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 July 15, 2011
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - July 15, 2011

Coming to Alexis Park

John Byner

We are more than pleased to report that tickets for the Las Vegas edition of Jim Caruso's Cast Party are now available. The wildly popular open mic and Manhattan mainstay, makes its Las Vegas debut at the Alexis Park Resort, with two nights (and early mornings) of entertainment, Wednesday, August 24th and Thursday the 25th. Jim Caruso's Cast Party has been bringing a sprinkling of Broadway glitz and urbane wit to Manhattan's legendary Birdland every Monday night for the past eight years. Now, host Jim Caruso and music genius Billy Stritch take their show on the road to celebrate the extraordinary local talent in The Entertainment Capital of the World. A mix of music, impromptu performance and cocktail party revelry, Vegas showbiz superstars, stunning jazz talents and cabaret glitterati will hit the stage, alongside up-and-comers, to serve up jaw-dropping music and general razzle-dazzle. It'll be the ultimate spot to mix and mingle with talented show folk and their fans. The buoyant, sharp and charming Caruso guides the entire affair like a bubbly cruise director, while musical director Stritch holds court at the ivories and the audience is invited to participate in the festivities! It's what would happen if, somehow, David Letterman and Ed Sullivan threw a hip house party around the piano. No two nights are ever the same. Broadway at Birdland performance alumni include, among many, many others, Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Martin Short, Christine Ebersole, Jason Robert Brown, Julia Murney, Tom Wopat, Maureen McGovern, Jeff Daniels, Sally Mayes, Barry Manilow, Linda Lavin, Charles Busch, Susan Egan, Donnie Osmond, Dave Koz, Andrea McArdle, Steve Martin, Christine Pedi, Billy Stritch, Euan Morton, Lucie Arnaz, Debbie Gravitte, Melissa Errico, Jason Graae, Cady Huffman, Ron Abel, Laura Bell Bundy, Klea Blackhurst, Sam Harris, Michele Lee, Shoshana Bean, Brent Barrett, The Broadway Boys, the cast of Glee, and stars from the Broadway stage, records, cabaret, concerts, film and television. Many Las Vegas celebrities are expected to participate. Jim Caruso has several artists in local shows who have performed at Cast Party in New York, including members of The Lion King, Jersey Boys, Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, Jubilee! and Viva Elvis. In Las Vegas, doors open at 9 p.m. and show time starts at 10 on both nights. Ticket holders may arrive at any time. The room will remain open until 2 a.m.

For cast members of Vegas production shows, it's not important to be there at 10:15 since the party is ALL night long, lasting more than thee hours. Late supper is available, and there is full cocktail service. Parking is free. Cast Party is the first in a series of special events in the 200-seat Athena Room, off the lobby at the Alexis Park Resort. Alexis Park is located at 375 East Harmon Avenue, south of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Advance tickets are $35, with VIP tickets at $40. Claire Voyant is offering members of the show biz community a special Cast Discount price of $25 a ticket, limit two per person. This Cast Members code, showbiz08, MUST be used when ordering tickets. Order early because there are only a limited number available for each night. You can get tickets via the Internet at, or by telephone at the 24/7 Ticket Hotline, 1-800-838-3006, 24/7. All major credit cards are accepted.

Professional entertainers (this is not a gong show or the early auditions for American Idol or America's Got Talent) are invited to participate. Singers, comics, variety artists are welcome (bring music). All types of music is welcome - show tunes, pop, standards, comedy, country, jazz, classical, blues, John Phillip Sousa and R&B (especially R&B). Billy Stritch will accompany all. However, if a singer or entertainer wants to bring his own accompanist, that's fine (Billy can use the break). Top quality sound with a professional audio engineer is provided, along with stage lighting. For those who wish to bring additional instrumentalists that require setup, it must be done prior to 9:45 p.m. In this instance, it is best if they e-mail [email protected] in advance. Open mic participants should arrive early (9 p.m.) to sign up for the night. Cast Party Las Vegas is a Dennis Ritz Presents event. Cast Party is not JUST a show, but America's favorite open mic experience.
And, if you happen to be in NYC on a Monday night, the fun starts at Birdland, 315 West 44th Street (between 8th and 9th) beginning at 9:30 p.m. Call (212) 581-3080

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We are delighted to see some, too long absent from Las Vegas marquees, familiar names performing around here again. In recent weeks, the Riviera has had Rich Little and the Supreme Mary Wilson in the hotel's newly renamed Starlite Theatre (formerly the home of An Evening at La Cage). The still beautiful Connie Stevens and the still funny impressionist John Byner wind up their two week engagement in the Riviera's Starlite Theatre on Sunday night. They are followed by Gary Lewis & The Playboys, with special guest Dennis Tufano, the original lead singer of The Buckinghams who open on Wednesday.

Mitzi Gaynor

Renee Taylor & Joe Bologna

We are REALLY excited to learn that the legendary Mitzi Gaynor, will be returning to Las Vegas for an engagement at The Orleans. It was in 1961, that Mitzi made her nightclub debut in this city. An instant sensation, she smashed all records at the famed Flamingo Hotel where each night more than a thousand customers were turned away. LIFE magazine noted "Mitzi fractures Las Vegas...she began at the top and climbed even higher," and The Hollywood Reporter proclaimed her "flawless and devastating." Great success followed in each city where she appeared, from Miami Beach to Philadelphia, to Reno and Lake Tahoe. For the next four decades, Mitzi would perform a new show each year and tour the U.S. and Canada with a high-energy concert act that would solidify her reputation as one of the greatest live performers of the era. Showtimes are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 14th through 16th, at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $49.95 plus taxes and convenience fees. Call The Orleans box office at (702) 365-7075, or (888) 365-7111. You can also purchase tickets at the box office, Sundays through Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays, from noon to 10 p.m.

And the Suncoast will be presenting Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna in Lovers and Other Strangers, August 13th and 14th; and "The Man Who Can Make Anything Talk," amazing ventriloquist, Ronn Lucas, on the 27th and 28th. Tickets for both shows start at $15.95 plus taxes and fees, and may be purchased by calling (702) 636-7075 or (877) 636-7111, or at the Suncoast Box Office, open daily from noon to 8 p.m.

Ronn Lucas & Friends

Greg Kata

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"God knows we all could use a laugh!" Based on that thinking, and because we all NEED a laugh (or many laughs), we will continue to remind readers about Keith Thompson's Kooky Tunes (in Konzert!). Presented by the Performing Arts Society of Nevada Brown Bag Concerts, this fun revue will take place on Sunday afternoon, July 24th at 2, in the Clark County Library Theater, 1401 E. Flamingo at Maryland Parkway. Featuring the comedy/novelty songs of Keith Thompson, musical director for Jersey Boys, Kooky Tunes is rated PG13 (not a kid's show). In addition to Thompson, the show features the extraordinary musical and comedic talents of Jason Andino, Christine Hudman, Greg Kata, Renata Micatrotto, Vicki Van Tassel and Jay Rogers. Tickets are $15 at the door, or call (702) 658-6741 for reservations or advance purchase. You can also e-mail to [email protected] Dr. Claire Voyant recommends Kooky Tunes in lieu of an apple, medicine or a nap. You can thank us later.

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From Andrew Wright comes this news. On Tuesdays, July 19th and 26th, and August 2nd, at 8 p.m., RagTag Entertainment will present Side by Side by Sondheim in the Ovation Room at Green Valley Ranch. Done cabaret style, the program will feature Kara von Aschwege, Francesca Camus, and Michael Strelo Smith, with Tony Lasorsa on piano and serving as Musical Director. On additional Tuesdays in August - the 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th - RagTag will present The Who's Tommy in Concert. Cast members are Jason Andino as "Tommy;" Brandon Nix as "Captain Walker;" Sandra Huntsman as "Mrs. Walker;" Gus Langely as "Uncle Ernie;" Aaron Coulson as "Cousin Kevin;" Lisa Marie Smith as "Sally Simpson;" Melanie Radan as four-year-old Tommy;" and Jessica Ruettiger as 10-year-old Tommy. The ensemble is made up of Dustin Dubreuil, Lance Bryant, David Tarr, Alejandro Mendoza, Elizabeth Matthews, and Jacqueline Melendez. We will have more details about the August shows, as well as other upcoming RagTag projects. Tickets are $15, with proceeds benefiting Golden Rainbow. To purchase, call Green Valley Ranch at (702) 617-7777, and ask for the Rewards Center.

Sandra Huntsman

Jaymie Valentine

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Bishop Gorman graduate, Jaymie Valentine, wrote and sang some the music (including that used while the final credits rolled) for, Born Bad, a Lifetime movie starring Michael Welch, who portrays "Mike Newton" in the popular Twilight film series. The psychological thriller aired on Monday night, July 11th, at 8 p.m. (in Las Vegas). The talented singer, songwriter, producer and model, is the creative force behind the Cindergarden band. Recordings are available.

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In a July 9th article by Danny R. Johnson from the San Diego County News, comes this review. The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas has the BEST Jazz Lounge on the Vegas Strip
San Diego County News was tipped off by fellow reporters who work for the New York Times that we should check out the Mandarin Bar, which is located on the 23rd floor of the newly opened Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas. To be fair and objective, San Diego County News conducted an extensive on-site review of all the major casinos and resorts on the Vegas Strip to determine which establishment could live up to the title of "Best Jazz Lounge" on the Vegas Strip. We have concluded that The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas-Mandarin Bar Jazz Lounge is the undisputed winner! The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas is located in the CityCenter, which is the heart of Las Vegas Boulevard and is the newest addition to the thriving and vivacious Vegas Strip. The Mandarin Bar, located on the 23rd floor of the hotel, houses the most elegant and best kept secret on the Vegas Strip - the fabulous jazz lounge! All you jazz fans can relax and listen to some of the best jazz groups Vegas has to offer in a quiet non-smoking environment. On this particular Wednesday evening, the Brian Czach Jazz Trio, which consists of bandleader and drummer, Brian Czach, with Dave Marinelli on piano/keyboards, Fred Watstein on acoustic bass, and an exceptional guest vocalist, Pascale Elia, provided the audience with an array of beautifully arranged melodies of jazz classics such as Gershwin's "Summertime," and a jazzy rendition of Norah Jones' Grammy award winning song, "I Don't Know Why." The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas hit a home run when it booked the Brian Czach Jazz Trio to perform in the Mandarin Bar Jazz Lounge. The group has an expansive repertoire, which includes jazz, bebop, pop, and modern music, as well as original compositions. Observing these musicians play in their natural element was nothing short of fascinating and rhythmical outrageous! These cats are old school jazz performers whose timing and tonal articulation is superb. Pascale Elia is one impressive jazz stylist who has an incredible phrasing and precise timing technique often found in older jazz singers. She is instantly recognizable, blending shades of Brazilian and Cuban sultry without sounding like anyone else but herself. Any way you slice it, Pascale Elia is a singer to be reckoned with. Her reading of Norah Jones' "I Don't Know Why," was exquisite and charming - her voice provided depth and passion to the song, which only a seasoned songstress can deliver. Brian, Dave, and Fred provided graceful and smooth accompaniment, which shows why the group is a sensation whenever it performs.
Enjoy the live jazz at its finest, while enjoying a perfectly mixed cocktail and taking in the gorgeous views of the Las Vegas Strip. The Brian Czach Trio plays at the Mandarin Bar in the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, located next to the new CityCenter, every Wednesday evening from 7 to 11p.m.

Brian Czach Trio

Chefs Michael & Wendy Jordan

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Hash House A Go Go is on the go go. The popular restaurant will open its fifth Nevada location at the newly renovated downtown Plaza Hotel on September 1st. In Las Vegas, the original free-standing establishment is at 6800 W. Sahara (just east of Rainbow), with the second eatery inside the Imperial Palace Hotel, and the third at the south South Las Vegas Blvd. M Resort (offering, in addition to the "twisted farm food," a spectacular view of the Vegas Valley). In May, Reno got its first Hash House A Go Go when the first Northern Nevada location opened inside Harrah's.

And speaking of local dining establishments...
We aren't sure of the reason, but on Wednesday, with no advance notice, Rosemary's Restaurant, a locals favorite, closed up after 12 years of service. The restaurant's Web site already has been taken down. Owned by chefs Michael and Wendy Jordan, Rosemary's, located at 8125 W. Sahara Ave., opened in May 1999. The popular restaurant has received five-star ratings on numerous restaurant review websites. Sadly, Rosemary's isn't the first longtime Las Vegas dining establishment to close up in recent months. John Hosier's Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens Italian eatery, in the dying Liberace Plaza on East Tropicana, ended its run on July 3rd, and The Tillerman, on East Flamingo, closed recently, after 31 years of operation. We have heard nothing about the future business plans for the Jordans. Hosier has space inside the Bounty Hunter on West Tropicana at Hualapai, and has plans to open a Carluccio's branch in the southeast part of the city. Check out the new locations.

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Retired casino executive, Fred Sikorski, passed away in Arizona on May 28th, at the age of 80. Fred was born in Arkansas, April 2nd, 1931. He resided in Nevada for many years, during which time he was associated with a number of Las Vegas properties. Before retiring to Arizona, his last local position was as General Manager at the Paddlewheel. Sikorski served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He is survived by his daughter, Sheri Sikorski; stepdaughter, Kim Mierzwiak; granddaughters, Krystal Shen, Desiree Hennig, Myka Hancock, Megan Mierzwiak and Julie Mierzwiak; and nine great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Leonard Sikorski. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, July 16th, at Palm Mortuary, 7400 W. Cheyenne Ave. in Las Vegas.

A little Vegas trivia...Located at 305 Convention Drive, the Paddlewheel, owned by New York's Horn & Hardart (the originator of the Automat), closed in 1991. It was originally the Royal Inn. During other incarnations, it has been the Royal Americana, Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel, was briefly owned by the World Wrestling Federation, became the Greek Isles and is now the Clarion.

Jackie Vernon

Sig Sakowicz

We can't hear the word "Automat" without remembering the late deadpan comic, Jackie Vernon. "To look at me, you'd never guess I used to be a dull guy," Vernon would say in his droning, monotone voice. "At parties, I stayed in the room with the coats." It was Vernon who sadly reported the death of his uncle (or someone), "Who was eating a piece of cherry pie at the Automat, when the little glass door snapped closed and broke his neck." Some years ago (probably in the mid-1980s), the late actress, Kathryn Grayson was scheduled to appear at the Dunes, where she was to co-star with a Mario Lanza-style singer (cannot remember his name). For unknown reasons, she never did that engagement. Instead, comic Jackie Vernon shared the bill with the male singer. It was Jackie Vernon who frequently threw the name Sig Sakowicz into his standup routines. Much like Jimmy Durante had "Mrs. Calabash," and Rodney Dangerfield had "Dr. Vinnie Boombatz," whenever Vernon needed a funny name, he would use "Sig Sakowicz." Until we moved to Las Vegas, we had no idea that there really was a Sig Sakowicz. A former Chicago radio, and later TV, personality, Sakowicz came to Las Vegas in the early '70s. In 1972, he ran for the highest office in the land, with a campaign slogan stating, "Vote for Sig Sakowicz for President. What have you got to lose?" Jackie Vernon died in 1987 at 63. Sig Sakowicz died in 2004 at the age of 80.

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Horn & Hardart Automat

Chazz Reunited

On Wednesday night, friends turned out at Ichabod's to bid farewell to entertainer Diane Ellis. There was about four hours of music, memories, munchies, along with a few tears, at the East Flamingo restaurant, bar and lounge. It was nice to see a lot of familiar faces turn out to bid this nice and talented lady farewell (at least for now). Among those attending the event, were Diane's former Chazz bandmates, Danny Calico (Colica), Corky DiFini (who brought a decorated-for-the-occasion sheet cake for the guests to enjoy) and Joey Lomello. The quartet earned a standing ovation for some musical examples, showing what kept the group working together for a number of years. Also in the crowd were Judy Collins Alexander, Tish Amador, Kathryn Arianoff, Mark Barrett, Regi Brown, Mike Christ, Kelly Clinton (hubby Clint Holmes was in New York), Jaye, Matthew and Christina Colica, Dolly Coulter, Brenda Cowart (her musician husband, Steven Lee, was in Toronto working with Donny and Marie), Bill DeLoach, Ina Jo and Lisa Donovan, Dan Ellis, Jackie Gilbert, Nancy Gregory, Renee Hale, Rod Henley, Lynda Israel, Marilyn Kaye James, Michelle Johnson, Dr. Wilfred Krom, Freddie Lichter, Frank Malvone, Greg Medoro, Karin Miller, Michelle Rohl, Bob Sachs, Janice Sands, Robyn Lewis St. Romain, Paul Stevenson (who duetted with Diane on "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?") and wife Mary, Katrina Sumner, John Tomasula, Mike Tramonta, and Ella Woods. On Thursday night, Diane was on a plane back to Boston, where her family resides, after 32 years of living and working in Las Vegas. A lot of people around here are going to miss Diane Ellis. Count Cousin Claire among them.
Chazz Reunited photo (from left to right: Danny Calico, Diane Ellis, Corky DiFini and Joey Lomello) by Mike Christ.

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The July luncheon meeting of the Las Vegas Media Group will be held at the historic Railroad Pass Hotel Casino on Monday, July 18th. The Railroad Pass, which will celebrate its 80th anniversary on August 1st, is the oldest licensed, continuously operating gaming establishment in the United States. Curt Thompson, Director of Operations at the property, will give a 20 to 30 minute presentation on the history of the Railroad Pass, followed by a tour of the Heritage Room Museum. The Heritage Museum, displaying photos and memorabilia dating back to 1931, is located inside the Railroad Pass. It is open 24/7, and the public is invited to enjoy the exhibition free of charge. Everybody in attendance at Monday's Media Group luncheon will receive a special commemorative gift to mark the occasion. Lunch is $15 per person, plus a $1 (minimum) tip for the hard-working server. It should be a fun and fascinating meeting. Anyone may attend, but RSVP's are required (e-mail Lisa at [email protected]). The location of the Railroad Pass Hotel Casino is 2800 S. Boulder Highway, in Henderson. Lunch will take place in the delightful Conductor's Room, opened early on Monday just for this special occasion.

Railroad Pass Hotel Casino

Rex Bell Jr.

And speaking of the Las Vegas Media Group, we are sad to report the death of recent guest speaker, former Clark County district attorney, Rex Bell Jr. Bell, who had been battling cancer, died on July 9th at the age of 76. His parents were one-time lieutenant governor and cowboy actor, Rex Bell Sr., and silent film legend, Clara Bow. He grew up on his parents' Walking Box ranch some 65 miles south of Las Vegas. While Bell took roles in two Westerns movies after college, he found his true calling in the law. He was elected a Las Vegas justice of the peace in 1972 and Clark County district attorney in 1986. Former Nevada Governor, Bob Miller, said that Bell never lost a case as a deputy district attorney because opposing lawyers underestimated him and his slow Western drawl. "He was a special person," said District Attorney David Roger, who was hired by Bell in 1987. "Rex loved people and in return, everyone loved him. I couldn't identify a single person who was Rex Bell's enemy. He didn't have any." Former Mayor Oscar Goodman knew Bell when Goodman was a prominent criminal defense attorney. "As D.A,, Rex's word was his bond," said Goodman. But it wasn't until Goodman was elected mayor that he saw Bell in a different light. Goodman said Bell routinely represented citizens of modest means in front of the city council when they clearly couldn't afford an attorney. "The Rex I appreciated was the Rex who appeared before the council basically as a pro bono attorney," said Goodman. "He went to bat for them as if they were paying him a million dollars. "He really took care of the little guys. His father was a handsome movie star, his mother was a world class beauty, but he never pulled rank based on his genes." Bell attended Notre Dame from 1953 to 1955 and remained a lifelong fan of the Fighting Irish sports teams. He transferred to the University of Nevada, Reno, where he graduated in 1957. He earned his law degree in 1963 from the Willamette Law School in Oregon. He began his legal career in 1969 as a Clark County deputy district attorney. He served as counsel to the Clark County Sheriff's Office while Miller was counsel for the City of Las Vegas Police Department. The two lawyers helped the departments merge into the Metropolitan Police Department. A celebration of Rex Bell Jr's life will be held on Saturday, July 23rd, from noon to 3 p.m. in the South Point Hotel Casino showroom. Hotel owner, Michael Gaughan, will host. In lieu of flowers, Bell's family requests donations to Standing Tall, C/O Father John Smythe, 1100 N. River Road, Des Planes, IL 60016; or Flagstaff Mission to the Navajos, P.O. Box AA, Flagstaff, AZ 86002; or Salvation Army, P.O. Box 28369, Las Vegas, NV 89126, instead.

"I know I speak for the Media Group when I extend our deepest condolences to Rex Bell's family," stated Lisa Gioia-Acres. "I am so glad we got a chance to have him at our meeting recently. I have a DVD of his presentation, so his talk and great stories will be with us forever." For more information about the group, call Lisa at (702) 245-9206.

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We are sad to report the death of longtime Las Vegas maitre d', Rudy Guerrero. Guerrero passed away on July 7th at the age of 80. The Los Angeles-born gentleman oversaw the Riviera showroom for nearly 40 years, before retiring in 1994. Services for Rudy Guerrero were held at Palm Mortuary, 1325 N. Main Street, earlier today.

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From Dick Feeney (with three you-know-whats), producer of the Rat Pack Is Back! at the Rio, comes this note regarding the musicians who backed up Michelle Johnson for her terrific one- woman July 5th performance, An Independent Woman, in the Ovation Room at Green Valley Ranch. According to Feeney, we got it "ass-backwards." Since the confusion involved Rat Pack music men, we will consider Feeney to be an expert on this subject. It was Adam Hoffman on baritone sax, and Bill King on trumpet, both members of the 12-piece Rat Pack Is Back! orchestra, and Jeff Davis, from Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show, on bass. Thanks Dick, and sorry fellows.

And speaking of the Rat Pack...
We don't know if it's temporary or permanent, but we understand that the Riviera box office is no longer selling tickets to Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show. Is the departure due to problems with the musicians union, or is it something else? Hopefully, by next Friday, we will know more.

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First Lady Betty Ford

Bart Williams

Regarding the recent passing of former First Lady Betty Ford, our actor friend, Bart Williams, sent us this information...
This was a wonderful lady! I am very saddened that she has passed. I had the great good luck to have gotten to know her while working at The Palm Springs Center Theatre. I had acted there, but was later hired to do their Public Relations, and about 80 other jobs. We often had party gatherings to promote the theatre in the press, and also Opening Night gatherings, etc. These always involved all the celebrities that had homes there, and of course the Theatre Board of Directors, of which Betty Ford was the President. Those were both Betty and Bart's drinking years. She was always the last guest to leave the party, and we had many laughs together. Her Cadillac sedan was always allowed to be parked right out front, with the permission of the Police. She always traveled with an F.B.I. "Driver", who escorted her whenever she attended a Theatre event. I was told that President Ford did come to some events, but I never saw him at any. Just Betty, and her "Driver" who I think was named Doug. This was an era where everyone still drank pretty hard, and smoked. When Betty Ford wanted a cigarette, she knew that she could always bum a Marlboro-Gold from me. She said that she was not allowed to smoke in front of her children, because she told them she had quit. Mary Martin was involved with the Theatre there at that time too. Mary could nurse one drink all night long, and definitely did not smoke. She would walk over to me and snatch a cigarette out of my hand, and say "Buster Brown, you're too young to smoke!" She never snatched one out of Betty's hand, but she disapproved. I still remember sitting at a small cocktail table with Betty Ford and Mary Martin and her Manager/ Companion "Uncle Ben Washer", with "Doug" the F.B.I. escort hovering close by, but never intruding, and thinking..."Am I dreaming??...or am I really sitting here and laughing with the former First Lady of Washington D.C. and the First Lady of Broadway....and they are actually listening to what I have to say". AMAZING! A touch of enchantment in my life. Betty's exit was always the same. Doug would open the backseat door, Betty would hug goodnight, and then take a well aimed dive across the seat, and he would close the door with her laying down across the back, waving "bye-bye" and they would drive off. She always knew exactly what she was doing. Betty knew that she was drunk, and she knew that this was a funny sight-gag. A real nice woman, who, like Mary Martin, was as comfortable as an old shoe.

Bart also passed along news of the death of singer Jimmy Roselli on June 30th. Roselli died at his Venice Beach, Florida, home as the result of heart complications. He was 85. A native of Hoboken, New Jersey, Roselli started singing at age nine in local saloons and restaurants and, like Frank Sinatra, who was also from Hoboken, his break came when he won the Major Bowes Amateur Hour radio talent show at the age of 13. In 1946, when he worked the same bill as Jimmy Durante in Boston, Durante was so impressed with Roselli's singing talent that he invited him to share his suite for the duration of the engagement. Durante also convinced the management to double the $300 salary that Roselli was getting and made certain that he phoned his wife every day. After that, the Roselli career was strictly on the upswing. Roselli was known as a significant Italian-American pop singer of his time - this during an era of pretty steep competition from other crooners like Perry Como, Frankie Laine, Dean Martin, Al Martino, Sinatra, and Jerry Vale. Roselli's natural tenor was perfect for the old songs of Naples, and he was one of the few artists to popularize Neapolitan music stateside. His biggest pop hit was 1964's "There Must Be A Way," originally recorded by Joni James. It reached No. 93 on the pop charts. Another hit came a year later with "Mala Femmena" which peaked at No. 43 on the Easy Listening charts. His rendition of "When Your Old Wedding Ring Was New," twice appeared in the UK Singles Chart. It peaked at No. 51 in 1983 and in 1987 at No. 52. A record contract with United Artists was signed and during its duration produced over 35 best selling albums. Capacity crowds at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, and on May 2, 1969, Roselli along with comedian Pat Cooper premiered in their two man show at Broadway's Palace Theatre, New York, for an exciting two week engagement with standing room only signs every evening. Sell out houses each year at the Westbury (LI) Music Fair, followed by three appearances on the Ed Sullivan television show, seven record breaking years at the Copacabana in New York. Jimmy is the only artist to do two engagements in the same year at the Copa. His Carnegie Hall concert broke all records for a Monday night. A book in the late 1990s, entitled Making The Wiseguys Weep: The Jimmy Roselli Story, was published by David Evanier who also published a book on the life of Bobby Darin - Roman Candle: The Life of Bobby Darin. Plans to make a movie based on Making the Wiseguys Weep, starring John Travolta, never came to pass. Roselli retired in 2004. He is survived by wife, Donna, daughter Anne and a grandson, Michael Bernstein. A Funeral Mass was held Tuesday, July 5th, at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Hoboken. The family requests in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the American Heart Association, 7272 Greenville Ave. Dallas, TX 75231.

Jimmy Roselli

Dennis & Alice Best Jackson

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Spiritual mediums, Dennis Jackson and Alice Best Jackson, will bring their Messages from Beyond to the Suncoast Showroom, Saturday, July 23rd at 2 p.m. This unique afternoon event will provide insight on relationships, spirituality, dream analysis and developing intuitive pathways. As twin spiritual mediums, Jackson and Best Jackson will work with audience members to help them tap into their own psychic abilities, giving them the tools to recognize and solve personal issues. The duo will share insights and messages passed through them from the other side to audience members. Jackson has received international acclaim as a spiritual medium and is able to connect with people and pets. His readings have brought meaning and comfort to those who have lost loved ones. Best Jackson is the author and creator of Intuitive Spirit Art Designs, a method of automatic drawing used during private readings and Messages from Beyond events. Jackson and Best Jackson have authored two books, Together Again: Twin Souls Reunite in Love and Life, and the upcoming Life is an Illusion: Loving Messages from Beyond. The event is being filmed and documented for a television pilot for WE-TV, and audience members may have an opportunity to be on camera.
Tickets are available for $20, plus tax and convenience fees, and can be purchased at any Coast Casinos Box Office, by calling (702) 636-7075, or by visiting

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Beat the heat with cool comedy from the Las Vegas Improvisation Players. The troupe will perform a new show at the American Heritage Academy on Saturday, July 23rd at 7 p.m. Forget all the talk about the heat. The forecast calls for a 100% chance of laughter, music and fun when the Players perform. As one of the area's longest running improv troupes, the Las Vegas Improvisation Players have provided quick-witted, spur-of-the-moment comedy to thousands of Las Vegas Valley residents over the years. Inspired by suggestions from the audience, the troupe creates on-the-spot hilarious new scenes, songs and poems in a format similar to the popular TV program "Whose Line is it Anyway?" Keeping the comedy swift, fun and clean, these shows provide an enjoyable and suitable evening for the whole family. Founded in 2001 by John Kinde, the Las Vegas Improvisation Players perform "clean-burning" improvised comedy shows. They regularly perform in venues throughout the Las Vegas area. The Players are also available for private functions, meetings and banquets. Weekly workshops are also offered for anyone interested in tapping into their improvisation skills or just looking to have a good time. The American Heritage Academy is located at 6126 South Sandhill Road, on the southeast corner of Patrick Lane. Tickets for the "all new, every time" comedy improv show are only $10 and available for purchase at the door, which opens at 6:40 p.m. For more information, visit the web site at, or contact Paul Lirette at (702) 405-0192 or at [email protected]
Special Note: The Las Vegas Improvisation Players is not affiliated with the American Heritage Academy.

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Coming to Starbright Theatre

Frankie Kein as Marilyn

The Las Vegas Follies presents The Best Ticket in Town, Saturday, July 23rd at 7 p.m., and Sunday, July 24th at 2 p.m. at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin. Get ready for the stylized choreography of Rich Rizzo and the infectious enthusiasm of a cast of talented senior performers. This dazzling production show is pure entertainment - a fusion of music, singing, comedy and dancing. It is the brainchild of Rizzo, known for his direction and choreography of the world famous Lido de Paris in Paris, and Jubilee!, currently running at Bally's in Las Vegas. Rich has gathered an impressive group of senior showgirls and dancers who light up the stage with the glitz and glamour of a true show biz experience! The Best Ticket in Town includes the exhilarating performance of internationally acclaimed impersonators, Frankie Kein and Manuel Arte, and their special friends Marilyn, Liza and Joel. A special tribute to burlesque features Frankie as Gypsy Rose Lee. Sensational songstress Teresa Cushman is also featured in The Best Ticket in Town. She sparkles, she shines, and she is absolutely divine.

Tickets are $15 for Sun City Summerlin residents, and $17 for non-residents. The Starbright is located at 2215 Thomas Ryan Blvd. All shows at the Starbright are first come, first served with no limit on the amount of tickets purchased. Be sure to get your tickets early so you don't miss out! If an event sells out, every attempt will be made to provide additional show times, if possible. Show tickets may be purchased at Desert Vista, Mountain Shadows and Pinnacle community centers. All ticket prices include Live Entertainment Tax. Tickets are non-refundable. Starbright Theatre shows are open to everyone ages 12 and over. Just a reminder to all our residents that there is no reserved seating at the Starbright Theatre. Saving seats is not permitted. Please remember there is not a bad seat in the theatre so everyone can enjoy the performances no matter where they are seated. Tickets are on sale seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. All ticket sales are check or cash (exact change required). No credit cards accepted. For up-to-date information on Starbright Theatre shows, call (702) 240-1301.

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Ethan Bortnick is about to become the youngest entertainer to headline his own show in Las Vegas, when he performs in the theater at the Las Vegas Hilton, on July 22nd and 23rd. The 10-year-old entertainer and musical sensation has already made history as the youngest musician, composer and entertainer to headline a national concert tour. Ethan's talents are not only drawing rave reviews from audiences all over the country and globe, but also the attention of the media. He has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno four times, has been featured on Good Morning America twice, Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, Martha Stewart, and two times on Oprah. As part of the farewell season, Ethan was also named one of "Oprah's All Time Smartest, Most Talented Kids." Ethan even created and hosted his own award-winning, nationally televised concert special on PBS. "Ethan's imagination and ability to create music from stories is unbelievable," says Quincy Jones. Through concert and charity events, he has shared the stage with legendary artists such as Natalie Cole, Beyoncé and Reba McEntire, and recently joined some of music's biggest names, including Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Black Eyed Peas, Justin Bieber, Tony Bennett, and many others, as the youngest of the all-star lineup that recorded "We Are The World 25 For Haiti." Beyond his amazing talent as a musician, Ethan has made a name for himself as one of the world's youngest philanthropists. Through his appearances at benefits and charity galas, he has helped raise more than 30 million dollars for non-profits around the world, and these concerts are no exception. A portion of ticket sales and merchandise sales will go to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Ethan has been a passionate supporter of children's hospitals ever since his younger brother was treated at a Children's Miracle Network Hospital for a heart condition. "I am so excited to be able to use these concerts and music to help Children's Miracle Network Hospitals since, together with them, we can improve the lives of so many kids," said Ethan. "There is nothing more important to me and my family than to be able to help more kids like my brother." The Las Vegas Hilton Theater has a rich history of presenting such legendary icons as Elvis Presley who performed 837 sold-out shows, Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow and Barbra Streisand. Now, Ethan Bortnick will make history again. This all-ages show is inspiring, funny, interactive and filled with surprises. Audiences will sing along, dance and listen to music from Mozart to rock and roll, and from Beatles to Bieber. Tickets for Ethan Bortnick are $39 and $49, plus tax and service charge, and can be purchased at the Las Vegas Hilton box office, or by logging onto, or, or by phone at (702) 732-5755 or (800) 222-5361. Children, age 16 and under, can enjoy half-priced tickets when accompanied by an adult.

Ethan Bortnick

Terri Lanni

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We are very sorry to report that the F.I.O.R.E.'s 7th anniversary celebration, scheduled to take place at the Italian American Social Club on July 23rd, has been cancelled. It seems that there is ANTI-social stuff taking place behind the scenes at the East Sahara club. Unfortunately, the problems affect not only the daily activities at the establishment, but the special events planned at the club as well...the F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Planning Ridiculous Events) group among them. Plans included a 12-piece orchestra, led by F.I.O.R.E. president/musician (all of the male members of the non club club are presidents, although not all of them are musicians) Gary Anderson, and a belly dancer as part of the entertainment. As a result of this mess, there will be no July meeting. Plans are to resume regular meetings in August, when, according to the most active of the F.I.O.R.E. presidents, Nelson Sardelli, "unless the excretion continues to hit the propeller." For additional information about F.I.O.R.E., check out their site at

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As we approach our Friday deadline, we have just learned that Terry Lanni, longtime CEO of the company now known as MGM Resorts International and credited as one of the lead visionaries of the company's CityCenter project, passed away yesterday. Lanni, 68, retired from MGM in November 2008. In 2009, the company confirmed that he had been diagnosed with cancer. We have no other information at this time.

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