Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column

Displaying keen perception and great insight.  
She's a little bit naughty. Shes a little bit nice.  
She calls em like she sees (and hears) em.  

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from August 03, 2007
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - August 3, 2007

Tom Snyder George Maloof Kelly Clinton

The recent death of television personality Tom Snyder reminds us of an incident that occurred here in the 1980s. A local media-type (they are everywhere) got an early-in-the-week, mid-morning call from a Las Vegas agent (they, too, are everywhere) requesting the media-type (referred to throughout the rest of this article as M-T) come to the agent's (who shall remain nameless) office right away for something very important. Following some attempts to get out of making the trip to the office, the M-T reluctantly agreed to take the drive. Upon arriving at the Maryland Parkway office (that might be a clue), the M-T found the agent in an animated phone conversation. The agent-type motioned for the visitor to enter the inner sanctum of her (there's another clue) office and have a seat. M-T obliged. There, one side of the telephone conversation could be clearly heard. According to the agent, if she could set up a weeks worth of guests, Snyder would consider bringing the Tomorrow show to Vegas. The M-T was called there to provide the agent with the names of possible guests. It seems NBC either didn't want the usual suspects being pitched by the agent - Siegfried and Roy, Liberace, Wayne Newton, et al - or had already made contact with them on their own. (Said agent even tried to get herself on as a guest and, needless to say, there was no interest by NBC.) In the meantime, the M-T was suggesting the names of well-known people who lived in Vegas but were not regular performers here, like Joe Williams and B.B. King for example. All of a sudden, NBC showed interest. Did the media person have ways to contact these entertainers, she (another clue?) was asked by the agent. Possibly, but the information was at home, not in her handbag. The M-T was asked to go home and call the agent with phone numbers. That was what was supposed to happen...that is until the M-T took a glance at the TV Guide for the following week. Surprise! Right there, in black and white, were listings for Tom Snyder's upcoming week of shows...from Las Vegas. This may come as a shock, but the agent had lied to the M-T. She knew very well that the show was already scheduled to be here and she was just trying to weasel her way into the mix. That is when the M-T realized just why the late Forrest Duke, the onetime entertainment columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, disliked this particular person and never used her name in his columns. It turns out that the Duke of Las Vegas, who rarely said an unkind word about anybody, was a very good judge of character

* * * * * *

Unfortunately, there are too many scoundrels in the background of entertainment. In addition to mothers-in-law, used car salesmen and lawyers, agents are frequently the subject of "jokes." There is a good reason for that. When portrayed in film, agents usually look a little too slick. Maybe they should come with a warning notice, i.e., the person you are dealing with may be hazardous to your health. They're not all bad, but certain claims and promises need to be checked out very carefully before being too trusting. When it comes to entertainers, the only people who may be more vulnerable and nave than they are, are very young children ("I'll give you five dollars if you help me look for my lost puppy, ") and seniors with fading mental capacity ("You are the heir to a millionaire's estate, but you need to put up $5000 in good faith money..."). All a performer really wants to do is perform, therefore they believe just about anybody with a line of baloney, especially if it is served up with cheese. In the last month, an example of just how gullible some people can be has been displayed around these parts. In early July, hopeful actors showed up at MDV Studios to audition for a film titled Stripper. With an MTV logo at the top of the page (possibly found on Craigslist), this "SAG independent feature" listed Palms Hotel/Casino owner George Maloof as Executive Producer (although the misspelled last name of Maloof should have sent up a warning signal), Greg Jarrett (doing business as Breaking Ground Pictures) as Producer, and Eric Floyd as Casting Director. When Cousin Claire saw copies of the notices, the fact that the "private" auditions stated that "If you are auditioning for one of the female leads in the film, we will have to see you TOPLESS! There are NO EXCEPTIONS!" For the men, it stated, "Because certain male parts may require semi and/or full nudity in love scenes with female co-stars, certain men may be asked to disrobe as well during their audition process! Again, there are NO EXCEPTIONS!" (The notices displayed the upper case letters and exclamation marks as noted.) We smelled something very fishy here. A call to George Maloof's office at the Palms confirmed one thing we suspected; Maloof had no knowledge or involvement with Stripper. Hrair Messerlian, Nevada's Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Executive Director, verified that Stripper is NOT a SAG production. Auditions were held as recently as Tuesday. A number of women were photographed, sans tops. Where these photos might turn up is anybody's guess. If any SAG members have auditioned for Stripper, and feel they may have been misled or victimized, they should contact Mr. Messerlian in Los Angeles at (323) 549-6440. One actor told the SAG director that they intended to notify the police.

* * * * * *

Cousin Claire has been hanging out with and writing about show folk for more than three decades. She has been intrigued by who among these people has longevity, who seems to come from nowhere (an overnight sensation), have a career that lasts a few years and then fizzles into oblivion, and who is a flash in the pan or, as they are sometimes called, a one hit wonder. In trying to analyze the whys and wherefores of success or failure, much of it seems to be because many entertainers don't seem to realize that the "business" part of "show business" is often more important than the "show" part. Of course, there are exceptions. Locally, one smart cookie comes to mind. The name is Kelly Clinton. Kelly's family moved to Las Vegas from Palisades Park, New Jersey, when she was 12. (She reminds that the 1962 Freddy Cannon hit, Palisades Park, was written be onetime Gong Show host, Chuck Barris. It‘s important information like this that keeps readers coming back week-after-week.) Cousin Claire remembers Kelly when she was barely old enough to hang out in casinos, let alone perform in them, yet, that's what she was doing. Whether working with Mainstream at Frank Link's Maxim (now the Westin Casuarina) talent showcase, with Buddy Wilde or with her own band, The Purple Gang, one could see that this young lady had a future. We weren't the only ones who noticed. Over the years, Ms. Clinton has worked as a backup singer for both Engelbert Humperdinck and Wayne Newton. Along with being a chick singer, the ham and bubbly personality came shining through... brightly. More than two decades later, it's still there. She's come a long way, baby. These days, Ms. Clinton is often behind the spotlight instead of in it. She is entertainment director for the exclusive Stirling Club, located across from the Las Vegas Hilton. Under the Clinton banner, the Stirling Club has presented acts such as David Pomeranz (Barry Manilow was in the audience for that one), Ms. Regi Brown, Parris Lane, Gayle Steele, vocal group Mosaic, Darcus, Loretta Holloway, Skye Miles, Sandra Benton and the Las Vegas Tenors (both collectively and individually). It is not unusual for "guests" such as Bill Medley and Clint Holmes (Clinton's main squeeze) to drop by and do a tune or two. In addition to her duties at the Stirling Club, a number of the entertainment offerings at the Bootlegger Bistro are presented by Kelly Clinton, among them Shades of Sinatra, Celebrity Karaoke (running at the Bootlegger since 2003), and Sunday's Celebrity Spotlight, where you can see performers from the Strip and elsewhere in a different light. Come this Sunday (August 5th) Kelly will present someone she knows better than anyone else...herself. Yep, this weekend, Kelly Clinton will present Kelly Clinton. Using her idol, Carol Burnett, for inspiration, Ms. Clinton does a bit of everything, even taking on other characters (both male and female) to entertain audiences. We are sure there will be a few surprises but the Bootlegger crowd will probably be entertained by "Cher," "Ellie Clinton," "Wayne Newton," "Joe Joe Spaghetti Moretti" and, of course, "Kelvis." Audience members are in for a treat. The show starts at 8. Come early, have dinner and hang out. Call 736-4939 for reservations.

Kelly's accompanying photo was taken by Bobby Black. Black is one of the popular (and frequently working) Las Vegas Tenors. The other members are Teddy Davey, Bill Fayne and Mark Giovi. Music lovers can see and hear the Tenors on September 7th and 8th, when they perform in the main showroom at the Las Vegas Hilton (Barry Manilow needs a couple of nights off). Backed by a 17-piece orchestra, the Las Vegas Tenors will give a feature spot to Bella Rumore, the eight women who make up their orchestras' string section. Show times are at 8 p.m. Call (702) 732-5755 for reservations.

* * * * * *

Carol Burnett Giovanna Sardelli Kathleen Dunbar

Veteran entertainer and 40-year Las Vegas resident Nelson Sardelli is sounding like one proud papa...and he has a right to. His daughter, Giovanna Sardelli (called Gio by those near and dear to her) is receiving rave reviews as a New York director. Born and raised in Vegas, Gio is a graduate of Western High School and attended UNLV, graduating in 1987 with a degree in theater. She moved to New York, immersing herself in theater. As an actor, she spent several years as a cast member of the daytime soap, Another World, and appeared in a number of off-Broadway productions. Along the way she received a master of fine arts degree from the prestigious New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and attended the university's Director's Lab (a by-invitation-only program that accepts only three students per year). About five years ago, she became disenchanted with acting and turned to directing. "I wanted to be in control," Sardelli said. Since then she has directed numerous off-Broadway plays. She has been receiving outstanding reviews for her latest directing effort. Two Thirds Home, at the Michael Weller Theatre (311 W. 43rd St, 6th Floor), runs through August 12th. The cast features Peggy J. Scott, Aaron Roman Weiner and Ryan Woodle. Here are just a handful of comments by critics..."The execution under Sardelli's assured hand is never less than first-rate...certainly an explosion of acting, directing, writing and designing talent of a caliber usually just wished for," "The cast assembled and directed superbly by Giovanna Sardelli is outstanding," "Laura Jellinek's set feels like a real, living room, and the excellent three-person cast of Two Thirds Home , as directed by Giovanna Sardelli, are careful not to overwhelm it with histrionics. I believed the space, the place and the people. Welcome Home," and "It's the best directing we've ever seen!!!" Okay. Okay. That last critique came from unbiased Nelson and Fledia Sardelli, Giovanna's parents. If you are in the neighborhood, tickets for Two Thirds Home are only $20. Visit or call (212) 352-3101 for reservations.

* * * * * *

For those skeptics wondering about the validity and function of Vegas Seat Fillers, we have to declare the idea a success. Today, with more than 10,000 individuals receiving daily offers for free shows around the city, we think everyone wins with Seat Fillers. The concept has proven to be a strong force in this town, and, according to owner Gerry McCambridge (who entertains as The Mentalist) "is ready for a corporation to step in and bring it to the next level." Since Cousin Claire has no life, she has spent months keeping tabs on the acts, producers and hotels that have made good use of Seat Fillers. In just a nine month period, among the more than 50 shows that Seat Filler members could see at no cost, late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson, The Scintas, David Brenner, Roseanne Barr, Carrot Top, Boyz II Men, Bobby Slayton, The Producers, Smash Mouth, Chippendales, Jim Belushi & The Sacred Hearts, $100,000 Man (thanks to TV's The Next Best Thing) Trent Carlini, Johnny Winter, Legends In Concert and Forever Plaid. Vegas Seat Fillers has their own Web site. Check it out for yourselves. If you like attending shows, and want to save a bunch of money, join the smart 10,000 plus folks who have been reaping the benefits of Seat Fillers for months.

* * * * * *

Look for Las Vegas resident Kathleen Dunbar to share the stage with the Pit Bull of Comedy, Bobby Slayton, at the Hooters Casino Hotel's Night Owl Lounge from August 8th through the 12th. Funny lady Dunbar was the headliner and host of the Divas of Comedy show that played at the Sahara for two solid years. Her last local appearance was at the Riviera's Comedy Club a few weeks ago. What's On magazine described the Milwaukee-native as "a sitcom waiting to happen." She was the Comedy Winner in the 2003 Las Vegas Star Search competition and, two years later, the Entertainment Consumer's Exchange awarded her the Excellence in Entertainment Sunrise Award. In 2006 and 2007, Ms. Dunbar earned their Favorite Comedian award. Dunbar is described as a sarcastic edgy woman with attitude and humor. Being a divorced mother has provided her with plenty of material, and her quick wit and realistic look at life has helped build her act. Influenced by George Carlin, Johnny Carson, Joan Rivers, Gilda Radner, Tim Conway, Tracy Ullman and, like Kelly Clinton (mentioned above), Carol Burnett, Dunbar has her own unique take on the world around her. She is funny. She is outrageous. And from Wednesday through Sunday, she is performing at Hooters in Las Vegas. For a lot of laughs, check out both Kathleen Dunbar and Bobby Slayton in the intimate Night Owl Showroom. Show times are at 8 and 10 p.m. For reservations, call (866) LVHoots or (800) 851-1703. Must be over 21 to attend.

* * * * * *

Jim Belushi Joe Bologna & Renee Taylor Tanya Tucker

From September 7th through the 9th, the Suncoast will host the husband and wife acting team of Joe Bologna and Renee Taylor in their 450-seat showroom. Written, performed and directed by Taylor and Bologna, "If You Ever Leave Me...I'm Going With You," is best described as "a comedic greatest hits" - a husband and wife retrospective, drawing on material from the movies, stage productions and the very life that Renee and Joe have created over the years. It is a semi-autobiographical humorous discussion between a loving couple, or as Joe says in the opening segment, "I was discussing, she was screaming." When Joe begins to oblige wife Renee's request to pack his things and get out, Renee surprises him by starting to pack her things as well. "Where the heck are you going?," Joe asks. Renee quickly replies, "If you ever leave me, I'm going with you. We will have more to say about this production in a couple of weeks. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Suncoast box office at 702-636-7075.

* * * * * *

An article on Tanya Tucker in yesterday's (Thursday's) Las Vegas Sun failed to give credit to a well-known Las Vegan. While telling a sad and sordid story (stories about Tanya are frequently sordid) regarding a former boyfriend (NOT Glen Campbell) who stole a truck containing her stage costumes and jewelry, and telling much about her show business beginnings, not a word was mentioned about Dolores Fuller. If Fuller's name is familiar it might be because of her history as an actress, the onetime girlfriend of director Ed Wood (Fuller was played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the film), or as a songwriter (Dolores wrote a number of tunes recorded by Elvis Presley). We are out of room and out of steam but will have more to say about Ms. Fuller next week.

Have a question about Las Vegas? Want to make a comment (be nice, now)?
If so, drop an e-mail and ask. Click Here
Cousin Claire will do her best to find the answer for you.
You can find Past Columns HERE

     Like to be notified when Claire Voyant's next column is available?
Then join Claire Voyant's announcement mailing list!
Enter your email address below, then click the 'Join List' button:

Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye