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.
Note: This is a past column from December 21, 2007
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - December 21, 2007
It's hard to believe that the year is almost over. Can it really be eight years since people were so worried about what would happen to the computer generated world when 2000 arrived? The answer is, yes. There will be major changes on stages in and around Las Vegas as 2007 ends and 2008 begins. Last Saturday, for example, Celine Dion performed her last show at the Caesars Palace 4,100-seat Colosseum. A New Day has ended after an almost five year run. For the millions who saw the show (estimated at nearly three-million), there are many more millions who never got to see Queen Celine during her reign at the Palace. Have no fear. All is not lost. Those folks will be able to purchase a DVD of the show that played 717 performances and grossed more than $400 million. The Producers, which opened in February 2007, will close after its February 9th show at Paris Las Vegas. We hate to see the fun-filled Mel Brooks romp close. Over the year, we have gotten to know many of the show's performers and we will miss them when they scatter to other parts of the country. The award-winning Jersey Boys (but not as many awards as The Producers) will open at Sheldon Adelson's Palazzo, adjacent to The Venetian in April. For now, after the closing of Hans Klok and The Beauty of Magic a few weeks ago, the Theater for the Performing Arts at Planet Hollywood sits empty. What might be in store for that space? Will they go back to traveling shows and concerts like the Aladdin of the old days? Magic man Criss Angel will be the star of a new Cirque show scheduled for the Luxor. Thanks to his high-profile social life (rumored relationships with Cameron Diaz, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Pamela Anderson), and his Mindfreak TV show, we predict more success for the Angel than for the very nice Mr. Klok. Only time, and ticket sales, will determine what will work here and what won't. Stay tuned.
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Singer/drummer Marvin "Sweet Louie" Smith, a member of The Checkmates, died over the weekend. He was 68. Known for his trademark eyeglasses, Louie and the group's founder, Sonny Charles, had been working a cruise ship gig at the time of Sweet Louie's unexpected death. A popular lounge act in Las Vegas for more than four decades, the group had a hit with the song Black Pearl, which made it to 13th on the Billboard charts in May of 1969. Funeral services will take place at 6 p.m. at the downtown Palm Mortuary, 1325 N. Main Street, on Saturday, December 22nd. Since Marvin Smith was a veteran, there will be a military Honor Guard. Palm Mortuary can accommodate up to 450 people. The previously announced viewing from 1 to 6 p.m. has been canceled. For additional information, call the mortuary at (702) 464-8300.
Sweet Louie and Sonny Charles had been scheduled to perform at the Rampart Casino on New Year's Eve. It has been decided that Sonny & The Checkmates will ring in the new year with a concert paying tribute to the late, great Sweet Louie. The New Year's Eve show, held in Addison's Lounge at the Rampart Casino, begins at 9 p.m. Cost is $10 per person at the door.
Singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg has also died. The writer and performer of hits such as Same Old Lang Syne, Longer, Hard To Say and Leader of the Band, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2004. Fogelberg was only 56-years-old.
Phyllis Coates & George Reeves
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From December 26th through the 30th, the Robbie Howard Band will perform from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. in The Orleans Bourbon Street Cabaret Lounge. On the 31st, Howard and company will provide entertainment from 5:30 to 8 p.m. during a gourmet dinner, open bar and dance party in the Mardi Gras Ballroom. Robbie, who has had long running gigs at the Lady Luck, Plaza and Westward Ho hotel/casinos, is one of the most sought after local performers when it comes to corporate and special events. A singer, musician and vocal impressionist, Robbie and gang are sure to stir things up at The Orleans. Stop by, and tell the boys that Claire Voyant sent you.
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Actor Bart Williams, who now makes his home a stone's throw from Laughlin, Nevada, was the producer of yesterday's Happy Holi-Daze: A Celebration Yule Never Forget, a multi-cultural celebration presented by the Bullhead City (Arizona) Municipal Arts Commission. The all star performance of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, directed by Michael Candela, featured Williams as Ebenezer Scrooge, with a special guest appearance by movie and TV actress, Phyllis Coates as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Coates is probably best remembered for her role as Lois Lane, opposite George Reeves' Superman. In addition to her 26 episodes on The Adventures of Superman, Coates was a regular on the Joe McDoakes movie shorts, and a guest star on many popular TV shows, including Perry Mason, The Untouchables, Gunsmoke and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Admission to the holiday show was one non-perishable food item per person for the Bullhead City Community Food Bank.
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Capricorns celebrating birthdays include Ari Dane, Gina Eckstine, Larry Edwards, Bob Kaz, Jan Wood Lovelady, Maggie Peterson Mancuso, Frankie Randall and Rip Taylor. Happy natal day, one and all.
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We always look forward to our holiday card from Charlie and Sherry Frye. Charlie and Sherry work under the name of Charlie Frye & Company (with Sherry being the "& Company") and the duo are always busy. Their clever comedy act is so popular, it keeps them working around the world (places like Monte Carlo, Berlin, Athens, Zurich, as well as Northern and Southern Nevada, Atlantic City and elsewhere) almost constantly, leaving them very little time to spend in Southern Nevada where they have a home (a place they visit, every now and then). The Frye's have shared stages with Susan Anton, the Oak Ridge Boys and Liza Minnelli, who states they are "Simply one of the best and brightest acts ever." Regis Philbin describes them as "Two of the most entertaining characters I've ever seen on the stage." In addition to his skill as a comic/juggler/magician, Charlie is also an extremely talented cartoonist (see his interpretation of Claire Voyant at the top of this column). He makes his own Christmas cards every year and we anxiously await to see what his creative mind has in store, come December. We are never disappointed.
Charlie Frye & Company
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This city was well represented on last Friday's televised 2007 World Magic Awards. Honoring the world's top practitioners in the ancient, and even more popular than ever, art of magical illusion, the show, aired on KVMY Channel 21 in Southern Nevada. Among the presenters were Las Vegas magicians, Lance Burton (star of his own show at the Monte Carlo) and Penn & Teller (who have their own show at the Rio All-Suite Hotel). Award recipients included Rick Thomas, named Best Illusionist, who was the first to perform on the two-hour special. As mentioned in an earlier column, Thomas had long running successful shows at the Tropicana and Stardust, followed by a shorter stint at The Orleans. Among the other local magicians taking home awards, Jason Byrne, Best Classic Magician (lately of V - The Ultimate Variety Show at Planet Hollywood); Kevin James, Best Comedy Illusionist (America's Got Talent competitor, and late of Dick Feeney's The World's Greatest Magic Show at the Greek Isles); Mac King, Comedy Magician of the Year (beginning his eighth year at Harrah's); Luna Shimada, Best Cabaret Magic Female (a regular in The World's Greatest Magic Show); Hans Klok, Magician of the Year (his Beauty of Magic show closed early in December after a six-month run at Planet Hollywood), with Pamela Anderson, named Magic Assistant of the Year. In our opinion, Ms. Anderson would better be described as a "guest," rather than an "assistant," since she didn't "appear" for almost and hour and spent very little time after that on stage. Onetime James Bond star Sir Roger Moore served as host for the program, filmed in Santa Monica in October. We have a question regarding magic. When is someone going to bring Quick Change artists David and Dania (winner of this year's Best Cabaret Magic Duo, as well as competitors on America's Got Talent) to Las Vegas? We think they are amazing.
And speaking of television...On Wednesday, December 26th, CBS will broadcast the annual Kennedy Center Honors. This is always TV at its best. The honorees this year are, pianist Leon Fleisher; comic/actor/author/art collector, Steve Martin; singer/actress Diana Ross; director/producer (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Gangs of New York, Casino, The Aviator, Goodfellas, The Departed) Martin Scorsese; and Beach Boys singer/songwriter Brian Wilson. If you aren't going to be at home, we suggest you set your VCRs or TiVo this one.
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Based on the response to the two recent appearances of the Las Vegas Tenors in the Las Vegas Hilton main room (in September and again for last Sunday's wonderful holiday show), it is no surprise that the quartet - Bill Fayne, Bobby Black, Teddy Davey and Mark Giovi - have been booked back there for a February 14th engagement. Audience members can expect to hear plenty of romantic tunes for the Valentine's Day concert.
As for the Tenor's holiday offering, it, and everyone in it, was terrific. Cousin Claire especially liked Fayne's take on Tom Lehrer's I'm Spending Hanukkah in Santa Monica. We don't think any of the "grown-up performers" will mind us saying that seven-year-old Cayleigh Capaldi all but stole the show, receiving a standing ovation with her rendition of Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You. In addition to talent, this young lady has poise beyond her years. To say that her parents, entertainers Domenick Allen and Leigh Zimmerman, were proud, would be an understatement. In her role as Ulla in The Producers, Leigh sings When You Got It, Flaunt It. Little Miss Cayleigh HAS got it and she most certainly knows how to Flaunt It!
Belated birthday greetings to Bill Fayne who celebrated his natal day on December 17th.
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From Bill C. in Dallas comes this e-inquiry..."I want to know if Fay McKay ever made a CD or DVD? She is fantastic and I would like to have a CD of her 12 Daze of Christmas. Thanks." You are welcome, Bill. The answer to your question is "yes" and "no." There is no DVD, but there is a CD available. In fact, there are two CDs available. In addition to the 10 song CD featuring her trademark 12 Daze of Christmas (it's called Live On the Las Vegas Strip), there is also her 24-track Loving Memories, consisting of songs mostly from the '40s and '50s. To order Fay McKay merchandise, check out her Web site at www.fabulousfaymckay.com.
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The Las Vegas Sun's entertainment columnist, good guy Jerry Fink, had a dandy article about Kelly Clinton's One Woman Show at the Suncoast. Mr. Fink, who never writes anything about Britney Spears (thank goodness), agrees with our take on Ms. Clinton. She is a natural and a star in the making. If you haven't seen this quadruple-threat entertainer (she sings, she does impersonations, she delivers lines like a veteran stand-up/improv comic, and can move well too), Wednesday, December 26th will be your last chance to catch her act at the Suncoast...for THIS engagement. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. We don't know if a Clinton will be a winner when it comes to making it back into the White House, but Las Vegas' Clinton is already a winner when it comes to talent.
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More than five weeks (November 9th column) after we first voiced concerns about the operation of The CAST Inc., an organization started in 2002 to help entertainers in need of medical or financial aid, this is the best someone (we don't know who) can do in the way of a response...
To all of the people in our community - The Cast membership, friends of The Cast and the Las Vegas media:
Lately there have been many rumors circulating over the internet, about The Cast. Some of the comments and rumors have even surfaced in online articles written by an internet gossip columnist in Las Vegas. Would that be Claire Voyant?
The dissemination of these rumors has concerned those of us on the board that have found ourselves trying to dispel what has become an onslaught of half-truths, distortions, fabrications and invective.
Because of the persistence of these rumors and our desire to "set the record straight" we have decided to respond. Often times, rumors, by sheer repetition, start to gain credence and we don't want people in our community to think that our silence means the gossip is true. It is not. Here are the facts:
First, let me establish some basic facts about The Cast. The Cast was founded over 5 years ago by veteran Las Vegas entertainers, with the stated goal of helping entertainers in need. In addition, it was agreed that The Cast would be amenable to helping to promote the performing arts in our community. Finally, we also agreed to work on a joint-venture basis with other local charities as a means of raising money for The Cast and helping these charities, as well.
Over the years The Cast, through membership dues and fundraising events, has been able to help numerous people in our entertainment community. This includes giving money to people to assist them in paying their rent, their utility bills, purchasing an electric wheel chair, helping to pay medical bills, assisting in funeral costs, providing gift certificates for groceries, in an unofficial capacity we "adopted" needy families and bought them hundreds of Christmas gifts, we honored many entertainers and had fun at many social events. Since The Cast's inception, the motto has been "Fun with a purpose".
All of this was accomplished through tremendous effort by the members of the Board of Directors of The Cast and through the support of its members and guests. The board members receive no compensation for their time and often spend some of their own money to help advance the goals of The Cast.
Because the board is comprised primarily of entertainers, it can be difficult at times to get things done due to the travel demands of entertainers. Also, through attrition the size and composition of the board changes, which can create even more challenges.
Last summer, two members of the board who were frustrated with the direction of The Cast had suggested that maybe we should just fold our tent. When put to a vote at a general membership meeting, an overwhelming majority of the general members and board members wanted to "keep it going." How many people voted? How many people even attend CAST meetings these days?
A lead voice from the faction that wanted to forge ahead and make The Cast successful was Tony Sacca, a board member. He, along with the remaining members of The Cast decided to "regroup", replace some vacancies on the board and start anew. The "remaining members"? How many "remaining members" are there?
"SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE" We didn't know about the Sex and Video Tape.
We would like now to put to rest some of the rumors that have been circulating over the past two months:
We feel it is our responsibility to keep an open line of communication with members, the public and the press. We are a transparent organization. We have always been willing to answer any reasonable questions people may have.
Our efforts to remain transparent however, should not get us bogged down with answering an unending onslaught of rumors, half-truths and invective. This would only undermine our efforts to help the people we set out to help.
We realize that as The Cast has been going through some changes that we could have done a better job of communicating. This letter is the start of a bigger effort by us to better communicate with people in our community. Let us start by dealing with the rumors.
Below is a paraphrasing of some of the most prevalent rumors that have been persistently circulating, followed by our response:
Rumor # 1 Tony Sacca is controlling The Cast, is in charge of all of its money and has become the "Caesar Chavez" of The Cast. He has consolidated his power and is using The Cast to advance his own personal ambitions, including getting a star on the "Walk of Stars" Tony Sacca is both President AND Treasurer of the CAST. Does that concern anyone other than us?
Fact: Tony Sacca is one of six members currently on The Cast's Board of Directors. He gets one vote on all issues regarding The Cast. All matters that concern The Cast are decided by a majority vote of the Board of Directors.
Before Tony Sacca even was nominated to be on the Board of The Cast, he had been notified of his selection for a star on the "Walk of Stars". His "selection" for a Star? Just about anyone who can come up with the $15,000 can buy a Star on the Las Vegas Strip.
Tony Sacca has worked very hard, taking many hours out of his personal and business commitments to help The Cast.
Rumor # 2 The bank account of The Cast has been drained to almost nothing so that Tony Sacca can purchase his star on "The Walk of Stars" Who said that?
Fact: This rumor is so absurd that we don't know where to start. The cast has never, nor would it ever, allocate any of its funds toward the purchase of a star on "The Walk of Stars for anyone. The Cast is in good shape, financially and is working toward developing strategies to substantially increase its wealth so we can help others.
Rumor # 3 We broke from the goals of The Cast by helping Dave Swann because he is not a member of The Cast. Who said that?
Fact: While our organization certainly likes to help its members, when in need, we have never required a recipient be a member ï¿½ only that they be an entertainer in the Las Vegas community. In fact, we have helped several non-members in the past
Rumor # 4 The Cast was unwilling to allow people to make out checks directly to Dave Swan at his fundraiser and we were suspiciously slow in giving him his check, giving people cause for concern about our honest or ethics.
Fact: It is almost breathtaking that people mistakenly think it is customary at such events to make out a check directly to the recipient. It is always standard and customary for the sponsoring charity to require that all checks be made out to the charity with a single check being issued to the beneficiary by the charity...once all the income has been received and cleared in the bank. There are several good reasons this is done. In the days of the "original" CAST, there was a container available for contributions, much of it filled with cash. That money was not converted to a check. Why should it be? It was given to the recipient of the benefit, then and there.
In the case of Dave Swan, we needed time to receive all the checks, wait for them to clear, including donations made through PayPal. Once everything cleared, arrangements were made for Dave to pick up the check. Unfortunately, our giving was further delayed when he became suddenly very ill and had to be rushed by ambulance to the hospital. What about cash donations? Why was Mr. Swan expected to pick up the check? Why didn't the "caring" members of The CAST offer to bring the money to him? Mr. Swan has very serious health issues. Exactly how much money was raised through this event?
RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE CAST
We feel strongly about the mission of The Cast. We wanted to continue and build on its good works...and take it to a higher level. We also felt a responsibility to those who had stuck with us and whom had invested in membership dues and expectations for the future.
Since this renewed effort, we have had countless meetings, worked on setting up a more systematic approach to the business of The Cast. We have hired an accountant to help us set up a better bookkeeping/accounting system so that The Cast will have the necessary foundation to grow. We have had very successful general membership meetings at Josette's Bistro, where we brought in many new members. Did the CAST members vote to hold their general meetings at Josette's?
We attended a fundraising event for Kirk Arthur at the Cannery Casino and The Cast donated $500.
We had a fundraiser at the Imperial Palace for Dave Swan, which was very successful on a few levels:
1. We helped raise money and gave Dave a check for $2,000 to assist him in paying his very substantial medical bills.
2. We created an opportunity for friends and family and fans of Dave's to recognize and honor his lifetime of performance in Las Vegas.
3. We believe this event also provided The Cast with a platform that helped to create awareness about The Cast.
Our current board of directors is serious about building The Cast. We are determined to do more for entertainers in need. We believe in the goals of this organization and it is our intent to sponsor more events in 2008, including a major gala event. We will continue to reach out to the Las Vegas community to build our membership, to raise money through the generosity of individuals and local businesses so that we may help entertainers in need.
The Cast is currently a Las Vegas non-profit corporation and is working toward obtaining 501(c)3 federal non-profit status. This organization is more than five years old. Why are they just now seeking 501(c)3?
There are other issues we would like to discuss with you in the coming weeks - issues that matter to all of us. So we will be writing a series of letters to continue the dialogue. We want to answer legitimate questions raised by truly concerned people in our community as opposed to getting drawn into the swamp of innuendo.
No one in our organization should become a piï¿½ata for persons who have a personal gripe, personality conflict or other malediction. Unfounded accusations are hurtful to the individuals they target and counterproductive to the worthwhile goals of this organization.
All of the rumors were started and circulated by people who did not have access to the facts: they weren't at any of the board meetings, they weren't privy to our internal discussions, phone calls or emails and, unless they are mind readers, couldn't possibly have known our thoughts.
Although there is a reason people sometimes say "Where there's smoke, there's fire", in this case, every single rumor has not stood up to scrutiny...and the facts.
The Cast Board is comprised of good people who work, gratis, toward the commendable goal of helping others. Not one single member gives of his time for purposes of monetary gain or self-aggrandizement or some other "hidden agenda".
We were astounded at the almost exponential swell of rumors that developed without one single person calling a board member, first, for clarification; rumors that were subsequently published in internet columns. Once published, rumors tend to take on an air of legitimacy. We spoke to a number of former board members. Why are so many of them "former" board members?
We ask that in the future, if you hear something that concerns you or if you have a question about The Cast, you please contact a board member to get the facts. We are a community service organization whose policy is to maintain transparency and accessibility.
We look forward to the opportunity to clarify or answer questions and to recruit your help in assisting The Cast attain its goal of helping others.
The Board of Directors
P.S. We invite you to attend our general members meeting on January 12 at Josette's Bistro.
Meet the board of directors, bring a new member, become a member and be a part of a great organization, more to follow.
For more Information call 702-877 CAST (2278) More than one of us has attempted to call this number. No answer by a human OR an answering device.
Here are a couple of reader responses to this letter...
THE PROCTORS COMMENT ON THE CAST POSITION LETTER
I (Carolyn Proctor) have previously taken a position of not getting involved in CAST issues and gossip, but since I'm still on the e-list, I feel compelled to respond to this "Cast Position Letter."
YOU (WHOEVER YOU ARE) WROTE: The Cast was founded over 5 years ago by veteran Las Vegas entertainers.
WHAT ARE THE NAMES OF THESE 'VETERAN ENTERTAINERS?' WHY DO YOU NOT NAME THEM AND THUS GIVE CREDIT WHERE DUE?
YOU WROTE: In the case of Dave Swan, we needed time to receive all the checks, wait for them to clear, including donations made through PayPal. Once everything cleared, arrangements were made for Dave to pick up the check. AND: We helped raise money and gave Dave a check for $2,000 to assist him in paying his very substantial medical bills.
CURIOUS THAT ALL OF THE DONATIONS TO DAVE SWAN TOTALED EXACTLY $2,000. WHEN MANY DONATION AMOUNTS ARE ADDED, WE BELIEVE IT TO BE HIGHLY UNLIKELY THEY WILL TOTAL AN EXACT FOUR FIGURES SUCH AS THIS.
YOU WROTE: We have hired an accountant to help us set up a better bookkeeping/accounting system so that The Cast will have the necessary foundation to grow.
SO, WHO IS THE ACCOUNTANT? THIS LETTER WOULD HAVE MUCH MORE CREDIBILITY IF YOU WOULD NAME HIM.
YOU WROTE: Our current board of directors is serious about building The Cast. AND The Cast Board is comprised of good people who work, gratis, toward the commendable goal of helping others. Not one single member gives of his time for purposes of monetary gain or self-aggrandizement or some other "hidden agenda".
SO, WHO ARE THESE 'GOOD PEOPLE?'
YOU WROTE: We are a community service organization whose policy is to maintain transparency and accessibility.
NOWHERE IN THIS LETTER DO YOU SAY WHO IS ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS. HOW DOES THIS CONTRIBUTE TO 'TRANSPARENCY AND ACCESSIBILITY?' GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE IS NOT SELF-AGGRANDIZEMENT. LISTING YOUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS BY NAME AND POSITION SHOWS LEGITIMATE BUSINESS ORGANIZATION AND ACCOUNTABILITY.
OR, DO YOU AVOID NOT LISTING THEM TO AVOID ADDRESSING THE RUMOR THAT TONY SACCA CURRENTLY SERVES AS BOTH PRESIDENT AND TREASURER? SOMETHING WE ARE NOT SURE IS LEGAL.
YOU WROTE: The Cast is currently a Las Vegas non-profit corporation and is working toward obtaining 501(c)3 federal non-profit status.
YOU HAVE CONTRADICTED YOURSELF. YOU CANNOT CALL YOURSELF A NON-PROFIT CORPORATION IF YOU HAVE NOT OBTAINED 501(c )3 FEDERAL NON-PROFIT STATUS. "WORKING TOWARD OBTAINING..." DOESN'T COUNT. I.E. YOU ARE PREGNANT, OR YOU'RE NOT PREGNANT.
I HAVE SERVED ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF SEVERAL NON-PROFIT CORPORATIONS, INCLUDING THE NATIONAL RED CROSS, SO I HAVE SOME EXPERIENCE WITH THE ISSUE OF NON-PROFIT STATUS. THIS USUALLY TAKES ABOUT A YEAR TO ACCOMPLISH, WHICH RAISES THE QUESTION: IF THE CAST IS 5 YEARS OLD, WHAT'S THE HOLD-UP?
YOU WROTE: For more Information call 702-877 CAST (2278)
I DIALED THIS NUMBER 5 TIMES FROM ONE PHONE AND TWICE FROM A SECOND PHONE AND COULD NOT GET EVEN A RING TONE. THIS NUMBER, WHEN DIALED, GOES INTO AN AUTOMATIC DISCONNECT.
All of my comments here comprise the reasons why neither I nor my husband, Cork Proctor, is involved with the cast.
Las Vegas, NV
And here's another one...
Who are you, and WHY are you sending ME this shit? I have NO interest in the CAST since it is being administrated by a certifiable moron. It's interesting to me that they are trying to protect their ass by sending out this noncommittal piece of crap. They should be putting together a memorial piece for Sweet Louie, but no, it's "Spin" time.
For those that have no interest in the subject of The CAST, we apologize for taking up so much space, week after week, regarding this mess. We will continue to cover the topic until it is repaired...or gone.
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
Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye