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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Nov. Las Vegas Backstage Talk column

by Michele LaFong   

Nov. LVBST syndicated column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today.

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LVBST- Every Thursday, 6pm-7pm PST on  1230AM KLAV and streaming live.

I recently interviewed Ted Lange, who is best remembered as Isaac (the bartender) on the television series, “The Love Boat,” and learned that he has kept pretty busy since the “Boat” years directing movies, and just completed filming 26 episodes of “Mr. Box Office,” starring Jon Lovitz. Ted also demonstrated to me that he has a unique knack for transforming stand-up comedy acts into successful one-man shows, as he did when directing his friend Comedian Jeff Wayne in “Big Daddy’s Barbeque,” a show which has been performed over 1,000 times in more than thirty cities. From its debut it was a critical and popular success. Even NBC took notice and a television pilot was made.
The original national tour and success was largely obtained by following Rob Becker’s formula for a one-man show, “Defending the Caveman,” which continues its long run on the Las Vegas Strip. Both Wayne and Lange decided it was time to bring “Big Daddy’s Barbeque,” to the Starbright Theater in Summerlin, for its “one day only” Vegas debut. It was performed to a packed house, and the show was very well received. I will keep you posted with updates on this in future columns.

I recently received a call from a Japanese Production company that was shooting a TV documentary on NTV about an established Japanese comedian, Tomonori Jinnai, coming to the US to perform for the first time. I was asked to watch the show and give on-camera feedback alongside Jeff Singer, Executive Programming Consultant for the Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, and John Stuart, founder of Legends in Concert. The sold out event took place at the Tommy Wind Theatre, on the Las Vegas Strip. It was impressive to learn that Tomonori had learned to translate his show in English specifically for this filming and had been performing it for the first time. After witnessing Tomonori’s unique brand of comedy, I have a feeling his name might be recognized here in Vegas very soon. Remember, you heard it here first!
Comedian Felicia Michaels was nominated twice for Funniest Female Comic by the American Comedy Awards; in 1999 she won the award. Her credits include appearing on Showtime, MTV, VH1, NBC, as well as twice on ABC’s Full House, and in three movies. She posed for Playboy and was featured in the October 1992 issue. Before she took an eight year hiatus from comedy to be a stay at home mom, Felicia was headlining comedy clubs 48 weeks out of the year. She was also a Grand Champion on Star Search, winner of the $100,000 prize. Before interviewing Michaels, I watched her set. She was an even stronger comic than I remembered her to be with smart well-constructed jokes, sharp timing, and memorable stage presence. Backstage in between shows comedy veteran Bob Zany, a clear fan of Felicia’s was singing her praises. “You are going to love her. She’s terrific, has a great attitude and is so funny. I lost to Felicia twice on Star Search! We’re still friends to this day.” How ironic, I said, “Now she’s your feature act this week… That’s Show Business!” We all laughed and exchanged stories on what famous people had opened for us at one time or another only to then get their own sitcoms and become Stars. Felicia takes being humble to a whole to level. “When I first returned to this business after taking a hiatus, I performed my comedy in a bowling alley. I’m just so grateful that I am back working doing what I love.” Felicia will be returning as a feature act at The Laugh Factory on Valentine’s week, and funnyman Bob Zany will be headlining at The Riviera in December, when he will also return on LVBST. Both are worth catching. The audio of Felicia’s full interview is archived on LVBST’s website.

Another show not to be missed, and the first time ever on one stage is An Evening with the Next Generation with Master of Ceremonies Anthony Lewis, son of Jerry Lewis, starring: Ricci Martin, son of Dean Martin, Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland, Lena Prima, daughter of Louis Prima, Steve March-Torme, son of Mel Torme. These accomplished groups of artists perform an extraordinary musical celebration in honor of their legendary parents and selections from the American Songbook accompanied by a 10 piece band and historical videos- at M resort on November 8. Anthony Lewis and Steve March-Torme have previously guested on LVBST. Both are class acts, are very talented, and have very interesting backgrounds. If that’s any indication…this show should be a winner.
More Picks: Jay Leno, The Mirage, November 1, 21-22, Kiss, Hard Rock H &C, November 5-23, Rod Stewart, Caesar’s Palace, November 5-23, Santana, Mandalay Bay, November 5-18, Daniel Tosh, The Mirage, November 7- 8, Debbie Reynolds, South Point November 7-9, Roseann Barr, the Venetian, November 7 & 8, The Black Keys, Jake Bugg, the Cosmopolitan, November 8, Frankie Avalon, South Point November 14-16, Judas Priest, Palms, November 14, Whoopi Goldberg, Treasure Island, Nov. 14, Kelly Pickler, Golden Nugget, November 14, Ray Romano, Kevin James, the Mirage, November 14 & 15, Aaron Lewis, Golden Nugget, November 15, Tonic, Vertical Horizon, Eastside Cannery, November 15, Latin Grammy awards, MGM, November 20, Culture club, the Palms, November 22, Loni Love, the Venetian, November 22, Usher, MGM, November 22, The Whispers, Eastside Cannery, Nov. 22, Average White Band, Red Rock H & C, Nov. 22, Alice Cooper, Palms, November 26, Bill Cosby, Treasure Island, November 28, Chrissy Hynde, Palms, November 28, George Lopez, Mirage, November 28, 29, Joan Collins, South Point, 28- 29, Whitney Cummings, November 28- 29.

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Las Vegas Backstage Talk column

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

by Michele LaFong

With the advent and popularity of Smart TVs, where it is now possible to watch web TV on your main set, alternative programming and new opportunities for entrepreneur talent for internet entertainment is growing daily.  This new popular trend couldn’t have been more evident than at the IAWTV awards, “the Oscars” of the Internet Shows held at The Rio H & C last month.

Many familiar faces were seen on the red carpet like “Fitness Celebrity”, and “Infomercial King” John Basedow, inventor and star of “Fitness made Simple.” Basedow was a presenter, and was also nominated for three awards.  When John guested on LVBST with Guinness World Record holder, Comedian Fran Capo, “World’s Fastest Talker, John explained what awards he was up for this year; “(Best Variety Series) is for CULTURE POP, my YouTube series where I take to the streets getting people’s opinions on the top entertainment, celebrity and pop culture news. The second is for FIT NOW with BASEDOW (Best Writing), in which I give fitness, exercise and nutrition tips for people to improve their bodies and lives, The third is for the work I do with Buzz60 Entertainment News (Best News Series) and that’s awesome since they’re one of the first companies to give me a job where I get to keep my shirt on.”  Both Fran Capo, and John Basedow’s interviews are archived on lasvegasbackstagetalk.com

Following a successful 7 month run at The Laugh Factory at The Tropicana, Legendary prop comic and watermelon-smasher Gallagher quietly closed his seven-night a week show on December 30.  It’s a wonder that this eccentric free spirited, flighty, highly creative, mad comedy genius could stay in one place for that long!  I’m definitely going to miss him and the backstage drama that always seemed to follow him.   I’m sure every comic that has worked at The Laugh Factory in the last 7 months, has a “Gallagher story” to tell!  When I asked what his plans were after his out of state gigs were over, his response was “wherever I end up!”  He explained his state of mind at this stage of his life quite well in a recent interview that I entitled “Getting really personal with Gallagher.”  That video can now be seen on casinocenter.com.

Dana Carvey, one of my favorite and funniest guests returned on LVBST to promote his upcoming dates at The Orleans Showroom, Jan. 31 & Feb.1.  Right off the bat, he did a very funny but scary impression of me…I hope it wasn’t as dead-on as it sounded!  Not only is he always upbeat, freshly hilarious, and topical, but he’s also one of the nicest mega-talents in show business.  Dana shared some of his comedy writing, and developmental process. “I tape all of my shows but it’s really hard to get myself to listen to it…yet it’s incredibly instructive.  I’m really hard on myself.”  After a show, from time to time, you might find Dana trying his luck out at The Black Jack tables. “Paul Anka taught me how to play… You gotta whack it.  You really gotta whack it!  I was reminded what Paul Anka sounds like when he’s talking…and I must say…it was a little eerie.  We touched on many interesting subjects including Mike Meyers and the possibility of more Wayne’s World projects.  The interview will air on Jan. 30.

Grammy Award-winning musician and acclaimed actor Meat Loaf will return to the RockTellz & CockTails stage at the PH Showroom inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.  Meat Loaf will perform 24 dates, beginning Feb. 13, kicking off the 2014 series.  Shows will be every Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday, Feb. 13 to April 8, at 7 p.m.  Meat always delivers a dynamic and dramatic show and is a very interesting character.  The legendary musical group and Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Jacksons are the next legacy artists of the RockTellz & CockTails series. The Jacksons, including Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon, will perform 40 shows, beginning Feb. 20.  Thurs.-Sun. 9:30pm

I finally went to check out Golden Globe winner,Pia Zadora’s new nightclub show at Pia’s Place @ Piero’s.  Her residency there started in Sept. and is open ended Thursday-Saturdays at 9pm.  Pia Zadora is at home working the room, singing, telling funny stories, and even has special guest drop- INS like Jerry Lewis, Rich Little, Steve Rossi, and other notables.  Pianist Vince Falcone, former musical director for Frank Sinatra heads her quartet in an intimate, throw-back setting that recreates “Old Vegas”.  A great time!  Pia invited me to do some comedy…and next time I will…

Another gem not to be missed of headline entertainment without a cover charge is Singer/Piano player/Funnyman Michael Shane.  Shane was hand-picked by Steve Wynn, to perform at Wynn’s Tower Suite Bar, and is a regular on LVBST.   Michael keeps the night moving from behind the piano with never a dull moment and lots of personality.  He also takes requests and can’t be stumped.  I love it!  Like Pia, Michael is popular and puts on Special Guest Star drop-ins .  He can be seen on some Thursdays at Bootleggers Bistro at 5:30pm. Be sure to check their schedule as they don’t give out dates too far in advance.

Other acts not to miss this month include Comedian Amy Schumer, Feb. 7& 8, The Mirage, Herman’s Hermits with Peter Noone, Feb. 7-9, Clint Holmes, Feb. 8, Smith Center, Clint Black, Feb. 13, The Smith Center, Dion, Feb. 13 & 14, The Orleans, Crystal Gayle, Feb. 14-16,  The South Point, Ron White, Feb. 14 & 15, The Mirage, The Eagles, Feb. 15 & 16,  MGM, Boz Scaggs, Feb. 15, Eastside Cannery,  Mike Epps, Feb. 15, The  Palms, Helen Reddy,  Feb. 15, The Orleans Showroom, George Lopez, Feb. 21 & 22, The Mirage, John Pinette, Feb. 21 & 22, The Orleans, Adam Carolla, Feb. 21, TI, Danny Wright, Feb. 23, The Smith Center, George Thurgood & The Destroyers, Feb. 27, The Smith Center, Rob Schneider, Jan. 30- Feb. 1, The South Point, , Ray Romano, Feb. 28 & March 1, The Mirage.

Your comments are always appreciated.

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Dana Carvey, Rhonda Vincent-LVBST w-Comedian Michele LaFong

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

Dana Carvey returns on Las Vegas Backstage Talk Radio Show with Comedian Michele LaFong on 1230AM KLAV in Las Vegas, and The Web.  LVBST radio show is the only show that “Gets Personal with the Stars.”

Carvey rose to national prominence during a six-year run as a cast member of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” where he created memorable characters “Church Lady,” “Garth” and “Hans” and spot-on impersonations of President George H.W. Bush, Johnny Carson, Ross Perot and Regis Philbin. Carvey’s work on “SNL” garnered him six Emmy Award nominations, including a win in 1993 for “Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.” He also received multiple American Comedy Awards.

On the big screen, Carvey appeared in supporting roles in “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Racing with the Moon” and “Tough Guys.” He starred in films “Opportunity Knocks,” “Wayne’s World,” “Wayne’s World 2,” “Clean Slate,” “The Road to Wellville” and “Master of Disguise.” Most recently, he had a cameo appearance in “Jack and Jill.”

Dana is featured in LaFong’s Monthly Syndicated “Las Vegas Backstage Talk” column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today, Feb. edition.

For more about Dana Carvey here.

You can catch Dana Carvey live at The Orleans
Orleans Showroom, Jan.. 31 & Feb. 1,  8:00pm

Rhonda Vincent

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RHONDA VINCENT SET TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM
ONLY ME THIS WEEK

Vincent duets with Willie Nelson on new project;
set to appear on The Today Show on February 1 & 2

the fiery vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter dubbed “the new queen of bluegrass” by the Wall Street Journal – is set to release her new two-disc album Only Me on January 28, 2014. In addition to receiving an unprecedented seven consecutive “Female Vocalist of the Year” awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), being named IBMA’s 2001 “Entertainer of the Year,” and being the co-author of the 2004 IBMA “Song of the Year,” Vincent was nominated for a 2006 Grammy® award for “Best Bluegrass Album” for Ragin’ Live, as well as a double nomination in 2007 for “Best Bluegrass Album” for All American Bluegrass Girl, along with “Best Country Collaboration with Vocals” for Midnight Angel featuring Bobby Osborne.

Joining her on the album is Willie Nelson on the title track, Daryle Singletary featured on “We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds”, and members of Diamond Rio.

“God gave Rhonda an unbelievable voice and I am so thankful that we get to enjoy it. I love her like a sister and enjoy her music as her biggest fan,” says Dolly Parton.

Currently nominated for six SPBGMA awards including Entertainer of the Year, Rhonda continues to be a trailblazer for the genre. Rhonda Vincent & The Rage are the most awarded band in bluegrass history with 88 industry awards.

As part of the promotional blitz for Only Me, Rhonda will be featured in a special two-part Today Show segment that was taped in Nashville (not sure which day Rhonda appears, as of press time), as well as RFD’s Cumberland Highlanders, GAC Top 20 Countdown, RFD’s Rural Evening News, CMT.com, Country Weekly, Bluegrass Unlimited, Huffington Post, the Tennessean, Woodsongs, Billboard, The Boot, Bluegrass Today, AOL, and much more.

Learn more about Rhonda Vincent at http://www.rhondavincent.com

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Randy Couture, John Basedow, Fran Capo-LVBST

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Jan. 9, 2014- 6-7pm PST 1230AM in LV & The Web

Audio of interviews posted below (Scroll down)

Jan. Featured video on Casinocenter.com and Gamingtoday.com

Randy Couture video with Michele LaFong

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2SQ9eHmzU4

MMA Champion Randy Couture, cast member of Expendables 3,  guests on LVBST radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong  following his guest celebrity host appearance at BuzzN’ Brushes at The Orleans.

Randy generously donated his time to support Buzz‘N Brushes for a portion of the proceeds to be donated to the Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Couture. Its programs fulfill unmet needs of veterans of America’s armed forces as they return to civilian life, which includes assistance in financial crises.

Randy is featured in January- Las Vegas Backstage Talk column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today.

Fitness Celebrity John Basedow,  creator of “Fitness Made Simple” currently hosts “Culture Pop”, and “Fast Talking” record holder Comedian Fran Capo interviewed from their Hotel suite at The Rio.  They were both in town for the IAWTV awards.  John was nominated for three awards, and Fran was performing as MC for the pre-show.

 

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Las Vegas Backstage Talk column in Casino Player Magazine-Oct.

Oct. edition-by Michele LaFong

Las Vegas Backstage Talk column

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Oct. “Las Vegas backstage Talk” column in Casino Player Magazine-Please click here to view it.

The “entertainment pool” in LV this summer has been incredibly rich.

LVBST has enjoyed amazing line-ups all the way through September, and October looks pretty exciting as well!

Kathy Griffin, LaFong Margaret Cho  Margaret Cho was guesting on my radio show recently explaining what we could expect from her “Mother” Tour, at The Mirage. I wrote a little about it in last month’s issue, but wasn’t prepared for what was in store!

Jim Short an Australian comic that tours with Cho led off the evening.  He had the audience right out of the gate and just kept the laughs coming throughout his set.  The packed house, many in town for “Gay Day,” were now properly warmed-up and ready for “everyone’s Mother,” Margaret Cho.

When Cho hit the stage, the stereo-type of what a “mother” typically would look like disappeared from my mind faster than Miley Cyrus’ past “Disney” image at The VMA Awards!  Covered in tattoos almost from head to toe, Cho soon dug deep in her gut,   “throwing up” her hilarious impression of her Korean mom, spoke candidly and bluntly about her bi-sexuality, and just “put it all out there” onstage.  Her uninhibited honesty throughout coupled with her wild animations was uniquely shocking, as well as visually hilarious, and is what truly sets her apart.  I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!

Kathy Griffin made a surprise cameo appearance during Cho’s show.  What a treat!  Together, they shared a story that I had read in the Review Journal that morning about Kathy wanting Margaret to go halves with her for a private plane. It costs $50,000 to go from LA to Vegas.  Margaret’s response was “but… its $50 on Southwest!”  In the article, Kathy said she would try to go halves with Bill Maher on it.  It was really funny when Kathy announced on-stage that she ended up renting it alone, then later heard that Margaret’s flight had been delayed and in the end she had to call for a car to drive her to Vegas!

Immediately following the show, and falling in step with the theme of Margaret’s tour, “Mother,” I surprised myself when I spontaneously shared something with her, and asked for some personal advice to which she in-turn did answer…but ironically, like all mothers, they rarely get proper credit at the time.  I soon came to realize however that “mother” was right!

Both Margaret and Kathy were nice and gracious backstage, and true to character off-stage as well.  It was cool to see some of Margaret’s very detailed tattoos up-close, and I couldn’t get over how petite Kathy was.

Little did I realize that my experience backstage that night with both Margaret and Kathy, would prove to be “life-changing” for me, shifting my paradigm, leading me to choose a path that I didn’t have the “inner-fire” in the past to choose.  That’s all I am willing to reveal for now.  I am very thankful to Margaret’s publicist, Ken Phillips for not only providing me with great seats to Margaret’s sold-out show, but for being really straight forward…  A trait that is way too rare these days, especially in this business.

2013-08-24 18.39.26 - CopyI had a blast interviewing World Renowned Comedian Russell Peters in his suite prior to his sold out performance at his “Notorious World Tour” show at The Palms H & C.  Ironically, he is a name that still too many people are not yet familiar with in spite of the fact that his tour has become the highest attended comedy show in the history of the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Lebanon, South Africa, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and his home country of Canada, selling out arenas of up to 16,000 fans. In Dubai, Peters was the fastest selling concert in the history of the Emirate outselling Madonna! With over 60 million views on YouTube, His credits also include selling-out:  Radio City Music Hall (twice), Madison Square Garden, and the astounding list goes on and on, both nationally and internationally. It is no surprise that Russell, whose heritage is Anglo-Indian, was ranked by Forbes as one of the top ten highest grossing comics in the U.S., in 2009 and 2010!

Peters is always on-the go, and is constantly late, but always worth waiting for as he was a really fun interview, and one of the quickest “off the cuff” personable comics I’ve come across.  The audience was howling throughout his show.  Somehow he seems to be able to get away with political correctness being thrown out the window, as exampled in his latest DVD, Red, White and Brown recorded live at Madison Square Garden. His crowd ad-libs that night at The Palms were as on target as his material.  He is currently working on a project, writing with Billy Crystal.  Edited portions of Russell’s videotaped interview can be seen on casinocenter.com

After his show he invited my husband and me along and about 15 other guests to accompany him to The Ghost Bar, in The Palms where we partied till all hours! “Table service” was on him.

I’m still recovering…

wilson jardineLegendary music icons and Grammy Award winners, Brian Wilson (co-founder The Beach Boys) and Jeff Beck (Yardbirds) will perform live in Las Vegas as part of a co-headlining North American Tour. Wilson’s former band mates Al Jardine, (“Help help Me Rhonda”,) and David Marks will join Wilson and Beck.   The show will make a stop at The Pearl inside The Palms H & C on Oct. 18.  Al jardine, a return guest on our program gave a great interview which will air on LVBST on Oct. 17, with Ray Romano. (Al Jardine is on far left.)

Comedian Bill Engvall, mostly known for “The Blue Collar Tour” with Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, and Ron White who has guested on LVBST many times, will be on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” for their new season beginning Sept. 16. He is teamed with Emma Slater, and will be competing against Leah Remeni, Snooki, Elizabeth Berkely, Jack Osbourne, and Valerie Harper. The audience vote counts for 50% of their score.  We, at LVBST support him, and encourage all to vote, and keep voting for Bill!    Engvall will be in town on Oct.25, appearing at The TI.  Video of his Backstage Interview can be seen on casinocenter.com.

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