February 15, 2017: Michael De Luca Talks Challenges of Producing the Oscars, Samsung Brings Virtual Reality to Fashion Week, Lack of Schwarzman Party Criticism Sheds Light on Extreme Wealth in Trump Era

1. MICHAEL DE LUCA TALKS CHALLENGES OF PRODUCING THE OSCARS: Michael De Luca recently discussed overcoming substance abuse and landing the gig of producing the 89th Oscars with Jennifer Todd. The New York Times: "Mr. De Luca and Ms. Todd were hired to produce the 89th Academy Awards partly because of that kind of deep affection for cinema. Last year, the Oscars became a caustic admonishment of nominee omissions, namely black artists and films about the African-American experience. This time around, with a more inclusive set of nominees, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hopes to return to showcasing movie magic. 'Movies are escapism and they are there for everybody—not just some people, everybody—and we want our show to be a reminder of that,' said Ms. Todd, whose primary job is running Pearl Street Films, founded by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. 'That means a clip-heavy show that displays how movies of the past have inspired the current generation, a show that doesn’t have extraneous musical numbers, a show that is just a joyous celebration.' But what about the political rhetoric that is likely to pepper acceptance speeches? Honorees at the recent Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Grammys have attacked President Trump, explicitly or implicitly. 'That will hopefully add some spontaneity,' Mr. De Luca said. 'Winners have the right to express themselves.' Producing the Oscars is an unenviable job. The telecast is a Frankenstein’s monster—a stage show on television about movies—with a marathon length largely dictated by the vast number of awards presented. And ratings have been declining: Last year’s telecast, hosted by Chris Rock and produced by David Hill and Reginald Hudlin, was watched by 34 million Americans, the lowest-rated Oscars in eight years. With roughly two weeks until show time, however, the production offices here were oddly quiet, and Mr. De Luca seemed relaxed and confident." http://nyti.ms/2kprdiO

2. SAMSUNG BRINGS VIRTUAL REALITY TO FASHION WEEK: Samsung is making its mark on this season of New York Fashion Week with a virtual-reality show. Fortune: "The electronics maker has teamed with FTL Moda, a fashion production firm that stages shows for New York Fashion Week, to produce what the two are touting as the first all-digital fashion presentation. Inspired by the theme titled 'Dreaming of Italy,' the footage was shot in digital and 360-digital in Milan, Italy's fashion capital, earlier this month. Neha Singh, founder and CEO of Obsess VR, the startup behind the virtual reality software being used for show as well as building a VR shopping platform for fashion, says virtual reality will elevate the fashion industry to a level that's not possible with other digital mediums today. 'With VR, we can create experiences that let anyone feel like they are sitting in the front row of a fashion show, or walk around and shop in a store anywhere in the world from your own couch,' Singh says. Thus, instead of sitting alongside each other in cramped folding chairs dotting the sides of a traditional catwalk, attendees will be able to don Samsung's Gear VR headset for an up-close, 360-degree view of the latest collections and corresponding details about each look. The event will include a museum-style backstage with digital video panels lining the walls as well as 'Digital Mannequins' and mirror display technology showcasing the actual designer collections." http://for.tn/2kQijcJ

3. LACK OF SCHWARZMAN PARTY CRITICISM SHEDS LIGHT ON EXTREME WEALTH IN TRUMP ERA: Stephen A. Schwarzman, a billionaire who serves as President Trump's chairman of the strategic policy forum, recently hosted a lavish 70th birthday party that may have cost around $20 million—a price that drew very little criticism compared to when he hosted a $5 million affair 10 years ago. The lack of talk may signal a change in how parts of the United States view these over-the-top events thrown by public figures with Trump-level wealth. The New York Times: "The celebration for his 70th birthday at his Palm Beach, Fla., home over the weekend included live camels, trapeze artists and a performance by Gwen Stefani. Some reports speculated the party cost as much as $20 million, a price tag that insiders say is ridiculously inflated, but clearly the event fell in the category of over-the-top expensive. Normally, a birthday party for a boldface name wouldn’t warrant a sentence outside the gossip pages. But Mr. Schwarzman is the billionaire co-founder of the Blackstone Group as well as President Trump’s latest BFF as the chairman of the president’s strategic policy forum—and his last birthday bash turned into a cultural flash point. … In the age of Mr. Trump and his famed golden penthouse, Mr. Schwarzman’s party has largely been ignored except for a bit of chattering by Town & Country and sniping among the schadenfreude-loving Acela Corridor Crowd. Perhaps Mr. Trump has normalized conspicuous consumption. On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, there were a few smuggled snapshots of the Schwarzman party passed around, but not much in the way of great viral outcry. A small band of protesters who tried to picket the party on Saturday night did not get anywhere close to it, nor was there much media pickup on the group’s message. The collective yawn may say something larger about the shifts in the way parts of the country think about great wealth—and perhaps how they have always thought about big money." http://nyti.ms/2lMPpbc


CHICAGO:  Chicago breweries including Baderbrau Brewing Company and Begyle Brewing Company are tapping into the trend of hosting yoga events that incorporate craft beer as an incentive. Chicago Tribune: http://trib.in/2kuul7Z

DALLAS/FORT WORTH:  The 13th annual Savor Dallas, a food, wine, and spirits festival, will take place April 6-9. Presented by Goody Goody, the festival will offer tastings from more than 75 restaurants and chefs, 450 wine brands, and 70 spirit brands. Events include a grand tasting experience, a mixology-focused cocktail party, and a farmer's market brunch.

LOS ANGELES:  Jackson Browne will curate an intimate benefit concert, "Songs From the Cinema," in support of Artists for Peace and Justice on February 23 between Beverly and Melrose on Fairfax. The concert will feature performances of songs from movies sung by actors and musicians including Jeff Bridges, Jack Black, Rita Wilson, and Moby.

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

NEW YORK:  The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York Times Square West is now open. Managed by Crescent Hotels and Resorts, the 37-story property has 612 rooms and 1,000 square feet of event space that seats 75.

The Academy will host a live Oscar viewing party on February 26 in the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center. The event will have a menu from chef Jim Botsacos.

The 14th Street Y will host its annual Purim Gala on March 9 at the Angel Orensaz Foundation.

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

SAN DIEGO:  The Pendry San Diego has opened in the Gaslamp Quarter. Managed by Montage International, the luxury hotel offers 317 guest rooms, 36 suites, and a variety of food, beverage, and nightlife concepts including Provisional Kitchen, Café & Mercantile, and Nason's Beer Hall. The hotel has 35,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including the Grand Ballroom, customizable Parlor and Salon rooms, and a private poolside deck.

TORONTO:  The third annual WayHome Music & Arts Festival will take place July 28-30 at Burl's Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte. The lineup includes Imagine Dragons, Frank Ocean, and Solange.

The 93-year-old Badminton and Racquet Club burned down in a six-alarm fire on Tuesday. The Globe and Mail: https://tgam.ca/2kQ9Vdn

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  Restaurants in Washington are preparing for a "Day Without Immigrants" strike, protesting President Trump's immigration policies on Thursday. Washingtonian: http://bit.ly/2knAyYc

The Willard InterContinental Washington, DC and winery Château d’Esclans will host the inaugural Rosé Romp on April 1 at the hotel's outdoor terrace. The party, which is an official National Cherry Blossom Festival event, will offer rosé, food stations from executive chef Peter Laufer, and an "Art Walk" featuring cherry-blossom-inspired artwork by local artists.

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With contributions from Jenny Berg in Chicago, Alesandra Dubin and Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Jill Menze, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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

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