Las Vegas Backstage Talk

March-LVBST syndicated column in Gaming Today, and Casino Player Michele LaFong

Las Vegas Backstage Talk by Michele LaFong

(Desi Arnaz Jr., Joy Behar, Chuck Negron, Dana Carvey, Rob Schneider, Bill Engvall, Bill Maher, Larry The Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy)

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(Click on article to read)

March-LVBST syndicated column

by Michele LaFong

in Gaming Today, and Casino Player Magazine.

Not since Barbara Walters, has Desi Arnaz Jr. granted anyone an interview. However, after much persistence and good timing with the upcoming Dam Short Film Festival last month at the Historic Boulder Theatre which Desi and his wife Amy own since 1986, I finally was the very lucky person to break this silent streak!  When I do an interview, I never know what direction it’s going to go.  I attempted what would have been a very  “rare interview with Desi Arnaz Jr.” speaking about growing up with Lucy & Desi but it became a very interesting and informative “Where Are They Now” episode that Oprah Winfrey has made so popular on the Own network.  Very soon into the hour- plus conversation, it was evident that we were in need of at least a five session series because Desi said it best “I’ve lived over 200 years in 60!”  Much of the conversation got really deep, had many layers, and took twists and turns.  When I asked him what his plans were in the near future besides what he is already doing with the non-profit ballet company that he and his family runs together, and events at The Boulder Theatre, surprisingly Desi responded “I’m going to be Michele LaFong!  I will be interviewing celebrities on video on-stage at The Boulder Theatre that are in town for up-coming projects, or who just have a story to tell.”  Since Desi grew up with an “inside view” of show-biz, and a dating history that includes Liza Minnelli, Patty Duke, and almost every other A Lister hottie in Hollywood…I think this is a natural that would make great television, which we are so in need of today.   For more information on the Dam Short Film Festival, The Boulder Theatre, or to listen to the archived two part interview that aired on Feb. 6, and 13, go to lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.

Joy & Michele 3After 16 years as co-host of ABC’s The View, Comedian Joy Behar retired from the show but has not retired from her very long career.  In fact there are persisting rumors of Joy returning to television…and that could be happening very soon.  In the meantime, Behar continues to perform her stand-up as she did so well at The Orleans Showroom last month. Hanging out with Joy and her husband Steve after the show was de je vu for me, as it’s been over 20 years since we’ve seen each other.  We had a bite at the coffee shop then joined Steve in the casino and played Blackjack, and craps.  They love Vegas!  Joy was noticeably happy, content, and much more fun than I remembered her to be back in the late 80’s, when she was a struggling comic in NY, bitching about how far she had to schlep on my “LaFong gigs” which I used to book her on quite frequently.   Of course this was before Barbara Walters discovered her and cast her on The View.  A couple of years ago, I was watching Joy on The Joy Behar Show on HLN interviewing Comedian Colin Quinn, and Joy brought my name up and told a funny story about working for me that she’s been telling for years.  The video is posted on our website with my side of the story too!

After interviewing Chuck Negron, former lead singer of Three Dog Night, I went to check out his show at the Suncoast Showroom.  His signature voice was in rare form and his band was truly exceptional.  They sang many complicated harmonies together.  They were on fire when they played Three Dog Night’s many hits “Joy to the World,” “Mama told me not to Come,” “ Shambala,” “One,”…there were so many… Not to mention my personal favorite “The Show must go on.”

Chuck Negron1

It was obvious by Chuck’s energy, swagger, and million $ smile, how much he truly enjoys and appreciates being on stage, and is grateful for the opportunity to still be able to entertain with the chops that he is still so blessed with today in spite of the years of drug abuse that his body had endured.  He was simply joyous on stage soaking in every moment, never taking his audience for granted.  This was also evident by his meet & greet after the show, making sure to say hello to every last fan that wanted to speak to him.  And there was no shortage!  I hope to see Negron and his rockin’ band perform in a larger venue next time.

I almost always go to see Dana Carvey’s show when he is in town and this time was no exception… especially when he told me he had been working on new material, and would be doing a Q & A at the end of the show with his opening act, Mark Pitta, which he had never done before in Vegas.  Carvey was relaxed, and his material was funnier than ever. During the Q & A, former SNL cast member, Rob Schneider made a surprise guest appearance. The three were improving together. It was a fun unexpected bonus.

Bill Engvall returned on LVBST to promote his upcoming appearance at the TI on March 7.  He spoke about his entertainment strategy that earned him a spot in the finals in this year’s “Dancing with the Stars” that introduced him to a new set of demographics that may not have been familiar with The Blue Collar Comedy Troupe.  When I asked if the other guys from the Troupe helped in soliciting votes for him he responded “Larry the Cable Guy did…” This led me to curiously wonder why no support had been extended from Jeff Foxworthy, or Ron White, both of whom would have been most effective and influential in racking up votes for Engvall from their fans.  Hmmm, sometimes what an artist doesn’t say in an interview can be just as telling as what they do say.  Engvall’s full interview will air on March 6, from 6-7pm PST on 1230AM in LV, and streaming live on lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.  Last year, in a backstage videotaped interview, he spoke about his career and marriage. That interview is now posted on casinocenter.com.

Congratulations to Bill Maher for getting renewed on HBO’s “Real Time,” and for his 2014 residency at The Palms.  He returns March 22 & 23, and Oct. 10 & 11.  Maher’s interview will air on March 20.

Your feedback and comments are always appreciated.

 

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Chuck Negron, Desi Arnaz Jr.-LVBST w-Comedian Michele LaFong

Jan. 30, 2014- 6-7pm PST 1230am KLAV in Las Vegas & The Web

Audio of interviews posted below (Scroll down)

Chuck Negron1Chuck Negron & LaFongChuck Negron & band

Legendary Vocalist Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, and Desi Arnaz Jr. guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Among Three Dog Night’s biggest hit songs featuring Negron’s soulful, four-octave range and unique vocal styling: “Joy To The World,” “Easy To Be Hard,” “Old-Fashioned Love Song” and “Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog,” which appeared on the multi-Grammy nominated and 1971 Record Of The Year “Joy To The World.”

“Am I Still In Your Heart” was Negron’s first solo release in 1995, followed by a Christmas release of  “Joy To The World” in 1996. Negron spent two years writing his book “Three Dog Nightmare” and recorded the accompanying soundtrack CD “The Long Road Back.” His fourth solo effort “Chuck Negron – Live In Concert” recorded at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas was released in 2001 and the original song “Took Me Under” was nominated in 2002 for a PRISM Award for Best Song. In 2005, Negron released “The Chuck Negron Story: Biography of an Entertainer,” which won several awards including the 2006 PRISM “Video to Production” Award.

Suncoast Showroom, February 8 and 9 at 7:30pm

Desi Arnaz Jr.

desi-arnaz-jr-now_thumb Desi Arnez Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a rare interview, Desi Arnaz Jr. speaks of his life and promotes the upcoming “Dam Short Film Festival,” on Feb. 12-16 at the Historic Boulder Theatre, which he owns has since 1986,  and helps direct non-profit Boulder City Ballet Company (BCBC) with his wife, Amy Arnaz. For more info: www.damshortfilm.org

Boulder Theatre was built in 1932 during the construction of Hoover Dam and operated as a movie theatre until it could no longer compete with the new, modern movie theaters in Las Vegas. When it closed, Desi purchased the theatre and converted it into a live theatre where BCBC performs and where Desi has produced many shows including: “Ricci, Desi & Billy” (a new version of Dino, Desi & Billy), “An Evening with Linda Purl”, Torme’ Sings Torme’, “The Legacy of Laughter”, “An Evening with Lucille Ball” (starring Suzanne LaRusch as Lucille Ball), Michael Johnson, “A Tribute to Dean Martin” (by Ricci Martin), “Dam Short Film Festival”, “Chautauqua”, “The Nutcracker”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Swan Lake”, annual children’s dance recitals from Dance Etc. and many more shows. Haley Arnaz is his wife’s child from her first marriage and Desi adopted her when they married in 1987. Desi also has an older daughter, Julia, who lives on the east coast. Recently, Desi has performed “Babalu” (a show dedicated to the music of his father) with his sister Lucie Arnaz in NYC, Miami and in Washington D.C. at the Library of Congress. Most recently, Desi & Lucie appeared at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills, discussing the music of I Love Lucy (1951) and performed two of their father’s songs – “Old Straw Hat” & “Cuban Pete” – with the accompaniment of Ron Abel on the piano.

For more info: www.bouldertheatre.com, www.Desiarnezjr.com

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