EVENT REPORT

HBO Stages Speakeasy-Style Premieres for Boardwalk Empire in New York and Atlantic City

By Anna Sekula September 22, 2010, 3:27 PM EDT

Photo: Keith Sirchio for BizBash

HBO's Boardwalk Empire New York Premiere Party HBO's Boardwalk Empire Atlantic City Premiere Party
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Apparently, HBO has spared no expense for its heavily hyped new show Boardwalk Empire. Not only did the cable network reportedly spend millions re-creating 1920s Atlantic City on an empty lot in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn for the filming of the new drama, it also held three official premiere parties before the series' debut this past Sunday. In addition to Thursday's West Coast event at the Santa Monica Pier for the channel's internal digital network distribution team, HBO hosted industry folks at a celebration in New York on Wednesday and more of a consumer crowd in Atlantic City last Thursday. And as with the West Coast's effort to create a boardwalk-carnival feel, the two East Coast endeavors looked to Prohibition-style speakeasies, cabaret entertainment, and the New Jersey town's infamous seaside walkway to furnish the venues for their events.

In New York, HBO's vice president of events and media relations, Angela Lomascolo, tapped Long Island-based Invision Events to handle production of the post-screening event at Rockefeller Center's Rink Bar, Sea Grill, and Rock Center Café. On Thursday, HBO's marketing team worked with Civic Entertainment Group and the in-house planners at screening venue Caesars Atlantic City and premiere party site One Atlantic.

In both New York and Atlantic City, the events divided the venues into three distinct areas, and the red, black, and white color scheme played a large role, reflected in the hues of the tablecloths, lighting, floral arrangements, and other accoutrement that served as decoration. For New York's 1,000-person bash, Fusion Lighting changed the ambience of the Rockefeller Center's three venues by swapping out lightbulbs, turning off the Midtown site's bright floodlights, and adding low-wattage lighting. For instance, to create the illusion of a dark speakeasy, the lighting team replaced Rock Center Café's colorless bulbs with red ones and beefed up the wash with red uplighting.

Atlantic City's party was similarly dark, but organizers used entertainment and activities to set the scene for the 500 attendees. Showgirls lined the walkway from Caesars' Circus Maximus theater to One Atlantic, and servers in flapper dresses greeted guests in the lobby. Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks orchestra played for the crowds in the Atlantic Room, while a cigar roller made stogies for those in the study. And to add a little local fun, M&M Entertainment provided blackjack tables and dealers, letting guests play with fake money.

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