Las Vegas Backstage Talk

Aug. Las Vegas Backstage Talk column

by Michele LaFong

August’s Las Vegas Backstage Talk column in Casino Player Magazine and Gaming Today.

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Steve Rossi: May 25, 1932 – June 22, 2014
Show-biz Legend Steve Rossi was a frequent favorite in-studio guest on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show. I first met him in ’94 at my variety show “Vegas Live” starring Michele LaFong, at The Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino. He was very supportive, and came in frequently to watch the show, hang-out and schmooze…and what a fun schmoozer he was! Even back then he brought the party with him where ever he went. He is greatly missed. On June 26, in Steve’s honor we replayed his very first LVBST interview. It was incredibly colorful and entertaining. He shared his many experiences, lessons and stories in his amazing fifty-five year career in show business which covered everything from what it was like to room with Howard Stern many years ago when he was managing the frequently fired “Shock Jock,” to the real reason he claimed that he and Marty Allen could not get back together… not even for one last TV Anniversary Special that Steve claimed was offered to them last year for over a million dollars. The show is worth listening to and is archived on Lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.
Clint Holmes returned in-studio live on June 19, to update us on the exciting news of his new CD release, and monthly resident performances at The Smith Center on the first weekend of every month.
Mostly known for being the former co-host of ABC’s The View, Joy Behar will return to Vegas to perform a weekend of stand-up on Aug.22 & 23 as part of the new “Lipshtick Series” at The Venetian. She got nabbed-up pretty quickly after her successful engagement at The Orleans this past January. Apparently much of the general public was unaware of what an accomplished Stand-up Comedian Joy was. Back in the 80’s, when I was a touring headline comedian, I had a business called LaFong Productions. Joy was one of my top go to comedians that I booked in my 21 rooms. Come to think of it many of the comedians that I booked have done incredibly well in their careers including Kevin James, and Comedian and YouTube Sensation Vic Dibitetto, who recently got cast by Kevin in Mall Cop 2, teamed-up with Actor Nick Turturro (mostly known for his role in NYPD Blue.) I recently aired the lively interview with the pair on June 12, and it too is archived on our website. An edited video clip of Nick and Vic is posted on casinocenter.com
Comedian Russell Peters, currently a judge on NBC’s Last Comic Standing with Roseanne Barr and Keenon Ivory Wayans, returned on LVBST and will return to the Pearl at The Palms on Aug. 2 exploring new material and crowd work. “Although the taping for Last Comic Standing has concluded, the competition is still playing out every week on television and even the three finalists do not know the outcome! We taped three different endings and they do not know which one will be aired.”
Jay Leno returns to The Mirage on August 11, and Nov. 21 & 22. He puts on a very strong well-paced, fluff-free show that is definitely worth catching. Last month, I aired Part 1 & 2 of a long interview with Jay covering everything from his comedy writing to why he doesn’t have a team of security escorting him around like most other celebrities.
Jay explained the security question with a great story. “Once I was at one of these hotels, and they insisted on sending two security people to walk me to the showroom…so these two huge goons come up with suits on that look like they are made out of sofa material, and we walk into the casino… and as we’re coming through they were actually pushing people…literally shoving old ladies out of the way…and people were like “screw you Leno!” “and I’m like no let me stop and take a picture, sign an autograph…it takes an extra few minutes but everybody’s happy. Having security walk me to a show was so much worse!
Superstar Al Pacino will bring his “Pacino: One Night Only” show to The Mirage Saturday, Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m. This is an opportunity to step into Pacino’s world as he shares his passion for acting and directing in an up-close-and-personal setting in the Terry Fator Theatre. The evening will explore his life beginning in the 1960s when he performed Off-Broadway and will follow his career to present day. The show will include previously untold stories, never-before-seen clips, and a question and answer session. Pacino is one of the rare winners of the acting Triple Crown: the Oscar, Tony and Emmy Award.
Other Picks: Buckcherry, Otherwise, Hard Rock, Aug. 1, Caroline Rhea, Wendy Liebman, The Venetian, Aug 1 & 2, The Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry, Plain White T’s, Red Rock Resort, Aug. 1, Herman’s Hermits with Peter Noone, South Point, Aug. 1-3, Journey, Steve Miller Band, Mandalay Bay, Aug 1, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Los Lonely Boys, The Palms, Aug. 1, Lady Gaga, MGM Grand, Weezer, Cosmopolitan, Aug. 1, Aerosmith Slash, MGM Grand, Aug. 2, Jonny Lang, Boulder Station, Aug. 2, Blues Traveler, Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Uncle Cracker, Golden Nugget, Aug. 8, Dirty Heads, Pepper, Aug. 8, Lisa Lampanelli, The Venetian, Aug. 8 & 9, Rob Schneider, South Point, Aug. 8-10, Aaron Neville & Dr. John, The Cannery, Aug. 9, Aries Spears, Mandalay Bay, Aug. 9, Kathy Griffin, The Mirage, Aug. 9, Lynard Skynyrd, Golden Nugget, Aug. 9, Counting Crows, Mandalay Bay, Aug. 10, 38 Special, Eastside Cannery, Aug. 10, Cesar Millan, “Leader of the Pack” Palms, Aug. 15, Whitney Cummings, The Venetian, Aug. 15 & 16, Yes, Hard Rock, Aug. 15, The Guess Who, Eastside Cannery, Aug. 16, ZZ Top, Jeff Beck, Hard Rock, Aug. 16, Daniel Tosh, The Mirage, Aug. 22 & 23, Dave Collier, South Point, Aug. 22-24, Rock N Blues Fest with Johnny Winter Band, Edgar Winter Band, Cannery, Aug. 23, John Legend, The Cosmopolitan, Aug. 24, The Summer Nationals Tour, featuring The Offspring, with Special Guests, Bad Religion, Pennywise, Stiff Little Fingers, Hard Rock, Aug. 27, The Adam Carolla Show, Treasure Island, Aug. 29, Bill Medley with McKenna Medley, South Point, Aug. 29-31, Joe Rogan, The Mirage, Aug. 29, Bachman & Turner, Cannery, Aug. 30, Keith Urban, The Cosmopolitan, Aug. 31.

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Dec. Las Vegas Backstage Talk column by Michele LaFong

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Dec. Casino Player MagazineLVBST by Michele LaFong

The last couple of months have been extremely exciting and surreal for LVBST. We have been fielding a lot of questions regarding the video cameras that have been following me with my “stud-puppet” Paco, and LVBST around town.

All I am at liberty to reveal at the moment, is that we are under development for our own unscripted reality series that is unlike any other. A short edited clip of me & Paco, with my neighbor, Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, Al Bernstein, can be viewed on casinocenter.com

Currently, my biggest beef with reality TV is that it is not real. The main characters often conjure up conflict and drama that is superficial, one dimensional or more fake than all the boobs and lips in Hollywood combined together!

For some strange reason…with my life nothing ever needs to be made up nor exaggerated for the sake of television cameras. Off-beat characters, unforeseen conflict and ridiculous storylines continue to play out in the “World of LaFong,” rarely taking a full day off!

Too bad that the cameras were not yet rolling when I went to see Ray Romano backstage at The Mirage last month. It was “de ja vu” for me. Not only was Ray pretty much the same, nice, unassuming, really funny guy that I had once hand-picked to open for me in the late 80’s, but it wasn’t ‘til after our visit that it dawned on me just how much Ray is the exact same guy on and off screen in the “Everybody Loves Raymond” television series.

On NOV 24th, fellow comics pitched in to do a benefit for Singing Impressionist Pam Matteson at the PLAZA HOTEL. Pam has brain cancer, no health insurance, and the medical bills are piling up. Amongst the special guest stars were Louie Anderson, Gordie Brown, Rich Little, Clint Holmes, The Coasters, The Michael T Band, and Budd Friedman, original founder of The Improv, and many more. If you missed the benefit but still would like to make a donation of any kind, go to Pam’s husband, Tim Biddle’s facebook page; scroll down and you’ll find a connection to a website that says DONATE NOW.

Legendary music icons and Grammy Award winners, Brian Wilson (co-founder The Beach Boys) and Jeff Beck (Yardbirds) performed at The Pearl inside Palms Casino Resort as part of a co-headlining North American Tour. The show was nothing short of spectacular!

Towards the end of the show they were all on stage performing together! It was a sight to behold, and truly unforgettable.

Speaking of unforgettable, Comedy Legend, Marty Allen finally made it in to the studio with his co-star and wife, singer Karon Kate Blackwell. They were promoting their then upcoming shows at The Plaza Showroom. It was great to see them again. I’ve had the pleasure of working with them several times on different cruise lines over the years. Not that I performed on so many…it just so happened that the majority of the time when I was booked … so were they! We also performed in Atlantic City together when Marty hosted Senor Wences’ 100th Birthday Tribute at Bally’s Hotel & Casino with Special Guest Mickey Rooney. Marty Allen is best known however, for being half of the Legendary Allen & Rossi comedy team. Together, they appeared on over 700 television shows including 44 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. They recorded 16 comedy albums, the title of one using their signature catch phrase of “Hello Dere!” Allen said “We were into the act and I just went blank… and I looked at Steve and said, ‘Hello dere . . . hello dere.’ Then suddenly everyone in the club was saying it – hello dere.”

Now, at 91 years of age, Marty Allen has 91 reasons to go blank on-stage, but doesn’t… most of the time, and even when he does… his failing memory turns into a fresh, new, running-gag in the show. His improvisational skills kicked in every time it became obvious to the audience that Karon Kate was correcting him, whispering the jokes into his deaf ear… which got him even bigger laughs! Marty may not always remember every joke but he seems to have no trouble remembering how to make audiences laugh.

My picks for December: Wynonna & the Big Noise, is at The Orleans Showroom Dec. 6 & 7,

Ron White, is at The Mirage Dec. 6 & 7, 13 & 14, The Black Crowes appearing at The Hard Rock, Dec. 13.

Sinbad, is appearing at The Orleans, Dec. 14.

Country superstar Shania Twain who is a headliner at The Colosseum at Caesars will serve as the Grand Marshall of Opportunity Village’s Las Vegas Great Santa Run on Saturday, Dec. 7. Marking the 5k’s ninth year, Twain will join thousands of Kris Kringle’s downtown for the nonprofit’s largest annual fundraiser.

Surfset Las Vegas, the latest revolutionary workout trend from ABC’s hit program “Shark Tank,” will partner with Dress for Success Southern Nevada for a one-day donation drive on Saturday, Dec. 7, when a portion of each $20 class fee will go to the charity. Surfset offers four different styles of classes – Burn, Build, Balance and Blend – call 702-503-4780

Our friend, Comedian/Actor Bill Engvall is returning to The TI, on Dec.6 & 13, after an extremely respectable showing, staying alive in the very competitive ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Not very much is ever expected from the Celebrity Comics on that show! Bill first made a name for himself as part the Blue Collar Comedy Troupe with Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy. Larry will be appearing at The Pearl Theatre, at The Palms Hotel & Casino on New Year’s Eve.

Jerry Seinfeld always puts on a great show. He is appearing at Caesars Palace, Dec. 26 & 27

Steve Miller Band, the Doobie Brothers, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Dec. 28

Cedric the Entertainer, appearing at The Mirage Dec. 29 & 30, Fleetwood Mac, appearing at MGM Grand, Dec. 30, Kristen Chenoweth is appearing at The Smith Center, Dec. 31.

Another extremely popular headliner, that always sells out is Tony Orlando. Tony is the ultimate showman that always delivers a contemporary, “a feel good” engaging, hard rocking show! He and his wonderful band return to the South Point Showroom on New Year’s Eve.

Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong, wishes you a very Happy New Year!

Your feedback and comments are always appreciated.

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