Las Vegas Backstage Talk

April Las Vegas Backstage Talk column by Michele LaFong

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

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Remembering David Brenner

It doesn’t get much than better listening to show-biz stories from David Brenner and Shecky Green in a Las Vegas coffee shop.  It wasn’t that long ago I was doing just that.  I was shocked when I heard that David Brenner lost his battle with cancer at age 78. II was fortunate enough to have interviewed him when he was promoting his last engagement at The Suncoast Showroom.  In that interview Brenner talked about how his father taught him to always leave the audience laughing.  And he did…even till the very end.  I reran that interview on March 20, in David’s memory.  The audio is archived on lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.

After interviewing countless comedians and singers on LVBST for almost three years and following up to watch their shows, I started to realize that artists and audiences often have very different agendas. Audiences always want to be entertained and look forward to hearing their favorite bits or hits of the artist that they pay to go see…and artists want to entertain but also want to grow and continue to evolve, develop and explore.  With the double-edged sword of name recognition and fame come expectations from fans of what that artist often perceives as keeping them stuck in the past, and pigeon-holed.  Finding that perfect balance of “old” and “new” is the answer to satisfying both the audience and artist whether a comedian, or singer.  Tom Jones is a perfect example of someone who has mastered not only combining old with new, but also in re-inventing his band and updating his bluesy arrangements, keeping his material fresh yet in-step with his brand which also keeps him relevant.  A crowd-pleaser like Tony Orlando, who is known for opening his show with his biggest hits right off the bat then following up with everything from Led Zeppelin, to The Beatles, always delivers a feel-good contemporary show, is always “on,” and has that special connection with his loyal audience which explains his lasting popularity and sell-out performances. Bill Maher, and Jerry Seinfeld are examples of comedians that are committed to keeping their material updated, presentation smooth, and take pride in the quality of their shows without sacrificing laughs.  Paula Poundstone, Chuck Negron, Mickey Gilley, Marty Allen, Rich Little, Gallagher, Gary Puckett, Carlos Mencia, and Judy Tenuta are all examples of artists that not only embrace their audience but also include a Meet & Greet following every show.  Another performer that is very pro-audience and eager to please was Burton Cummings, former lead singer for The Guess Who.  Cummings sang hit after hit when headlining at The Orleans in January, and received several standing ovations throughout.  He even allowed flash photography during his performance and went as far as inviting fans to videotape the show!  However not all artists are even close to being as giving and grateful on and off stage, committed to taking the audience up as high as they can.  70’s Pop Star Helen Reddy had a packed house.  Before the show began at The Orleans Theatre, I over-heard audience members anticipating which hit Reddy might open with.  But no one called it right!  She didn’t sing any hits until forty minutes into the show.  Although her voice sounded as good ever, the fans that came out expecting to hear her many, many hits were clearly out of luck, as I counted three hits in total including the iconic and mandatory “I am Woman.” Oh…And of course, no pictures, nor autographs for anyone with no exceptions, and certainly no backstage passes!  I can’t say I was that surprised because when I interviewed Reddy a couple of weeks prior to the show, and asked her why she had quit the business and stopped singing for over ten years, her reply was “I was bored.  I was tired of singing the same songs over and over again.”  I asked why she decided to return, her reply was “I was at my older sister’s 80th birthday party, and she asked me to do her a favor and sing a duet with her …and you don’t turn down your big sister…so I sang… got a huge standing ovation, and I heard my voice coming out of the monitor and thought “gee, that’s not so bad…maybe I should go out and do that again…and here I am.”  Before my interview, I asked her if she will be gambling while in Vegas?  Her reply? “I don’t gamble, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I’m a celibate!” (Not exactly what I was expecting!) I immediately recalled a videotaped interview I did with Comedian Sal Richards in which I asked if there was a celebrity he worked with that wasn’t what he expected them to be.  His immediate reply was “yes Helen Reddy!” And the story he told about her was pretty outrageous and shocking!  It really shows what can go on behind the scenes in Show Business.  It is posted on casinocenter.com and promises not to disappoint!

Singing funnyman Michael Shane was such a hit at Bootlegger Bistro on Thursday nights that he is “back by popular demand” on every Friday & Saturday in April from 6:30PM on.  He will be taking your requests and is very difficult to stump!  The food is great, especially the pizza, and you’ll be thoroughly entertained.

My picks for April are Ray Romano/Kevin James, April 4 & 6, Mirage, Brian McKnight, April 5, Eastside Cannery, Rob Thomas, April 4, Palms, DL Hughley, Orleans, April 4 & 5, Palms,  Gary Lewis & The Playboys, April 4 & 5, Suncoast, Jeff Ross, April 5, Mirage, Olivia Newton-John, April 8- 12, Flamingo, Jason Alexander, April 11-May 4, Harrah’s, Wayne Brady, April 11, Mirage, Bryan Ferry, April 12, Palms, Jay Leno, April 12, Mirage, Foghat, April 12, Cannery, Las Vegas Soul Festival, April 12, UNLV, Megadeth and Motorhead, April 17, Palms, The Bronx Wanderers, April 18-20, South Point, Gabriel Iglesias, Mirage, April 18 & 19, Jim Belushi & Chicago Board of Comedy, April 18 & 19, Venetian, Robert Cray, April 18, Cannery, Restless Heart/Sawyer Brown, April 19, Eastside Cannery, Jeff Tracta, April 24, LVH, Tony Orlando, April 25-27, South Point, Bobby Rydell, April 25-27, Suncoast, Tracy Morgan, April 25, TI, Little River Band, April 26, Cannery, Temptations, April 26 & 27, Orleans, Rod Stewart, April 30-May 17, Caesars Palace

 

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Dennis Miller, Deana Martin, Kelly Clinton-LV Backstage Talk w/Comedian Michele LaFong

Apr. 26, 2012  6pm-7pm PST 1230AM in LV & Web

Comedian, Radio Show Host, Commentator Dennis Miller, Singer Deana Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, and Singer Kelly Clinton, guest on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Celebrated as a witty comedian with an entertaining and intriguing stand-up routine, Miller keeps audiences laughing with his irreverent observations. A favorite of the public and critics alike, The New York Times said, “Mr. Miller is exquisitely attuned to contemporary foibles … his material can be scathing, his delivery low key … Mr. Miller reaches a bit farther than most comedians for the scorching comment … this smart aleck has an uncommonly sharp eye.”

Called “one of the premiere comedy talents in America today,” Miller emerged on the national scene in as the “Weekend Update” correspondent on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. After leaving SNL in 1991, Miller moved to HBO, where he hosted the critically acclaimed talk show Dennis Miller Live for nine seasons. No stranger to television talk shows, Miller is a regular on Fox News Channel’s Hannity and The O’Reilly Factor. He was also host and executive producer of CNBC’s Dennis Miller, which featured conversation, opinion and humor.

Dennis Miller will be featured in Comedian Michele LaFong’s Monthly Syndicated “Las Vegas Backstage Talk” column in June 2013 edition of Casino Player Magazine, as well as LaFong’s “Getting Personal with the Stars” and “Las Vegas Backstage Talk” Syndicated Column in Gaming Today.

For more about Dennis and his radio show, click here.

You can catch Dennis live at The Orleans
Orleans Showroom, Apr. 27 – 28th 8:00pm
For reservations

 

Singer / Entertainer – Deana Martin (Daughter of Dean Martin)

Deana Martin is appearing at Regis Galerie Las Vegas for a special grand unveiling of the exclusive art bronze “The King of Cool”. Dean’s daughter approved design!

Los Angeles-based artist, Lance Richlin, was commissioned to design the limited edition sculpture that depicts a young Dean Martin performing on a marble staircase. Richlin specializes in sculptures, drawings and paintings and has created several pieces for Regis Galerie over the years. Only 300 sculptures will be made in this series and will retail for $6,500, $5,500 the day of the unveiling. Ten percent of sales made at Regis Galerie that day will be donated to the American Lung Association.

Deana Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, will personally travel to Las Vegas to celebrate her father’s contributions to Las Vegas and the sentimental tribute that Regis Galerie portrays in the statue.

Deana Martin is featured in Comedian Michele LaFong’s “Getting Personal with the Stars” Monthly Syndicated Column in Gaming Today.

More about the very talented singer / entertainer, Deana Martin here.

SPECIAL EVENT!!! You can catch Deana Martin on April 21 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., at Regis Galerie, a high-end art collections boutique located in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian.

 

Singer / Entertainer – Kelly Clinton

Las Vegas entertainer Kelly Clinton may be best described as “a kaleidoscope of talent.” No matter which performing direction she turns — singer, actress, comedienne, impressionist, television personality, MC or events host — her charismatic rays always shine through.

The New Jersey-born performer is performing her one-woman show at the Suncoast and has appeared in many of the Strip hotels for special events performances. Her celebrity nights at the Bootlegger Bistro and other local hot spots in town have been a big hit for many years.

Her one-woman show, “Freckled for Life” will be performed.

More about Kelly Clinton here.
You can catch Kelly Clinton live at Suncoast Hotel & Casino: Suncoast Showroom, Apr. 28 & 29 7:30pm
For reservations
You can listen to a recording of our show below!

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