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 August 05, 2011
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - August 5, 2011 (slightly delayed)

The Four Freshmen

Wes Winters

It was a full house for the Four Freshmen in the showroom at the South Point on Sunday evening, the closing night of a three night run. This was the first local engagement for the Freshmen since the death of Bob Flanigan, the vocal group's leader for 60+ years. The current quartet of singer/musicians is made up of Brian Eichenberger, Curtis Calderon, Vince Johnson and Bob Ferreira, all talented individually and collectively. Last weekend's musical selections ranged from the familiar to the unexpected, and, on Sunday, consisted of "Something's Gotta Give," "You Stepped Out Of a Dream," "Graduation Day," "Young and Foolish," "You've Got Me Crying Again," "It's All Right With Me," "Angel Eyes," "Somebody Loves Me," "If I Only Had a Brain," Poinciana," "If I Have You," "You Made Me Love You," "Little Girl Blue," "If It's a Crime Then I'm Guilty," "Give Me the Simple Life," a tribute to The Beach Boys with "Little Surfer Girl," "I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me," "Stardust," "Day By Day," "It's a Blue World," "Route 66," "Day In ,Day Out," ending with "And So It's Over." And, it was least for that night. Hopefully, the South Point will bring the Freshmen back. The sophomores, juniors and seniors would love that. While we were at the South Point, we checked out the Grandview Lounge, where the talented Wes Winters entertains music-lovers on, as of this weekend, Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 9 p.m. Performing in the Grandview since April, we have not had the opportunity to get to the South Point to see Winters. Now that a Saturday night show has been added, we plan to do so within the next couple of weeks. If you enjoy pianists, vocalists, all around entertainers, OR you want to get up and dance, we suggest you check out Wes Winters at the South Point.

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About the California Musical Theatre's recent production of Mel Brooks' The Producers, theater critic Marcus Crowder from the Sacramento Bee wrote about our friend, "Bill Nolte nearly steals the show as Franz Liebkind, "Springtime's" fascist-leaning author, in "Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop." Dan Mason, San Francisco Bay Area critic, stated, "As the Nazi enthusiast, Franz Liebkind, Bill Nolte is another standout who finds just the right level of ‘crazy' without making it seem that he is pushing too hard." Bill Nolte recently ended a Broadway run in Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein's La Cage aux Folles. Look for Nolte's name on a theater marquee near you. His performances never disappoint.

Bill Nolte in The Producers

John Byner

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Annie Gaybis reminds us that her hubby, comic impressionist John Byner, will be seen on local PBS stations, starting this week-end. John will host PBS pledge drives and be featured on the special, Ed Sullivan's Comedy Legends. For 23 years, The Ed Sullivan Show was watched by millions of Americans every Sunday night on CBS. Ed Sullivan's Comedy Legends uses archival footage to bring back comedy giants performing their classic routines on live TV. Byner and Rich Little will co-host laugh-filled pledge breaks showing clips of many of America's comedy legends, including Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield, Flip Wilson, Joan Rivers, Alan King, Jack Paar, Phyllis Diller, Jackie Gleason and Victor Borge. In addition to Byner and Little, Sullivan veterans and fans, comedians Carol Burnett, Ray Romano, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Jerry Seinfeld, Arsenio Hall, Kathy Griffin, Carl Reiner, Lisa Lampanelli, Mary Tyler Moore, Jackie Mason, Richard Lewis and others, will pay tribute to The Ed Sullivan Show. Producer Andrew Solt, whose company SOFA Entertainment acquired The Ed Sullivan Show library more than 20 years ago, announced the Ed Sullivan's Comedy Legends special is to premieres on PBS stations, beginning August 6th. PBS is preserving an important part of our American heritage - comedy that the entire family can laugh at together. The Ed Sullivan Show ran from 1948 to 1971. Ed Sullivan died in 1974 at the age of 73. Check your local TV listings for dates and times of PBS's Ed Sullivan's Comedy Legends airings.

Ed Sullivan

Jerry Lewis

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On Wednesday came word that Jerry Lewis is no longer serving as the Muscular Dystrophy Association's national chairman and won't be appearing on this year's Labor Day Telethon. Lewis, 85, has been the MDA's national chairman since the early 1950s and has hosted the Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon (in recent years called the Jerry Lewis Telethon) since 1966. Wednesday's news is especially puzzling, as in May, Lewis announced that he was retiring as host of the telethon that has become synonymous with his name, and, although, this Labor Day‘s TV fundraiser would be his last, he planned on continuing to serve as MDA's national chairman. Days ago, MDA Chairman of the Board, R. Rodney Howell, said in a statement that Lewis "will not be appearing on the telethon" and "we will not be replacing him as MDA national chairman." Howell added that Lewis "is a world-class humanitarian and we're forever grateful to him for his more than half century of generous service to MDA." The statement did not provide any further explanation for the moves, and calls to the Tucson, Arizona-based nonprofit weren't immediately returned Wednesday night. Lewis' publicist and manager also did not immediately respond to messages left for comment. It's what WASN'T said that we found most interesting. We have a feeling that there is a much bigger story here. When we learn what it is, we will share it with our readers. Stay tuned.
(In our opinion, the loss of Jerry Lewis will have very little effect on MDA's ability to raise money. In recent years, we feel Lewis had become somewhat of a liability - making statements that offended many people, including entertainers who generously donated their time and talent to help the non-profit association.)

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After skipping one year, Dancing With the Las Vegas Stars, a battle against cancer, returns to the Palms on Sunday, August 14th for their second fundraising event. In April of 2009, our Phavorite Phantom, Broadway star Brent Barrett, with partner Jeanne Bavaro, competed in the first Dancing With the Las Vegas Stars competition at the Palms Casino Resort's Rain nightclub. Hosted by the Caring Place, and presented by Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, the dance competition featured local celebrities, each representing a different charitable organization. Brent and Jeanne danced for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Also competing in 2009 were then Mayor Oscar Goodman for the American Cancer Society, world champion boxer Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini for The Caring Place, KLUC radio personality Chet Buchanan for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, 97.1 morning host Steph MacKenzie for Speedway Children's Charities, and Zowie Bowie singer Chris Phillips for the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation. Lance Burton served as master of ceremonies, while Robin Leach, Channel 13 weatherman Brian Scofield, Louie Anderson, Frank Marino, and professional ballroom dancer Tony Delgado roasting the competitors. Phantom's Tina Walsh and Jersey Boys' Travis Cloer performed while the final votes were being tallied. This year, Paris hypnotist headliner Anthony Cools is paired with Channel 13 weathercaster Ashlee DeMartino; Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular star, Kristen Hertzenberg for the American Cancer Society, with partner Lupe Martinez; Peepshow star, Cheaza with David Rodriguez; Morning Zoo DJ Lauren Michaels with Mauruze Zacksewski; and Adam Tucker (Tim McGraw in Country Superstars Tribute) with Jennifer Atlas. A panel of judges, led by Las Vegas dance hero Tony Delgado as chairman, will award points to the five competing couples. DJs Chet Buchanan and Steph McKenzie host, with entertainment provided by Dick Feeney's The Rat Pack Is Back, currently performing nightly at the Rio. Tickets are $50 per person (price includes admission, one drink and light appetizers). Individual votes for favorite charity/dancer are $2 each. Go to to purchase tickets and cast votes.

Kristen Hertzenberg

Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse

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The musical comedy, Nunsense, was just extended at the Las Vegas Hilton for another six months. The talented cast performs in the Shimmer Cabaret at 4 p.m. Starting next week, the dark days will be on Tuesdays, instead of Fridays. Tickets start at $19.95, plus taxes and fees. For reservations, call (800) 222-5361.

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On Wednesday, Tony Bennett celebrated his 85th birthday with a visit to NBC's Today show. Bennett, and his daughter, Antonia, performed in the Pearl Concert Hall at the Palms on July 24th. Bennett's latest album, Duets II, comes out next month. The award-winning and successful Duets: An American Classic, was released in 2006, and included Bennett singing with The Dixie Chicks, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Billy Joel, Tim McGraw, Celine Dion, Diana Krall, Bono, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, k.d. lang, Michael Bublé, Sting, John Legend, George Michael and Juanes. This time around, Bennett links up with Andrea Bocelli ("Stranger In Paradise"), Michael Bublé ("Don't Get Around Much Anymore"), Mariah Carey ("When Do The Bells Ring For Me?"), Natalie Cole ("Watch What Happens"), Sheryl Crow ("The Girl I Love"), Aretha Franklin ("How Do You Keep the Music Playing?"), Josh Groban ("This Is All I Ask"), Faith Hill ("The Way You Look Tonight"), Norah Jones ("Speak Low"), Lady Gaga ("The Lady Is a Tramp"), k.d. lang ("Blue Velvet"), John Mayer ("One for My Baby [And One More for the Road]"), Willie Nelson ("On the Sunny Side of the Street"), Queen Latifah ("Who Can I Turn To?"), Alejandro Sanz ("Yesterday I Heard the Rain"), Carrie Underwood ("It Had to Be You"), and the late Amy Winehouse ("Body and Soul"). Sounds like another winner for Bennett and friends.

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Brian Keith

For the first time in a long while, folks will be hearing shouts of "BINGO!" coming from a property on the Strip. No, the excitement is not emanating from the honeymoon suite at Bellagio, but from the new Bingo Room at the Riviera Hotel & Casino. The Riv proudly announces the opening of its new bingo room, the only one on the Las Vegas Strip, on August 12th. The bingo room will be managed by Bobby Taylor, who came to the Riviera after a decade at the Plaza Hotel & Casino. With more than 28 years of experience, Taylor is excited to provide a state-of-the-art bingo room along with quality customer service. The state-of-the-art 6,000-square-foot bingo room, featuring handheld and fixed-based units, will offer six sessions daily, at 11a.m., and 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Every session will feature Progressive Double Action, Progressive Bonus Double Action and Progressive Cash Ball games. On the grand opening day of the bingo room, players will receive a logo t-shirt with any bingo buy-in, while supplies last. With easy access off Paradise Road and just steps away from the parking garage, the bingo room will provide convenience to both locals and tourists. On October 17th and 18th, the Riviera bingo room will hold a $200,000 bingo tournament with Superstar Bingo. The game will feature a $25,000 coverall each day, along with 28 games per day. Buy-in for both days is $150. Reservations are being taken at (702) 794-9527, or (800) 637-5687.

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Frank Marino heads for New York for a week-and-a-half, during which time, Brian Keith steps into his own dainty Monolo Blahnik stilettos to host Divas Las Vegas at the Imperial Palace. Brian, whose day job is as an emergency room nurse in San Francisco, will offer comedy, lots of costume changes, and introduce the talented Divas cast, from tonight, August 6th through the 15th. Showtimes are at 10 p.m., every night but Friday. For reservations, call (888) 777-7664.

Imperial Palace All Wrapped Up

Nebojsa Zivkovic

It's a wrap! On the 19th of this month, media-savvy Frank Marino will host a by-invitation-only Champagne Breakfast at La Salsa Cantina in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Why? Because the restaurant is directly across the Strip from the Imperial Palace. The occasion? To show the media and other VIPs the newly "wrapped" Imperial Palace, featuring a giant, 12-story tall "poster," promoting Frank Marino's Divas Las Vegas revue. Frank now has a street named after him, two stars on the sidewalks of Las Vegas, and now, this...a high-rise size display ad with, not just one, but two images of the entertainer. What's next on Frank‘s bucket list? We happen to know his goal is to have a Frank Marino wax figure in Madame Tussauds at The Venetian. If we were a betting woman...

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The UNLV Percussion Area presents internationally renowned marimba artist, Nebojsa Zivkovic, for one night only, 7 p.m., Tuesday August 16th, inside UNLV's Doc Rando Recital Hall at the Beam Music Center. The concert will feature Zivkovic, as soloist, supported by the UNLV Percussion Ensemble and Dr. Timothy Jones. The performance is free and open to the public.

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Musician, Wayne Tolen, passed away on July 27th at the age of 55. Tolen was a Nevada resident for 35 years. An accomplished bass player, Tolen started his music career in his hometown of Philadelphia. He played with various musicians throughout his years there, before relocating to Las Vegas to play with the late Freddie Bell. Wayne played with the Playboy Girls of Rock-n-Roll show in Lake Tahoe, as well as with Las Vegas bands, such as The Rave, Roger and Claire Vaka, Thompson Cole Project, and many other lounge groups. Wayne also enjoyed playing with Big Bands throughout the Vegas area. He played bass with Sonny Turner for more than 15 years, and also worked with Charo, Skip Martin and Michael Ray Tyler. Wayne spent years behind the scenes as a stage hand, working for The Joint inside The Hard Rock Hotel, The Pearl inside the Palms casino, and the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The "funky soul man," as he was known by his family and friends, will be remembered for his amazing smile, his humility, his kind, caring demeanor, and for playing music that emanated from a truly honest place in his soul. Throughout his ordeal, Wayne remained positive, inspirational and concerned about his family and friends. During his stay in rehab, he wheeled himself up and down the care center corridors with a special energy, reaching out and uplifting the spirits of other patients. Wayne leaves behind his wife, Jenny, sons, Zach and Parker, and hundreds of friends. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, August 13th at 10 a.m. at the Community Lutheran Church, 3720 East Tropicana. A gathering of friends and a Jazz Session in his honor will follow at Freakin' Frog, 4700 S. Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas, from 1 to 4 p.m. Donations for Wayne's family can be made at the event or via PayPal at [email protected] An account has been set up for his two sons at Silver State Schools Credit Union #69561. Friends of Wayne, stagehands and musicians are all invited to attend the memorial and following jam session. Our condolences go out to the Tolen family.

Wayne Tolen

Main Street Station Loo

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One never knows what kind of list Las Vegas might turn up on...the Best of this, the Worst of that, but the fact that a public bathroom (does anyone really take a bath in one of these places?) in our city is one of the Ten Finalists Chosen For 2011 America's Best Restroom (does anyone really "rest" in one of these?) Contest. Included in the Top 10s in Toilets around the country, are johns at the Castello di Amorosa Winery in Calistoga, California; Don's Johns Presidential Luxury Restroom Trailer, Chantilly, Virginia; The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois; Habana Outpost, Brooklyn, New York; The Joule Poule at the Joule Dallas Hotel I Dallas, Texas; Ninja New York in New York, New York; Renaissance Arlington in the Capital View Hotel, Arlington, Virginia; Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale, Arizona; Snowbasin Resort, Huntsville, Utah; and (drum roll, please), our very own Main Street Station Casino in downtown Las Vegas. A graffiti-covered segment of the oppressive wall that once separated East and West Berlin now serves an appropriate function in the gentlemen's restroom in the main casino area, as it holds the urinals. These 10 public johns will compete for the coveted title of America's Best Restroom in the popular contest sponsored by Cintas Corporation (Nasdaq: CTAS) and now in its tenth year. Cintas designs, manufactures and implements corporate identity uniform programs, and provides entrance mats, restroom supplies, promotional products, first aid and safety products, fire protection services and document management services to approximately 800,000 businesses. This year, fans can conveniently vote from any web-enabled mobile device. The mobile website is a fast and easy way to nominate a deserving restroom while "on the go." You can also participate by visiting the America's Best Restroom Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube Channel to post comments, receive contest updates, share photos or upload videos; links to all three sites are on the contest homepage. Cintas created the America's Best Restroom award in 2002 to honor those businesses across America that place hygiene and style at the top of their priority list. Proprietors recognize the parallel between clean restrooms and customer retention. "We like to think of this contest as an entertaining way of drawing the public's attention to the very important issue of restroom hygiene," says Cintas Senior Marketing Manager Rich Bing. "People don't think about this issue until they walk into a poorly kept restroom, and then it matters. After that, the odds are they won't be back." Over the last decade, this contest has attracted tens of thousands of voters. The 2011 winner will receive a plaque of recognition and a coveted place in the America's Best Restroom "Hall of Fame" section of the program's Web site. Previous winners were: 2010 The Fountain on Locust St. Louis, Missouri; 2009 Shoji Tabuchi Theatre Branson, Missouri; 2008 Hermitage Hotel Nashville, Tennessee; 2007 Jungle Jim's International Market Fairfield, Ohio; 2006 Wendell's Restaurant Westerville, Ohio; 2005 Fort Smith, Arkansas Airport Fort Smith, Arkansas; 2004 Kohler Art Center Sheboygan, Wisconsin; 2003 The Grand Casino Biloxi, Mississippi; and 2002 University of Notre Dame South Bend, Indiana. The public is invited to vote for their top pick at through Monday, September 19th. The site takes visitors on a photographic tour of each facility and then encourages them to choose their favorite. The winner will be announced in the fall. For those of you who feel this column is going into the toilet, obviously, you are right.

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The F.I.O.R.E. 7th anniversary celebration, originally scheduled for July 23rd, but postponed due to internal problems at the Italian American Social Club where the non-club club gatherings are held, has ironed out all the kinks, and the slightly delayed anniversary festivities will take place on Saturday evening, September 17th. There will be a big band playing for listening and dancing pleasure, a belly dancer for president Nelson Sardelli's pleasure, and other special to-be-announced treats. Also, the much anticipated annual F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) Halloween Party will take place on Saturday, October 22nd. We will have more on these events, where the first ladies are invited to attend, closer to the scheduled dates. In the meantime, the regular "boys only" monthly meeting will take place this Thursday, August 11th, at the Italian American Club, 2333 E. Sahara. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. Guest speaker will be F.I.O.R.E. president (all the members are presidents) Dr. George Ritter, and entertainment will be provided by Tom Nelli and Jim Manone. Sardelli tells us that the group is looking for someone to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance and someone to say Grace. Please contact Nelson if you would like to be the person. Among the fellows who have already made plans to attend Thursday's luncheon gathering are Angelo Cassaro, Artie Schroeck, Gene Vitale, Conrad Villella, Lou Toomin, Gary Rogers, Ken Sands, Jerry Cogar, John Faulis, Jonas Vece, Len Indelicato, Joe Moreno, Charlie Licata, Big Al Bjorklund, Mark Zuckerman, Perry Walton, Allen Tramont, Bob Moran, Don Sacco, Dr. Wilfred Krom, John Flood, Ray Borders, Chick Hughes, Nick Montana, Joe Cino, Mike Breglia, Jim Hatland, Bob Shawhan, Don Harten, Mike Rosetto, Charlie Carpenter, Norm Ross, Don Hill, Mel Guerra, Pastor Johnny Crosby and, of course, Mr. Sardelli. Should your name be on this list? If you plan to attend, since lunch is being catered, an exact headcount is in a MUST. RSVP to [email protected], or to [email protected]. Sardelli informs that if you show up without RSVPing, you will not only be charged for lunch, you will "eat u cazzu and like it." Also, the August meeting will be the last where members can get F.I.O.R.E. Presidential Badges for $10. Henceforth, the badges will cost $12, as the company that makes them has raised their prices. It is not mandatory to have a badge, it is just "cool as spumoni." (If anyone has a better contact to get the badges for less, please let one of the presidents know.) Spread the word as if it was bad/good gossip.
Important reminder...Reason for immediate dismissal. Any member of the non-club club F.I.O.R.E. caught eating pizza with a knife and fork, will be immediately dismissed and barred from all events. You have been warned.
For additional information about this group, check out

Lunch at F.I.O.R.E.

Sunrise Villas Kitchen

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Joe Locatelli reminds us that Daddy Mac's continues with their popular Tuesday night Jazz policy. Locatelli's group plays from 7 to 10 p.m., featuring Adelaide Robbins on piano, Steve Flora on bass, John Plows on drums, and Locatelli himself on vibes. Special invited guest artists also sit in. There is no cover or minimum at Daddy Mac's. The establishment is located at 2920 Green Valley Parkway, just north of Sunset in Henderson. For additional information, call (702) 272-0913.

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We have a friend whose great, centrally located southeast Sunrise Villas condo is looking for a caring tenant. This completely furnished and decorated, three bedrooms (one is currently set up as a music room, WITH a piano!) beauty, has two baths, indoor laundry room, attached two-car garage and so much more, and is set on well maintained grounds with a lovely clean community pool. Smoking is permitted on the patio. The owner will happily welcome a small, well-behaved dog, but no cats, please. Would prefer long-term lease, but will accept short term tenant. Monthly rent is $1400 (plus utilities). Security deposit and first month ($2800) required. Available for move-in on August 16th. For more details, or to view the property, call (917) 445-9003. Check out, for more details and photos.

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TV's Star Trek will celebrate its 45th anniversary in Las Vegas, with an Official Star Trek Convention at the Rio All-Suites Hotel, August 11th through 14th. There will be planned activities and much to see and do for all four days, beginning with a 9 a.m. Thursday morning Return to the Sixties: Classic Star Trek Guests Continental Breakfast in the Tango Room. Take a time travel journey back to the sixties and growing up watching some of the coolest original series episodes. Stars expected to be at the breakfast include Lee Meriwether, Yvonne Craig, Clint Howard, Michael Forest, Jack Donner, and Las Vegan, Beverly Washburn, who portrayed "Lieutenant Arlene Galway" in the 1967 episode, The Deadly Years. Among the other celebrities who will be in attendance to sign autographs and pose for photos with their Trekkie fans are Barry Jenner, Brent Spiner, Charles Dierkop, Charlie Brill, David Warner, Denise Crosby, George Takei, James Darren, John Cho, Jonathan Frakes, Kate Mulgrew, Leonard Nimoy, Louise Sorel, Mariette Hartley, Nichelle Nichols, Olivia d'Abo, Rene Auberjonois, Robert Brown, Roger Perry, Sir Patrick Stewart, Terry Farrell, Walter Koenig, William Schallert, William Shatner, and many others. This is expected to be the largest Star Trek Convention ever. Tickets start at $35. Online tickets will be taken off sale on August 8th at 9 a.m. (Pacific Time), after which they can only be purchased at the Rio. For a complete schedule and additional convention details, go to the Web site at

Beverly Washburn on Star Trek

Mark Winkler

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A week ago, Mark Winkler's new CD, Sweet Spot, was released. It's his 10th, and it's already getting the best response he has had yet. Lots of great reviews and articles in the national media...and it's being played on radio all over the U.S. "Who would have thought I'd be an ‘overnight success,‘ after three decades in the biz," says Winkler. You can get the CD via Amazon, CD Baby and itunes. Sweet Spot is the follow-up to Mark's Till I Get It Right, which was voted one of the top vocal CDs of 2009 by Jazz Times Magazine. This project is a combination of Winkler originals and some swinging standards. Those of you who have seen Mark's live shows over the last couple of years, will recognize a lot of these tunes - "But Not for Me," "On Broadway," and "Somewhere in Brazil," his affectionate tale of a singer trapped in an unruly jazz club, along with the new CDs title track, "Sweet Spot." Mark is joined by some great musicians - Bob Sheppard, Billy Childs, Anthony Wilson, Kim Richmond, Grant Geissman, and Barbara Morrison, who, according to Mark, "just sings the bejezus out of "Sweet Spot" with him. They are joined by a nucleus of great players - Eli Brueggemann on piano and vocals, Steve Barnes on drums, and Tim Emmons on bass - who have been working with Winkler in Los Angeles for a couple of years. A CD release party will take place at Catalina's Jazz Club, 6725 W Sunset Blvd #100 (at McCaddan) in LA, on August 17th at 8 p.m. Special "Recession" cover is $15. Dinner is served and excellent. Mark will be doing songs from the new CD, as well as from Till I Get It Right, and a few from his musical, Play It Cool (which is scheduled to open off-Broadway in September). Winkler's special guest will be the co-writer of Play It Cool, Phil Swann, who is also releasing his CD, Stale Scotch and Cheap Cigars, on the same night. Call the club at (323) 466-2210 for reservations. Or go to

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Phil Swann

Michael Crawford as The Wizard

Michael Crawford is probably best known for his role as the disfigured and tormented lead in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. In 1995, Crawford was the original star of EFX at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. These days, the actor is starring in the hit London production of The Wizard of Oz. According to his official website, Crawford has just extended his contract through February 5th, 2012. Audiences have been following the yellow brick road over the rainbow to see Crawford and Danielle Hope (as Dorothy) at The London Palladium where the show began previews in early February and opened in March to great reviews.

Lloyd Webber's new production combines all the much-loved songs from the Oscar-winning movie score with new songs written by Sir Andrew and Tim Rice. Tickets are available from The London Palladium Box Office or online from

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Bart Williams informs us that on Thursday, August 18th, The Last First Comic, a documentary directed and produced by Williams (who also gets writing credit) and John C. Brown, filmed on location in New York's historic Palace Theatre, that explores a dynamic chapter in the history of our country and its popular entertainment, will be shown as part of the Backlot Film Festival at the Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Avenue at 14th Street in Santa Monica, California. The Last First Comic, inspired by comic Irving Benson, is a humorous and heartfelt story of a bygone era; a celebration of a life well lived - both onstage and off. At age 97, Benson stands alone as the oldest living link to a largely forgotten and uniquely American art form - Burlesque. For more than half a century, Irv was a "first comic." In show business terms, that's the featured comedian. Benson was a contemporary of all the great funnymen who emerged from the heyday of Burlesque - Abbott and Costello, Red Skelton, Phil Silvers, Jackie Gleason, and so many others. And now, Irv's the last one left. What was Burlesque? Where did it come from? Where did it go? And what did it mean to a generation of comic performers? Benson headlines a cast of fellow surviving Burlesque and Vaudeville veterans - Mickey Deems, Las Vegan Dixie Evans, Don Potter (who appeared in Guys and Dolls at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas), Betty Rowland, Suzanne Charney, Dee Ann Johnston and Alan Young, of Mr. Ed fame - many of whom have known and worked with Irv on stage (The Last First Comic spotlights the final film appearance of legendary straight man, Ed McMahon). Together, with a team of theater historians, they uncover the roots of American comedy and take us inside the colorful world of the Burlesque show. Tickets for The Last First Comic are $7 and $11. Call (310) 204-6920 to purchase.

Irving Benson

Michael Kessler & Melinda Jackson

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Not surprisingly, Steve Wyrick's Las Vegas Hilton opening, set (for the fourth time) for last night, Friday, August 5th, has been postponed. The magician was originally scheduled to open in the Hilton showroom on July 7th, then July 27th, then August 5th, and now, according to the mostly in the dark hotel box office, August 9th. Updates on the hour.

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M&M presents Love 2 Dance, in two August performances, at two different times of day, in two different venues, making it easier to schedule it for your viewing pleasure. On Sunday, August 14th at 3 p.m., Michael Kessler and Melinda Jackson's Love 2 Dance will be at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin, and on Friday, August 19th at 7:30 p.m., it will be seen in the showroom at the South Point Hotel Casino. Love 2 Dance takes an intimate and original look inside the lives and loves of dancers. Join some of the top dance performers and choreographers in this funny, touching and passionate new show about the movers and shakers, gliders, fliers and hoofers who have sacrificed everything to step out for your entertainment. There are 18 dancers and choreographers from Strip productions such as Jersey Boys, Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, Jubilee!, and The Lion King, as well as Alvin Ailey, Radio City Music Hall, Lido de Paris, and more. Love 2 Dance is based on material gleaned from hours of on-camera interviews with dancers about their lives, their triumphs, their struggles, and their love of dancing. The dance styles range from Ballroom to Broadway, Ballet to Break Dancing, Contemporary, Tap, Modern, Showgirls and Hip Hop, with music from Stevie Wonder, Tim McGraw, Cy Coleman, Smokey Robinson, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and Diana Ross and The Supremes, to original music by Keith Thompson, conductor for Jersey Boys. Critics have this to say about M&M's performances: "Genuine romance... top notch entertainment" - Las Vegas Review Journal; " evening of fun...skillful craftsmanship" - New York Times; "Showstoppers!" - Las Vegas Sun; "A truly gifted and charismatic pair..." - Los Angeles Times; "Dazzling virtuosity..." - Le Figaro, Paris; "... imaginative and wildly humorous" - Geneva. If you like dance, you won't want to miss M&M's Love 2 Dance. Tickets for the South Point performance are $20, $25 or $30, and are available online at, or or by calling (702) 797-8055. Group discounts and room/show packages are also available. Tickets for the Starbright are $17 for Sun City Summerlin residents and $22 for non-residents. Call (702) 240-1301.

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Lucille Ball by Martin Kreloff

Lucille Ball was born 100 years ago today, August 6th. The information is interesting for those who "loved Lucy." It also gives us an excuse (not that we need one) to share another image by current Las Vegan, uber-artist, Martin Kreloff.

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