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 March 16, 2007
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - March 16, 2007

The World Famous Ink Spots Donny Osmond Michelle Pfeiffer

The Stardust - born July 1958, died March 13, 2007. As Queen's late Freddie Mercury sang, Another One Bites the Dust. In the wee small hours of Tuesday morning, the 32-story Stardust hotel and casino, one of Cousin Claire's favorite hangouts, became history, leaving behind Star dust and Stardust Memories. Boyd Gaming's only Strip property (at least for now) was imploded to make way for their huge project called Echelon. Anticipated to open in 2010, the more than $4 billion (that's with a "B") Echelon will include five hotels, a 140,000-square-foot casino, convention space, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues on almost 90-acres of prime Strip real estate. Echelon is expected to bring new life to the generally older part of Las Vegas Blvd. It all sounds quite grand, but this old gal will always miss that old gal. We might mention that, although the buildings are now rubble, the popular, world-famous Stardust sign was carefully dismantled and will be put back together to find a new and forever home and life at the Neon Museum.

And speaking of the Stardust, Roseanne Barr, everybody's favorite Domestic Goddess who last appeared here at that hotel, opened a six-week engagement at New York-New York last night (Thursday, the 15th). Using the cabaret space previously occupied by another funny lady, Rita Rudner, Roseanne will keep things rockin' (Rockin' With Roseanne - Calling All Kids is the name of Barr's clever and fun, geared-to-youngsters, 2006 DVD) through April 30th. It was in February of 2006 that Roseanne played a successful one-week run at the Stardust. During an interview when the hotel was closing, the late Terry Lovern, the Stardust's 17-year Theater Production Manager, was quoted as saying that his biggest surprise was the positive audience reaction to comic Roseanne Barr's act last year. "Going in, that one worried me," Lovern said. He needn't have worried. Ever the wise philosopher, Ms. Barr has fun with the obvious, i.e., "The world makes you into a bitch, no matter how quietly you go, so you may as well go kicking and screaming." We concur. To let comedy-lovers know where they can find the funny girl (now a grandmother), and to promote her upcoming reality show, Nick @ Night's Funniest Mom in America (airing at 8:30 p.m. from April 10 through May 13), Roseanne has been making the rounds of the TV and radio talk/interview shows - among them, TV Land's Sit Down Comedy with David Steinberg on March 7, Bill Maher last Friday, Monday with Howard Stern, and joining the ladies of The View on Tuesday. Tonight she talks with Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor. Show times for Roseanne and guests are 8:00 p.m. with a second Saturday show at 10:00 p.m. Roseanne is at rest (or not) on Wednesdays. Phone New York-New York at (866) 606-7111 for reservations.

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The World Famous Ink Spots will be performing in The Club at the Cannery Hotel and Casino on March 23rd and 24th. Hit-makers since 1939, the Ink Spots lengthy discography includes the one that started it all, If I Didn't Care, along with follow-ups such as I Don't Want To Set the World On Fire, To Each His Own, It's a Sin To Tell a Lie, Java Jive and some songs sung with Ella Fitzgerald, Cow-Cow Boogie and I'm Making Believe, among them. The Ink Spots have been much imitated but never duplicated. Their unique sound and blend was all their own, making their tunes instantly recognizable. Paying homage to the originals, the current World Famous Ink Spots consist of Lou Ragland, Flery Bursey, Eddie Stancil and Bruce Anderson. For a musical trip down memory lane, a visit to The Cannery, located at Craig Road and Losee in the northwest part of the city, might be in order. Show times are at 8 p.m., and tickets are an amazingly low $5 plus tax and fee. Call (702) 617-5585 or (866) 287-4643.

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Not too far from the Las Vegas Hilton, where Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll and a true musical artist, held court and attracted crowds for years, there lurks another Elvis. This Elvis should BE in court and the crowds should be a jury that finds him guilty of fraud. Elvis Nargi, the front man at an East Sahara club bearing his name, is also an artist of sorts…a SCAM artist. According to stories found on the Internet, Nargi's reputation as a realtor is also blemished. At least the guy is consistent. When it came time to pay young Siameze and his seven band members and backup singer-dancers after their two high-energy 90-minute shows last Saturday, Elvis was a little short on cash. He paid the group only a third of what their contract called for. This is a sad lesson for a young entertainer just starting out on his solo career. (Siameze has been performing with his parents, Wanda Dee and Eric Floyd, since he was a youngster.) This Elvis should come with a warning label. Anyone considering going to work for this scoundrel should get ALL the cash up front…unless they don't care if they ever get paid. You have been warned. Needless to say, Siameze, The Alley Cats, The Sweet Infiltrations and The Siameze Twins, scheduled to play at Elvis' twice a week throughout this month, will not, repeat NOT, be returning to this club, unless it's with the police. You will read more about this matter, as "it ain't over till it's over." And it ain't over.

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According to the song, Donny Osmond is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. He's also a little bit Broadway and, most recently, a little bit nostalgic. Not only has Osmond starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Beauty and the Beast in the Big Apple, he has recorded at least one album of just show music - This Is the Moment. Following in the steps of, among others, Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Art Garfunkel, George Michael, and most recently, Barry Manilow, Donny's latest album features music of an earlier era. In Love Songs of the 1970s, Donny interprets hits made famous by Neil Sedaka, Bread, the Bee Gees and even Mr. Manilow. It's hard to believe that little Donny Osmond will turn 50 this year. He and Debbie, his wife of almost 30 years, are the parents of five sons and, as of about a year-and-a-half ago, first time grandparents (surprise, it's a boy). Grandpa Donny is at The Orleans through March 18th. If you can't make it there this weekend, in October it will, once again, be Osmond time at The Orleans.

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If the cast is the determining factor in the success or failure of a movie, the upcoming John Water's inspired Hairspray should do just fine. Although the stage version didn't fare too well in Las Vegas (lasting only months at the Luxor instead of years as anticipated), after four-and-a-half years, the Tony-winning musical is still a success at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway. The film, expected out in July, features an eclectic group of actors. John Travolta stars as Edna Turnblad (played on Broadway, and for a short time here, by gravely-voiced, Tony-winner Harvey Fierstein), Christopher Walken is Edna's husband Wilbur (played on Broadway and in Las Vegas by the Tony-winning Dick Letessa), Michelle Pfeiffer is Velma Von Tussle (played here by Susan Anton), Queen Latifah is Motormouth Maybelle (played by the late Las Vegan, Ruth Brown, in the 1988 film) and Ally McBeal's James Marsden is Corny Collins (played in Vegas by Kevin Spirtas). The West Wing's Allison Janney, American Dreams' Brittany Snow and Amanda Bynes from What I Like About You, also have roles in the forthcoming movie.

Vanessa Williams Richard Jeni Betty Hutton in the 1950s

And speaking of Kevin Spirtas, the talented singer/dancer/actor will be performing his cabaret act at the Charleston Heights Arts Center on April 29th. Cousin Claire saw this one-man show, called Night and Days (Spirtas was a regular on the daytime soap, Days of Our Lives), last year and recommends it to anyone who enjoys standards, theater music and some clever and funny special material presented in an entertaining and professional way. The presentations at Charleston Heights provide some of the best bargains in the city. With tickets priced at only $10 (and, if they‘re still available, $15 at the door), these Sunday performances are a great way to spend a leisurely afternoon. To purchase tickets, call (702) 229-6383. See you there.

And speaking of Broadway, onetime Las Vegas song and dance man (Hallelujah Hollywood! at MGM Grand and Bal du Moulin Rouge at the Hilton) Eric Michael Gillett tells Cousin Claire that My Brother, the film he made with beautiful Vanessa Williams (headlining at The Orleans a few months ago and currently starring in TV's Ugly Betty), is out in limited release this weekend. My Brother, a Liberty Studios film, written and directed by Anthony Lover, has won several film festival awards over the past few months. Eric reports that Vanessa is wonderful in her role and that the young actors playing her sons (Nashawn Kearse and Christopher Scott) give lovely performances. Tatum O'Neal also stars. (In 1974, Tatum became the youngest actress to win an Academy Award in a competitive category. She was only 10 when she earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Addie in Paper Moon.) Gillett calls this Indie film a project that remains very dear to his heart. "Please help to spread the word to any friends and family you think might enjoy seeing My Brother," he says. "As with most small films, we can really use your support. We're in 35 markets this weekend. If business is good, the film will receive a wider release." We're happy to do our part, Eric. EMG currently makes his home in New York where he performs in cabaret, movies (The Producers) and in the theater (Kiss Me Kate, Sweet Smell of Success, La Cage aux Folles and The Frogs).

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There will be fewer laughs in the world with the death of comic Richard Jeni. Jeni, who performed in Las Vegas many times over the years, took his own life last Sunday. A regular on the Tonight Show (with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno), in films, and on the comedy club circuit, Jeni was only 49.

Betty Hutton, best remembered for her 1950s movie roles in Annie Get Your Gun and The Greatest Show On Earth, died in her Palm Springs apartment last weekend. Words like "exuberant" and "zany" were often used to describe the blonde singer/actress. Sadly, the woman who was one of the top stars of her era, spent the last years of her life as a housekeeper. At her request, Hutton's death was not announced until after her funeral and burial. As a result, only five people were present to bid her farewell. Betty Hutton was 86 at the time of her death.

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You don't have to be Irish to enjoy or participate in the annual St. Paddy's Day festivities...anyone and everyone can join in on the fun. To take part in this year's celebration, you might want to spend some time in downtown Henderson over the weekend. Among Sunday's activities, a reunion of former members of Brendan Bowyer's Irish Showband. This bunch of talented Irishmen (Okay, so THEY have to be Irish!) will perform together at the Henderson Event Center & Amphitheater, on Water Street, between the City Hall and Convention Center, as part of Southern Nevada's St. Patrick's Day celebration. This quartet is made up of guitar player Jimmy Conway, singer D.J. Curtin (eat your heart out, Tom Jones), drummer Mickey O'Neill and keyboard player Michael Keane. The night before, the boys will be playing at the intimate German-American Social Club, at 1110 E. Lake Mead in North Las Vegas. Expect a lot of the longtime, loyal Showband groupies from the Barbary Coast (now called Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon) to show up. Don't forget to wear (or bring) your green!

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If you were wondering what Earl Turner has been up to since his engagement at the Palace Station ended in late January, so were we. What we DO know is that, through March 24th, he can be seen performing with headlining comedian George Wallace at the Flamingo. Wallace has come up with a successful formula for keeping his Vegas shows fresh. He interacts with audience members and brings in special guests to perform with him. Among the acts Wallace has featured during his more than four year run at the Flamingo are comics Max Alexander, David Brenner and Chuck Martin, the a cappella, six-man musical group Mosaic, and Broadway‘s original Dreamgirl, Jennifer Holiday. Now, it's Turner's turn to share the stage with Wallace. Earl has been a Las Vegas fixture since the late ‘80s, performing at the Dunes, Excalibur and Luxor. He was even a featured act in Jeff Kutash‘s Showstoppers production that played at the Desert Inn. Earl had a long run at the Rio before moving his show to Harrah's in Laughlin. After a few years in Laughlin, Turner packed up his family and moved to another Harrah's property, this time in New Orleans. He was happily entertaining crowds in his self-named theater when Mother Nature went berserk. Blown out of Louisiana by Hurricane Katrina, Turner and family returned to Vegas and Earl moved into the Sound Trax room at Palace Station. According to his bio, he has had only a few singing lessons and no dance lessons to speak of. It is obvious, to anyone who has seen his act, that he has been greatly influenced by a couple of other entertainers with Las Vegas history, Tony Tillman and Sonny Turner (no relation to Earl). Earl Turner's hard work has paid off. In his first year as a Las Vegas entity, he won the title of Male Vocal Performer of the Year. Hopefully, he will find himself another room here. In the meantime, through the 24th, you can see both Earl Turner AND George Wallace at the Flamingo. Wallace's shows are at 10:00 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. For ticket information, call (702) 733-3333. On March 31, Sly and the Family Stone will be Mr. Wallace's special guests.

Earl Turner Marcus Weiss Joy Behar

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Beginning on Sunday, March 18th, Gerry McCambridge The Mentalist, will do a limited engagement at the Rampart Casino. It was at the Rampart where McCambridge made his Las Vegas debut. His move to the Stardust a year later was cut short when the hotel closed in November. Thanks to added name recognition, McCambridge's nine day run at the Rampart Casino - March 18th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th - should do just fine. If history repeats itself, he may be there for even longer. Show times are at 8:00 p.m. Admission is only ten bucks and includes one drink.

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A musical about TV talk show host Jerry Springer? Who woulda thunk it? Originating in London, Jerry Springer - The Opera has earned numerous awards, including the prestigious Olivier Award for Best Musical. It has also generated and earned its fair share of controversy and negative publicity. Filled with obscenities and bizarre characters, the show is scheduled to make its American debut right here in Las Vegas. This weekend (March 17th and 18th), Golden Rainbow, a Las Vegas charity dedicated to providing housing for those with HIV and AIDS, is presenting the adults-only show in the MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre. This production stars Jubilee's Artie Anderson (with acting credits in Home Improvement, 3rd Rock From the Sun, the Bold and the Beautiful and 8 Simple Rules) as Springer, and versatile Marcus Weiss (Blue Man Group, Second City and the lead role in a local production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch) portraying Springer‘s bouncer-sidekick, Steve. Talented Tina Walsh, formerly of EFX at the MGM Grand and, more recently, Mamma Mia! at Mandalay Bay (Tina was the original Donna Sheridan in the four-year-old production), is also featured. Performers from other Vegas productions, including Folies Bergere (Dan O'Brien), Jubilee!, Mamma Mia! and Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular (Rebecca Spencer and Ted Keegan), will also participate in this project. Michael Brennan, music director of Mamma Mia! and former music director for Avenue Q, along with producer/ choreographer Suzanne Childers, were granted the rights to stage this concert version of Jerry Springer - The Opera. The eight-piece orchestra will be conducted by Jack Gaughan, orchestra director for Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular. This is quite a risky undertaking. "It's pretty offensive," Childers says of the show that was picketed by Christian groups in London. "We're bracing ourselves for some people to walk out," states the brave Childers. No one asked us (that never stopped us before), but we think a show surrounded by controversy might be better staged by a community theater group rather than a fundraising organization. There is no question that some extremely talented people are involved in this effort, but will that be enough to attract and hold an audience? Could this be an example of "The operation was a success but the patient died"? Of course we wish Golden Rainbow great success with this event. Ticket prices are $30, $50 and $75 and show times are at 1:00 p.m. For reservations, call the MGM at (702) 891-7777.

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Las Vegans, or people long associated with Las Vegas, are/were are all over the tube this week. Yesterday (Thursday) it was Rich Little joining the ladies of The View.

Comic/ventriloquist Brad Cummings and his sidekick Rex will get another shot at national TV tonight with a rerun on the Late Show with David Letterman. Cummings initially appeared as part of the show's popular Ventriloquists Week and, apparently, did well enough to warrant an encore.

And speaking of The View, is Cousin Claire the only one who finds these babbling female magpie/hosts extremely annoying? We care not about the show's ratings since Rosie O'Donnell joined (as in "took over") the panel a few months ago, she is way out of control. This is NOT the Rosie O'Donnell Show. (And we thought Kathie Me Gifford had an ego!) We suspect the "success" of The View has more to do with its guests than anything else. In our opinion, Barbara Walters should just stay home and watch the show on TV, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, if you can even understand what she's saying (is the lady on speed?), is ridiculous. Where did they get her, anyway? She should go back to designing shoes. Surprise! We do like Joy Behar. And you thought we didn't like ANYBODY.

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