LOS ANGELES With the unofficial end of summer now behind us (that would be Labor Day), event professionals are looking to the fall—a traditionally busy time—to see how the economic recovery will help the industry rebound from what has so far been a pretty slow year. We asked a group of local planners and vendors what they have in the works for the coming months. Here are some highlights.
“After a relatively quiet consumer event season during the first half of 2009, Hollywood & Highland Center anticipates a busy fall and winter to round out the year. We certainly saw an increase in activity during the summer months with our 'Wine, Jazz & Moonlight' summer concert series, and now the entertainment and consumer marketing events are kicking into high gear for the fall season. The uncertainty that brands, studios, and networks were feeling earlier this year seems to be subsiding as we prepare to host the A.F.I. Film Festival and promotional opportunities and events with Disney, a number of Fox properties, and brands including Nike, L’Oreal, Samsung, Subaru, and Maybelline. The center will welcome at least two free outdoor concerts with high-profile artists during the third week of September to kick off our live music offerings, leading up to an unprecedented Hollywood tree lighting celebration on November 28. [We are excited about] the recent opening of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum next door, weekly premieres at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the El Capitan Theatre, the Hollywood Chamber’s Walk of Fame star ceremonies, a new Hard Rock Café opening in 2010, and at least one other major tenant announcement on the horizon, plus the new resident Cirque du Soleil production [at] the Kodak Theatre."
—S. Dwayne Jones, senior director of strategic alliances and special events, Hollywood & Highland Center
”ShowPro is moving into the fall season with a pleasant variety of award show events, a surprising amount of high-end marketing campaign events, and a unique product launch to be announced soon. Budgets are down but spirits are up and we’re all doing well. What has us most excited now, however, is our participation in the Carbon Neutral Protocol. ShowPro is now 100 percent carbon neutral—this certification comes after a comprehensive study was done to determine how much carbon we as a company emit, including employee travel to work, our trucks, our buildings, and even the generators we use at events. Each ton of carbon we emit is offset by a ton of CO2 which is saved by a methane capture project in a Texas landfill. There is no regulation requiring the landfill to capture its greenhouse gas emissions, so the project that we participate in truly offsets our carbon. We’re excited to be a part of the solution.”
—David Smith, president and C.E.O., ShowPro
“Each year we raise the bar for our annual Entertainment Tonight Emmy party, and we're excited this year to be at beautiful Vibiana downtown [where the party moved from its last home, Disney Hall], just a mile from Nokia. We look forward to celebrating television’s biggest night with an intimate party that guests will be talking about the next morning.”
—Linda Bell Blue, executive producer, Entertainment Tonight and The Insider
“The phone is really ringing for fall business. There are a host of social clients and Hollywood parties, including the upcoming premieres for Warner Brothers' The Invention of Lying and Sherlock Holmes that will take the team to New York. We’re really struck by the number of fund-raisers and benefits that we are doing this fall. Many of them are repeat business for us, which is always great, but most especially great to see that these events are still happening. Their budgets may have shrunk, but they have not gone away. Notably, the Macy’s Passport benefit night, an event we have been involved with going on at least 10 years, is at the end of September and has a wonderful theme this year, 'Come Together,' with decor inspired by a very sophisticated, upscale farmer’s market. Come together really is what it’s all about right now, and we’re excited to embrace that concept with our clients this fall.”
—Mary Micucci, owner and founder, Along Came Mary Events
“We're starting to see signs of improvement in the event business. Companies were canceling and/or significantly downsizing existing projects we had on the books and hesitant to plan things three to four months in advance. Now, while people are still being frugal, business is beginning to return and we're booking much further in advance than we have in the past year. We're getting inquiries for dates late 2010 and even 2011. When business was slowing down, our department began strategizing on how we can make tight budgets work. As a result, we organized an independent sales team and created package deals for two of our most valued spaces on the lot, the Paramount Theatre and New York Street. We have packages with prices starting as low as $125 per person. In addition, we are offering holiday packages in hopes of helping companies better afford company holiday parties, since many were canceled last year due to budget cuts. Various charities that we work with on an annual basis that may have canceled in late 2008 or early 2009 are reserving dates for 2010, proving that perhaps the tide is finally turning a bit. All and all, we're very optimistic about the end of 2009 and the upcoming year. We've had to make adjustments like everyone else, but change can be good and it can motivate people, which is what it seems to have done for us."
—Uschi Wilson, executive director of special events, Paramount Pictures
“Business is good at Entertainment Fusion Group and looking even better for the fall. In the bad economy, events never slowed down for us, but now retainer clients have all of a sudden gone through the roof. We have signed seven new retainer clients in the last month, showing that things are definitely picking up above and beyond where they have been in the past. We have so many events coming up this fall that we are excited about, and there are no expenses spared, it seems. Jay-Z and Beyoncé are hosting our Asics MTV VMAs after-party in New York in September. Oakley is doing another Learn to Ride event, but this year is taking it up a notch by hosting a celebrity getaway with four private jets to Sonoma for a fabulous weekend with wine tasting and the works. Celebs will be shuttled from a five-star hotel for an Infineon Raceway Audi driving experience to learn from the best: pro drivers. Hollywood Life is also going all out this year for its seventh annual Style Awards on October 11, putting a lot more into production, catering, and A-List talent, as well as moving into award show venues to up the cachet of this ceremony.”
—Page Jeter, account executive, Entertainment Fusion Group
“For the California Science Center, 2010 promises to be a very exciting year. Currently we are gearing up to launch the spring opening of our new ecology gallery that will nearly double the square footage of our existing exhibit space. The expansion will house innovative, hands-on exhibits that will engage guests in exploring some of our earth’s most fascinating ecosystems and will offer gorgeous new event space. Shortly following the opening of our new facilities, we will join others in L.A.'s cultural community in welcoming approximately 6,000 museum professionals from around the world for the American Association of Museums' 2010 annual meeting in Los Angeles. In the fall of 2010, we will partner with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to showcase sustainable seafood practices at a celebrity chef event that will feature our new 188,000-gallon living kelp forest tank as the backdrop for the festivities.”
—Christina Sion, vice president of food and event services, California Science Center
“We are completely excited for the fall. We are really proud of our lineup and truly happy to see our colleagues and clients moving full-steam ahead with their event plans. Even when I see our competitors doing fantastic events, I am encouraged and happy, as it signifies a healthy market for events. We are thrilled to have been selected to produce Elle magazine’s Women In Hollywood awards at the Four Seasons. Additionally, as we are a partner agency for Target, we will be working with them for the big Target free community concert welcoming Gustavo Dudamel at the Hollywood Bowl. We are truly honored to be working on such a major cultural happening in Los Angeles, celebrating our city. A unique aspect to the Caravents firm that we’ve been featuring more and more is that we have an entire media division, headed by my partner, which brings the world of broadcast-quality television and graphics into our events. In this manner we offer clients great value by handling the entire event—both the event design and the video elements. We marry the look and feel of the room to the content on the screens and put the same design aesthetic into both.”
—Cara Kleinhaut, owner, Caravents Inc. Event Production & Design
“Fall is here and we have so much to look forward to. Our seventh annual breast cancer benefit, an evening of Broadway duets performed by 40 celebrity women, is September 26. We have moved our venue to the dazzling Broad Stage in Santa Monica, a state-of-the-art facility that will do justice to the enormous talent that will grace the stage that evening. The V.I.P. after-party and silent auction in the Garden Terrace, designed by Encore! Exceptional Events, will be stunning. We are all aware of the tough economic times and the strains in our community. People are very focused in their giving this year, and we are incredibly grateful to our loyal supporters who have continued their commitment to raising funds for Dr. Giuliano's research at J.W.C.I. at St. John's Health Center. And What a Pair is growing: In March 2010, we will debut 'Sing!' to benefit pediatric cancer research and awareness—we will audition high school students from all over Los Angeles and 30 of the most talented will perform on stage, with hundreds of high school volunteers working on the production backstage.”
—Lauren Sands, co-producer, What a Pair
“With this new economic climate, our concern was that people would not want to entertain and do events as often as they did in the past. We are so pleased to say that the year started off slowly but has grown consistently throughout the spring and summer. Celebrations are on the rise, and the economic environment should follow suit.”
—John Campanelli, president and C.E.O., Classic Party Rentals