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Special Events
In Brief for May 14, 2008

In Brief for May 14, 2008

Food prices bite Nearly half of all respondents to an online poll from Special Events say that rising food prices are affecting how they produce their event menus. Some 22 percent of respondents say they are raising prices for clients, 15 percent say they are switching to lower cost foods, and 48 percent they do both. Thirteen percent of respondents say food costs are not affecting them …

Upfronts fall down The "upfronts"--the presentations-plus-parties that entertainment producers use to showcase new programs to potential advertisers--seem to be another casualty of last year's writers' strike. The month of May is usually prime time for upfronts, but Russell Harris, head of Russell Harris Event Group in North Hollywood, Calif., is feeling the fall-off. "This year, Disney ABC International Television did cancel their upfronts presentation due to the strike," he says. "There was not enough time for production of new pilots, so there was nothing to present to distributors. Hopefully next year will be a bigger bang and more parties to make up for this year."

"Yes and no," says veteran event producer Ronnie Davis of New York-based Great Performances. "The seasons have been altered due to some shows moving to January or May premieres. The events will simply be scattered throughout the year rather than concentrated like in the past. The success of cable shows like 'The Closer' has the networks rethinking how they have done business."

Yet some event pros fear that the upfronts model itself will change as producers try to drop the pricey events. David Merrell, head of Los Angeles-based AOO Events, is doing an upfront today but notes, "What I have noticed is that [upfronts have] lesser and lesser of a budget, and instead of doing two or three that they would do, they do one." He adds, "I am truly convinced that it is not just from the writer’s strike that this has happened" …

MIP reaches out to members in China Dallas-based MPI has launched a discussion board to check on the welfare of its China-based members in light of Monday's catastrophic 7.9 earthquake there. To learn more, click here.

Events made E-Z An increasing number of for-profit companies are offering "event planner certificate" programs; one company is even selling wedding-planner franchises. Is this trend good for special events or does it suggest that event planning can be learned quickly? Tell us by replying to our latest poll; it's directly on the right of this column. Thanks!

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