February 4, 2014: Super Bowl Scores Record Ratings, Sochi Still Not Ready for Olympics, New Gay Marriage Bills Would Allow Vendors to Discriminate

By Beth Kormanik February 4, 2014, 7:58 AM EST

1. SUPER BOWL SCORES RECORD RATINGS: A record 111.5 million viewers watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, making it the most-watched TV event ever, despite a blowout win by the Seattle Seahawks over the Denver Broncos. Entertainment Weekly: “The half-time show also set a record with 115.3 million viewers watching Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, beating the 110.8 million delivered by Beyonce last year and the prior record of 114.0 million set by Madonna two years ago.”

2. IS SOCHI READY FOR THE OLYMPICS?: With the Winter Olympics beginning Friday in Sochi, Russia, hotels remain under construction and the city appears not quite ready to host one of the world’s biggest sporting events. New York Times: “Much of Sochi is a work in progress, and parts of it look at least a dozen all-nighters away from completion. There are unfinished hotels, half-finished stores and a mall where the only shop that is open and thriving is a Cinnabon. Wander the premises over the course of a day and you also get a palpable sense of spectacular ambition, reflected in millions of square feet of new construction, as well as transportation hubs with spiffy trains and shiny buses. You will see an Olympic Park where sporting venues look reassuringly ready. The combination is singular—an enterprise that is epic, pristine and in many places bewilderingly flawed.”

3. NEW GAY MARRIAGE BILLS WOULD ALLOW VENDORS TO DISCRIMINATE: Vendors such as florists, photographers, and cake makers would be allowed to decline to provide services to same-sex couples without fear of breaking antidiscrimination laws under proposed laws around the country. States such as Oregon and South Dakota are considering legislation, and other states have begun grappling with the issue as well. Reuters: “The ballot initiatives set up what some activists have said is the next frontier in the marriage debate—as more states move to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, those who object on religious grounds want a legal right to opt out.”


BOSTON:  The American Repertory Theater will host its annual gala at the Castle at Park Plaza on February 24.

Mast Restaurant and Drinkery will open downtown this spring. With 120 seats inside and a 30-seat patio, the venue will specialize in wood-fired pizza. Eater:

CHICAGO:  The Virgin Hotel Chicago will likely open in September. Initially, developers expected to open in fall 2013, but the build-out process in a historic building has been slower than expected.

On February 14, the Botanic Garden will host a preview event for its new orchid show. The event will have tropical cocktails, live music from Aloha Lives, and thousands of orchids in floor-to-ceiling displays.

LAS VEGAS:  A new after-hours club called After is enforcing a “do not play” list for after 3 a.m. that bans hip-hop, dubstep, and guest requests. Elite Daily:

The Las Vegas Hospitality Association ended 2013 with its biggest membership ever and gained 11 new members in January 2014. The current membership is 530 members representing 276 different companies.

LOS ANGELES:  Dancing With the Stars has dropped its live backing band, the 28-piece Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers, in favor of recordings and a small electric band. The American Federation of Musicians is criticizing the move.

East Borough, the second incarnation of Paul Hibler’s American Gonzo Food Corporation, has just opened its doors in Culver City.

Local event listings from Masterplanner:

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  The Hope for Depression Research Foundation is presenting the Hope Designer Showcase as part of the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show, February 14-18. The showcase includes rooms from five interior designers.

NEW YORK:  The New York Hall of Science in Queens is renovating its Great Hall. The 7,000-square-foot space is slated to reopen in January 2015.

Singer Tony Bennett is among those donating artwork to the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival's Artists Awards Program. Sponsored by Chanel, the program presents contemporary artwork to the filmmakers deemed winners by the festival jury.

Cookies for Kids' Cancer, a nonprofit that funds pediatric cancer research, will host its “Chefs for Kids' Cancer” benefit February 25 at the Altman Building. The Barenaked Ladies will perform an acoustic set, and participating chefs include Marc Forgione, Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Christina Tosi.

Local event listings from Masterplanner:

ORLANDO:  Barbara Bowden is the new general manager of the Orange County Convention Center. Bowden most recently was general manager of the Peabody Orlando.

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando has completed a $22 million renovation. Guest rooms have new furniture, beds, window treatments, and artwork, and the hotel created two-room Despicable Me-inspired suites.

TAMPA:  Busch Gardens will host Bands, Brew & BBQ every Saturday and Sunday February 8-March 9. The event will include food tents, live music, and more than 100 types of beer.

WASHINGTON:  The fifth annual Engaged! in Washington bridal show from Engaged! magazine is Saturday at two hotels: St. Regis and Willard Intercontinental. The event includes transportation between the two venues.

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With contributions from Jenny Berg in Chicago, Alesandra Dubin in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Jill Menze, and Anna Sekula in New York.

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