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May 7, 2018: The Met Gala Isn't Enjoyable for Some Celebrities, FYF Fest Canceled Due to Low Ticket Sales, Wedding Planning Start-Up Company Zola Raises $100 Million

By Ian Zelaya May 7, 2018, 8:15 AM EDT


1. THE MET GALA ISN'T ENJOYABLE FOR SOME CELEBRITIES: The Met Gala, which is expected to attract a slew of actors, musicians, athletes, and more to the Metropolitan Museum of Art tonight, isn't a fun event for some celebrities. Page Six: “According to insiders, the evening, hosted by Condé Nast artistic director and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, has lost its appeal and turned into a high-pressure, corporate mammoth. In recent years, stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Lena Dunham, Tina Fey and Demi Lovato have turned on the ball, dishing on the awkwardness and how tiresome it’s become; Amy Schumer even referred to it as 'punishment' in a 2016 interview with Howard Stern. One Hollywood handler told The Post that the event was the 'Mean Girls' of galas, with Wintour banning those she dislikes and instilling a pecking order everywhere from the red carpet (she reportedly dictates what time each celebrity arrives) to the seating chart (the closer to Wintour, the closer to God). Bored of the event and perhaps emboldened by rumors of Wintour’s imminent exit from Condé, some A-listers are opting to skip the festivities altogether — a move once unheard-of. The Hollywood handler said she has four A-list clients who declined their invites this year. 'They want to take a year or two off. It’s the same thing. It’s long, drawn out and boring.' ... Adding to the stress is the fact that the Met Gala doesn’t allow most guests to have their personal publicists on the red carpet, let alone inside the venue. This is unlike other red-carpet events such as the Oscars, where celebrities are accompanied by handlers who help navigate interviews and photo ops, and straighten skirts (or even pick gum off the bottom of their shoe, as power publicist Stephen Huvane was once photographed doing for client Kirsten Dunst at a movie premiere). The anxiety of walking solo (unless you happen to have a significant other as famous as you are, or are the guest of a designer) onto one of the most photographed red carpets of the year—which involves climbing 28 steep steps in stilettos while paparazzi shout your name—can be crippling for those who are typically never without their support team." https://pge.sx/2jz2dCF

2. FYF FEST CANCELED DUE TO LOW TICKET SALES: This year's FYF Fest, a Los Angeles music festival that was slated to be headlined by Janet Jackson and Florence and the Machine, has been canceled due to low ticket sales. Billboard: “Festival owners Goldenvoice and AEG Live are pulling the plug on the Los Angeles event created by Sean Carlson in 2004 just weeks after its lineup was announced. Disappointing ticket sales in April are to blame for the cancelation. Even though the event had two-and-a-half months to go, organizers decided this year's FYF Fest could not be saved and threw in the towel. Today AEG officials will begin the process of reaching out to fans who bought tickets for the July 21-22 festival with refund information. The cancelation comes as the 2018 summer festival season begins and new concerns emerge about soft ticket sales and over-saturation, with new multi-day events competing for market share with longtime festival brands. While indie festivals are typically the ones that get squeezed in the ultra-competitive space, the crash of a well-known music festival in a major city operated by one of the biggest festival producers in the world is raising alarm bells about the health of the festival market in 2018. Rumors of FYF's problems started last week as booking agents began to quietly call up talent buyers and inquire about possible replacement dates as word of FYF's poor ticket sales began to trickle out. 2018 was supposed to be a triumphant moment for the festival brand, which faced growing uncertainty following the resignation of Carlson last year after graphic accounts of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior were made public. After first investing in the festival in 2011, Goldenvoice bought out Carlson's share at the end of 2017 and replaced him with talent buyer Jenn Yacoubian. The lineup that Goldenvoice rolled out for FYF was met with praise and applause for its diversity with more female headliners and performers than any other major festival this summer. Besides Jackson and Florence and the Machine, FYF featured 20 acts either led by female talent or prominently featuring a female player, such as St. Vincent, the XX and the Breeders." https://bit.ly/2FOAfLX

3. WEDDING PLANNING START-UP COMPANY ZOLA RAISES $100 MILLION: The wedding industry is the latest to be affected by a tech start-up—Zola, an online wedding planning company, raised $100 million on Thursday from investors such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Comcast Corp. Bloomberg: “The deal values Zola at about $600 million, according to a person familiar with the deal. Founded in 2013, Zola runs an online wedding registry that lets couples see what guests have bought them before the gifts are delivered, letting them swap out unwanted items and avoid the hassle and cost of returns. Last year, Zola added guest-list and website-building tools. Ma said she wants to build more products to become the dominant company in what Zola estimates is a $100 billion market. The roughly $600 million valuation would make Zola worth around the same as XO Group Inc., a publicly traded company founded in the late 1990s that runs wedding-planning websites and a marketplace for wedding services. Much of the rest of the industry is fragmented. ... 'Unlike most e-commerce businesses, I would say it features a handful of really attractive attributes,' said Ian Friedman, who led Goldman Sachs’ investment in the deal. Zola can predict how much of a certain product it needs to order well in advance, because people fill out registries weeks, if not months, ahead of a wedding. The company avoids most returns, or what Friedman calls 'the silent killer of retail,' by letting couples switch out things they don’t want. And Zola doesn’t carry inventory risk by stocking up items in its own warehouses." https://bloom.bg/2JOtpbM

* LOCAL NEWS *

CHICAGO:  Pink Taco in River North will open its 80-seat patio June 1. Located in the front of the restaurant, the patio has retractable windows and welcomes dogs. 

LOS ANGELES:  The 13th annual Lummis Day Festival will take place June 1-3 with events at Occidental College, Southwest Museum, Avenue 50 at York Boulevard, and Sycamore Grove Park. The music, art, and dance festival honors multicultural activist, journalist, and Southwest Museum founder Charles Lummis. 

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/losangeles

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  Hilton Miami Airport has rebranded as Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon as part of a new renovation. To celebrate the rebrand, the hotel is offering meeting planners a three percent rebate to the master account for any group booked from June through December in one of the hotel’s 19 meeting rooms. The hotel also is offering event planners who book the 5,060-square-foot Cove Ballroom complimentary drinks for as many as 100 guests. 

NEW YORK:  Theater for the New City’s 23rd annual Lower East Side Festival, a free arts festival, will take place May 25-27. 

NXT Events Media Group will hold its inaugural BrandXcelerator trade show and conference November 11-12 at Metropolitan Pavilion. The event is geared toward mid-market company owners and managers, and will focus on perfecting brand strategy and technology that can connect them with their target audience.

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/newyork

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  American brasserie the Smith Restaurant & Bar has opened its second Washington location in the U Street corridor. The new venue has a private dining room that seats as many as 30 guests. 

Career Contessa, a career site for women, and Trunk Club, a personal styling service, will host their second event, “Women Who Mean Business: A Night for Women Leaders—And Leaders to Be,” May 16 at Trunk Club’s clubhouse. The event will feature women speakers from Career Contessa, Google, Beauty Bioscience, and Joss & Main. 

YOUR NEWS: What are you doing? Tell us: tips@bizbash.com

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

BizBash Daily is the must-read digest of event industry news from BizBash.com.

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