Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column

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.  

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from January 05, 2007
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - January 5, 2007

The Tropicana Resort & Casino is starting off 2007 with a one-night-only performance by the legendary rock band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on Saturday, January 13. Jett (born Joan Marie Larkin) and the Blackhearts recently completed a world tour launching Jett's long-awaited new CD, Sinner, released on her own Blackheart Records label. Known as "The Godmother of Punk," Jett and her cronies have had nine Top 40 hit singles including I Love Rock 'n Roll, I Hate Myself For Loving You, Bad Reputation, and Crimson and Clover, as well as eight Platinum and Gold albums. The guitar-playing Philadelphia-native has been headlining since she was 17, with bands such as Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Talking Heads, Van Halen and Cheap Trick opening for her. Joan later toured with The Ramones.  In more recent years, she has worked with Lars Fredrickson of Rancid, Bratmobile, The Replacements' Paul WesterbergThe Sex Pistols and Blondie among others. In addition to her career as a singer/musician, Jett is also an actress.  She has appeared in the movies Light of Day (with Michael J. Fox and Gena Rowlands),  Boogie Boy and The Sweet Life. On Broadway, she was in the original cast of The Rocky Horror Show. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show at the Trop are $49, plus tax and surcharge, and are available by calling the box office at (702) 739.2411.

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And more music news...Fans of Billy Eckstine can see and hear the closest thing to the late Mr. B when his son, Freddie Eckstine, sings the music that his father made famous. Freddie will perform his tribute to both Billy and Sarah Vaughan in his aptly named show, Sentimental Journey. The younger Eckstine will be featured at Resorts International in Atlantic City, from January 7th to the 19th. Don't despair if you're not in the New Jersey area and would like to see Eckstine perform, Freddie will be back at the Sahara in Las Vegas in February. Watch for more details here.

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One of Cousin Claire's favorite vocal groups, Little Anthony & The Imperials, will be performing in the Rampart Casino's Grand Ballroom on Sunday, January 7, at 8 p.m.
While he was still in high school, Anthony Gourdine formed a vocal group called The Duponts. He, and fellow group member Clarence Collins, left them to join The Chesters in 1957. The following year the group signed with End Records, changing their name to The Imperials. Their first record was a double-sided ballad smash and launched their career. The "A" side, Tears on My Pillow, became one of their most successful hits and one of the most enduring love ballads of the '50s. The "B" side, Two People in the World, also became a hit, making this double-sided recording one of the most popular in vocal group history. Little Anthony, noted for his high-pitched falsetto voice, got his name when DJ Alan Freed announced the group on the radio as "Little Anthony & The Imperials." The name stuck and the group went on to record a number of smash hits, including Shimmy, Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop, Goin' Out of My Head, Hurt So Bad, Take Me Back, I Miss You So and I'm On the Outside Looking In. After a short separation, the rhythm and blues vocal group from New York reunited in Madison Square Garden in 1992, where they decided to tour once again. Today the lineup includes original group members, Gourdine and Collins along with Ernest Wright and Harold Jenkins. Tickets, at $27.50 including tax and fees, are
on sale at the Rampart Casino or by calling (702) 507-5900 or (866) 999-4899. Happy January 8th birthday to Little Anthony.

And speaking of birthdays, we also want to wish a happy, happy, happy one to busy, busy, busy entertainer, Larry Edwards. Larry, who portrays both Tina Turner and Patti LaBelle among his other jobs, spends almost as much time in front of a camera and on Red Carpets as Paris Hilton. As far as which birthday Larry is celebrating today? It's not polite to ask a lady her we didn't.

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Before Terry Lovern became the Theater Production Manager at the Stardust 17 years ago, among his earlier jobs, he was an ice skater and a dancer in the Stardust's long running (32 years) Lido de Paris spectacular. He was also very involved with the Las Vegas Civic Ballet. Terry passed away on December 30th, following a two year battle with cancer. Cousin Claire knew this delightful man for more than 25 years and shares the loss felt by his Boyd Gaming co-workers, the celebrities he worked with as Theater Manager, his family and friends. We are going to share some of the thoughts expressed by Michael Ashton, Terry's loving, longtime partner...TERRY LOVERN...STAR....30TH DECEMBER 2006 - MY BEST FRIEND, AND THE 'LIGHT'OF MY LIFE,' PASSED ON ,LAST NIGHT AT 1.30 AM IN LAS VEGAS, AFTER THE MOST COURAGEOUS FIGHT I HAVE EVER WITNESSED. HE HAD BEEN FIGHTING FOR TWO YEARS. HIS STRENGTH HAS GIVEN ME THE 'PUSH' TO HANDLE TODAY. LOOK UP TONGHT, THERE IS ANOTHER BRIGHT STAR IN OUR HEAVENS. IF YOU LISTEN MAYBE YOU CAN HEAR HIS LAUGH... THAT BESIDES EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THIS REMARKABLE MAN, I WILL MISS THE MOST. THANKS TO EVEYONE THAT WAS SO VERY KIND TO HIM, AS HE WAS TO THEM. THANK YOU TO MY FRIENDS WHO HAVE RALLIED AROUND ME THESE LAST MONTHS, TERRY THANKS YOU TOO. TERRY AND I WERE TOGETHER FOR 28 YEARS. I'M THE LUCKIEST PERSON TODAY... Terry had taken a medical leave of absence prior to the Stardust's closing in November. He had planned to return to work at another Boyd property next month. Sadly, that was not to be. No services are planned for Lovern, but a Celebration of Life date is tentatively scheduled for February 11.

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One of the fun things about watching a TV show like the popular Las Vegas is spotting familiar city locations and familiar faces...or, in this case, familiar bodies. In an episode taped in Los Angeles in October, five of the Thunder From Down Under cast members - Adam Hughes, Scott Reading, Marty Amiott, Donovan Lewis and Dave Harris - appear in a scene with series regulars, beauties Nikki Cox and Molly Sims, and eight little old ladies. Publicist for the Australian hunks, Penny Levin, went along to chaperone the gentlemen and to make sure they stayed... gentlemen. We hear she was also there to keep the drooling women at bay (Get back! Get back, ladies!). If you are reading this early enough today, you can catch the action on NBC at 9 p.m. If you miss them, or want to see lots more of the fellows, Thunder From Down Under plays nightly (Sundays through Thursdays at 9 p.m., with added 11 p.m. shows on Fridays and Saturdays) at the Excalibur. For reservations, call (702) 597-7600 or (877) 750-5464.

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In June of 2005, as part of the annual CineVegas film festival, a handful of folks had the chance to see a film called Lost Vegas: The Lounge Era. Many of the people in the audience at the Palms' Brenden Theaters were actually a part of this interesting documentary on the history of lounges in this city. Entertainers such as Peter Anthony, Pete Barbutti, Freddie Bell, Tommy Deering, Blackie Hunt, Lorraine Hunt, the Mary Kaye Trio, Sonny King, Mafalda, Gus Mancuso, Fay McKay, Babe Pier, Carme Pitrello, Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Johnny Ricco and the Treniers, were among those featured in and interviewed for the film. Sadly, a number of the participants involved in this project have passed on since this labor of love was put together by filmmakers Tim Onosko and Beth Abrohams. Although Lost Vegas has never played here, where the general public could and should see it, on the 8th of this month, it will make its first official theatrical debut at the famous Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. Austin, Texas? What about Las Vegas, Nevada? When will we get our official theatrical debut? Why hasn't our showbiz-loving mayor, the honorable Oscar Goodman, gotten behind the efforts to get this movie seen by his subjects? Come on, Oscar!

And in a related piece of business, the Internet-connected public can see funny Fay McKay (a member of the talented pioneers mentioned above) doing her popular Twelve Daze of Christmas number on YouTube. If you ever get the opportunity to see the entire film, Fay does this boozy parody there as well. Tim and Beth are trying to get Lost Vegas on TV (maybe cable) and also make it available on a DVD. We are hoping that will happen. For more info about Lost Vegas (the film), check out

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We would love to know what's going on at the Golden Nugget and where in the world is Joe Leone. We don't know which came first, the sudden departure of Mr. Leone, the hotel casino's former Vice President of Entertainment, or the even more sudden departure of the Nugget's late night show, Cover Girls. We have to wonder, if Leone had brought Matsuri (the very entertaining Japanese revue that played a limited engagement at the Riviera last summer) into the new Nugget showroom, would they both still be there? Hmmm.

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The Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin has another interesting entertainment offer for the public. On Saturday, January 13th at 7 p.m., and again on Sunday, the 14th at 3 p.m., they will present Rob Garrett and Rebecca Clark as Diamond and Streisand, in Neil & Barbra Together Again. A longtime Las Vegas resident, entertainer and Legends in Concert alum Garrett has been performing his tribute to legendary singer/songwriter Neil Diamond for the last 11 years. Rebecca has also performed as Barbra Streisand with Legends at the Riviera and continues to entertain audiences with her uncanny replication of the pop diva. Tickets, priced at $15 for Sun City Summerlin residents and $17 for non-residents, are on sale now. We do wish that the powers that be in Summerlin would make it easier for us non-residents to get tickets. They do not take phone reservations and tickets must be paid for by cash (exact change required) or check, no credit cards. So, how do you handle this? You either get yourself out to the extreme west part of the city (the view is lovely from up there) to pay for and pick up your tickets days before the engagement, or you drive out an hour or so before the performance and hope they aren't sold out. If you don't find this convenient or logical (and we don't), the number for the Starbright is (702) 240-1301. Call and argue with them...and/or to ask for directions to the theater.

Boy, oh boy, that Barbra really gets around. She, as portrayed by Sharon Owens, can also be seen at the Riviera where she co-stars with Frank Sinatra, played by Sebastian Anzaldo, in Barbra and Frank - The Concert That Never Was. Come to think of it, Mr. Song Sung Blue also hangs out at the Riv in the form of Jay White, starring in America's Neil Diamond Tribute. And to think that, after performing at the Aladdin's brand new Theater for the Performing Arts on July 4th weekend of 1976 (Cousin Claire was there for that one and has the photos to prove it), Mr. Diamond declared he would never play Las Vegas again. We all know that never is a long, long time and, although the genuine Diamond stayed away from here for years, he changed his mind and now DOES show up in Las Vegas every once in a while, primarily at the MGM's Grand Garden. Never say never, Neil.

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Don't say you haven't been alerted and/or warned early enough. Formal announcements have been made...Following a five year run, Celine Dion will end her A New Day show at Caesars Palace on December 15 of this year, while Mamma Mia!, after a five year plus run at Mandalay Bay, will give the Dancing Queen a rest, come the summer of 2008. You read it correctly, 2008! We have to wonder about giving such a long closing notice. Yes, it gives ABBA fans a warning that all good things must come to an end, but won't it also cause cast members to start looking for new work in 2007? Just asking.

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Following a nine-month run at Krave (now called the Harmon Theater), the Sopranos Last Supper dinner-show is packing up and moving from the Aladdin's Desert Passage location to the Empire Ballroom. The last show at the Harmon Theater is tonight, January 5th, while the first show at the new location will take place on January 11th. Plans are in the works to provide complimentary busses to bring groups - from off-Strip areas such as Green Valley, Summerlin and other outlying regions; members of clubs and organizations; or for private theater parties - to the Empire Ballroom. This would give people the opportunity to avoid the hassle of night driving, hunting for a parking spot, and also allow them to travel home safely, via a designated professional driver, after a couple of cocktails. The two-hour interactive shows start at 6 p.m.

The Empire Ballroom is located on the Strip at 3765 Las Vegas Blvd. South, just north of the MGM Grand and behind Walgreens. Attendees must be 21 and older. More information on this change will be forthcoming...

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As a rule, Cousin Claire doesn't make New Year's resolutions for herself (mainly because she doesn't keep them), but, being the kind soul that she is, she does have some wishes for others who need them. Here are a few things that we would like to see happen in 2007...

We wish a long run for Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular. Slightly abbreviated by its creator, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Harold Prince, specifically for the incredible theater at The Venetian, this version of Phantom is musical theater at its best. A stellar cast, magnificent sets and costumes adds up to the premiere production of this show

We wish the same thing, along with SRO crowds, for the multi-talented Gordie Brown. The clever comic/impressionist/musician was recently featured during Impressionists Week on the Late Show with David Letterman. Gordie deserves his success. Not only is he a terrific performer, Gordie is also a genuinely nice guy.

We wish for a good proofreader for the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Norm Clarke. If that is not a possibility, we wish for a new gossip columnist for Nevada's Largest Daily Newspaper. This city has gotten too big, and gets too much national attention, for the likes of an amateur like Clarke. Are we picking on Mr. Eyepatch too much? We promise to stop, if he promises, and follows through, on improving his work.

We wish that legendary Broadway composer Jerry Herman would find a Las Vegas home for Miss Spectacular, his show set in this city. Originally commissioned by Steve Wynn to be performed at Bellagio, when MGM gained control of the Mirage properties, Miss Spectacular got lost in the shuffle. There are some wonderful Herman tunes in this show and it should be seen and heard by the public, preferably in Las Vegas. In case you aren't familiar with the musical theater maven by name, Mr. Herman wrote the words and music for Hello, Dolly!, Mame, La Cage aux Folles and Mack & Mabel, among others.

For the Las Vegas Hilton's Vice President of Communications and Community Relations, Ira David Sternberg, we wish Mr. Sternberg the ability to accept criticism as well as compliments. As a person with the words "community relations" in his title, we feel he is not doing his job by eliminating legitimate media members from the Hilton's list because of his personal feelings or grievances. After all, this isn't a popularity contest, it's business.

We wish singer Denise Clemente a wardrobe consultant and a manager to guide her in her career. Her music choices, "choreography" and stage demeanor need attention. This is a lady who, 25 years ago, we predicted would become a major player in entertainment. That didn't happen. Yes, she works steadily but she has not matured on stage since she was in her 20s, which she isn't anymore. As opening act for Bob Newhart at the Stardust in July of 2004, we were embarrassed for poor Denise. In a horrendous, totally inappropriate outfit (especially for a headliner of Newhart's maturity), Ms. Clemente blew the chance to impress his equally mature audience. Someone, please, help this lady!

For the multi-talented Jimmy Hopper, we wish him a home-base back in Las Vegas. He proved he had the right stuff by filling the Bellagio's Fontana Room night-after-night with appreciative fans during his three-year plus run there. Jimmy went off to explore new territory and did alright for himself, but those other places aren't Vegas, baby. We feel Mr. Hopper could, and should, be a permanent headliner in a room of his own (ala Clint Homes' six year Harrah's engagement) in Las Vegas. At this time, two things could hamper that effort. Jimmy needs to connect to his audience more when he is OFF stage as well as on (go out and greet the folks between sets, Jimmy) and he needs to distance himself from a particular local agent. We feel SHE will do him more harm than good. Are you listening, Jimmy?

Deadline approaches, so we will continue this list next week. Bet you can hardly wait!

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On a bittersweet note, we were very pleased to see that CBS's wonderful Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, and PBS's Charlie Rose, paid tribute to Las Vegas' own blues legend, the late Ruth Brown. Honoring those we said goodbye to in 2006, the two segments were both touching and very well done.


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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye