November 20, 2018: White House Correspondents' Dinner Chooses Historian Over Comedian, How NBC Will Keep a Modern Audience Engaged During Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Ticketmaster Launches E-Commerce Partnership With Sports Merchandise Company Fanatics

By Ian Zelaya November 20, 2018, 8:45 AM EST

1. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' DINNER CHOOSES HISTORIAN OVER COMEDIAN: For the first time in decades, the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner won't have a stand-up set from a comedian. The association announced Monday that biographer Ron Chernow will be the featured speaker at the annual black-tie event next year. The decision comes after comedian Michelle Wolf received criticism for her roast at this year's event. Washington Post: “Having a serious speaker—Chernow is an esteemed historian who has chronicled the lives of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Ulysses S. Grant, among others—is a big break from the tradition of having a stand-up comedian entertain the ballroom of journalists, members of Congress, and administration types. 'I’m delighted that Ron will share his lively, deeply researched perspectives on American politics and history at the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Dinner,' WHCA president Olivier Knox, who is the chief Washington correspondent for SiriusXM, said in a news release. 'As we celebrate the importance of a free and independent news media to the health of the republic, I look forward to hearing Ron place this unusual moment in the context of American history.' Knox declined to comment for the record, but the hiring of Chernow is likely to tamp down the sort of controversy that followed comedian Michelle Wolf’s stand-up routine at April’s dinner. ... But he promised to make his performance at the event, which will take place April 27, at least a little entertaining. 'While I have never been mistaken for a stand-up comedian, I promise that my history lesson won’t be dry,' he said. Since the early 1980s, the dinner has featured a stand-up act by a celebrity comic who makes jokes targeting both the president and the news media, and the president gets his turn at the mic to deliver a jokey stand-up act. (The two exceptions were in 1999 and 2003 when Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles performed, respectively.) But that setup has become fraught in recent years by Trump’s boycott, which leaves half the jokes landing on a target who isn’t there to give as good as he gets. The dinner itself, too, has come under scrutiny for its transformation into a celebrity-laden spectacle in which sources and the journalists who cover them appear to cozy up for a formal-dress schmooze. And in the Trump years, it has lost some of its luster, because the president and Hollywood types have stayed away."

2. HOW NBC WILL KEEP A MODERN AUDIENCE ENGAGED DURING MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE: NBC is switching things up for this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. For starters, the network will have anchor Al Roker ride a motorcycle on the streets of New York, equipped with a rig that will give audiences 360-degree views. The move is part of the network's push to stay relevant and engage with a modern audience. Variety: “You’d think NBC would have a 'if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it' mentality for the event, which it has broadcast since 1952. With modern TV audiences increasingly accustomed to shorter program segments, more stimulus, multiple on-screen modules, and new ways of watching video, the network has tinkered with its coverage in recent years. Yes, there are still character floats, Broadway musical numbers, obvious marketing tie-ins with sponsors and promotional appearances by NBC stars. But there has in recent years been a flurry of noticeable changes aimed at keeping the parade relevant for viewers. 'Television seems to suffer from, and enables, short attention spans. Besides many channels, online broadband, social media, texting and ever-present earbuds to compete with, producers incorporate these distractors within their show. Crawls, texts, pop-ups, promos, second-screens give people more options to see other things while not changing the channel,' says Robert Gordon, a veteran producer who has supervised sporting events, award shows, and telethons for networks including Cinemax and PBS. 'Producers focus on pace, variety, personality, production values, and second-screen options within the program so as to discourage a viewer from actually going to a second screen.' At Macy’s the big question is 'What is it that’s going to get people to turn on from the very beginning and keep watching from 9 a.m. to noon?' says Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, who leads the retailer’s management of the event. One answer is more energy in the opening hour. Producers have put new emphasis on a pre-taped 'cold open' segment in recent years, in the hopes that a polished opening number can help set an energetic tone for the tableau to come. Viewers this year will see a young boy visit iconic New York City as he sings the opening number 'Don’t Rain On My Parade.' The performance ends with a big live finish at the start of the parade route."

3. TICKETMASTER LAUNCHES E-COMMERCE PARTNERSHIP WITH SPORTS MERCHANDISE COMPANY FANATICS: Ticketmaster has launched a partnership with sports merchandise company Fanatics, which will integrate verified event tickets and official licensed merchandise on both sites. Billboard: “The partnership will help leagues, teams, and universities with an integrated e-commerce solution and leverage both companies’ customer database to drive a unique fan rewards program. Ticketmaster will be the exclusive ticketing provider to Fanatics, providing fans the opportunity to immediately purchase tickets through embedded links on,, and hundreds of team/league e-stores. Every purchase made by fans will also include the Fanatics FanCash proprietary rewards program, which provides fans with real currency redeemable on hundreds of thousands of products across the company’s network of e-stores for all members of the family, including jerseys, headwear, fan apparel, and hard goods. ... As the official ticketing partner of the N.F.L., the N.B.A., the N.H.L., College Football Playoff (CFP), the P.G.A. Tour and teams, bowl games and universities across the country, Ticketmaster will leverage its extensive reach of sports fans to provide Fanatics the ability to deliver special offers to past purchasers or target new customers. Fanatics clients will eventually have the ability to offer personalized up-sells of team gear or bundled offers through the ticket purchase process on Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster and Fanatics will also partner on marketing and brand activations at key sporting events and the New York-based retail stores to reward fans and increase awareness of events."


ATLANTA:  Children's Healthcare of Atlanta’s annual Children’s Christmas Parade will take place December 1 on Peachtree Street. 

LOS ANGELES:  Communications and marketing agency HL Group has been named the agency of record for W Hollywood hotel. 

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

NEW YORK:  The 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival, taking place April 24-May 5, 2019, will hold two special events to celebrate the 35th anniversary of This Is Spinal Tap and the 25th anniversary of Reality Bites

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

SAN FRANCISCO:  The 18th annual SF Sketchfest presented by Audible will take place January 10-27, 2019. The festival will honor Carol Burnett and feature a massive lineup with comedians including Margaret Cho, the cast of Best In Show, Jenny Slate, Busy Philipps, Paul F. Tompkins, W. Kamau Bell, and Julie Klausner. 

TORONTO:  The third annual Toronto Light Festival will take place January 18-March 3, 2019, in the Distillery Historic District. 

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

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