Zell's birthday bash

The Chicago real estate billionaire and Tribune Co. CEO is notorious for his birthday celebrations, and it doesn't appear as if the recent round of newsroom layoffs will hold him back. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker reports that the Eagles will be performing at this year's birthday extravaganza on Sept. 27. Zell always has top-flight entertainment (Jay Leno, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, the Beach Boys, Bette Midler and Little Richard). This year's party will be built around an “Enchanted” or ''Some Enchanted Evening'' theme - and guests are being told to meet at Zell's corporate offices in Chicago. From there, they'll be transported to the actual location.

One year, Zell took over the Aragon Ballroom and had it all decked out to match its original architecture -- creating an Arabian Nights-themed evening. Other past Zell locations have included the Cirque du Soleil tent, a barge transporting guests to Goose Island and last year's boats from Navy Pier sailing to a site underneath the Chicago Skyway. “It's not unusual for Sam's parties to run well into the high six figures -- if not more,” said a prominent Chicagoan who has attended many of Zell's celebrations. While the extravagance of Zell's outlay on the parties may seem excessive -- given his Tribune woes -- a source close to him said, “You do have to remember these parties employ a lot of people as waiters, carpenters, caterers and the like ... and they are well paid to work on Sam's parties.”

Oh, okay. For a second I thought he was being insensitive.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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