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December 4, 2017: Kennedy Center Honors Invoke Politics Despite Trump's Absence, Inside the White House's Awkward Holiday Press Party, Denver and Reno Might Challenge Salt Lake City to Host Winter Olympics

1. KENNEDY CENTER HONORS INVOKE POLITICS DESPITE TRUMP'S ABSENCE: Despite the fact that President Trump wasn't in attendance, presenters and performers at Sunday night's Kennedy Center Honors didn't miss the chance to get political. Washington Post: "A high-powered and diverse slate of artists celebrated the lifetime achievements of singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan, television producer Norman Lear, rapper and actor LL Cool J, dancer Carmen de Lavallade, and musician and producer Lionel Richie at the 40th edition of the national ceremony. It was perhaps the art center’s most diverse class, which Lear noted in a taped segment from the medal presentation the night before. 'I’m very proud to be among these honorees representing my race,' Lear cracked. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump announced in August that they would skip the event — becoming the first presidential couple to do so — after Lear and de Lavallade suggested they would boycott the White House reception, a key piece of the weekend. In a statement, the Trumps said they would not attend 'to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.' But this is Washington, so politics found their way into the show. Caroline Kennedy set the tone in her welcoming remarks by reminding the well-dressed crowd of her father’s liberal values. ... The artists were seated, as usual, in the prime Opera House box, where they waved, sang and even cried as their peers paid tribute to their achievements. Joining them were Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein and President Deborah Rutter. Even without Trump, the black-tie event still brought in about $6.4 million in donations, slightly higher than last year. A two-hour prime-time special will be broadcast on CBS on Dec. 26 at 9 p.m."

2. INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE'S AWKWARD HOLIDAY PRESS PARTY: The White House's annual holiday party for press on Friday was the opposite of a normal affair this year, with CNN boycotting the event and the Trump administration not sending out invites to prominent journalists. The New York Times: "The 2 p.m. start time did not sit well among some veterans in the White House press corps, either. As far back as they could remember, the reception had been held in the evening, complete with a presidential photo line, so that spouses and children could go home with a souvenir. But like other Washington traditions that have been disrupted since the arrival of Mr. Trump, the White House holiday party still went ahead on Friday, if in slightly altered form. CNN, Mr. Trump’s bĂŞte noire among media outlets, boycotted. Breitbart News, the right-wing website run by the former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon, received its first-ever invitation. Fox News personalities flooded the room, including the hosts of 'Fox & Friends' and Sean Hannity, who attended the party for the first time in years. Journalists who had fretted about whether to pose for a photograph with Mr. Trump — a ritual that can be awkward for reporters during any presidency — need not have worried: Mr. Trump skipped the usual photos. April D. Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and one of the few black reporters in the White House briefing room, did not attend. She said this week that she had not received an invitation, despite attending annually under previous administrations. ... Friday’s reception (business attire requested) required guests and their plus-ones to pass through several security checkpoints. The White House was decorated with Christmas trees decked in fake snow and giant red bows, and a distinct aroma of pine greeted attendees who passed through a colonnade lined with white branches, a dĂ©cor overseen by the first lady, Melania Trump. Eggnog — boozy and virgin varieties — was served. In a nod to Hanukkah, there were also miniature potato latkes. The official White House holiday card, however, declared 'Merry Christmas,' in contrast to the nondenominational versions sent by the Obamas."

3. DENVER AND RENO MIGHT CHALLENGE SALT LAKE CITY TO HOST WINTER OLYMPICS: With the U.S. Olympic Committee seeking to bring the Winter Olympics back to the U.S. as early as 2026, Salt Lake City—which hosted the games in 2002—has emerged as an early frontrunner to place a bid as the host city. But Denver and Reno also have joined the conversation. The Salt Lake Tribune: "Officials in Salt Lake City are confident that Utah, where the world-class venues built for the 2002 games are still in use, is the obvious choice if the USOC decides to put forth a bid city next year. But officials in Colorado and Nevada believe they have strong cases and a chance to win over the USOC before the March deadline for selecting a city. Forty years ago, Denver balked at a chance to host the games. Now there is some support, including reported interest from Gov. John Hickenlooper, to try to lure the Olympics to Colorado. Denver, the largest of the three cities on the USOC’s list, has the hotel rooms to accommodate the crush of Olympic athletes and tourists, and a new light rail system connecting its airport and downtown. In terms of venues, it is easy enough to imagine an opening ceremony at Sports Authority Field, the home of the Denver Broncos, or a gold-medal hockey match at the Pepsi Center, where the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche play. ... Ironically, a local organization was created in 2003 on the heels of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. The original mission of the Reno-Tahoe Olympic Coalition, CEO Jon Killoran explained, was 'to promote the Olympic movement throughout the region, and consequently, the state of Nevada.' Killoran said the coalition, whose board features members from both California and Nevada, has looked to follow a blueprint set out by the USOC detailing what potential host cities should do in preparation. Killoran said the region is in better shape to host a Games in the future compared to if it was potential bid awarded a decade ago. He pointed to recent FIS World Cup events in Lake Tahoe, plus Olympic championship events such as curling featured in Las Vegas, Nev., next April."


ATLANTA:  The Whitley, a Luxury Collection Hotel—formerly the Ritz Carlton, Buckhead—has opened in Buckhead. The 507-room hotel has 31 event spaces that span more than 30,000 square feet, including the new Legacy Ballroom. 

BOSTON:  Fenway Sports Management has expanded its special events team. Fred Olsen has been promoted from senior director to vice president, Kathleen Harrington from senior manager to assistant director, and Brett Miller has been appointed coordinator of special events. 

LOS ANGELES:  The Children’s Defense Fund—California will host its 27th annual Beat the Odds Awards on Thursday at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. 

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

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  Little Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to help children succeed in their talents of sports, art, and music, will have its third annual Dreaming on the Beach gala December 9 at Fillmore Miami Beach. The event will be hosted by organization founders Phil and Orianne Collins. 

NEW YORK:  The eighth annual Governors Ball Music Festival will take place June 1-3, 2018, at Randall’s Island Park. Founders Entertainment, which promotes the festival, has launched “12 Days Of Gov Ball,” in which a new clue for next year’s lineup will be revealed on the event website, ending with a two-day presale from December 12-14. 

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

ORLANDO/CENTRAL FLORIDA:  Paddlefish at Disney Springs is offering perks for groups that book a holiday event at the restaurant Sundays through Thursdays. Planners can choose from passed sparkling wine, pass hors d'oeuvres, or a $250 Levy Restaurants gift card.

TORONTO:  The Ritz-Carlton Express has debuted at the Ritz-Carlton, Toronto. The life-size train, which took more than 150 hours to create, was made with 700 pounds of chocolate and includes edible gold accents on the outside. The train also has a complimentary candy station inside the car. 

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  Shinola and Arlington Food Assistance Center’s holiday charity shopping night will take place Tuesday at Shinola Tysons. The event, which benefits the Arlington Food Assistance Center, will offer festive cocktails and passed bites. 

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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.

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