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.  
She’s...

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from June 22, 2012
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - June 22, 2012


Father's Day at Nevada Veterans Hospital

DJ Larry Taylor

OOOPS! Every once in a while, although it is very rare, Cousin Claire does make an unintentional mistake. She made one in last Friday's column in the paragraph on the F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) club schedule. Yes, the luncheon price has been raised, going from $23 to $25 (NOT $27, as originally stated by us). There was some talk about moving the monthly luncheon days from Thursdays to Tuesdays, but that idea has been scratched. Until further notice, president (all the male members are presidents)/ spokesperson, Nelson Sardelli, tells us that the F.I.O.R.E. luncheon meetings will continue to be held on the second Thursday of the month, at the Italian American Club on East Sahara. Watch for upcoming announcements here.

Rolando Larraz, of the Las Vegas Tribune, had this to say about Father's Day at the Nevada State Veterans Home in Boulder City...

It is not easy to describe in a few words the happiness and joy that a few Las Vegas performers and musicians, coupled with several volunteers, were able to create during the four hours of continuous entertainment during the annual Father's Day commemoration at the Nevada State Veterans Home in Boulder City. Simply put, there was magic in the air. The look of happiness on the faces of the residents and the feeling of pride and gratification on the faces of the entertainers - who felt There Was Magic In The Air privileged to have the honor to perform for all of those great Americans in their golden years - were proof the magic was there. Long time Las Vegas resident, Nelson Sardelli, knows he is blessed to have so many patriotic, talented and giving friends in the entertainment community. For the last seven years, a wonderful group has made it a point to celebrate Father's Day with those at the Veteran's home; they drive into Boulder City (in the rain, sleet or the throbbing 110! sun) and gladly spend four hours visiting and entertaining our Heroes. This year, as in the previous years, the Gary Olds Trio provided the back-up music for all the acts and also featured all the members of the ensemble. Dr. George Ritter joined the trio and played for the duration. Genevieve gave a tremendous rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Among the entertainers who participated in the event were, in no special order: Pete Barbutti, Linda November (the Meow Mix Lady - with over 20,000 jingles), Artie Schroeck (who wrote some of Frank Sinatra's songs and arranged for Frankie Valli), Peter Anthony, Sasha Semenoff (violinist extraordinaire and a Holocaust survivor), Cork Proctor, Paul Campanella, Vincent Falcone, Felix Silla (Cousin ITT in The Addams Family), Ronnie Rose, Jack Walker, Fielding West, Joe Stanley (closeup magician), Charly Raymond, Nik Mastrangelo, Jac Hayden (Mundane, The Grate), Sinco (guitar duo), Larry Liso, Gary Olds Ensemble - with Vince Falcone (Frank Sinatra's conductor for many years) on Piano, Chris Gordan (Bass), Gary Olds (Drums) plus Dr. George Ritter on Sax. Among the volunteers in Sardelli's group were: Larry Taylor (lights), Amy Cheline (photography), Lou Toomin, Al Ciricillo, Johnny Amato and Kid Cary, helping wherever he was needed. All in all, it was an amazing event for those watching and for those performing. A true win/win arrangement all around. Yes, there was magic in the air.

And speaking of Larry Taylor, he tells us that on Tuesdays, July 17th and August 21st, from 6 to 10 p.m., he will be presenting Ballroom Dancing (something that he had been doing around these parts for many years) at the Italian American Social Club. There will be ballroom, swing and Latin dancing, along with door prizes and drawings for dinners, drinks and free admission. The price at the door for all of this? A mere $10. The Italian American Club is located at 2333 E. Sahara. For additional information, call (702) 457-3866. As Larry says, "Take her to the dance. If you don't, somebody else will."

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When John Meren passed away last October, there was a question as to whether the organization that he founded with partner Tom Gallagher more than 20 years ago, would continue. Well, it has been decided that, yes, the Performing Arts Society of Nevada will, in fact, live on. Due to the outrageous increase in fees for non-profit organizations such as PASNV to use the theater space in local libraries, the Performing Arts Society of Nevada will move their performances from the Clark County Flamingo Library to the Winchester Cultural Center Theater, located at 3130 McLeod (just north of Desert Inn, and east of Eastern). On Sunday, July 8th, starting at 2 p.m., the PASNV will present Summertime and the Livin' Is Easy - A Salute to Love, Laughter & the Great Songs of Summer at the Winchester. The musical program will feature the jazzy song stylings of Miss Lee Hughes, with guest performances by opera diva, Joan Sobel (Carlotta in The Venetian's Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular); singer/entertainer, Lenny Talarico; and Black Music Award (BMA) - LV best Male Jazz Vocalist nominee, Paul Stubblefield. Piano solos and accompaniment will be provided by Laurence Soble, Bing Young and Greg Bosler. Tickets are $15 in advance, and $18 at the door. For reservations, call (702) 658-6741, or e-mail to [email protected]. PASNV is a 501(c)(3), not for profit corporation. We have no doubt that the continuation of the Performing Arts Society programs is what Mr. Meren would have wanted.


John Meren

Lenny Talarico

Far be it from us to keep our opinions and comments to ourselves. We have a feeling that the decision to raise the library theater space rental fees so drastically, will result in fewer reasons for people to make the trips to their neighborhood book facilities. The Winchester Center, usually closed to the public on Sundays, is opening the theater just for the PASNV performances, while the libraries, which are normally open on Sundays anyway, and have employees on duty, will be a lot emptier, thanks to neighborhood theater stages around the city and county that will go unused. Doesn't make any sense to us, especially when a few days ago, it was reported that a number of Clark County libraries, including the East Lake Library and Alexander and Aliante Libraries in North Las Vegas, would be cutting their hours to reduce expenses and cope with smaller staffs.

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Does anyone have a direct e-mail address for Anne Davis Mulford, also known around these parts as Princess Anne? If so, please pass along the info to Cousin Claire.

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Just a reminder about The Composers Showcase coming up on Wednesday night, June 27th, at The Smith Center. Keith Thompson tells us it's turning out to be a really spectacular line-up, with some favorite regulars as well as some new composers that he is thrilled to introduce to the Composers Showcase audience. The Composers include Roger Butterley, Vita Corimbi, Tony DeAugustine, Mark Giovi, Wayne Green, Susan Haller, Clint Holmes, Aaron MacKenzie, Richard Oberacker, Thompson, and Tymara Walker. The Performers are Jason Andino, Sarah Elizabeth Combs, Aaron DeJesus, Genevieve Dew, Bruce Ewing, Chris Fore, Ted Keegan, Randal Keith, Zoe Konsur, Rob Marnell, Peter Saide, Tristan Sanchez, Joan Sobel, and Annette Houlihan Verdolino. The Players are James Barela, Philip Fortenberry, L.J. Harness, Dave Hart, Phil Henry, Keith Hubacher, James Matteson, Don Meoli, Ned Mills, Jeff Neiman, Ronnie Payne, Jeff Ray, Joey Singer, Justin Vogel and John Wedemeyer. Sound is by Mary McFadden, with lights by Jeremy W. Hodges. The Composers Showcase of Las Vegas is presented by PK Music and The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, in Cabaret Jazz at the Boman Pavilion, 361 Symphony Park Avenue, beginning at 10:30 pm (after theater). Doors open at 9:30. Tickets are $20 and going fast, so order early. Call (702) 749-2000 for reservations, or go to www.thesmithcenter.com.


Jason Andino

Pia Zadora

Also happening at The Smith Center...
On Friday, July 27th at 8 p.m., and Saturday the 28th at 7 p.m., it's Pia Zadora in the Cabaret Jazz club. Singer. Television and movie actress. Golden Globe winner. Grammy nominee. ShoWest winner. Broadway star. All of these describe a woman who has been performing in public since her stage debut at the age of 6...but for those who have seen Pia Zadora in concert, the description that first comes to mind and describes her best is simply this: the complete entertainer. Pia Zadora returns to the stage with a 75-minute show created by three-time Emmy-winning director and choreographer, Walter Painter, Peabody Award and Tony winning Composer/Author, Larry Grossman, and Emmy nominated Academy Award-writer, Jon Macks, that features the greatest songs of our lives, a lot of laughs and pure non-stop entertainment. Accompanied by legendary Frank Sinatra pianist and musical conductor, Vinnie Falcone and his orchestra, this Grammy-nominated singer performs classics like "The Lady Is a Tramp," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "All of Me," "Young at Heart" and "The Man That Got Away." Tickets are $33 and $40. For reservations, call (702) 749-2000, or go to www.thesmithcenter.com.

And speaking of composers, composer and lyricist, Richard Adler, who won Tony Awards for co-writing songs for hit Broadway musicals, and who, in 1962, staged and produced President John F. Kennedy's Madison Square Garden birthday celebration, featuring a breathy Marilyn Monroe, died on Thursday. He was 90. Some of Adler's biggest songs are "You Gotta Have Heart," "Hey, There," "Hernando's Hideaway," "Whatever Lola Wants," "Steam Heat," "Rags to Riches," and "Everybody Loves a Lover." With Jerry Ross, Adler wrote the music and lyrics to The Pajama Game, which won the best musical Tony in 1955. Adler teamed up with Ross again for Damn Yankees. It won the best musical Tony Award the next year. Ross died of a lung ailment in 1955 at age 29. Adler went on to earn a Tony nomination for 1961's Kwamina. He was a member of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. Adler is survived by his wife, Susan A. Ivory; his children, Andrew Adler, Katherine Adler and Charles Shipman; and two grandchildren.


Richard Adler

Kenny Loggins

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Musician Kenny Loggins takes over the outdoor Sunset Station Amphitheater, tomorrow, Saturday, June 23rd at 8 p.m. Kenny Loggins is without doubt one of the most successful songwriters and performers in the world. With a career spanning more than 30 years, Loggins is a one-man commercial powerhouse, logging in 12 platinum plus albums, and 14 gold albums in the United States alone, and selling more than twenty million albums worldwide. Loggins has established himself as many things to countless music lovers. For the first half of the '70s, Loggins was, along with Jim Messina, part of the popular, influential and somewhat accidental duo Loggins & Messina that formed in the wake of the classic 1971 album Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin' In. Eventually, Loggins pressed on to explore his own musical path as an introspective solo artist. Throughout the '80s and '90s, Loggins grew even more well-known for recording a series of soundtrack pop smashes, including such Top 10 hits as "I'm Alright," from Caddyshack, the title track from Footloose, "Danger Zone," from Top Gun, and "Nobody's Fool" from Caddyshack II, as well as for participating in USA For Africa's historic benefit recording, "We Are The World, and co-writing the Grammy-winning Song of the Year "What A Fool Believes." Tickets range from $40.50 to $73.50, plus taxes and fees. Call (702) 547-5300 for reservations.

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If he had the chance to burn all the remaining copies of Once Before I Go, an authorized book on Wayne Newton, written by the late Dick Maurice, would Wayne do so? Here is a portion of how Newton describes himself in the 1989 published tale. (If you are interested in reading up on the former Mr. Las Vegas, you can still find copies of Once Before I Go for sale on the Internet, starting at a few cents.). From the late authorized Dick Maurice's book on Wayne Newton, in which Newton is described as "The most popular entertainer in America tells the candid, no-holds-barred story of his life, from his poor Virginia background to his exalted status as the highest-paid performer in the world. With humor, insight, and high drama, Wayne Newton sets the record straight about the man and the star in a fascinating autobiography, One Before I Go."

Page 10 - Wayne Newton with Dick Maurice

...would consider me difficult to get along with. I'm sure it would depend on whom you ask and what the situation was. I'm a perfectionist. I get up early in the morning and no one talks to me because it takes me a long time to wake up. I like to sit at the table and take a long time with my breakfast.

I don't like problems at home. Often I'll walk around the ranch and sit out on the side of the knoll for about an hour and watch some of the animals. Then I'll come back to the house relaxed.

I do have a temper. There are certain things that irritate me immensely. However, I don't often get angry. It takes me a long time to get there, and when you get me there, you have a lot of problems on your hands. Because with me, I'm either black or white. I can be indifferent to people or situations. I either get involved or I'm not involved at all.

When I look back on my life, which isn't easy because I'm so busy living it, it gives me a chance to measure the successes and failures. However, I did realize a long time ago that nothing was ever going to be easy for me; none of it. I don't think it will ever be easy. I don't know why my life has had so many ups and downs, why it has been a battlefield. The only thing that has been easy has been any talent that I might have, and I can't take credit for that. I've had to work for everything. No one has handed me anything. Yet, at the darkest moments, there has always been someone there to pull my butt out of the mess. And I generally come out smelling like rose.

While other performers are resentful when they see entertainers obtain success very easily with out having to do anything for it, I feel sorry for them because I know that the day has got to come when they will have to pay the fiddler. I'd just as soon pay for it as I go because I'm more capable of dealing with it - the facts at hand rather than what I'd like them to be.

I guess you could say my life has been a series of crises. But I would prefer the words lessons. Now, I didn't love the little boy I was, nor do I necessarily love the man that I am. I've had to go through that kind of hurt. We never learn anything from the good things that happen in our life. I think being happy occurs in moments. I don't know of a time when I'm the happiest. There are many times in the day when happiness comes to me for a very short period of time. It may be while walking around the ranch or having something happen onstage. One's ability to be happy depends solely on one's ability to adjust.

Once Before I Go is a story that I hope you'll like to read. I've seen it written that I'm a singer who turned ridicule into success....

The war between Newton and businessman/investor Steve Kennedy is far from over. Stay tuned.

We have a question...Wayne Newton has been promising "to go," for more than 20 years - in a both a book title (1989) and a show title (Tropicana, 2009). Exactly WHEN is he going? We have been warned. Go already.

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Another question to ponder. When did people stop saying, "You're welcome," when thanked for something, and start saying, "No problem," instead? Personally, we do have a problem with "no problem." How about you?



Lee Roy Reams & Kaye Ballard

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Do we mention song and dance man Lee Roy Reams too often? If he ever decides to retire, maybe we wouldn't have much to say about him (other than he is sipping pina coladas on a tropical beach somewhere), but we don't expect that to happen any time soon. So...With hardly any time to rest up from the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards Ceremony on June 7th, where Mr. Reams, who played Roger DeBris in the Las Vegas production of Mel Brooks' The Producers, presented an award, to last Sundays turn with Kaye Ballard in Maybe This Time at Feinsteins at Loews Regency, 540 Park Avenue (at 61st Street) in Manhattan. Veteran entertainer Kaye Ballard performed a one-night-only show at Feinstein's at Loews Regency in NYC, that saw fans, friends and celebs pressed together to get a glimpse of old-school professionalism. The 86-year-old Ballard held court for an hour or so, paying tribute to some of the stars she knew and/or worked with, including Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker, Mabel Mercer, and Henny Youngman. Among those in attendance were Frank Langella, Joy Behar, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, Liz Smith, Rex Reed, Sandy Stewart, Bill Charlap, and Larry Storch. Ballard included a rare performance of "Lazy Afternoon," the song she sang in the 1954 Broadway musical The Golden Apple. It's a song she claimed she has never sung in a club act because she doesn't enjoy presenting it out of its theatrical context. But she made an exception for the Feinstein's audience. Lee Roy Reams joined Ballard onstage for two numbers, and the club's owner, Michael Feinstein, sang with her on her impromptu encore, "For All We Know." There's always something interesting going on with Lee Roy Reams, and always something interesting going on at Feinstein's. For details, check Feinstein's Web site. For reservations, call (212) 339-4095.

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We have to admit that we were a little concerned when we learned that the still adorable Mitzi Gaynor was returning to Las Vegas, this time to perform at Sam's Town on the Boulder Strip. Eight months ago, Mitzi did well in a weekend engagement at The Orleans, but we wondered if people would come to Sam's Town to see the singing, dancing star of films such as 1958's South Pacific, with Rossano Brazzi and John Kerr; George Cukor's Les Girls (1957), in which she shared star billing with Gene Kelly, Kay Kendall, and Taina Elg; 1957's The Joker Is Wild, with Frank Sinatra; and 1954's There's No Business Like Show Business, with Dan Dailey, Ethel Merman, Donald O'Connor, Johnnie Ray and Marilyn Monroe. We needn't have worried. More than 800 people filled the Sam's Town Live space to see and hear the delightful Ms. Gaynor and her seven musicians, share memories with music, nostalgic video clips, and beautiful Bob Mackie costumes. Among the familiar faces we spotted in the crowd were Nancy Houssels, Connie Solazzo and Dee Mormon, Jim and Jan Seagrave, Jerry Ritholz, and Carole Hassell. Nice to see Stacey Medall, who is usually in the box office at The Orleans, and Krissy Ayon, overseeing things at Sam's Town. As far as we are concerned, Mitzi, her managers Rene Reyes and Shane Rosamonda, and agents, Scott Stander and his sister Jackie, are welcome back in Vegas whenever the mood (and energy) strike them.


Mitzi Gaynor by Jackie Stander

The Phat Pack by Don Cadette

Busy weekend. On Sunday, we went to church...the Community Lutheran Church to be specific, where we saw the premiere of The Phat Pack. You will understand the spelling if you know that the three singing stars - Bruce Ewing, Randal Keith and Ted Keegan - met, and continue to work, in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, where they are cast members, at least until Labor Day, when the show ends its six year run. The 725-seat sanctuary was full to overflowing, with folks waiting outside, hoping for cancellations so they could get in. Among those who DID make it into the beautiful space, we spotted Keith Thompson (who wrote three of the original songs included in the show), Philip Fortenberry, Kristi Holden, Rudy Rivas, Carole Hassell, Beverly Washburn, Jacci Winston, Don Cadette with camera and tripod at the ready, Michael Sharon, David Stalder, Fred Crescente, and Ron and Lisa Smith, among them. Based on the response from the enthusiastic audience, The Phat Pack should have a bright future.

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And speaking of Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, cast member, Patrick Leveque, who is co-producing a benefit 501 (c) (3) concert entitled Hope 5: An Afternoon of Classical Ballet, with proceeds going to benefit the local charity, Family Promise of Las Vegas and the College of Southern Nevada Performing Arts Department, wants the community to know about the project. Hope 5: An Afternoon of Classical Ballet, will be presented on July 14th and 15th in the Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, at College of Southern Nevada, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave. in North Las Vegas. Performances will be held at 2 p.m. The "Hope" annual dance concerts began in the fall of 2008, as members of the Phantom cast came up with the idea of staging a benefit--donating their time and talent to support Family Promise of Las Vegas. Family Promise is a non-profit organization that assists homeless families in the Las Vegas Valley to achieve lasting independence by mobilizing the community to provide safe shelter, meals, and support services for them. Now in its 5th year of Hope, part of the proceeds from this performance will go to the College of Southern Nevada's Performing Arts Center. The Performing Arts Center's share of proceeds will go to its "Friends of the Horn Theatre," and be used to enhance productions and provide access to the arts for underserved populations in our community. The show itself will feature a collection of ballet presentations and musical numbers featuring performers and musicians from Phantom, as well as dancers from Nevada Ballet Theatre and various Las Vegas productions. This is also the fifth year of a partnership between Family Promise of Las Vegas and the CSN Performing Arts Center to present a performance of this type, which is a benefit for each organization and includes a silent auction and reception with the performers and crew. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors/students and include a post-show reception. Call (702) 651-LIVE (5483).


Hope 5: An Afternoon of Classical Ballet

Ron Garrett

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Ron Sylvester writes that TV's Restaurant: Impossible is scheduled to make over a Las Vegas eatery. A struggling Las Vegas restaurant will get a boost from television chef, Robert Irvine, next week. On June 27th and 28th, the Food Network will try to revitalize the Maple Tree Cafe, an American restaurant in Chinatown. The show will follow Irvine and his crew of designers as they redo the decor and update the menu in two days, with a budget of $10,000. The revamped restaurant, once owned by former Debbie Reynolds Hotel/Greek Isles, Sahara hotel marketing/entertainment man/radio personality, Ron Garrett (not to be confused with ROB Garrett, the Neil Diamond tribute artist), will reopen to the public at 7 p.m., next Thursday, June 28th. The evening will be recorded for broadcast. People can make reservations for the reopening by calling the restaurant at (702) 362-5151. The Maple Tree is located at 6000 Spring Mountain Road, east of Jones Boulevard.

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Reminders...
Tonight, Friday, and tomorrow, Deana Martin pays tribute to her father, Dean Martin, and his Rat Pack "pallies," in 7:30 p.m. shows at the South Point. Tickets start at $15. Call (702) 797-8055, or visit SouthPointCasino.com.


Deana Martin

Rich Natole

Tomorrow night, it's impressionists Rich Natole and Bethany Owen in Two of a Kind, at the Italian American Club, 2333 E. Sahara Ave. in Las Vegas. Natole and Owen dazzle on stage, delivering a unique Las Vegas entertainment experience. Showtime is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Dinner at the Italian American Club is available prior to the show at additional cost. For reservations, call (702) 457-3866.

And on Sunday, it's the annual Golden Rainbow Ribbon of Life AIDS fundraiser in Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Las Vegas. The show, featuring hundreds of performers from major Strip productions, starts at 1 p.m. Tickets range from $38 to $212. Call The Smith Center at (702) 749-2000.


Bethany Owen

Stardust Memories by LeRoy Neiman

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Artist LeRoy Nieman, best known for evoking the kinetic energy of the world's biggest sporting and leisure events with bright quick strokes, died Wednesday at the age of 91. Neiman was a contributing artist at Playboy magazine for many years and the official painter of five Olympiads. He was also a fan of this city. Neiman and Las Vegas were a perfect match. His bright colors conveyed the excitement of this city, whether his subjects were casinos, showgirls, entertainers (with Frank Sinatra being a favorite), and boxing, especially, when the fight involved Muhammad Ali. In 2006, LeRoy Neiman attended a media event at the Stardust, where a painting of his, called Stardust Memories, was formally unveiled. He worked in many media, producing thousands of etchings, lithographs and silkscreen prints known as serigraphs. He created Playboy's Femlin, the well-endowed nude that graced the magazine's Party Jokes page since 1957. With his sketchbook and pencil, trademark handlebar mustache and slicked back hair, Neiman was instantly recognizable. Neiman was a self-described workaholic who seldom took vacations and had no hobbies. He worked daily in his New York City home studio at the Hotel des Artistes near Central Park that he shared with his wife of more than 50 years, Janet. Over the years, Neiman endowed a number of institutions, donating $6 million in 1995 for the creation of the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University, and $3 million to his alma mater, the Art Institute of Chicago, where he taught for a decade. He also donated $1 million to create a permanent home for Arts Horizons, a community art center in Harlem. His works are in the permanent collections of many private and public museums. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., was selected by Neiman to house his archives. "I just love what I do," Neiman told the AP. "I love the passion you go through while you're creating" and the public's "very thoughtful and careful studied and emotional reaction of what you're doing." He added: "It's a wonderful feeling."

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Lady "J" Huston

It's Lady "J" Huston on Wednesday, June 27th, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Marché Bacchus French Bistro & Wine Market, on the Lake at Desert Shores, 2620 Regatta Dr., #106 (off W. Smoke Ranch Rd. and N. Buffalo Dr.). No cover. Call (702) 804-8008 for additional information. On Thursday, June 28th, from 7:30 to 11 p.m., Lady "J" Huston & The Fireballs perform Jazz, Blues and Soul at The Mad Greek Café, 8565 W. Sahara @ Durango. Gourmet food at fast food prices. Dance floor, lovely décor and outside patio seating. No cover.

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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The Las Vegas International Performing Arts Exchange, with Act Now Entertainment of London, England will be presenting two exciting productions for both American and British Audiences. First, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will be performed at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, July 6th and 7th, at the Clark County Flamingo Library Theatre, with an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday the 7th. Advanced ticket pricing is $10 for students and seniors, and $12 for General Admission. Pricing at the door is $12.00 and $15.00 respectively, with optional VIP seating available. Six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learn that winning isn't everything and that losing doesn't necessarily make you a loser. On July 9th, at 2 and 7 p.m., students from Las Vegas and London will perform in an international revue titled At the Corner of Broadway and West End, at the Cashman Center Theatre. Ticket pricing is the same as for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and are available at www.showtix4u.com. Following the second production, the students will be traveling to London to perform both shows for British audiences. The Las Vegas International Performing Arts Exchange was established in 1996. A child of the renowned "Sister Cities" project that coupled various cities together from around the world for both business and cultural exchanges, Las Vegas was originally paired with Shanghai. The LVIPAE hosted the first cultural exchange of the Sister Cities program when more than 40 students from throughout southern Nevada traveled extensively through China on a two-week tour performing an original musical production, developed by the students, for thousands of audience members. Shortly thereafter, students from Shanghai came to the United States, hosted by members of the Las Vegas International Performing Arts Exchange, for a West Coast tour. Over the last 16 years, the LVIPAE has provided numerous educational and culturally enriching experiences to the youth of Nevada including tours around the country and premieres of new artistic works. Hundreds of students have participated in the programs that continue to grow and develop to fit the needs of the youth of Nevada. Act Now is dedicated to promoting excellence in all areas of the performing arts. Its mission is to educate performers to the highest level of his or her ability. With 23 years of experience, and an extensive reputation in the United Kingdom for scouting talent, casting children and professional training, Act Now Entertainment is designed for young people who wish to start a career in the entertainment industry. By working with coaches who maintain a link with casting directors, music producers, theater, film and TV directors and talent agents around the world, the team has helped young people go on to work professionally worldwide, including in feature films such as The Harry Potter movies, The Batman movies, Nine, The King's Speech, The Other Boleyn Girl, Nanny McPhee, Finding Neverland, Hugo, Great Expectations, Notting Hill, Bend It Like Beckham, Titanic, The Star Wars Trilogy, War Horse, The Prince Of Persia, and the up and coming movie version of Les Miserables. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). Authorized performance materials are supplied by MTI, 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019. Phone (212) 541-4684, or go to www.MTIShows.com.
Note: This is not an endorsement for this organization, as we are not familiar with them. As with anything "new," we urge interested parties to do their own research.

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Wes Winters

If you want to see and hear entertainer Wes Winters at ENVY's popular Sunday Brunch, you better get there this weekend. After this Sunday, the Mimosas and Music Brunch at the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel, which features a delicious spread and unlimited Champagne and Mimosas along with live entertainment by Mr. Winters, will suspend the brunch through the rest of the summer. Enjoy the wine and cheese tasting station or delight in a custom, made-to-order omelet. Don't forget the "Build Your Own" Bloody Mary Bar - at just $10 additional per person for unlimited breakfast adult beverages - you can't go wrong! You'll also certainly enjoy the award winning pianist Wes Winters while sipping a bottomless glass of champagne! Hours are from 11 a.m. to 3p.m. Don't panic! Winters fans can still get their fix, from 6 to 9 p.m., on Fridays and Saturdays when the piano player/singer performs in the Grandview Lounge at the South Point.

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Back to the subject of the reemerging battle between entertainer ,Jimmy Emerson, and producer, Norbert Aleman.

On Sunday, June 10th, Las Vegas Review-Journal entertainment writer, Mike Weatherford's feature story was titled, It's 'Who knew?' déjà vu for 'La Cage' We are printing Weatherford's article, with comments from Emerson, the former star of the recent incarnations of the Las Vegas productions of La Cage. Emerson's words are seen here in bold type/italics.

A touring musical headed to The Smith Center proves the name "La Cage" is still to drag what Chippendales is to the G-string.

But the Vegas drag show that perpetuated the name for decades struck out for the second time recently at the Riviera. You might be less surprised to know "La Cage" closed Memorial Day than that it was back at the hotel, where it was an institution from 1985 through 2009.

"All we needed was some advertising," says Jimmy Emerson, the star and, for a time, hands-on producer of the revived title.

Nothing is ever gone forever in Las Vegas if someone thinks he can wring a buck from it. But this deja vu closing of "La Cage" seems to leave us with only the eternal tension between longtime producer Norbert Aleman and the drag performers in the cast.

Talking with Emerson last week seemed like a full-circle conversation. "I'm through. I'm done. I'm finished with the name 'La Cage,'  " Emerson says.

Unless of course I ever get a chance to appear in the Broadway musical "La Cage Aux Folles"

He is heading back to the familiar role he played for years: Filling in as vacation guest host for Frank Marino, who opened "Divas Las Vegas" with several "La Cage" cast members at the Imperial Palace after La Cage closed the first time.

And this time, Emerson swears he is through with Aleman, too. "He really did it to us again."

Yes he did it again, and what's more I LET HIM! He played me like an un tuned piano, nothing ever sounded quite right. I questioned everything I was supposed to, especially the part about his paying me the salaries of the cast and having me distribute pay checks under my company's name. When a meeting with his attorney Stephan Cohen was called Mr. Cohen said to me "So what's your problem?" I told him I was not comfortable with the paycheck situation. When I suggested it might have something to do with the Frank Marino contract from before the show closed in 2009, Mr. Cohen showed me Frank's contract and the termination letter they sent him in 2009. The clauses did say that if the show closed, the pay would stop. I knew that Frank had sent correspondence to Norbert, but I never saw a 'complete' anything. I was told that if I wanted the show to reopen and get paid I should just go along with it. After only a few weeks Norbert decided that he was closing the show. He offered me a very limited 'strings attached" licensing agreement to use the name La Cage, but there was no way I could get any investor to touch it as it was written. Again, when I questioned the language of the licensing agreement, I was told (by Scott Santos) to just go along with it. This I believe was my most fatal mistake. As far as I'm concerned that contract is null and void. I will deal with any legal consequences when and if they arrive.

Emerson didn't hold back his bitterness at the way the show's closing was handled in 2009. But he struck an unlikely alliance with Aleman again last year, when the producer let him use the "La Cage" name at - and only at - the Four Queens.

Norbert also allowed me to use the name for a show at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, AZ but he charged me a 10% of the gross of the contract -- $5,000.00. Then again at the Spa Resort in Palm Springs when I had to pay Norbert the cost of Union Labor at the Riviera - about $1,000.00.

I saw the resulting product. Let's just say it seemed like it was time to reinvent the Vegas drag show in something other than this dusty iteration.

But Emerson hadn't given up hope when he says Aleman announced "he was taking his show back," and "back we go to the Riviera."

Emerson and Aleman dispute who was in charge at that point. Aleman says he never intended to take the financial risk, but the Riviera wanted him onboard.

I'll tell you who was in charge...NORBERT...he took over every aspect of the show including remixing the music of all the characters, using MY sets and having them altered to fit the Riviera Crazy Girl stage, and replacing my dancers with his dancers. He lighted the show in his fashion of CRAZY GIRLS which in my opinion (and others) was completely wrong for an impersonation show. The lighting was so dark that audience members would literally strain to try to see some of the characters. He handed over all promotion to Scott Santos. I begged Norbert to at least take out SOME ads in top magazines and he refused saying that he did not believe in spending money with magazines or billboards and that Scott knew what he was doing promoting the show through social media and brokers alone.

The 70-year-old producer says the business has changed, as well as society itself. When the first show opened, "gay people were not accepted into society and (drag) was taboo." But the curiosity is gone, he says.

Are you kidding me? More gay clubs opened in the 80's than any other time and the musical "La Cage Aux Folles" opened to rave reviews in 1980! It was Norbert who did not accept gay people into 'his' society. I remember in the beginning, he would not allow any couple dancing in the show because audiences would be 'appalled' to see two men dancing together even though one of them was in drag. This was also when he eliminated male backup dancers and only used real girls.

Aleman says Emerson is a talent, but "unfortunately he arrived 10 years late."

I was there from the very beginning. La Cage opened in 1985 and I was in the show starting in that same year. He used me as a weapon to intimidate his host and MC's - Drew Taylor in Atlantic City and Frank Marino in Las Vegas. He always told them that if they did not do what he said that they would be replaced by me. He is famous for using people against each other....manipulation is his game. He caused many problems between me and Frank and hated it when Frank and I would compare notes and realize that he was screwing with us. There is a whole other story about how I put together a complete pageant for him by using all of my resources to get him what he wanted and needed and then he cut me out completely. It will all be in the book.

Emerson and Marino disagree. They vow to keep drag alive in Las Vegas and beyond, with plans to send the Riviera cast out to other casino markets.

I spoke at length with Frank yesterday and we are very anxious to get to work and to get our kids back to work, they have suffered enough, including the loyal dancers that worked for free when we were at the Four Queens, the ones Norbert fired.

Under a different name, "La Cage" is back - in the title of "La Cage Aux Folles," the Broadway hit based on the movie that started it all, due at The Smith Center Aug. 14.

A better place for it, I would say.

This battle between Aleman and one of his production show stars, is nothing new. During his almost 25-year reign as the queen of An Evening at La Cage, female impersonator/ comic, Frank Marino, had his own problems with producer Aleman, who seems to run his shows and cast members by using intimidation and threats. Stay tuned.


Jimmy Emerson

Marie Rowley

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Another great turnout for last Monday's Las Vegas Media Group luncheon today, with 47 members in attendance. Could it have something to do with the topic? Marie Rowley did a great job sharing her research on early Las Vegas brothels. She was talking to a group of people who could add to her research as many of them were here in Vegas when brothels operated under the radar in Clark County. Several members shared some of their knowledge with Marie. It was a great talk! Marie is headed to the University of Illinois in Chicago to continue her studies. There were many new faces in last Monday's crowd. Some were guests of members and some had just not been at recent meetings. Frank Mitrani made an appearance all the way from Kanab, Utah. As the luncheon wrapped up, it was just so great to see so many old friends catching up, shaking hands, and clapping one another on the back.

Two Las Vegas Media Group members will be recognized in the community soon. Cork Proctor will be honored (maybe that's not the right word) on July 22nd, in a roast at the South Point Hotel to celebrate his 80th birthday and the release of his new book, My Mind is an Open Mouth (Stephen's Press). Tickets are $40, and the proceeds will benefit Opportunity Village.

Harriet Trudell's 80th birthday will be celebrated on August 22nd, hosted by the Women's Democratic Club (http://www.womensdemo.com/). The event takes place at the Springs Preserve at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 each, or $80 for two. Call the WDC at (702) 737-8683 for more information or to RSVP. Attendees celebrating June birthdays at the recent meeting were Rich Friedland, David Kramer and Pat Clary. Next month, the LVMG meeting will take place on July 16th. The guest speaker will be Frank Fiedler, a former radio station owner and long-time Las Vegas resident.

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Taylor Hicks, winner of American Idol's fifth season, will have an eight-week engagement headlining at Bally's Las Vegas beginning Tuesday, June 26th. Hicks will play in The Indigo at Bally's on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. Hicks becomes the first American Idol winner or finalist to secure a residency in Las Vegas. It is also a sort of homecoming, as Las Vegas is where Hicks' journey to fame began. He was in New Orleans the night before Hurricane Katrina. With his flight cancelled, he was given a free airplane voucher. He used the ticket to travel to Las Vegas, where, coincidentally, American Idol auditions were being held. Hicks says, "A residency in Las Vegas is one of those opportunities an entertainer dreams about. Vegas is where Sinatra's Rat Pack and America's greatest talents make musical history. To join those ranks is both humbling and thrilling. My goal is to live up to that legacy of live showmanship." "It's not every day that a property on the Las Vegas Strip can announce that an 'American Idol' winner will be a headlining act. We are very excited to welcome Taylor to Bally's," said David Hoenemeyer, president of Bally's Las Vegas. "Taylor won the hearts of fans across America when he competed on 'American Idol,' and I am sure that he will have just as many fans among our property's guests." Taylor Hicks is one of the most beloved "American Idol" winners of all-time. From the start, Taylor's material on "American Idol" set him apart, with a unique take on southern soul, R & B, country and blues. More than 63 million votes were cast and nearly 37 million viewers tuned in to crown Hicks the Season 5 winner of "American Idol," making it one of the most watched television events of the decade. The applause hasn't stopped since he stepped off that stage. Less than three weeks after Hicks' Idol win, his debut single, "Do I Make You Proud," entered at #1 on Billboard's Hot 100, Pop 100 and Single Sales charts. Coinciding with the single release, a cover story named Hicks as People Magazine's "Hottest Bachelor of the Year." His self-titled album, "Taylor Hicks" (Arista), debuted No. 2 on the Billboard 200, and was quickly certified RIAA platinum. Since winning Idol, Hicks has performed with the likes of Willie Nelson, Snoop Dog, Gladys Knight, Earth Wind and Fire and The Allman Brothers, has appeared in concerts worldwide, and penned a brisk-selling Random House autobiography, Heart Full of Soul. On Broadway, Hicks starred as Teen Angle in the hit musical, Grease, and when asked to join the national tour, happily agreed. The 18-month tour connected him with fans across the United States and Canada. Hicks, who hails from Birmingham, Alabama, was destined for the musical stage from early childhood. Focusing on music full-time, he became a fixture around the southeast, playing concerts and club dates with visiting stars like James Brown, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Robert Randolph, Keb' Mo' and Widespread Panic among others, and released two independent albums In Your Time and Under The Radar. These albums were compiled and released by Vanguard Records as "Early Works." Ticket prices for Taylor Hicks at Bally's are $29.99 and $59.99, which includes a meet and greet with Hicks. Additional service fees apply. Tickets are available by calling (888) 746-7784, or (702) 777-7776, or at the Bally's Box Office and online at www.ballyslasvegas.com.


Taylor Hicks

Don McLean

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Renowned performer Don McLean is set to headline in the theater at the LVH - Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (formerly Las Vegas Hilton) on July 3rd. Don McLean's star status is always attributed to his remarkable song, "American Pie" which, in 2000, once again topped the charts worldwide, this time recorded by Madonna. Back in 1972, "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)," a tribute to artist Vincent Van Gogh, taken from the American Pie album gave McLean a second No. 1 hit single and another landmark entry in the history of popular music. Some people are amazed when they read how successful "American Pie Man," Don McLean has been. Far from fading away (like some of his 1970s singer-songwriter contemporaries), Don has remained very much in the upper echelons of popular music. Between 1971 and 2000, Don McLean released over 20 albums and scored major chart successes with "Everyday" (1973), "Mountains of Mourne" (1974), "Crying" (1980), "Since I Don't Have You" (1981), "You Can't Blame the Train" (1987), and again with "American Pie" in the UK in 1991. In 2004, Don was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2005, HELLO! Magazine featured Don in a stunning 5-page spread, which included photographs taken at the McLean residence in Maine and offered an exclusive interview in which Don talks about Madonna, George Michael, American Pie, and his 2007 biography, The Don McLean Story: Killing Us Softly With His Words, by Alan Howard. Don McLean will perform on Tuesday, July 3rd at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39 -$70 (plus tax and service charge), and can be purchased at the LVH box office or by logging onto www.thelvh.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at (702) 732-5755, or (800) 222-5361.

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