Monday, July 28, 2014

Checking In With: Doug Johnson from E Plus Productions

 We consider ourselves lucky to have a number of great friends and partners in the event industry with whom we have worked on many projects for many years. So we thought: let's check in with our friends and see what they are up to while much of the nation is relaxing over the summer.

First up: Douglas Johnson, owner of EPlus Productions, creative director, choreographer and entertainment producer. It turns out that it's a busy summer!

Doug: "We just closed our live show of "Maleficent" at the El Capitan a few days ago. Creating this for Disney was a wonderful opportunity to produce a spectacular show for children. I had the chance to choreograph, direct and costume the show and to retain ownership of the production."
"But closing doesn't mean that we spend the rest of the summer at the beach. Besides working on events for the rest of the year, we are already preparing for New Year's Eve. We will be back in Las Vegas, of course, but we have a total of nine shows around the world that night. That means hiring a cast and crew of 400 people. We are designing and fabricating everything. Our seamstresses are already at work. I am choreographing and working with composers. Production is already in full swing."

What really made Doug's summer, though, is the purchase of a treasure trove of costumes.
"The Palm Springs Follies closed recently and they had to get rid of their costumes in a hurry. I feel so lucky to have gotten the most spectacular, glamorous, giant costumes one can imagine! They are so much larger-than-life that we had to pack them into four trucks to take them to our warehouse in Las Vegas. I can't wait to put them back on stage!"

Monday, July 21, 2014

We Love "Word Crimes" - and We Are Happy To Announce Our ISES Esprit Awards Nomination!

Did you know that Janet started her professional life as a teacher?
We are reminded of this fact by Janet’s grammar corrections in our Monday morning meetings and around the office in general.
And we agree with Janet that English skills are lacking nowadays!

Leave it to our beloved Weird Al to sum it up musically in the most brilliant manner!

Just in case you think our blog writing is spastic - we apologize for occasional typos and grammatical errors!


We are thrilled and grateful to be nominated for a 2014 ISES Esprit Award for "Reaching New Heights" in the 2014 BEST ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION $25,000 - $75,000 USD category.

We look forward to seeing colleagues and friends at the Esprit Award Presentation and Celebration on Wednesday, August 20th in the Grand Ballroom at the Westin Seattle Hotel.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Africa Report Part 2: Visiting April Gulley and The Bernie Project in Uganda

The journey continued! Janet and Steve visited good friend April Gulley in Kampala, Uganda. After all, it was "only" a good 300 miles through Central Africa - an all-day car trip.

You may remember: April started her non-profit The Bernie Project in June 2013 to assist children at the Wakiso School of Hope in Uganda. This visit was just in time to say "Happy Anniversary"!
Many of our friends in the event industry support The Bernie Project. So we thought it's a good time to get an update on April's courageous adventure. Here the official report:

So what has The Bernie Project accomplished in a year with your help?

-We have provided 7 months of food: 3 meals a day for 300 children.

-We have provided 100 AFRIpad Menstrual Kits.

- Provided 10 Tiva Water Filters to WSH to ensure the kids have access to clean drinking water. 

-Paid Secondary School fees for 4 children. 

-We have provided basic hygiene supplies bathing soap, laundry soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, Vaseline and hankies for 3 terms to 300 children. This term we included two pairs of knickers for all the kids. 

-We have hired our first local employee, Frank Balamaze, who acts as our Program Manager and has been a tremendous asset. I know he will help take our organization to the next level in providing greater services to the people of Uganda. 

Your contributions to The Bernie Project are greatly appreciated! If you’d like to continue to support us you can do so at and click on donate. 

Keep up to date with the latest information on what we are doing by:

“Liking” our Facebook Page.
Following us on Twitter and Instagram

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you in making this first year of The Bernie Project possible. 

With Abundant Gratitude,


Janet: "We had a great time visiting April and her new Ugandan family. Seeing the very basic needs of the children here in Kampala made us realize yet again how advantaged we really are. Mahadi -the boy who inspired The Bernie Project, Michael and Shanta are just blossoming. It was wonderful to visit April. We truly admire her dedication to her cause and her tireless work for her organization!  New developments are happening soon! The next update will be out in a few weeks!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Janet's Vacation Report from Africa!

Can you imagine Janet hiking for 6 hours a day, through muddy mountains, fighting off stinging nettles and poisonous vines? We didn't think so either!
But we guess it's all about motivation - and Janet and Steve Elkins have a bucket list they feel passionate about. 
"Steve has been interested in nature and preservation for years and we both want to experience some of the World's Wonders before it is too late. Few animals are as endangered as the mountain gorillas. Only about 880 are left in the wild and we found a responsible, sustainable way of visiting and experiencing these wonderful animals in their habitat.

The country of Rwanda has made a spectacular recovery from the genocide 20 years ago. It is a great place to visit and we were very impressed how proud and protective Rwandans are of the mountain gorillas in the Virunga Mountains. Poaching and hunting are severely punished. They only allow 80 visitors a day into the mountain range, under the supervision of rangers and guides. We had to choose between three hiking level options: easy, medium and difficult. On the first day we chose medium. It seemed quite difficult to me! 3 and a half hours of strenuous uphill hiking finally let us to a spot in the jungle that sort of formed a natural bowl. And that's where we found the gorillas! And I have to say, it's a moment I will never forget and a fantastic experience!
The rangers had taught us some "Gorilla" grunts that we were instructed to utter as we came into view of the group. It's important to greet them! The Silverback, however, did eye us suspiciously, jumped up and down for a moment and then climbed into bamboo trees. He made himself comfortable in between branches - his observation platform - and kept a watchful eye on us. The rest of the group seemed completely unconcerned and just went on eating and playing. They came so close to us that they brushed against us! I will never forget their facial expressions! They express so much thought and emotion!

Groups are only allowed to stay in the area near the gorillas for one hour to not disturb the animals. After the 60 minutes, we hiked downhill for 3 hours. Thankfully, we stayed at a comfortable lodge! 
The second day it rained for hours and it was harder to find gorillas. We had signed up for the "easy" hike - it actually was not different from "medium". Virunga is at 8000 to 9000 feet altitude and my Pasadena walking exercise in our local hills really was no match. We finally found a group of gorillas. But when it rains, gorillas just hunker down and do absolutely nothing! We got so lucky! After about 10 minutes the rain finally stopped and the whole group began to eat bamboo. These enormous animals are vegetarian! Just as the hour was almost up, the gorillas decided to move on.

I will never forget this trip and my experience with these animals! It was such an inspiration!
If you are interested in mountain gorillas and their preservation, there are a number of reputable organizations that support the cause: WildlifeDirect, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Frankfurt Zoological Society, International Gorilla Conservation Program, Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London. I have been personally fascinated by Dian Fossey's work and read her book. The last entry in her diary before she was murdered reads: "When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future."  


Monday, June 30, 2014

Independence Day with Fireworks by Grucci! Checking In With The Master: Phil Grucci!

Amway China in NYC: Fireworks by Grucci for EventWorks from EventWorks on Vimeo.

We are grateful to Phil Grucci for sharing this video with us! We recently had the pleasure of working together for a Chinese client's event on Ellis and Liberty Islands in New York. The gala dinner rewarded 1,600 guests for their hard work - and culminated in a customized, state of the art fireworks display. We knew we had to impress our guests - so we hired the pyro-technician who designed and engineered the Opening Ceremony fireworks for the Beijing Olympic Games, just one of the many achievements on a long list of global distinctions for Phil Grucci!

Phil Grucci: "Logistics on water locations are always the most difficult. We were working from five firing platforms on three barges in New York Harbor. While the location was gorgeous, it also came with a lot of requirements. We were in constant contact with the Coast Guard and the Captain of the Port. Safety is always our top concern for all involved. The weather conditions got rough as a late winter storm rolled in. It made it harder to control the barges and the platforms. Their placement is crucial! Thankfully we have a great, experienced crew. They kept all the platforms in perfect position to launch the fireworks and keep the waterways safe."

The fireworks were customized for this client and his guests.
"We created a rainbow. It is symbolic of the spirit of worldliness. We also created a display that formed the company name."
Fireworks by Grucci has been a family-owned business for six generations. Angelo Lanzetta, the great-great-great grandfather to Phil Grucci, started the company in Southern Italy. In 1870 he brought the family and his business to Long Island, NY, via Ellis Island, our location this past April.

Phil Grucci: "We have persevered through good and bad times. It takes creativity, an understanding of business politics and plain business acumen to survive. There are lots of authorities to deal with for every single show! The performance is our lucky moment, the reward for lots of hard work. We love to see audience reaction. On that night in April the guests came outside despite the cold and rain to watch the fireworks and they cheered a lot! We were very honored by their enthusiastic reaction!"

This week is the hardest work week of the year!
"This coming weekend we have 75 programs over Friday and Saturday, coast to coast, ranging from 3 shows on Oahu to shows in Key Biscayne and the State of Maine. Our highest show takes place in Las Vegas on top of the Stratosphere Tower. Here in New York we have the honor of producing the official fireworks, right behind the Statue of Liberty! Our whole family is working. We will hold our BBQ in August."

It was also all hands on deck for the Guinness Book World Record: the largest fireworks display ever was a Grucci program in Dubai for this past New Year's Celebration.

So what is the secret for such success. Phil laughs: "Well, some developments are top secret but let's say that we know that our customers are always looking for more. Safety and Innovation are our two main priorities. We can innovate because we produce our own fireworks here in the States. That gives us the edge in creative ability. We keep investing time and money to create new displays and  to improve. We have advanced from basic color displays to a more nuanced color palette, reaching a total of 7 colors. We focus on the environment! We keep working to lower the smoke factor and to make all fireworks with combustible debris. Eventually, we hope, nothing will be falling back to the ground."

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Biggest Party in the World: FIFA World Cup!

It's time to learn more about football - we mean Fussball, Futbol, soccer! Have you caught the Fever yet?
Google's name banner is dedicated to the World Cup, internet news and sports pages are dominated by soccer scores and - since we travel quite a bit - we could not help but notice that the rest of the world is in VERY SERIOUS party mode! Europe, Africa and Latin American have basically declared a holiday. And Americans are finally catching on!

We love the FIFA World Cup Song: "We Are One - Ole Ola", featuring top football players, sexy samba dancers and singers Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and Claudia Leitte. So infectious! What an explosion of rhythm, color, song and dance!

You may be shocked to learn that the World Cup match between USA and Ghana drew a record setting 15.9 million viewers, plus many thousands uncounted more who watched in sports bars and at private parties. How does this compare to the Stanley Cup final game three days earlier? A paltry 6 million viewers watched ice hockey!
Overall TV ratings in the US have grown over 23 percent since the last World Cup in 2010 during the first week of matches- and will continue to grow if 21-year old John Brooks keeps getting goals with amazing headers!

We love parties - and this is the biggest one we ever witnessed!

We'd love to hear or read from our friends! Are you watching and how are you celebrating? Let us know! Email us or leave comments on our Facebook page.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Drum roll please, we have ADVANCE ACCESS to the perfect mix that will get your team energized this Monday morning!
DJ Lee Dyson's company Hey Mister DJ is sponsoring this week's BizBash Live Event Innovation Forum at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 19th.
He created the perfect playlist for our industry, comprised of songs for Business/Networking/Promotion/Ideas/Success & Party themes - and we have permission to play it today!

We trust that your team will be inspired - we are dancing today.