July 17, 2017: Emmy Nominees Showcase Growth of VR and Social Media Broadcasts, Disney Plans to Revamp Epcot, Warner Music Group Acquires Concert-Finding App Songkick

By Ian Zelaya July 17, 2017, 8:37 AM EDT

1. EMMY NOMINEES SHOWCASE GROWTH OF VR AND SOCIAL MEDIA BROADCASTS: The nominations for the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced last Thursday, and nominations in certain categories reflected the growth of virtual-reality programs, as well as original broadcasts and shows on Facebook and Snapchat. The Hollywood Reporter: ‚ÄúThis isn’t the first year that virtual reality experiences have been eligible for Emmy consideration, but the growth in the area is evident. A trio of VR projects on Thursday were nominated for outstanding original interactive program: Mission: ISS, a virtual visit to the International Space Station, produced by Oculus and Magnopus; Dear Angelica, which reflects on the way we remember loved ones, directed by Pixar alum Sascha Unseld via Oculus Story Studio, the recently shuttered VR content creation arm of Oculus; and The People's House—Inside the White House With Barack and Michelle Obama, a tour of the White House from Felix & Paul Studios, along with Oculus and Samsung. ... The interactive categories, often a mixed bag of digital, linear and experimental projects, also handed out nominations to Amazon for its Resistance Radio project, a companion to its alternative history drama series The Man in the High Castle. Nominated for outstanding creative achievement in interactive media within a scripted program, the project offers up a series of fictional radio broadcasts. The Discover Westworld website, a promotion for the HBO drama that nabbed 22 total Emmy nominations on Thursday, also was nominated in the same category. Meanwhile, in the category for outstanding creative achievement in interactive media within an unscripted program, there were two nominations that were the first of their kind. Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU With Tom Hanks has become the first Facebook Live broadcast to receive an Emmy nomination, and comes a little more than a year after the live feature rolled out on the social networking giant."

2. DISNEY PLANS TO REVAMP EPCOT: Epcot, Disney’s third-oldest theme park, is finally getting a major renovation. The New York Times: “Bob Chapek, the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, hinted last November that major changes were coming to Epcot, which sprawls across 300 acres as part of the four-park Disney World complex near Orlando, Fla. At an event for Disney fans, Mr. Chapek said the 35-year-old Epcot, best known for the giant golf ball-looking sphere at its entrance, would one day become ‘more Disney, timeless, relevant, family-friendly.’ Mr. Chapek made it official on Saturday, announcing the company’s ambitious Epcot plans at D23 Expo, a biennial convention for Disney fans that attracts an estimated 100,000 people to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., over three days. A major new ride—themed to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ the hit Marvel movie series—is planned for Epcot’s front section, where a simulator attraction, Mission: Space, will be updated and expanded. A ride based on the Pixar film ‘Ratatouille’ will be added to the park’s World Showcase area. Epcot will also serve as stop for a new gondola system called Disney Skyliner connecting various hotels and parks. … Disney is counting on its theme park division to help offset slowing growth at ESPN. Last year, Disney parks generated $17 billion in revenue, a 5 percent increase compared with a year earlier, and $3.3 billion in operating income, a 9 percent increase. In particular, Disney has been investing in Disney World. Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, wants to use technology to make its parks more immersive and relevant to a new generation of children. The expansions are also designed to make each of Disney World’s four major parks—the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom—an equally powerful draw for tourists. That might help better distribute crowds across the resort.”

3. WARNER MUSIC GROUP ACQUIRES CONCERT-FINDING APP SONGKICK: Warner Music Group has acquired the major assets of Songkick, a concert discovery website and app. Billboard: “The popular app, with its 6 million-plus concert listings and 15 million monthly users, will now be a standalone brand overseen by WEA, WMG's artist and label services division. As part of the deal, some Songkick employees related to the discovery business will move over to WMG, though exact turnover is to be determined. Financial details were not disclosed. ‘The move expands WMG's growing network of direct-­to-­fan destinations and will lead to additional offerings for Songkick users,’ WMG said in its announcement of the acquisition. What's left out of the deal is the ticketing side of Songkick and, notably, the pending litigation that the company has against Live Nation and Ticketmaster. Songkick's long-running lawsuit against the ticketing giant alleges antitrust violations, anticompetitive behavior and intentional interference with smaller firms. In a statement, Songkick co-founder and CEO Matt Jones said his company will continue the legal fight ‘on behalf of the many artists and fans we've served over the last decade.’ WMG's acquisition of the Songkick brand is immediate, and details on how the site and app will incorporate ticketing—given that that aspect was excluded—are being worked out.”


CHICAGO:  The 12th annual Festa Italiana will take place August 18-20 on Taylor Street between Ashland Avenue and Racine Street. The event will offer food from local Italian restaurants, Italian-theme art, and meatball- and cannoli-eating contests. 

LOS ANGELES:  RIDE Foundation (Robyn & Italo Dance Events), which was formed by Pro-Am ballroom dance partners Robyn Sheriber and Italo Elgueta, will host its inaugural gala Dance For Africa on July 23 at Boulevard3. The event will benefit the African Wildlife Foundation. 

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

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  Indoor/outdoor Greek eatery and cocktail bar Kiki on the River has opened on the Miami River. Serving lunch and dinner daily, as well as weekend brunch, the riverside restaurant showcases the hospitality and spirit of the Greek islands and is a passion project by nightlife pro Roman Jones, former Philippe Chow Miami managing partner Aris Nanos, hospitality executive Lee Lyon, and Mark Lehmkuhl of Ghosthouse Creative Group.

NEW YORK:  The 27th annual Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame will take place October 16 at the Grand Hyatt New York. 

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

ORLANDO/CENTRAL FLORIDA:  The Alfond Inn at Rollins has been named one of the Top 100 Hotels in the World by readers of Travel & Leisure. The 112-room hotel in Winter Park was also ranked second among the Top 15 City Hotels in the continental United States. 

Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month will take place August 25 to October 1. More than 100 restaurants around Central Florida are participating in the program, which offers a three-course, prix fixe dinner menu for $35 per person. 

TORONTO:  The seventh annual Bastid’s BBQ will take place July 23 at 525 King Street West.

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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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