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 October 26, 2007
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - October 26, 2007

Robert Goulet David Brenner Gerry McCambridge

Prayers and get-well wishes to longtime Las Vegan Robert Goulet who has been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles since October 13th. The 73-year-old entertainer's current condition is listed as critical. Goulet, a Tony, Emmy and Grammy-winner, first experienced a slight shortness of breath a few months ago but dismissed it as insignificant. In mid-August, after shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff, the shortness of breath got worse and Goulet consulted with his doctors. After returning from a concert in Syracuse, New York, on September 20th, he felt weak was experiencing more breathing problems. He was admitted to a Las Vegas hospital on September 30th, where he was diagnosed with Interstitial Pulmonary Fibrosis, a rare but rapidly progressive and often fatal condition. After 12 days in the Las Vegas hospital Mr. Goulet's medical team determined that, without a lung transplant, he would not survive. Since this type of surgery is not done in Las Vegas, his long time physician, the renowned Dr. David Kipper, orchestrated his emergency transfer to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center which accepted him as a transplant patient on October 12th. Goulet was transported to Cedars-Sinai on Saturday, October 13th. Currently, he is in critical condition, his life dependent on finding a donated lung. The Cedar-Sinai medical transplant team is one of the best in the country. Robert's wife of 25 years, Vera, along with his sons Michael and Christopher, have been keeping a vigil at the hospital. (Their Silver anniversary was on October the 17th.) "Our friends have been incredibly supportive through these crucial times," Vera said. "My Robert has given tremendous joy to the world for six decades and he is loved by many people who are praying for him. He is a strong, positive man, full of life. I know if he is given the transplant he will pull through this. There are still many unsung songs for him to sing and in my heart I know it is not his time to go." Kirk and Ann Douglas, Suzanne Somers, Harry Connick, Jr., Tony Orlando and Jerry Lewis are among the many friends who have given the Goulets' their support. Robert was aware that a lung transplant was a possibility. He stated on several occasions to his doctors and to his wife, "Hey, let's go. Give me a new pair of lungs and I'll hit the high notes till I'm 100." If you would like to send wishes to the Goulets, e-mail to [email protected]

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Last Friday, one of our spies spotted comics David Brenner (who has been touring all summer), Rita Rudner (currently performing at Harrah's), Bobby Slayton (working the Night Owl room at Hooters Hotel Casino, along with The Mentalist, Gerry McCambridge) and George Wallace (a Flamingo regular) noshing at the Bagel Café in Summerlin. We hear the quartet is filming a pilot called Chewing the Fat. Location sites will be here (at places like the Bagel Café), and in Los Angeles and New York.

And speaking of McCambridge, before you head to Hooters to see Gerry McCambridge, you had better check his performance schedule. McCambridge is one of the competitors on NBC's new reality series, Phenomenon. The show airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in the timeslot usually occupied by Deal or No Deal. Depending on how the public votes, Gerry may miss some of his Hooters dates. On the one hand, we want to see him run for the entire eight-weeks and be declared the winner and champion. On the other hand, we want the folks who we have recommended his live show to be able to see what he does up close and personal. We don't know HOW he does what he does, but we think Gerry McCambridge does it better than anyone we have seen before. His is a unique and entertaining bit of business. Hopefully that will transfer well to the TV watching public. Watch on Wednesdays and call in and vote for Gerry.

And still speaking of McCambridge, Cousin Claire would like to thank him, along with Gordie Brown Enterprises, Dick Feeney, Shannon Alex Schechter, Frank Marino, Jay White and Robert Allen, for helping to make the Lewis E. Rowe elementary school's annual carnival a big success. Tickets to Gerry McCambridge, The Mentalist (at Hooters); Gordie Brown (at The Venetian); World's Greatest Magic Show, The Rat Pack is Back! and Haunted Vegas Tour (all at the Greek Isles Hotel & Casino); An Evening at La Cage and America's Tribute to Neil Diamond starring Jay White (both at the Riviera); Louie Larger Than Life starring Louie Anderson (Excalibur); and The Ronn Lucas Show (Luxor).

Incidentally, the Haunted Vegas Tour could put a new spin on your Halloween festivities. Put a little fright in your night! Tours depart the Greek Isles Hotel & Casino at 9 p.m. For reservations, call (702) 737-5540.

Haunted Vegas Tour Katrina Loncaric Gordie Brown

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Don't believe what you read about shows closing unless you read it or hear about it from a very reliable source. In the case of The Producers, we have to wonder where certain irresponsible columnists get their information. The Mel Brooks hit (Broadway's version was a record-breaker for Tony wins) just had its best week ever. The show opened in February, and has been doing good numbers ever since. There have been a couple of cast changes since the show's opening, with the incomparable Lee Roy Reams taking over the Roger DeBris role from David Hasselhoff (Hasselhoff was a novelty, Reams is a seasoned Broadway pro), and Tony Danza taking over Brad Oscar's role as Max Bialystock (Brad Oscar is an actor better suited to the role, Danza is a novelty). (Erick R. Walck was in for an absent Reams this week.) If we had to make a prediction, we think The Producers will stay at Paris Las Vegas until Brooks is ready to put together a second company of his latest Broadway musical comedy, Young Frankenstein. We also predict that when the Tonys role around, Young Frankenstein will lumber away with an armload of statuettes. When we saw The Producers earlier this week, Katrina Loncaric was in for Leigh Zimmerman. Katrina's proud mama, Pat, made the trip from Atlanta to catch her daughter as Ulla and then joined the show-folk at this month's Composers Showcase.

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Sometime during last Tuesday's Composers Showcase at the Liberace Museum, one of the songwriters, Dana Allen, lost an amethyst ring that has been in his family for decades. It may have been left on the sink in the restroom, offstage right. If anybody picked it up or has clues to its whereabouts, PLEASE contact the heartsick Allen by e-mail at [email protected], or the museum's executive director, Darin Hollingsworth at [email protected].

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As mentioned previously (last week perhaps), Gordie Brown is probably one of the hardest working entertainers in this city...or maybe anywhere. On Wednesday night, the theater at The Venetian was filled with A-list celebrities, among them, Jack Nicholson, Michael Bolton, Robert DeNiro, Neil Diamond, Jim Carrey, Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne, Clint Eastwood, Stevie Wonder, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Bolton, Tom Cruise (without Katie and Suri), George W. Bush, and even, the seldom seen in public, Michael Jackson...all created physically and vocally by the talented Gordie Brown. Elvis, Sammy, Dean and Frank were among the dearly departed who showed up to entertain the audience, in the guise of Mr. Brown. A tip of the hat to Gordie's outstanding band members, musical director Jeff Neiman on piano and keyboards, Keith Nelson on bass, Adam Shendal in the Plexiglas "drum cage," Steve Swinford on guitar and Rocco Barbato on sax and harmonica. A fancy, shmancy party followed the show. Held at upscale Piero Selvaggio's Valentino restaurant at The Venetian, media-types and fellow entertainers, including Cousin Claire's favorite Phantom Brent Barrett (Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular is also one of The Venetian's entertainment offerings), Jeanne Brei, Jackie Brett, Mel Carter, Kid Cary DeGrosa, Clint Holmes, Norm Johnson, Robin Leach and Debbie Marcus, nibbled on all kinds of interesting hors d'oeuvres. The goodies included Potato Blini (like grandma used to make, only smaller) topped with Golden Oscetra caviar (provided by Petrossian Terrace Station), Fried Lobster Milanese, Tiger Shrimp with orange/mustard sauce, skewered Roasted Peppers and Mozzarella, Veal Tartar with Bottarga, Crushed Crostini with Quail Pate and Black Truffle, Bruschetta with Tomato and Gorgonzola Cheese, Mini Quiche with Spinach and Fontina Cheese, Mini Pizza, and Grilled Raschera wrapped in Pork Jowl. This was followed by trays of beautifully prepared Petit Fours and Mignonettes (for the uninformed, those are sweet treats). Invited guests sipped Piper Heidsick champagne and Imperia vodka. It was a terrific night, and a great way to honor Mr. Brown's successful first year. Kudos go to the hard work of Kirvin-Doak reps Ashlee Miller and Kim Diller, along with Jason Gastwirth, Executive Director of Entertainment; Gordie's assistant, Shawn, as well as efficient staff personnel under the direction of Valentino restaurant manager, Jeffery Metcalf, (who also gets credit for providing us with the list of the foods served). And, of course, a great big tip of the hat to the man of the hour, Gordie Brown. Long may he reign.

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It isn't often that we hear anyone say, "Why don't we have dinner at the Sahara?," or "Let's go see a show at the Sahara," or "How about spending the evening at the Sahara." What once was a top Strip property (Johnny Carson, Bette Midler, Judy Garland, Liberace, Robert Goulet, Jack Benny, Shirley Bassey, Don Rickles, Sonny & Cher, Victor Borge, Anthony Newley, Tina Turner, Buddy Hackett, Peter Allen, Mac Davis, Bob Newhart, Shirley MacLaine, Johnny Mathis, Totie Fields, Jim Nabors, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne and Danny Kaye, were just some of the headliners to play the Congo Room) has now become almost an afterthought. Thus, it isn't surprising that Matsuri will be closing on November 11th. Too bad. It's a good show. In recent years, almost everything that has gone into the Sahara (Saturday Night Fever, Charo's Bravo, The World's Greatest Magic Show, Steve Wyrick, etc., etc.) has failed. Is it because the productions are not good enough? Is it because of poor (or no) marketing (we have not received a Press Release from the Sahara in years)? Is it a combination of both? In the case of Matsuri, the Japanese muscle show, it certainly isn't closing because it's not good enough. We saw Matsuri last summer during its seven-week afternoon run at the Riviera and thoroughly enjoyed it. The high-energy cast obviously loves what they do and it shows in their smiling faces. While at the Riviera, the crowd counts for the production ran between 600 and 700 people per show.

Johnny Carson Charo Kathleen Dunbar

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Funny lady Kathleen Dunbar returns to Hooter's Casino Hotel to, once again, open for Bobby Slayton, the man also known as "The Pitbull of Comedy." Like many other entertainers who make their homes in Las Vegas, Kathleen does most of her performing out of the city. In recent weeks, she has had them in stitches at the Borgata in Atlantic City, the Saddle West in Pahrump, NV, and the Comedy Shop in Laughlin. Kathleen will open at Hooters on Halloween night, October 31st (Dunbar is a treat, not a trick) and will generate laughs through November 18th (dark on Mondays and Tuesdays). Following this engagement, Dunbar will head to the Funny Bone in Omaha, Catch a Rising Star in Reno, Nitwits Comedy Club in Sioux Falls, SD and wind up the year back in Vegas at the Riviera Comedy Club.

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Scorpios celebrating birthdays include comedian/author Roseanne Barr; Dolly Coulter, multi-talented singer/musician/actress, currently in the cast of Tony 'n Tina's Wedding at the Rio, as well as the girl group, Killian's Angels; Chris Hudson, of Hudson & Saleeby fame (the musical duo were favorites around Las Vegas before returning to the South, and Memphis, in 1982, where Chris and Doug Saleeby are favorites on the local entertainment scene); Frank Marino, star of the Riviera's An Evening at La Cage; Greg Smith, of the popular Smith Brothers band; and Rick Smith, currently of SongSmith, previously of My Generation (where he used the name Rick Wells).

Frank Marino Cork Proctor Garold Gardner & Chita Rivera

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Cousin Claire blew it. She inadvertently forgot to let readers know about an event that took place on October 14th. Friend Garold Gardner let us know that the annual Las Vegas Ambassadors' Tour Guide Ball, held at Arizona Charlie's West, was a sell-out (so they obviously didn't need our help to push tickets). Attended primarily by the heavy-hitters in the Destination Management Business (they handle most of the major conventions coming into Las Vegas throughout the year), the Diamond Mae's Ballroom was filled with people having a good time. As the only social event of the season for the DMCs, the evening includes cocktails, top entertainment, a big buffet and an auction to benefit the Garold Gardner Scholarship Foundation. Gardner, with a background as a performer, director, choreographer and teacher, is the co-founder of the non-profit organization which supports young performers, many of them from low-income families, who hope to go into show business. Professionals as well as students entertained guests. Among those donating their talent for the cause were opera singers Lance and Shelley who also are "street performers" at Paris Las Vegas, Phyllis Bell and Anthony Martucci who sang hits from the '60s and '70s, and Sherry Burnett who offered songs from Dreamgirls. Susan O'Kelley directed a student dance event, and Alison Kravenko Johnson brought her students to repeat their blockbuster number from the Will Rogers Follies. Kravenko Johnson also directed the Will Rogers routine, using veteran Vegas dancers, in last June's very successful Golden Rainbow fundraiser held at Bally's.

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This month's Performing Arts Society of Nevada's Brown Bag concert will take place at the Clark County Library on East Flamingo on Sunday. They Can't Take That Away From Me, featuring the lyrics of Ira Gershwin, will present the UNLV Opera Theater's Stars of Tomorrow. The program is under the direction of Christine Seitz, Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera in the Department of Music. Greg Bosler serves as Musical Director. Tickets for the 2 p.m. concert are $15 and may be purchased by calling (702) 658-6741. Tickets will also be available at the library theater box office beginning at 1 p.m. the day of the show.

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On Saturday, November 3rd, entertainer Dave Swan will be honored with a fundraiser hosted by The CAST, a non-profit organization created to assist veteran entertainers in need. The event will take place at 1 p.m. in the Imperial Palace Theater. Swan, who has donated much of his time over the years in helping others, is now facing a health condition that leaves him unable to perform. Local singers, actors and comedians will unite to celebrate the career of the 30-year Las Vegas performer, with proceeds from ticket sales going toward Swan's medical care. A lineup of distinguished Las Vegas performers and friends of Swan are scheduled to appear, among them Peter Anthony, Pete Barbutti, Robin Berry, Jason Byrne, Tony Davich, Derek David, Mr. & Mrs. G, (Ottavio and Naomi Brenkman-Gesmundo) - The Crossbow Tango, Jazz Dolls (Gayle Steele and Regi Brown), Cork Proctor, Tony Sacca, Corrie Sachs, and cast members from the Imperial Palace's Legends in Concert. The entertainers will be backed by the Michael T. Orchestra. Swan performed for more than 14 years at the Imperial Palace where he opened for many prominent showroom headliners. He joined the Imperial Palace's Legends in Concert during its first year, remaining as the show's opening act for six years. In addition to his lengthy engagement at the Imperial Palace, Swan also starred in two long-running Las Vegas shows - portraying King Arthur in the Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur, and as the comedy star in Viva Las Vegas at the Stratosphere. In addition, Swan has also worked at the Sahara, Sands, Aladdin and many other major showrooms on the Strip. Organizing the event is The CAST, a 501c3 non-profit organization. Founded in 2002 by Las Vegas legendary performers, The CAST is about "Entertainers Helping Entertainers." A donation of $30 a person is requested. Tickets may be purchased by calling 877-CAST (2278) or going online at Donations may also be sent directly to The CAST Special Events Fund/ Dave Swan, P.O. Box 370654, Las Vegas, NV. 89137. Babe Pier, who was scheduled to perform, had to bow out when the event date was changed. Pier will be in California, guest starring in the Palm Springs Follies, when the Swan tribute takes place.

Note: We have learned that some performers who wanted to participate in this event did not even get the courtesy of a return call or e-mail after offering their services. That doesn't speak well for the people (or person) in charge of this tribute/benefit.

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Is a blowjob out of the question? Not if you are talking about 76 Trombones + 4 concert that takes place on Sunday (November 4th). Now in its 23rd year, the scholarship concert will be held in the Artemus Ham Hall at UNLV, beginning at 2 p.m. The members of this hot horn ensemble have been blowing the lid off the hall for 22 years. More than 100 trombonists from all over the world will participate in this years' event, performing light classics and jazz standards. "To date, the 76 Trombones + 4 concerts have generated more than $100,000 in scholarship money," says Professor Ken Hanlon, director of UNLV's Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center. Featured soloists for this years concert will be Jim Pugh, Eijiro Nakagawa and Donn Schaefer. Composer/arranger Connie Atkinson will once again conduct the ensemble, and comic/roastmaster Cork Proctor returns as Master of Ceremonies (this guy is sure busy). For additional information, contact Ralph Pressler at (702) 480-1972. Tickets are bargain priced at $10 for general admission, and only $5 for students, military, seniors, and children under 12. To purchase, call (702) 739-3267.

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Residents and visitors will have the opportunity to see yet another Las Vegas hotel go up in smoke (and dust) when the New Frontier is imploded early in the morning on November 13th. What a blast!

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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye