Las Vegas Backstage Talk

LV Backstage Talk column

By Michele LaFong

May 2015

Las Vegas Backstage Talk column in Casino Player Magazine and Gaming Today

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LV Backstage Talk column

March Las Vegas Backstage Talk column in Casino Player Magazine and Gaming Today

By Michele LaFong

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Fellow artists, musicians and industry insiders were among the crowd that packed The Gordie Brown Showroom inside the Golden Nugget. They had all turned out for 80’s hit-master Eddie Money on Feb. 13.

Back in the 80’s, it seemed every time I watched MTV or turned on the radio another Eddie Money hit was playing. Hearing those chart-topping tunes in back to back concert, took me back in time. I was awed at how many great tunes Eddie had cranked out.

“Two Tickets to Paradise,” “Shakin’,” “Think I’m in Love,” “Take Me Home Tonight,” “I Wanna Go Back,” were just a few I remembered and some I didn’t – like “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” which I enjoyed.

When Eddie wasn’t singing he was wailing on the saxophone or harmonica. I got a huge kick watching him work the crowd. “The Money Man” hasn’t lost any of his charisma or showmanship; at age 65 he can still rock the house, keeping the audience on its feet.

A true entertainer, Money is comedic, fun to watch and a crowd-pleaser. It was obvious he doesn’t take himself too seriously. His main objective is to make sure everyone has a great time. He even signed tee shirts for a long line of fans with 100% of the proceeds donated to our troops.

I could tell from my interview with Money that he is extremely down to earth, one of the most genuine people I’ve ever run into in show business!

Solid Gold

After interviewing 5th Dimension stars Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., I was invited to check out their show “Up, Up and Away – The Music & Memories” at The Orleans on Valentine’s Day weekend.

I’m so glad I did. The sold-out performance was one of the classiest, well-paced, entertaining shows I’ve seen. The talented back-up singers and musicians, choreography, and attention to detail told us no corners were cut in this production.

Married and performing together for over 45 years, the chemistry between Marilyn and Billy was magical. Even the scripted shtick between them was endearing, well-timed, and masterfully performed. The pair took the audience on a journey through Memory Lane.

In between singing their biggest hits – “Up Up and Away,” “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show),” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” and more – they entertained with everything from The Beatles to Blues to Broadway, complete with costume changes and stellar solos from each.

Both voices were shockingly as strong, crisp and impressive as ever, which explains why they received several standing ovations and two curtain calls! This show could be a mainstay on the Strip, like Smokey Robinson’s Human Nature.

Got talent?

NBC’s “America’s Got Talent!” wrapped up all live auditions nationwide, and will soon inform those who made it to the next round, which will most likely be televised in New York in front of judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B.

The turnout for the one day open call auditions in Las Vegas for season 10 of the show was enormous. I bumped into every kind of performer I knew, and many I never want to know!

It was a sight to behold. That’s the wonderful thing about this show. It is the only television venue open to any age and any talent – nothing is off limits.

If you win, you receive $1 million. But you don’t have to win the show for it to change your life. Throughout the years, many acts have gone on to launch careers. 2014 winner Mat Franco just headlined in a Las Vegas show with fellow finalists.

Forte, the powerhouse operatic trio that made it to the finals this past season, landed a recording contract with Columbia Records and a special New Year’s residency in Las Vegas!

Kenichi Ebina, The KriStef Brothers, Collins Key, Cami Bradley, Jimmy Rose, Taylor Williamson and Tone The Chiefrocca all went on an AGT live tour around the country.

Among AGT’s success stories are Terry Fator, Recycled Percussion, Nathan Burton, and Jabbawockeez. All perform regularly on the Strip. Comedians Taylor Williamson and Tom Cotter sell out venues across the country and iLuminate is lighting up the Broadway stage.

Dice special

Andrew Dice Clay has a special airing on Showtime in March. The “Blue Show,” with some of his favorite blue comics, features Eleanor Kerrigan, Steve Wilson, Erik Myers, Jason Rouse, Michael Wheels Paris, Colin Kane and The Smash Brothers; Cory & Chad.

My Picks

Wayne Brady, Mirage, Feb.27; Roseanne Barr, Tommy James and the Shondells, Golden Nugget, Feb. 27; Jay Leno, Mirage, Feb. 28;

Bill Engvall, Treasure Island, March 6, Bill Medley and McKenna Medley, South Point, March 6-8; John Mulaney, Mirage, March 6; Tim Allen, Mirage, March 7;

Dana Carvey, Orleans, March 13-14; Jim Breuer, South Point, March 13-14; Whitney Cummings, Venetian, March 13-14; Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Palms, March 15; Elton John, Caesars Palace, March 18-April 14;

Bobby Vinton, Golden Nugget, March 20; Jo Koy, Treasure Island, March 20; The Lettermen, South Point, March 20-22; Ron White, Mirage, March 20-21; Bill Maher, Palms, March 21-22; Garfunkel & Oates, Venetian, March 21;

Charlie Murphy, South Point, March 27-29; Daniel Tosh, Mirage, March 27-28; Caroline Rhea and Elaine Boosler, Venetian, March 28; Shaq’s next All-Star comedy jam, Aliante, March 28.

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Feb. Las Vegas Backstage Talk Column

By Michele LaFong

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Feb. Las Vegas Backstage Talk in Casino Player Magazine and Gaming Today.

Last month, Robin Meade, longtime Host of HLN’s Morning Express, guested on LV Backstage Talk to promote her Special Guest Star appearance in “Christmas, Motown and More,” an 11 day limited-engagement with Smokey Robinson’s Human Nature at The Venetian. After watching Robin as a news television personality at 3AM for many years I was one of the many viewers unaware that Robin is also a very respected singer-songwriter with a pair of albums charting on the Billboard Country Albums chart in 2011’s Brand New Day and 2013’s Count On Me. Her impressive resume doesn’t end there. She has also belted out the National Anthem at many packed stadiums, and has performed with Darius Rucker, Kenny Chesney, Richard Marx, David Foster and John Rich. Did I mention that Robin is also a former Miss Ohio and a NYT best- selling author that overcame crippling panic attacks and now does speaking engagements as well, sharing her story? Her credits go on and on…I wondered if there was anything left that Robin would not be fearless of trying and I soon found out there is. It’s stand-up comedy. If that isn’t the best reason for Robin to push the envelope and break out of her comfort zone I don’t know what is! Robin’s a dynamic entertainer with plenty of charm and quick wit. Regardless of what she’s performing, if you ever have the opportunity to catch her live…treat yourself you’ll be happy you did. I’m also a huge fan of Smokey Robinson Presents Human Nature: The Motown Show, which is on 5 nights a week at The Venetian.
The long awaited ‘FRANK – THE MAN. THE MUSIC.’ starring Bob Anderson will make its debut at The Palazzo® Las Vegas on Saturday, Jan. 24. The show honoring the life and music of Frank Sinatra will feature a 32-piece orchestra under the musical direction of Vincent Falcone. Anderson is transformed into Sinatra with the help of Oscar®-nominated makeup artist Kazu Tsuji, who aged Brad Pitt in the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” The musical journey through the legend’s timeless hits highlights three distinct areas of Sinatra’s career: the recording studio, television specials, and personal appearances. With a magical $100,000 stage set-up, the 90-minute production opens at The Palazzo Theatre in the year that celebrates the 100th anniversary of Sinatra’s birth. It was obvious from my two in-studio interviews with Anderson that he is the ultimate perfectionist, and being that he is one of the most realistic singing impressionists of our time this show promises to be spectacular!
I finally landed an interview with Award-winning Rock & Blues Great Kenny Wayne Shepherd, one of my favorite artists of all time. He guested on LVBST to promote his return to The Orleans Showroom on Feb. 7 & 8. When I let Kenny know that I never miss an opportunity to catch his show I was taken back but pleasantly surprised when he said “I always perform two separate set lists on both nights for my loyal, die-heart fans so that they can return and enjoy both shows nights.” There are not too many artists that I’ve seen or interviewed that go to that kind of trouble to please their audience or themselves and have enough A-list material and chart-topping hits to successfully pull that off even if they wanted to. His show continues to evolve. Last year I noticed that Lead Singer Noah Hunt was playing some instruments, not just the tambourine, as he did in past shows, and Kenny sang a lot more. This added a lot more interest on-stage, both visually, and otherwise. There was much more interaction between Kenny and Noah which made for an even more dynamic stage performance.
Kenny, a self- taught guitarist that doesn’t read a lick of music started playing at age 6, and received his first record deal at age 13. He has since been listed among the top blues guitarists of all time by Guitar World magazine, along with legends B.B. King and Eric Clapton. Shepherd has also shared the stage with an impressive list of other music icons including The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, and The Eagles.
When I asked Kenny if he recollected any crazy backstage stories with any of those artists or others, he admitted that although there were probably plenty of stories… he thinks he will keep them to himself!

Shepherd has sold millions of albums worldwide and received five GRAMMY®nominations and two Billboard Music Awards, as well as a pair of Orville H. Gibson awards, the Blues Foundation’s Keeping The Blues Alive award and two Blues Music awards. He’s had six #1 blues albums and a string of #1 mainstream rock singles, and his acclaimed CD/documentary project 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads was the top-selling blues album of 2007.
His latest CD, Goin’ Home is nominated for Blues Rock Album of the year for 2015 Blues Music Awards. Also lending their talents on Goin’ Home are several talented friends including fellow guitar icons Joe Walsh, Warren Haynes, Keb’ Mo’ and Robert Randolph, longtime friend Ringo Starr, Fabulous Thunderbirds front man Kim Wilson, the Rebirth Brass Band and co-producer Blade’s father, Pastor Brady Blade Sr.
When researching Kenny before the interview I was surprised to learn that he is married to actor Mel Gibson’s eldest daughter, Hannah, and they have three children, which he said he often takes on the road with them on their tour bus. Since LVBST is the only show that really gets “Personal with the Stars,” I couldn’t help but ask what it was like having Mel Gibson for a father in-law? Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s response to that question and more can be heard on Feb. 5, at 6pm PST on 1230AM in Las Vegas and streaming live.
February picks: Ron White, Mirage, February 6-14, Kenny Wayne Shepherd band, the Orleans, February 7, 8, Seether & Papa Roach, Hard Rock, February 7, Loni Love, the Venetian, February 14, Marilyn Manson, Mandalay Bay, February 14, Engelbert Humperdinck, Smith Ctr., February 15th, the Diamonds, South Point, February 20-22, Ray Romano & David Spade, Mirage, February 20, 21, Billy Idol, the Cosmopolitan, February 21, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, Mandalay Bay, 21, Jennifer Coolidge, Venetian, February 21, Rascal Flatts, Hard Rock, February 25 – March 14, Wayne Brady, The Mirage, February 27, Jay Leno, the Mirage, February 28, Roseann Barr, the Venetian, February 28.

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Jan. LV Backstage Talk column

By Michele LaFong

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Jan. Las Vegas Backstage Talk column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today.

Last month, after interviewing Charlie Daniels, best known for his No. 1 country hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and hearing several songs from his new Off the Grid CD – Doin’ It Dylan, a tribute piece in which the Charlie Daniels Band puts a southern twist on a collection of Bob Dylan’s most classic songs, I felt compelled to check out his show at The Orleans theatre to witness for myself how this country and southern rock legend skilled on guitar, fiddle, and mandolin, manages to stay so relevant at 78 years of age. It was closing night of National Finals Rodeo week. Backstage prior to the show we were chatting it up and I noticed that even his deep speaking voice was resonating with every word. He came across all American as apple pie, and was quite humble and personable both on and off stage. I had no idea what to expect from Charlie’s show but I knew after 50 plus years of creating his own new definitions of music which scored hits on rock, country, pop and Christian charts alike, and winning almost every music award along the way that I would be in for a real treat… and I was!
From the moment Daniels hit the stage, he displayed personality using some theatrics in some jovial interaction with his fellow band members. He really played to his audience when he sang a song about rednecks that clearly won the room over early on. Every type of music was covered from classic Christmas songs to blues and everything in between with Charlie’s signature southern sound and spin in the music’s interpretation. He even played a Johnny Cash tune to play tribute to the star that was so kind to him in Nashville when he was trying to break into the very competitive music business.

Charlie also showed much appreciation of his fellow band members throughout the show and during the introduction of an instrumental entitled Black Ice, an intricate, jamming concert-piece which was designed to showcase the skills of his musicians with solos from each band member which included an 8 minute solo from drummer, Pat McDonald which received a standing ovation in the middle of the show.

I found it interesting that the two Dylan songs that Charlie chose to play were coincidently the same two that I picked to showcase samples of during my interview with him which aired on LVBST. Tangled Up In Blue, and Gotta Serve Somebody, which I absolutely loved! (I noticed when I interviewed Daniels that we had the exact same taste in artists from Gregg Allman to B.B King, when he confessed, “I would love to have the opportunity to record with B.B.) Bob Dylan was the original before the Beatles, and before everyone else.” Charlie declared on stage. He told the story of how he was called to record with Dylan as a one-time fill in because the guitarist that was hired for the series of recording sessions could not make the very first one however after the session was over, Bob insisted that Daniels stay on and finish the project with him because he was the perfect person for the job.
Of course the show closed with the much awaited Devil Down in Georgia, which had the audience on its feet.
What a perfect way to end National Finals Rodeo week! Charlie will be touring the country starting in January, and has several dates in casinos nationally. I highly recommend his show.

The other artist featured on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Daniels was Ventriloquist Jay Johnson, who is mostly remembered for his role as the schizophrenic ventriloquist “Chuck and Bob” on the classic ABC television comedy “Soap”. Jay was on my radio show promoting the new DVD release of his Tony Award-winning Broadway show The Two and Only,” a show which he wrote and performed. Jay Johnson made his Broadway debut at the Helen Hayes Theatre. Four months before the Broadway opening “Jay Johnson: The Two and Only” played the Colony Theatre where it won the Los Angeles Ovation award for Best Solo Show. The show was originally produced Off-Broadway the previous season at Atlantic Theatre company where it earned rave reviews and a Lucille Lortel Award nomimation. He has written and performed in television specials for NBC, CBS, HBO and made hundreds of appearances on variety specials and talk shows like “The Tonight Show” (with Jay Leno and Johnny Carson) and “The David Letterman Show”. He has been featured in more than 30 national commercials. His acting credits include appearances on “CSI”, “That 70’s Show”, “Dave’s World”, “Night Court”, “Broken Badges” and many other shows that have come and gone.
I had the pleasure of working with Jay years ago when we were performing on Senor Wences’ 100th Birthday Tour at The Improv in LA with Paul Winchell, Milton Berle, John Byner, Charles Fleisher, and many more. I hadn’t had the opportunity to speak with Jay since that night’s performance and it was gratifying to hear that his rendition of that very special evening’s dinner with those two ventriloquist legends had matched my exact recollection of events. The full interviews of Charlie Daniels and Ventriloquist Jay Johnson are archived on Lasvegasbackstagetalk.com, as with all our other shows. Please Like us on facebook to be eligible for future show tickets and other offerings. With rodeo week, Christmas, and New Years’ behind us the schedule for headline entertainment in Las Vegas for 2015 is slowly being put together and released.

My Picks: Joe Rogan, the Mirage, January 1-2, January 30- 31, Elton John, Caesar’s Palace, January 16–24, Rob Schneider, South Point, January 16– 17, Styx, Palms, January 18, Santana, Mandalay Bay, January 21-31, Daniel Tosh, Mirage, January 23–24, Tommy Roe, South Point, January 23-25, Rod Stewart, Caesar’s Palace, January 27 – February 15, Bobby Slayton and Kevin Pollock, South Point, January 29-31, Burt Bacharach, Smith Center, Jan. 30, Jackie Evancho, Smith Center, Jan. 31, Pitbull, Enrique Iglesias, Mandalay Bay, Jan. 31, Tim Allen, Mirage, Jan. 31

 

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Dec. Las Vegas Backstage Talk column

by Michele LaFong

Las Vegas Backstage Talk syndicated column in Casino Player Magazine and Gaming Today.

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Dec. LVBST column 2014

It was obvious from the over 1400 people that turned out for The Next Generation show at The M Casino last month that this multi-media production show concept starring sons and daughters of show-biz legends backed by a big band shows promise of being a winner if built upon correctly, the casting played with and is executed a little more creatively. Since this was a first-time effort by Producer Patty Asher, I’m sure many lessons were learned, and adjustments will be made as with any new first time production. The order for the line-up of the evening went as follows: Lena Prima, daughter of Louis Prima, Steve March Torme, son of Mel Torme, Ricci Martin, son of Dean Martin, and Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland. Anthony Lewis, son of Jerry Lewis was cast as the Master of Ceremonies, and this could not have surprised me more because several months ago when Anthony Lewis guested live in-studio on Las Vegas Backstage Talk, he had made it quite clear then that he was strictly a “behind the scenes production guy,” and had zero aspirations of being a performer or being in front of the camera, or crowd…and that’s still the impression that he left even after watching him host this show.

A very crucial yet common mistake that many producers make is in thinking that anyone can emcee an event if the line-up is good… “All they have to do is introduce the acts.” This cannot be less true. The Last Comic Standing show at The Aliante Casino made this same mistake in having the road manager for Last Comic Standing’s road shows emcee their show of headliners last September.
The master of ceremonies makes the first impression of the evening’s presentation and is responsible for setting the tone, warming-up the crowd, establishing a rapport with the audience, and taking charge of the pacing of the show. This means that they need to have the skill and ability to ad-lib comfortably and tune-in to what the audience needs and is experiencing…all of which requires a certain amount of comfort and confidence on-stage, good timing, experience, artfulness, preparation, and a sense of humor. And that’s just for starters. Hence the “master” in the title- Master of Ceremonies which was obviously extremely overlooked or misunderstood in Patty’s casting of her husband, Anthony Lewis in the MC role in which he appeared uncomfortable and unprepared for when he hit the stage and immediately started reading the show introduction off a card. This not only set the wrong tone to the packed pavilion right off the bat, but also made it difficult for his fellow co-stars to build any kind of momentum when one by one they were thrown to an un-warmed up, now skeptical crowd. A much better and obvious choice for the emcee position would have been veteran performer Steve March-Torme, who comes off warm and inviting and connects well with audiences with humor and ease. Comedian Sandy Hackett, son of Buddy Hackett, would have also been another good choice as he specializes and has a passion for emceeing, and should be considered for future shows. Adding a comedian to this line-up would also add a little more variety to the mix. Desi Arnaz Jr., and sister, Lucy Arnez are also other stars worth pursuing for future shows, and I can only imagine the footage and creativity that they could bring to this type of production.

The beauty of this show concept is that the cast can be interchangeable, and with the help of the stars’ respective rare personal footage integrated on the large video screens, I believe this show can have broad national and international appeal. In future productions, I would hope to see more moving personal stories integrated into the artists’ sets, father/son/ daughter duets, (like the “Unforgettable” duet with Nat King Cole and daughter Natalie,) some running gags, and for the finale… all the artists on-stage singing and interacting together with a close that allows them to shine individually as well as together to a carefully picked song with lyrics that are relevant and capture the spirit of The Next Generation. In the meantime unless Anthony Lewis makes the decision that he would like to be in front of an audience and is willing to commit to putting the time into working out material and to getting experience on different stages, I’m sure with his extensive background in production he can contribute much more behind the scenes than in front of the audience while still utilizing his name in the credits.

Television talk show Host Wendy Williams is another one that decided to step out of her comfort zone and try stand-up comedy as she announced on her Talk show several months ago. At that time, her intent was to go to small clubs and try out material but before she could even do that she was invited by The Venetian to make her comedy debut on their weekend female comedy series Lipshtick. I finally went to see Wendy’s show which was sold-out for the second time. I loved that she had her comedy coach Luenell open for her as she is simply a laugh-riot. I think Wendy is on the right track with her story-telling style and I’m sure will develop many more needed punchlines and running-gags as she matures in her comedy, and very strongly prefer her to stay away from raw low-level comedy or bathroom humor, as it just doesn’t seem to fit with her already established persona. She is passed that and doesn’t need to go there. I would leave that very blue humor to Luenell, as she pulls it off quite masterfully.

One never knows what to expect on a live show. Last month we aired Singer Jack Jones’ interview and have a short video clip posted on casinocenter.com of Jack in-studio taking a cell phone call while in the middle of a live radio interview!
Singer Jack Jones takes personal cell phone call on live radio

My picks: Hank Williams Junior, Golden Nugget, December 4- 6, Heart, Mandalay Bay, December 5-7, Train, Better Than Ezra, Matt Nathanson, Hard Rock Hotel, December 5, Amy Schumer, Cosmopolitan, December 6, Merle Haggard, Golden Nugget, December 7 & 8, Olivia Newton John, Flamingo, December 9-13, December 30-January 3, Alabama, Golden Nugget, December 11 & 12th, The Shirelles, M casino, December 13, Tears For Fears, Palms, December 13, Three Dog Night, Eastside cannery, December 13, Tony Orlando Christmas show, South point, December 19- 21, Michael McDonald, Eastside Cannery, December 20, Jerry Seinfeld, Caesar’s Palace, December 26 & 27, Chris D’Elia, Mirage, December 27, Joe McHale, Mirage, December 29 & 30, Maroon 5, Mandalay Bay, December 30 and 31, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, The Cosmopolitan, Dec. 31

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Oct. LV Backstage Talk Column

by Michele LaFong

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Las Vegas Backstage Talk’s syndicated monthly column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today-Oct.

Finalist on Last Comic Standing Lachlan Patterson on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong (10 min. edited)

Oct. LVBST column
When Randy Bachman, founding member of The Guess Who, the Canadian band responsible for such hits as “No Time” and “American Woman” left to explore his personal musical horizons, he joined forces with Fred Turner to create Bachman-Turner Overdrive and rock & roll history was made. I, along with millions of other fans worldwide, grew up and sang along to radio hits such as “Taking Care Of Business,” “Let It Ride,” and “Roll On Down The Line.” So when I heard that after 20 years of fan demand these two giants of hard driving tunes were reuniting, touring, and appearing at The Cannery August 30, billed as Bachman & Turner, I knew I had to get an interview, which I finally landed with Fred Turner. You can imagine my shock when backstage, before their concert Fred casually dropped the bombshell scoop to yours truly that this was his very last show with Bachman. “I am retiring and have lots of other unfinished business to take care of…I’m just taking care of unfinished business, you might say…loose ends to tie up. I’ve got a bucket list with lots of things I need to do.” When asked how Randy Bachman took the news, he responded “Randy’s got so many things going on all the time with so many artists, and new projects, he’s just fine! …Maybe I’ll be back in a few years…you never know.” While watching the concert I was kind of sad but felt blessed to be witnessing the last historic show of Bachman & Turner. They never announced the news to the crowd and I haven’t heard a peep about it since.
Another thing that has come to an abrupt end is the celebrity impersonating “dealertainers” that the Imperial Palace, now The Quad soon to be the Linq was so famous for. It seems this was not a popular decision with many of their loyal customers. Also, the Clarion Resort on Convention Center Drive formally Royal Americana, Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino, Paddlewheel, and Greek Isles has closed for good. It’s been an interesting quaint little property that opened as the Royal Inn in 1970. Debbie Reynolds gave me my first running show there, “Vegas Live” starring Michele LaFong.
It is with a heavy heart that I am addressing the untimely passing of Comedy Icon Joan Rivers who at age 81 seemed ageless, and invincible. I was asked to join WTTG-TV (FOX 5) Washington via Skype to share some of my personal interactions with Joan when guesting on her afternoon talk show back in the 80’s and speak on the impact that she had on comedy in general. Like so many other stories being shared by industry over the weeks about Joan’s generosity, graciousness, and wonderful sense of humor, I experienced much of the same. Joan’s approach to comedy was fearless and unapologetic- breaking ground and paving the way for other female comics. Ironically she hated being referred to as a pioneer or a trail blazer because her work was not even close to being done. In fact, in a recent interview before her passing she was quoted as saying “I hate when female comics come up to me and say “Oh you broke barriers for women… I’m still breaking barriers….” Sadly her work was unfinished but her legend lives on and she is sorely missed.
Another feminine comedy ground-breaker of sorts is New Jersey native “Queen of Comedy” Sommore, who began her career as the first woman to host BET’s ”Comic View,” and then later hosting Russell Simmons’ “Def Comedy Jam” and “Showtime at the Apollo.” She was the 1995 recipient of the Richard Pryor Award for Comic of the Year, and in 2000 she entered “The Guinness Book of World Records,” performing for an audience of more than 50,000 people in Atlanta as part of the “Queens of Comedy” tour. A recording of the show became the longest-running and highest-rated special in the history of Showtime Networks.
I recently interviewed Sommore, who was promoting her upcoming weekend at Suncoast Hotel & Casino on Labor Day Weekend. With credits which include her status as being among the top-grossing stand-up comediennes in the United States and abroad, as well as Oprah Winfrey proclaiming her “a force to be reckoned with in the new millennium,” it’s of no wonder that Sommore sold out both nights at the 500 seat theatre before the weekend even began with Suncoast having to turn away hundreds of fans. Her show equally as impressive had substance and she drew a drinking, spending well-dressed crowd. I think it was obvious just from her credits that Queen of Comedy Sommore deserved to be performing in a much bigger theatre on The Strip. I’m sure Las Vegas won’t make that mistake again as word gets out fast!
Another impressive comedienne making a difference in comedy is Wanda Sykes. Wanda is Executive Producer of NBC’s Last Comic Standing which got renewed for a second season. I recently interviewed runner-up Lachlan Patterson, and Winner Rod Man who were promoting their upcoming Last Comic Standing Tour with all 5 finalists in the show. The audio of their interviews are archived on our site. I will be doing a backstage videotaped interview with both Lachlan, and Rod Man in between their sold out shows at Aliante Casino. An edited portion will be posted on gamingtoday.com, casinocenter.com.
Bill Maher returns to the Palms on Oct. 10 & 11. He always puts on a solid, funny, relevant show, and is one of my favorite return guests on LVBST. Bill’s interview will air on Oct. 9.
My Picks:
Wanda Sykes, Treasure Island, Oct 3, The Beach Boys, The Cannery, Oct. 4, Lewis Black, The Mirage, Oct. 4, Daniel Tosh, Mirage, Oct. 10 & 11, Legends of Motown: the Four Tops, Temptations, Spinners, Cannery, Oct. 10 & 11, Loni Love, Venetian, Oct. 10 & 11,
The Eagles, MGM Grand, Oct. 11, Queensryche, Eastside Cannery, Oct. 11, Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, Mandalay Bay, Asia, Red Rock Resort, Oct. 17, John Fogerty, Palms, Oct. 17, Ray Romano and David Spade, Mirage, Oct. 17 & 18, Zac Brown Band, MGM Grand, Oct. 17, Carlos Mencia, Treasure Island, Oct. 17, Smokey Robinson, Eastside Cannery, Oct. 18, Ron White, Mirage, Oct. 24 & 25, Bill Engvall, Treasure Island, Oct. 24, Wendy Williams, Venetian, Oct. 31.

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