1. FOCUS STAYS ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT AS AWARDS SEASON BEGINS: Hollywood is preparing for the start of awards season, but this year the flood of sexual harassment allegations against producers, directors, and actors will undoubtedly be the topic of discussion on the red carpet. The New York Times: “Hollywood is in the middle of a cultural earthquake. Hundreds of women and dozens of men have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct by producers (Harvey Weinstein), directors (Brett Ratner) and actors (Kevin Spacey), triggering police investigations and setting off a worldwide social media movement as people from other industries share their own stories of harassment and abuse. With no end in sight to these revelations, movie publicists have been struggling to figure out how stars should handle the topic of sexual misconduct as they campaign for the Oscars — a three-month stretch of self-absorption that starts now and ends with the Academy Awards on March 4. It’s a ritual that involves endless question-and-answer sessions with voters, hundreds of journalists on red carpets and acceptance speeches at pre-Oscar stops like the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. ... Many longtime publicists are privately recommending avoidance. As one publicist who represents A-list stars said, the awards events are about selling tickets and winning votes, not discussing sexual harassment. She spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid drawing unwanted attention to her clients. If put on the spot in a red carpet interview, the publicist continued, stars should give a quick answer about the behavior being abhorrent before swiftly pivoting back to their film. Other strategists said that awards hopefuls should adhere to one of Hollywood’s oldest saws: remember your audience. Oscars are voted on by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an organization with a membership that is 72 percent male and 87 percent white. In other words, calling out Hollywood as a cesspool of white male privilege may ensure that someone else’s name is written on the card inside that Oscar envelope." http://nyti.ms/2BxlxrH
2. NBC TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY GOES ON WITHOUT MATT LAUER: NBC's annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree went on as usual and attracted thousands Wednesday night, despite the fact that Matt Lauer—who was slated to co-host the event—was fired by the network for sexual misconduct. New York Post: “Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio flipped the switch at 8:55 p.m., illuminating the 75-foot tall, 12-plus ton Norway spruce decorated with 50,000 multicolored LED lights. The 85th annual ceremony was televised by NBC and included live performances by Brett Eldredge, Leslie Odom Jr., Pentatonix, Train, Harry Connick Jr., and the Radio City Rockettes. Matt Lauer was set to co-host the event, but the network announced Wednesday that it had terminated him for 'inappropriate sexual behavior' with a colleague. Lauer’s co-host Savannah Guthrie made the announcement at the top of Wednesday’s 'Today' show. ... This year’s festivities brought added security measures following the Oct. 31 terror attack in which a man drove a truck onto a bike path near the World Trade Center, killing eight people. The holiday tradition started in 1931. This year’s tree came from State College, Pennsylvania. After the holidays, it will be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity." http://nyp.st/2Bmo5Im
3. SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL TO HIGHLIGHT WOMEN'S ISSUES AND BLACK LIVES MATTER: The Sundance Film Festival has revealed its 2018 lineup, with a slate of films that will focus on contemporary interests such as the Black Lives Matter movement and women’s issues. Variety: “’One of the things we observed this year was the ongoing awareness — by audiences and the industry and the press — of the need for alternative voices and points of view in this medium,’ observed festival director John Cooper. ‘That has long been a hallmark of independent film, but it’s really the increase in the number of personal stories [from those who didn’t have a voice before] that we’ve noticed the most over the last couple of years as we program the festival.’ … Among major international festivals, Sundance has long featured one of the most balanced lineups in terms of films directed by and starring women, though in light of recent revelations about sexual harassment in the independent film world (from the Harvey Weinstein bombshell to last year’s Casey Affleck controversy), Cooper and Sundance director of programming Trevor Groth are looking forward to the positive conversations on the subject at this year’s festival. The upcoming festival features a new screening venue, between the Holiday Village and the Yarrow (now called ‘Park Ave.’), where the Sports Authority store used to be. Sundance will use the basement of this new space to host most of its virtual reality program. Sundance is also adding two new awards. The first, to be known as the Festival Favorite award, will identify the single film from any category that most connects with audiences, to be announced after the festival. Also new is the ‘NEXT Innovator’ prize, to be selected by a single luminary (this year’s award-giver soon to be revealed) to that person’s favorite film in the NEXT category.” http://bit.ly/2BpdOv3
* LOCAL NEWS *
AUSTIN: The Parish, a live music venue downtown, is being sold in a 10-day online eBay auction beginning Friday. The link to the auction will be available through the venue’s website and Facebook page.
LOS ANGELES: Actor Danny Trejo's chain of restaurants opened two new locations this week. Trejo's Cantina is at the Warner Center at Woodland Hills, and serves doughnuts in the morning followed by full-service dinner; it seats 200 and has 12 taps and widescreen TVs. Also open is Trejo's Tacos in the USC Village, which has a fast-casual menu and a 30-foot mural of Trejo himself.
Sammy Hagar will be honored for his humanitarian work at Adopt The Arts' Annual Rock Gala on January 31 at Avalon Hollywood.
For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/losangeles
MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA: The Kiwanis of Little Havana will hold its annual Christmas gala Saturday at the Miami Seaquarium. Hosted by iHeart Radio’s Enrique Santos, the event will raise funds for food and Christmas toys for children affected by Hurricane Irma in Utuado, Puerto Rico. The Kiwanis of Little Havana is an affiliate of Kiwanis International, a global nonprofit organization of volunteers dedicated to serving children in their communities.
ME Miami hotel has appointed Mathew Pargament general manager.
NEW YORK: A Margaritaville hotel and restaurant may open in Times Square at a site that was formerly slated for a Dream Hotel. The Real Deal: http://bit.ly/2zNAhFH
For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/newyork
PHILADELPHIA: Resort Meetings Consortium, a meetings procurement firm, has rebranded as RMC Meetings and Events.
TORONTO: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema will screen free holiday classics from December 16-22. Films will include A Christmas Story, Elf, and Love Actually.
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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, and Ian Zelaya in New York.
BizBash Daily is the must-read digest of event industry news from BizBash.com.
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