo in New York and Spring Awakening in Chicago, as well as the sale of the company’s stake in Rock in Rio to Live Nation. On the ticketing front, LiveStyle signed a deal with Vivendi-back See Tickets to sell both the Paylogic ticketing system and sign a company-wide agreement to sell tickets for all LiveStyle events through See tickets. This year, Phillips estimates LiveStyle grossed between $250 to $300 million in revenue with an EBITA between $15 to $20 million—not bad for a company that was pushed into bankruptcy two years prior and has managed to retain some of the major promoters in leadership positions, including 'Disco' Donnie Estopinal. ... Phillips and Richards have also moved to shut down several unsuccessful festivals, including the U.S. version of Mysteryland, held at Bethel Woods, New York. Phillips said he shut the event down two months before it was to take place, absorbing a $3.5 million loss in artists deposits, marketing, and lost revenue. 'Every artist got paid and that did more for us than $3.5 million spent on PR,' said Phillips, who said the 2017 cancellation marked the beginning of a turnaround moment for LiveStyle. 'It made a statement about this company being vital and real again and a member of the industry in good standing.' Phillips said the company’s bankruptcy and subsequent restructuring is ultimately what saved LiveStyle, saying Sillerman overpaid hundreds of millions of dollars on assets to build the company, running up a debt that approached $900 million. 'If we had to service the debt, we would never have survived,' Phillips says, noting that iHeartMedia filed for bankruptcy in March as it struggled to deal with $20 billion in debt that had been accrued building the company. Today, the company is privately held by Axar Capital Management and an investment arm of the German insurance giant Allianz."

3. MISS UNIVERSE FEATURES FIRST TRANSGENDER CONTESTANT: Catriona Gray from the Philippines won the 2018 Miss Universe crown for 2018, beating contestants from 93 other countries. Angela Ponce, Miss Spain, was the first transgender contestant in the event's history. CNN: “The 24-year-old Filipina-Australian pipped South African Demi Leigh Nel-Peters for the top spot, becoming the fourth Filipina to bring home the coveted title. Miss Venezuela, Sthefany Gutiérrez, rounded out the top three at the contest in Bangkok. Thailand's own Sophida Kanchanarin made it to the final 10, to huge cheers from the home crowd, but did not progress further. ... 'I'm competing because it's what I've wanted to do since I was a little girl,' Ponce told Time ahead of the competition. 'I'm showing that trans women can be whatever they want to be: a teacher, a mother, a doctor, a politician, and even Miss Universe. Unfortunately for Ponce, however, she failed to make the top 20. Miss USA, Sarah Rose Summers, did make it to the finals—but only just, and was eliminated before voting got down to the last 10. Last week, Summers sparked an online backlash when she posted a video commenting on the English-language abilities of two contestants. In a live Instagram video—denounced as 'condescending' and 'xenophobic'—the 24-year-old said Miss Vietnam H'Hen Nie is 'so cute and she pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she (nods and smiles).' Later in the video Summers appeared to express sympathy for Miss Cambodia, Rern Sinat, who she said, 'doesn't speak any English and not a single other person speaks her language.'


CHICAGO:  The 12th annual Chicago Restaurant Week will take place January 25-February 7. Nearly 400 local restaurants will participate, including 100 first-time restaurants.

LOS ANGELES:  The second edition of Desert X, a biennial art exhibition, will take place February 9-April 21. The event will showcase works from more than 15 artists at different sites in the Coachella Valley. 

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

NEW YORK:  The Madison Square Garden Company and AMC Networks’ 18th annual Holiday Rock & Roll Bash took place December 13 at Tao Downtown. The event raised more than $1 million for the Lustgarten Foundation, which funds pancreatic cancer research. 

NJF, the public relations, social media, and experiential marketing brand of MMGY Global, has been named agency of record for the Costa Rica Tourism Board. 

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

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  Mediterranean restaurant Olivia will open in January 2019. The restaurant will be helmed by Ashok Bajaj of Knightsbridge Restaurant Group and will replace his American restaurant Nopa Kitchen and Bar. Olivia will seat 90 in the main dining room and 38 in a lounge area. 


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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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