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Displaying keen perception and great insight.
She’s a little bit naughty. She’s a little bit nice.
She calls ‘em like she sees (and hears) ‘em.
She’s...
Claire Voyant
Note: This is a past column from September 02, 2011
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - September 2, 2011


Donna Taylor (1939-2011)

Since the death of Donna Taylor on August 3rd earned her only three short sentences on the August 14th Las Vegas Review-Journal's obit page, we have asked a few of the folks who knew and worked with the one time talent agent to share their feelings about this lady, so our readers could know her a little better. Here are some of the responses we received...

When I moved to Las Vegas in 1982, I was met with a very small and close knit music community. When I would ask around about the good agents, everyone would tell me to contact Donna Taylor and upon doing so I met a very kind, fair and supportive agent. (How often do you find those adjectives describing an agent?) She proceeded to immediately find a two week gig on the Strip for my partner and I. That engagement turned into a springboard for a working career in this town for both he and I and even though she didn't have much more professional contact with me after that she continued to be genuinely supportive anytime I would see her or talk with her. I would always hear nothing but positive reports and respect from all the musicians and performers that worked with her. She played a big part in my life and I'm sure she has been the same to many others. She will be missed.
Doug Taylor, Musician

Donna was one of my closest friends. When I lived in Florida she would call me every week. She is the one that was responsible for my moving back to Las Vegas. God bless you my dear.
Bic Carrol, Producer/Costumer

Donna Taylor was an honest agent, in a town not ripe with honesty. She had an almost maternal caring for the entertainers she booked. She had long term relationships with clients and friends alike. And often the lines blurred...her clients became her closest friends. She had no airs about her. It was never, I'm the agent, you're the act. Musicians loved her because she truly cared about them and their art. Over the years, I had the pleasure of working with Donna and many of her clients, and we became great friends, attending many opening nights together. She had a great sense of humor and fun. When I moved to the LA area, we continued to stay in touch and a couple of times she visited me in my old apartment near the Hollywood Bowl. On one visit we went to a club in the Valley and saw Tyler Murray perform, which was terrific. We recently became Skype buddies, with long conversations about animal rescue, the current color of our hair and the latest Vegas trends. But before Skype, she always screened her calls...I would call out over her machine, "Donna Taylor, Donna Taylor! And she would pick up the line and say "Mary Anderson, Mary Anderson!" Even if time passed and we didn't connect, we always talked midway between our birthdays in October to discuss what we would do different in our new year. This year will sadly be different. I miss you, Donna Taylor.
Mary Anderson-Harris, PR Consultant

Donna, brings nothing but fond memories. I used to call her the queen of keno-nomics, she would have so much fun playing keno for nickels and get excited. Aside from that we would meet often, several years back so Donna could get her Mexican food fix. She did enjoy the time that was given to her and for that I hope we can all remember her for all she contributed to the entertainment world and just being a good friend.
May you rest in peace Donna.
Rose Eurdekian, Director of Administrative Services for Royal Productions

The good old days! When we were proud to call Vegas "our town". So many talented people working so hard every night. The Las Vegas stage is what we lived for, nothing else mattered. Donna Taylor was and will always be one of the main reasons that so many talented people had such great success. Donna knew the town and everyone in it. She could walk up to any entertainment director and be welcomed with open arms. She was extremely well respected in our town. Donna could look anyone straight in the eye and get whatever she wanted. She could do this because she was an honest agent! She took very good care of all of her acts and truly cared about their well being. She always walked with her head held high. I met Donna in 1974 and the same year she became my first and only agent. I know how many acts depended on her and how she helped them with their careers. Donna opened doors for me that never closed. We worked together on my personal direction and she would see to it that I had a stage to sing on. I never would have had a career in Vegas without Donna Taylor. She was a professional and a friend for life. Donna's connections allowed me to live a life I had only dreamed of. Donna's high standards always made me reach for the stars. I was so proud to call her my agent. She was there for me 100% at all times. Donna made me feel brave and I can never thank her enough for her friendship and devotion. Donna was one of a kind and will be deeply missed by all. Donna and I remained friends right to the end of her life. She was a fighter. I will always hold her deep in my heart and remember her as honest, professional, kind and devoted. She will never be gone from my life...she was such a wonderful part of my life. Thank you sweet Donna, I love you.
Tyler Murray, Entertainer

A fine lady who I loved and respected. May she rest in peace...
Peter Anthony, Entertainer


Tyler Murray

Frankie Randall

Chuy Gomez

Donna Taylor will certainly be missed by me and so many others she met during her lifetime. I used to spend hours talking to her and enjoyed every minute. She was one of the most honorable people I ever met and I can't think of anybody who did business with her who didn't have absolute respect for her honesty and integrity. She loved to laugh, was a wealth of information and always had her ear to the ground. She was a dear friend who I will remember for the rest of my life. I am confident she is in Heaven having a cigarette and cherry coke, playing a slot machine.
Frankie Randall, Entertainer

(Unedited and printed as written.)
Donna was a good friend besides booking me, when I was 32 year's old we started to work together, I sang and she book me, she was strait with me, very honest, a rear thing in las vegas, with agent's she was very patient with me I was a problematic customer ,I use to drink and get in trouble, But now it's been 18 year's sense i had a drink, Good advise from her, and God in my life and also A A She is in haven now I know it...with all my love She will be missed.
Jesus "Chuy" Gomez (Chuy & Company), Entertainer

Been thinking of my history with Donna Taylor. She used to always call me and catch up on all the gossip. Usually about Breck Wall...but she and I became very good friends. Back in the late 1990's she used to hang out with Billie Ann Sabala and Mark Tan. La Cage was at the Riv and our night off was Tuesdays. About twice a month we would have a get together (I was living with Breck) and cook and play "Taboo" and then usually we would switch over to poker. Patrick Maes, Billie Ann, Breck, Tim Dunn, Jim Lash, Mark Tan, Donna, Brent Allen, Scott Rarick (Breck's 'son') and whoever else was passing through the Breck Wall hall of boy fame, would be in attendance. What I remember the most is the laughter! Oh, how we laughed! Saying very inappropriate things and thinking how anybody outside of our 'group' would be appalled!! Donna was a somewhat reserved person and it took a lot to get her to smile, but she always seemed to smile when she was around us. Once she got us (a road company of "La Cage") booked on a tour of Brazil. She did it through an agent friend of hers, Billy Rizzo. She WARNED me from the VERY beginning that even though the people booking us had $$ that BILLY HAD to go with us to collect the money. Boy was she right!! However, Breck Wall and Billy had a huge fight in Sao Paulo (Breck went as company manager - big mistake) and fired Billy and made him go back to the USA. We DID NOT get paid at the end of the tour and I lost over $20,000. Breck's response was that he would not collect a salary. I had to cash in my life insurance policy to pay everybody. What a mess. But Donna minced no words when we got back and told me that I should have listened to her and under no circumstances allowed Billy to leave. He was our 'assurance' that the $$ would be collected. When times got tough for this lady, she always seemed to find a way to get things done. A few years ago she was considering selling her house because it needed so many repairs. At the time Jim and I were investing in houses and flipping them. Donna's house was perfect for a flip. It needed about $20,000 worth of repairs (mainly a new roof) and she owed very little on it. Because of the inflated market, we saw an opportunity to make a good profit on it. She said she just wanted out. We made several offers and she kept saying she wasn't quite ready yet. Then she said it was her back taxes that were the biggest problem and that as soon as she got that in order we could buy her house. So I paid a tax man to help her get caught up. She refused to take the help and did it herself. She THEN found a program that helps older widow women get their roofs fixed!! She got a new roof for FREE!!!! God Bless here. She never moved out of the house she had lived in for so long even after her husband had passed so many years ago. May she rest in peace. A really sweet woman!!
Jimmy Emerson, Entertainer/Producer

Donna Taylor was such a dear, sweet, soft spoken woman in a very difficult Las Vegas Entertainment market. She would always put her best foot forward and represent her artists with respect, class and determination. In a mostly male dominated market, she would always be a lady but would take no bull... She would fight hard for her people in such a fair, legitimate way. Donna, you will truly be missed. Thank you for all you did for so many.
Renee Hale, Entertainer

On August 3rd, 2011, a fine woman passed away. There was no fanfare, no memorial, nothing that heralded her life even in the local paper. But for those of us who knew and loved Donna Taylor, her loss caused a great deal of sadness. Always a private person, Donna "Back in the Day" when Vegas wasn't the corporate, slick place it has become, Donna Taylor, was a "rock star" booking Agent. She booked the best acts in Vegas in the best places. Everyone not only knew her name, but loved doing business with her. She was honest and reliable and kind and was always determined to make "her acts", the hottest on the Vegas stages, while all the while protecting them from rapacious show biz dangers like a tiny Pit Bull! I first met Donna on the phone when I called her from New Mexico after being told by more than one person that she was "the best agent in Vegas." When I introduced myself and told her I was managing Tyler Murray, "a fabulous singer", and was going to bring her to town, she almost moaned the words..."Ohhhh, no, not another girl singer..." and then sighed. (Apparently in those days, sand was the only thing that there was more of than female entertainers!) I finally wore her down by practically begging her to "at least see Tyler." She agreed (still sighing...) and as she did with everyone she booked, took extra care and warned us of what to be wary of when we finally got to Sin City and to call her when we arrived. Long story short, this diminutive, bright eyed lady was Tyler's agent for many, many fun, colorful years. Most important to me though, is that Donna became my dear friend, someone I always delighted in seeing and spending time with. I will miss deeply the sweet, funny person with the pixie smile who I laughed with so often and with whom I occasionally even shared some tears. The other day, while writing this, I imagined that maybe she'll read it and the many other caring things that are being said here. If so, she'll blush a little as she always did when complimented or thanked. But then, on second thought, she might be too busy to see it. I imagine she's already auditioning Angels, fully intending to book them on the nearest, biggest shiny cloud. And if they are smart, (which I understand most Angels are...) they will sign immediately with Donna Taylor, because after all, she is known, no doubt by now, as... "the best Agent in Heaven."
Kate Porter, Entertainer, Producer

This is about my dear friend Donna Taylor who recently passed. She became our agent in 1975, and I never had another agent. She was a kind funny generous person who we all loved dearly. She got us some of the best gigs in the 70's , 80's, and 90's. Donna has called me every year for 35 yrs on my birthday, and I was worried when i didn't hear her cheerful voice this year, and heard she passed away 10 days prior. What a great agent she was, always concerned for her acts, sometimes not even taking a commission if the gig was low money. I never have ever heard of another agent doing this. We had so many great times together. She went with me to LA many times, as she loved my parents, and used to call my dad's Cadillac "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride." We all loved Donna, and she will be sorely missed. Rest in peace dear Donna.
Ronnie Fabre, Entertainer

My memories of Donna Taylor go back over 30 years. Donna was one of the first agents I met when I started booking Entertainment for the Silverbird Hotel and Casino, in 1979. Donna was one of my dearest friends, and since her passing was not expected, it's still difficult to believe she's gone. Even though I've been on the East Coast for over 19 years, every time I went back to Las Vegas I called Donna to meet me for lunch, at a Mexican restaurant. However, I could never talk her into coming back East for a visit, since she would never put her animals in a Kennel. Donna, or as she was often referred to by her initials ‘DT', often took in stray dogs, or a dog from a friend who was leaving town who couldn't take it with them. DT could never say no to an animal that needed her. Donna booked acts in Las Vegas, but she also had acts working in the Far East and in other parts of the world. She should have written a book, because she had a lot of stories to tell, such as booking one lounge act who later became a Casino owner, or other acts that became major stars. If I ever wanted to reach someone and couldn't find their number, I would always call Donna. Donna kept a journal of every call she ever made and what was discussed. If you knew Donna before computers, she would have been the "Google" of her day. I will never forget her laugh or the excitement in her voice when she discovered a new talent. She dabbled in commodities, real estate and the stock market, but her true love was Entertainment. She touched the hearts of many, but wanted to pass away silently. I'm so glad you took the initiative to ask her friends to send in their memories. She often spoke of you when we talked, so I know you were one of her dearest friends. I hope you receive many memories from Donna's friends and family. I will look through my photos and when I find photos of Donna, I will send them to you. Thank you again for remembering a wonderful lady, and my running buddy for many years, DT.......
Stephanie Nielson, Vice President of Entertainment Resorts Casino Hotel, Atlantic City

Although I knew Donna for many years, I didn't spend a lot of time with her socially. I did talk to her a lot, for a longtime until she contacted me asking me to consider working for John Stuart, which I declined and told her to call Bic Carrol, who did take the job! At one time she was our agent, yet never booked us for any real job! I liked her very much because I worked closely with her and Mark Tan, when her office was besides Dirt Alert's on Maryland Parkway and she even came to my home where I live now. On occasion she, Mark Tan, Joyce, Patrick Maes and I would head off to Cappozolis for lunch or dinner, between she and Mark you could barely see anyone at the table for all the smoke! Those were fun times! I begged her to stop smoking, so I have a feeling that is why she stopped coming by! I do know that she was a very hard working women and unlike a lot of people in Las Vegas, never went out of her way, to do us any harm. Its sad to hear of her passing, I did admire her past and liked her very much! Its so sad that so many people we love, admire and think highly of, have to leave us! Now she and Mark Tan can be smoking away in Heaven, booking Frederic Apcar & Donn Arden's new shows besides Florenz Ziegfeld's with all the great friends we have known and loved who have also left us behind! Maybe when they need great costumes, they'll call on me, so I can build Michael Darrin's for him! She like so many others are greatly missed!
Grant Philipo, Producer, Director and Designer

Donna Taylor was nothing like the stereotype agent/manager. She actually cared about her clients and would do anything for them, no matter how much they griped. And she was always available. Her professionalism and caring will be missed.
Denny Denman, Musician

Donna was one of my favorite people in Las Vegas. We met in 1979 and were friends for many years. I remember my being stationed in Laughlin at Sam's Town Gold River. Donna was booking a lot of our lounge acts. She never pushed the money thing on us like other agents did. She was more interested in getting her kids "work". She would often come down on a weekend to visit "her kids" and see them work. It would be those evenings that I would enjoy my dear friend Donna Taylor. We would have dinner, laugh, tell stories and then go and see the kids work.
Howard Jochsberger, Former Vice President of Marketing, Boyd Gaming Corporation.

When I first met Donna, she was in my entertainment office at the Thunderbird Hotel pitching a full production show. That was in 1967. Through the years, many agents had passed through that door, but none came near the ardor and commitment to the talent she represented, as Donna. It was clear this was a person for whom I would gain great respect, and because of her gracious personality, I liked her immediately. Everyone who knew Donna was taken with her.

In the ensuing months and years, Donna and I became more than business associates, we became friends. She was always someone who had a smile on her face, with a warm and open demeanor. And did I mention that Donna was funny and always made doing business with her a pleasure and knowing her a delight. Travel well, Donna.
Dennis Ritz, Friend/Producer/Personal Manager

When I came back here in 1974, Donna Got me into Dick Francisco's show at what is now the Royal Resort (99 Convention Center Drive). She took no commission. Later Donna got me a shot with Merv Griffin's talent seeker, Don Kane. A disaster for all. Bless her. Donna had a great heart. She was one of the good deeds doers. A credit to the show biz we enjoyed in the 1970s and until Howard Hughes got here. I'll always remember her goodness.
Cork Proctor, Comic

I came to Las Vegas in 1985 as an entertainer at the Holiday Inn which is now Harrah's. This is where I met Dick Taylor, a very talented musician. Dick introduced me to Donna. We hit it off because we were both Libras and I too was an gent and talent manager. Even though there were many agents in Vegas, Donna was the only one I could trust. I think the reason she was so loved by performers is that she was honest and radiated a fun-loving personality. Everyone who knew her would agree she knew the business and the ins and outs of Las Vegas. A smart tough lady with street-savvy advice. I had the privilege of renting a room from her when I got to know her better. Mexican food and donuts would bring a smile to her face and I enjoyed sharing those enjoyable moments with her. I know for a fact there are angels...Donna was one! She basically saved my life. I'll never forget her every time I see the things she loved...cats, Mercedes', cigarettes, and, of yah, a keno machine. She will always be forever in my heart.
John Elizondo, Friend

Donna was a dear friend. I have known Donna for more than 40 yrs. worked with some of her acts when I was a dancer in the shows here, and she was a great friend and help to me as an agent. She will be greatly missed by the entertainment community.
Jackie Beer, Agent

Donna Taylor was one of the first people I met through Mark Tan when I moved to Las Vegas in 1983. Since then we were partners in "crime" as we merrily booked groups and shows locally and internationally. She was a pleasure to work with, to socialize with, to gossip with, and one of the few "girls" I liked being with. I'm going to sorely miss her.
Billie Ann Sabala, Agent, Teacher

Remembering my dear sweet friend, Donna Taylor. We did some exciting show biz deals together. Our friendship goes back some 40 years. Donna and my late partner and friend, George Arnold, also had a great relationship and enjoyed each others company. Donna was a fearless agent with worldwide connections; a Las Vegas legend and one-of-a-kind. I will miss you, Donna. God bless and rest in peace. With much love...
Bill Moore, Veteran Las Vegas Show Producer

"Honest agent." An oxymoron (much like jumbo shrimp, old news, a real phony, or small crowd) if ever there was one... unless you knew Donna M.( for Marie, Marieski, or Mae) Taylor. She really was an honest agent...sometimes to a fault. Donna could be funny. She could also be serious. She was a news junky, watching and/or reading online frequently. But she also loved watching golf and even certain cartoons on TV. Her diet left much to be desired. Cookies, donuts, Kenny Rogers Chicken (when it was here) and Mexican food. If she was down to her last few dollars, the money she had went to pet food, hair dye, and cigarettes (those damn cigarettes). In her later years, Donna became quite reclusive, leaving the house to go, mostly, to Walgreen's to do her shopping, or to Dotty's, a neighborhood slot parlor where she would play video keno. If we had a question about old Vegas show business, Donna was the go-to gal. Who will we call now? We will miss you, Donna Marieski.
Claire Voyant, longtime friend

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As Labor Day approaches, the suspense builds. Will he, or won't he? Will 85-year-old Jerry Lewis have any involvement with the upcoming telethon? If he doesn't, will they go back to calling it the MDA Labor Day Telethon, rather than the Jerry Lewis Telethon? The questions will all be answered by Sunday evening (this year, the shortened fundraiser will take place on Sunday, rather than Labor Day Monday). From 1966 to 2010, the telethon was seen for up to 21˝ hours, starting on the Sunday evening preceding Labor Day and continuing until late Monday afternoon. The show has originated from Las Vegas for 28 of the 45 years it has aired.

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South Point Grandview Lounge - Have Table, Will Travel

Stella Gordon by Martin Kreloff

Unusual things were happening over at the South Point's Grandview Lounge last Friday night. You may have read (hopefully, right here), that the talented Wes Winters is performing there from 6 to 9, on Friday and Saturday nights. Thanks to Winters' loyal following, the Grandview is always jumping when he is on stage. For the month of August, it had been even busier than usual, as the hotel was giving away money in nightly drawings. The Grandview has been so busy, that last Friday, a couple of regular Winters followers brought their own small table, with a battery operated fan perched in the middle (see accompanying photo). They also had a pair of chairs in their car, "just in case they needed them." Fortunately, they were able to snag a couple of chairs. In a sad note, a guest fell in the lounge and broke her arm. This wasn't just a clean break, it was a compound fracture. The unsung heroes were Wes' manager, Rod Russell, and fan, Carole Fishman. They kept the accident victim calm until paramedics arrived. This was handled so well, that most of the patrons were not even aware of the incident. The accident victim is on the mend. You can always count on excitement wherever Wes Winters performs... but, thankfully, it doesn't usually involve injuries.

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Animal lovers, listen up. Enjoy the "The Best Little Pet Show in Vegas!" art exhibition, brought to you by the City of Las Vegas, and on display through October 27th in the Bridge Gallery on the second floor at City Hall, located at 400 Stewart Ave. in downtown Las Vegas. Gallery hours are Mondays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., excluding holidays. Participating artists are (in politically correct alphabetical order), Chieko Amadon, Dawn Anderson, Montana Black, Roberta "Bert" Hornbeck (student of Marty Kreloff), Marty Kreloff, Clare Little, Scott VanderMolen and Mary Warner, showcase images of pets. The public is invited to view the exhibition. Admission is free and show is appropriate for all ages. For more information on this exhibit, call (702) 229-1012.

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Christy Girl by Bert Hornbeck

 

Reminders...
Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of 9/11/2001 with 70 incredible performers from Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, Menopause The Musical, Tony n' Tina's Wedding, Bite, Peepshow, Celine Dion, the Las Vegas Philharmonic and guest artists from UNLV's Musical Theatre Department, as the Nevada Conservatory Theatre presents a special concert performance of the exciting original musical, God Lives in Glass. Reflections of God as seen through the eyes of children. "A powerful and astonishing work...will blow you away...Keith Thompson's score is a revelation...provocative, original, and - quite simply - amazing." A sensational afternoon of musical theater to benefit Family Promise of Las Vegas (helping homeless families in the community) and the Nevada Conservatory Theatre. Book and lyrics are by Robert J. Landy, with music and additional lyrics by Keith Thompson. "Born out of the events of 9/11, this provocative and completely original new musical will entertain you, enlighten you, and blow you away!" Two performances only - Saturday, September 10th, and Sunday, September 11th, at 1:30 p.m. in UNLV's Judy Bayley Theatre. Post show wine and hors d'oeuvres reception, featuring Silent Auction with show tickets, services from local vendors, and special vacation packages. Ticket prices for reserved seating are $25, and $20 for seniors, military, persons with disabilities, and students. Reserve your tickets by calling (702) 895-2787, or online at unlvtickets.com. If you can't attend but would still like to help, donations can be mailed to Family Promise Of Las Vegas, PO Box 270128, LV, NV 89127-4128, or on PayPal through the Web site, www.FamilyPromiseLV.com. Please note that the donation is for God Lives in Glass.

By the time you are reading this, the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin may be sold out for Rob Garrett's "back by popular demand" performance. Garrett, an award-winning Neil Diamond tribute artist, takes the stage at the Starbright next Saturday, September 10th at 7 p.m. Known across the country as the "King of Diamonds," Rob's portrayal of the legendary artist is unparalleled. In 2008, Rob was awarded the Male Music Tribute Act of the Year in Las Vegas, marking the first time a Neil Diamond tribute act had won such an honor. Garrett will dedicate this special show to his "New York City born and raised" roots in conjunction with the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. "New York's home but it ain't his no more," although, as fate would have it, Rob was actually visiting his hometown at the time of the 2001 tragedy. Tickets for Rob Garrett are $12 for Sun City Summerlin residents, and $15 for non-residents, and are on sale at Desert Vista, Mountain Shadows and Pinnacle community centers. The Starbright is located at 2215 Thomas Ryan Blvd. in Sun City Summerlin. Call (702) 240-1301.


Rob Garrett "The King of Diamonds"

Janet & Denny Denman

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Congratulations to Janet and (Larry) Denny Denman who were married last Sunday, August 28th. For many years, Denny was a musician, playing with groups such as Mainstream and John Wills and The Family Tradition. These days, Denny sits at a desk instead of a piano, where he balances books as an accountant. We wish Jan and Denny a long and happy life together.

Note: The late Donna Taylor (see top of column) was John Wills' agent for 22 years.

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Next weekend, talented comic impressionist Gordie Brown marks his 500th performance at the Golden Nugget. It's Gordie's celebration, but locals get the gifts. On Friday and Saturday, September 9th and 10th, Las Vegans can purchase tickets to see one of the hardest working men in show business, for only $15 per person, plus tax and fees. To take advantage of this offer, call (702) 386-8100, and mention code 500. Limit four tickets per person, based on availability. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. Gordie puts on a fun show for the entire family. Take your mature kids and have a great evening.

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From Mark Nadler, called the most talented man on the planet by friend, songwriter Ervin Drake ("Good Morning Heartache," "A Room Without Windows," "It Was a Very Good Year," and "I Believe," which became a number-one hit for Frankie Laine in 1953, and holds the record for number of non-consecutive weeks spent at No. 1. It has also been recorded by more than a dozen other artists, including Jane Froman, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Elvis Presley), came this e-mail on Saturday. As Hurricane Irene makes her way to New York City, I'm making my way to the safe harbors of New Orleans. Nadler, a pianist/singer/ dancer...hell, he does it all, then shares this news. He will be doing his Mark Nadler in a Nutshell show at the Stage Door Canteen at the National WW2 Museum, 945 Magazine St., in New Orleans, tonight, September 2nd, and tomorrow, the 3rd, at 8 p.m. For more information and/or tickets, call (504) 528-1943. If you happen to be within walking or driving distance of The Big Easy, we highly recommend Mark Nadler...in or out of a Nutshell.


Mark Nadler

Nathan Tanouye

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The Onyx Theatre Stage will play host to Torch Song Trilogy, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m., through September 11th. Harvey Fierstein's examination of life and love comes to the Onyx, courtesy of Off-Strip Productions. Arnold is a man in search of love in a world where love eludes him. Armed with a quick wit, a sharp tongue, and a big heart, his journey is both delightful and devastating. Directed by John Morris, this show is the perfect way to kick off Pride Month. Admission is $15. The Onyx is located at 953 East Sahara Avenue #16 in the Commercial Center. Call (702) 732-7225 for more info and reservations.

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Next Saturday, September 10th, from 1 to 5 p.m., it's Sizzle Fest at the East Las Vegas Community Center, 250 N. Eastern Avenue at Stewart. Enjoy a Latin Big Band experience, with Nathan Tanouye and The Las Vegas Jazz Connection. Plaza activities, featuring UNLV Latin Jazz Ensemble under the leadership of Uli Geissendoerfer, begins at 1. Also, Mariachi Franco de Las Vegas, featuring Cocho Arbe, co-composer and co-arranger, with Lenny Lopez from Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns, at 3 p.m. in the Ballroom. Food, provided by Qdoba Catering, and drinks are available. Presented by American Jazz Initiative and Allegiant Air, in partnership with Vegas Jazz, The Latin Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Museum of Nevada, East Las Vegas Community Center, Latin Historical Society, Border Grill, English Garden Florist, Amazon Events, Encore Productions and Qdoba Catering. Tickets are $15 for individuals, and $25 for a family of four. They may be purchased at the door.


Uli Geissendoerfer

Dan Ellis

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Tomorrow, Saturday, September 3rd, from 7 to 10 p.m., it's Lynn Ross at the Onyx Restaurant, 7770 West Ann Road (just off I-95, located in Bogey's Bar and Grill). Lynn invites music lovers to come sing and dance with her at The Onyx! "Onyx Restaurant features a romantic, relaxing atmosphere in a room filled with exquisite artwork, custom water features, and a five hundred gallon salt water aquarium set behind our back lit onyx bar. The dinner Menu consists of inventive gourmet selections designed and prepared by Master Chef Rey, who focuses on simple preparation using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients." Full bar service also available at a very cool bar as well. On Monday, September 5th, Lynn, with keyboardist Dan Ellis, entertain for your dining pleasure at Casa di Amore Restaurant, 2850 East Tropicana. Enjoy favorites from The Great American Songbook as well as some vintage Pop tunes you know and love. Fun begins early. Live Monday night entertainment from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.

And speaking of restaurants, on Wednesday, Las Vegas' fourth Hash House A Go Go opened at the newly renovated downtown Plaza Hotel. Hash House A Go Go at the Plaza joins the freestanding West Sahara location, and those located inside the center Strip Imperial Palace, and the M Resort on (way) south Las Vegas Blvd. If you haven't yet experienced the "twisted farm food" prepared by Hash House A Go Go, check it out. Our suggestion is, go go prepared for fun, and go go hungry.

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On Monday, ABC announced the lineup for the new season of Dancing With the Stars. The cast, when the show begins on Monday, September 19th, at 8 p.m. ET/PT , will be, David Arquette (actor); Ron Artest (Los Angeles Lakers player); Chaz Bono (transgender advocate, and only child of Sonny Bono and Cher); Elisabetta Canalis (George Clooney's ex); Kristin Cavallari (The Hills star); Nancy Grace (News anchor); Rob Kardashian (Kim Kardashian's brother); Carson Kressley ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" star); Ricki Lake, (former talk show host/actress); J.R. Martinez ("All My Children" star); Chynna Phillips (Wilson Phillips) and Hope Solo (Soccer player). Should make for very interesting viewing and high ratings.

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Tuesday night at Kerry's Gourmet Burgers, guests of Celebrity Chef Kerry Simon dined on Summer Salad Parfait, Kerry's Sliders made famous on "Iron Chef," Cotton Candy, Breakfast cupcakes and more; sipped on KGB's signature cocktails Double Agent and the Traditional; and purchased raffle tickets, all while raising enough funds to provide 10,974 meals to hungry Southern Nevadans. Since the inception of this Restaurant Week event last year, KGB has increased funds donated by more than 468 percent. Party-goers bought raffle tickets for the chance to win fabulous prizes, including a Jameson Snow Board provided by Pernod Ricard USA, a Jim Beam electric guitar autographed by Kid Rock and donated by Bean Global Spirits & Wine, Inc., a Dos Equis wooden cooler provided by Heineken USA and many more. The excitement peaked when two bidders started a duel over a dinner for six at KGB hosted by Kerry Simon. When the bidding reached $600, Simon graciously offered each of the bidders dinner for six; thereby raising an additional $600 for Three Square, a charity Simon supports throughout the year. Proceeds from tickets to the event, as well at 50 percent of all proceeds from KGB logo merchandise, were combined with raffle and auction funds to reach the staggering donation of almost 11,000 meals. The gourmet burger restaurant will continue to raise money for Three Square until September 11th by offering both a lunch and dinner menu as part of Restaurant Week. Kerry's Gourmet Burgers is located inside Harrah's Las Vegas and is open 11 a.m. to 6 a.m. daily. Reservations are not required but can be made by calling 702.369.5065. For more information, please visit www.harrahslasvegas.com.


Chef Kerry Simon

Paul Rodriguez

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Actor and comedian Paul Rodriguez will be bringing his quick wit and hilarious standup style to the Riviera Hotel & Casino's Starlite Theatre, performing Wednesdays through Sundays until September 11th. Appearing with Rodriguez is special guest Murray Langston, The Unknown Comic. Revered as one of the first Latin Kings of Comedy, Rodriguez has spent more than 40 years making audiences laugh all over the world in English and Spanish. His first big break came while doing comedy warm-ups for Norman Lear's show, Gloria, and has had a successful career since then with starring roles and featured appearances in more than 40 films and countless television shows and comedy specials. As an accomplished writer, director and producer for television, motion pictures and feature shows, Rodriguez executive produced in the comedy concert film, The Original Latin Kings of Comedy, in which he starred with Cheech Marin, George Lopez and Carlos Mencia. In addition to many other successful television and film projects, Rodriguez also wrote, directed and starred in the comedy, A Million to Juan, and six comedy specials for HBO, including Loco Slam, Live in San Quentin and Idiots and Armadillos, which he also executive produced. Langston is best known for his comic performances on The Gong Show, usually appearing with a paper bag over his head and thus becoming "The Unknown Comic." Langston's career began in 1970 when he appeared on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and proceeded with appearances on many more series, including The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show, The Wolfman Jack Show and The Bobby Vinton Show. Additionally, Langston wrote material for Joan Rivers, Jim Carrey, Ruth Buzzi and many other comedians as well created comedic situations for Candid Camera and appeared in several of his own segments. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. in the Starlite Theatre. Tickets are $39.95 for preferred seating, and $59.95 for VIP seating. All prices are exclusive of tax and fees. To purchase tickets, call (702) 794-9433, visit tickets.rivierahotel.com, or go to the Riviera Box Office.


Murray Langston, Out of the Bag

Renee Hale

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Songstress Renee Hale, too long away from the music scene, is making her return to the stage. Those who have been around Las Vegas since the "good old days," may remember Renee from her time as one of Ray Anthony's pretty and talented Bookends (Vikki Carr, Diane Wisdom, Kellie Greene, and Diane Varga, were also among the ladies who worked with Anthony over the years). Hale transitioned from performing long enough to build Always Creative, one of Las Vegas' most successful destination management companies. But, her love of music and singing never waned. As a result, Renee has returned to her soulful roots to delight audiences once more. On September 10th and 25th, Renee, backed by Dan Ellis on piano, Jeff Davis on upright bass, and Michael Tramonta on drums, will perform at the Italian Bistro (the one we don't ever mention by name) on the South Strip. She will also mix some Vegas stories in with her musical selections. You can check out Renee's promo video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALsjbb_sGao.

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Soon, the world will be dining at Central Michel Richard at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the first-ever round-the-clock restaurant to be helmed by a James Beard award-winning chef.

Michel Richard exemplifies the art of cuisine and a love of his profession. Richard was a pioneer in French/California cuisine before moving to Washington, D.C., where Michel Richard Citronelle became his flagship restaurant. Richard's creativity can be seen in prestigious culinary publications such as Food & Wine, Food Arts and Bon Appétit. Chosen by the James Beard Foundation as Outstanding Chef 2007, Richard also won the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Wine Service at Citronelle the same year, and his second book, Happy in the Kitchen, published by Artisan, won a James Beard Nomination. To rave reviews, and the 2008 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, he opened Central Michel Richard, which continues to be a highlight of the Washington, D.C. restaurant scene. Constantly engaged in something new, Michel, a modern French restaurant, opened at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, in fall 2010. For those familiar with Chef Michel Richard's "American cuisine with a French accent," they will be pleasantly surprised to know their favorite signature dishes will be offered at the new West Coast location. Central Michel Richard will be open 24 hours per day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Signature dishes will include: Michel's charcuterie tower showcasing an arsenal of cured meats and Michel's whimsical "faux" gras; Goat cheese Caesar salad; Crab-cake with leek tartare; Lobster burger, a favorite of Michel's guests with its lobster and surprise crunch with potato tuile; Hamburger with bacon, cheddar and crunchy potato tuile; Rotisserie chicken with garlic roasted potatoes; Fried chicken with mashed potatoes; 72-hour short rib with pappardelle and syrah sauce; Macaroni and cheese; Celebration cake - a must have for anything that needs celebrating - with its chocolate lady fingers, topped with an eye-catching sparkler sure to turn heads in the restaurant as the cake goes by; Banana split - the classic dessert comes with homemade vanilla, chocolate ice cream and strawberry sorbet and is topped with almonds and chocolate pearls; Strawberry-rhubarb crisp; Michel's chocolate bar; Michel's chocolate mousse and Chocolate lava cake á là mode. "I love food and I love texture," beams Michel. "My food is fun, fun, fun - and in Las Vegas, my guests will be able to eat my food any time of the day or night." Additional menu items, including cocktails and new creations specifically for Las Vegas, will be announced shortly. There goes the diet. For reservations, call (702) 650-5921.


Chef Michel Richard

Karole Foreman is Caroline

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Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA) Theaterfest concludes its 2010-2011 season with the musical, Caroline, or Change, by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and Jeanine Tesori (Shrek the Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie). It plays in Santa Maria's Marian Theatre, through September 18th. A range of musical styles fill the score - from blues to Motown, and spirituals to klezmer - and propels a story of political change, social change, and plain ol' pocket change. Caroline, or Change is a ground-breaking work which has the power to change the way audiences think about musical theater. Set in 1963 Louisiana, against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, Kennedy's assassination and the Vietnam war, this Tony-nominated musical centers on Caroline Thibodeaux, a divorced African American maid and Noah Gellman, the eight-year-old son of the Jewish family for whom she works. When Caroline finds loose change in Noah's pants pockets at laundry time, Noah's stepmother Rose tells her to keep it to teach him a lesson and to treat her four children. Yet the acceptance of change - from taking money from a child to coping with memories of the past - does not come easily and threatens to crush Caroline's relationships and spirit. It's finally through her independent teenage daughter's vision and strength that Caroline realizes that change can, in fact, set her free. Caroline, or Change is directed by Patricia M. Troxel (Peter Pan) with musical direction by Brad Carroll (Lend Me a Tenor, the Musical) and features Karole Foreman (Medium, Tanya in the Las Vegas production of Mamma Mia!) as Caroline, Joanna Jones (The Sing-Off) as Emmie, Elizabeth Stuart (Pride and Prejudice) as Rose Stopnick Gellman, and Michael Tremblay (Ragtime) as Mr. Stopnick. Also, Cicily Daniels (Hairspray) as The Washing Machine, Kitty Balay (Two Gentlemen of Verona) as Grandma Gellman, Billy Breed (Hairspray) as Grandpa Gellman, and (also from Hairspray) Kathryn McCreary, Katrina McGraw, and Nohealani Alisa Cambra as the Radio. The artistic team includes Michael Jenkinson, Choreographer; DeAnne Kennedy, Scenic Designer; Juliane Starks, Costume Designer; Tamar Geist, Lighting Designer; Elisabeth Rebel, Sound Designer, and Aleah Van Woert, Stage Manager. Caroline, or Change has collected nearly every award attainable for a theatrical production: the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress (along with six nominations including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, and Best Director), Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music, Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Lead and Featured Actress, and Outstanding Choreography. The show captured two Obie Awards for Outstanding Performance and Special Citations for Kushner and Tesori, and in 2007 it won the prestigious Olivier Award for Best New Musical. See Caroline, or Change at the Marian Theatre, 800 S. College, in Santa Maria. Performance times are 1:30 p.m., Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and 7 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $28 and $30 for adults. Discounts for children, students, and seniors. To purchase, call the Box Office at (805) 922-8313, or go to www.pcpa.org. Now in its 47th season, PCPA Theaterfest is the Central Coast's Resident Professional Theatre Company. It has infused the national theater scene with thousands of trained actors and theatrical technicians over the years in its conservatory. The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts of Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California, supports a unique, fully-accredited vocational training program for aspiring actors and theater technicians. PCPA is the only training program of its kind offered by a community college in the United States.

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Join Mark Winkler at New York's Laurie Beechman Theatre on Thursday, September 8th, for the release party for his new CD, Sweet Spot. There are lots of crowd favorites, like "Somewhere in Brazil" and the title track on the new disc, as well as Mark's renditions of such standards as But Not For Me" and "On Broadway." He will be joined by a very special guest, Phil Swann, who will also be having a CD release party for his new album, Stale Scotch and Cheap Cigars. Phil's CD is a master class in songwriting and late night saloon singing, featuring the cream of musicians and 10 Swann songs that sound like extra pages from the Great American Songbook. And if that isn't enough, this night is also a celebration for their jazz film noir musical, Play It Cool, which opens in New York City on September 14th. Both Mark and Phillip have recorded songs from Play It Cool on their new CDs, so this should be a very special evening. There is a $20 cover at the 7 p.m. show, where Mark will be backed by the Jeb Patton Quartet. The Laurie Beechman Theatre is located at 407 W. 42nd Street in Manhattan. A dinner menu is available. Call (212) 695-6909 for reservations. Go to www.markwinklermusic.com for more details on the new CD and the musical, Play It Cool.


Mark Winkler

Bill Maher

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Following two sold-out performances over the Forth of July weekend, Politically Incorrect comedian and political commentator, Bill Maher, brings his trademark humor back to The Orleans Showroom, Saturday and Sunday, September 10th and 11th, each evening at 8 p.m. Best known for his sharp political satire and sociopolitical commentary, HBO late-night talk-show host and comedian Maher began his stand-up career in 1979. He was host of New York City comedy club, Catch a Rising Star. In 1982, Maher began appearing on the Johnny Carson and Dave Letterman shows, and made other television appearances, including a guest appearance on the popular drama, Murder She Wrote. After his feature film debut in 1983's D.C. Cab, Maher appeared in several films, including Rat Boy, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, and Pizza Man. For the last 18 years, Maher has pushed the boundaries of how far political humor and satire can go on American television. First on Politically Incorrect, which first aired on Comedy Central before moving to ABC, and for the last seven years on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher's combination of unflinching honesty and scathing humor have garnered him 21 Emmy nominations. In October 2008, this same combination was on display in Maher's swipe at organized religion, Religulous, which went on to become the seventh-highest grossing documentary ever. In addition to his television program, which has featured such regular visitors as Ben Affleck, Robin Williams, Arianna Huffington, Alec Baldwin and Michael Moore, Maher has written four bestsellers. Two of Maher's nine stand-up specials for HBO, 2007's The Decider and 2005's I'm Swiss, have been nominated for Emmy Awards. Show time for Bill Maher is 8 p.m. Tickets are available starting from $54.95, plus tax and convenience fees, and can be purchased at any Coast Casinos Box Office, by calling (702) 365-7075, or visiting www.orleanscasino.com.

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We recently learned that Lenny Martin (real name, Leonard Massaro) passed away at St. Rose Hospital on August 3rd. Martin was 80. The longtime Las Vegas resident was retired from the entertainment industry. He started as a musician and worked his way up to entertainment director for a number of hotels, and then moved on to managing major stars. He was the winner of a Billboard magazine award for bringing rock concerts to Las Vegas. Martin's wife, Mickey, passed away in 2008. He is survived by his son, Leonardo Massaro; two grandchildren, McKenzie and Justin Massaro; cousin, Ben Konopka; and many friends. In lieu of a funeral service, the family wishes to celebrate his life. Remembrances and condolences may be sent to: leonardomassaro@yahoo.com.

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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye


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