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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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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Jan. LVBST syndicated column by Michele LaFong

Randy Couture 010Jon TafferJanuary LVBST column
LVBST-Las Vegas Backstage Talk column is published monthly in Casino Player Magazine and Gaming Today.

Finally… a rowdy and fun new concept in Las Vegas casino entertainment that won’t break the bank!
I’m pleased to recommend a unique quality experience that is now available to locals and tourists alike.
Buzz’N Brushes in the Orleans H&C proves that you don’t have to be a budding Picasso to have a great time and that’s part of the fun!
This new interactive Las Vegas attraction puts all the tools in the hands of the audience-turned “art-class” to help them create a work of art that they can then take home.
This is all done with step-by step instruction from entertaining Art Teachers that are on-stage supported by an attentive staff that “works” the floor and are specifically trained to engage the partying artists in an upbeat, “anything goes” type atmosphere complete with music, laughs, games, raffles, dancing, booze, and a pizza kitchen that specializes in making thin-crust pizza. There are day and night classes to choose from with different themes and packages. Whether you make reservations as part of a group or a single, you’re looking to party, blow-off some steam, meet people, or just network…there is bound to be something there for you. Did I mention that this space also includes an art studio that features different artist’s work? I predict corporate events, and bachelorette parties alike will soon catch on to this new, hot, innovative trend.
MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Champion and Actor Randy Couture was the special guest Celebrity Host last month at the “Paint N Punch” two hour Event which ended with photo opportunities and an autograph session. I witnessed one of the partying artists insisting, while lifting her shirt that Randy sign her cleavage…and he did…“Anything for charity!” 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 had this to say when I interviewed him following the hilarious, almost topless display:
“When Teresa Lemming, Owner of Buzz‘N Brushes first approached me with the idea of me hosting the show…I was like well…I’ve never painted before…but it was really fun and easy. I wasn’t nervous about the Hosting part of it because once you’re used to standing in that cage in front of the masses in nothing but your drawers…everything else pales in comparison!”
Randy had just returned from Bulgaria, where he finished filming “The Expendables 3,” with Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, Antonio Banderas, Ronda Rousey, Terry Crews, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Victor Ortiz, and Kellan Lutz.
An edited portion of my videotaped interview with Randy Couture is posted on casinocenter.com

Jon Taffer, star of “Bar Rescue” on Spike TV, and frequent favorite guest on LVBST, was recently on ABC’s 20/20 revealing some short-pour tricks that some desperate bar owners “all too often stoop to,” to short patrons on their alcoholic counts even while they are watching! He demonstrated just how easy it is to get fooled. It looked like magic! I can’t wait to hear what else Jon has to reveal on his next in-studio visit.
Steven Wright, the “Confucius of Comedy,” finally guested on LVBST to promote his up-coming gig at The Orleans Showroom on Jan.3 & 4. I had been trying to get him on my radio show for 3 years! Known for his dead-pan style, monotone voice, and trademark wit, Wright has an arsenal of brilliant one-liners like: “Right now I’m having amnesia and Deja vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before… It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it…” And if anyone would know about painting it would be Steven Wright because who knew this Academy Award®-winner and Grammy® Award nominee also was a budding artist and musician with paintings and music samples of really cool original music that he wrote, played, sang and recorded up on his website? I would never have guessed! He even plays the harmonica. Dylan-“esque,” was what came to mind, and as an avid Bob Dylan fan, I was intrigued. I would love to see him incorporate his original music and art with his Stand-up show. Perhaps I can convince him…you never know!
My interview with Steven Wright will air on Jan 2. All interviews are archived on lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.
Larry the Cable Guy returns to The Palms H&C Jan.31. I hope to have him on the show before that. I remember asking Comedian Bill Engvall what life was like on the road with “The Blue Collar Comedy Troupe” and who was the most “out of their minds” -you, Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, or Larry the Cable Guy?” Bill responded without hesitation “Larry!” He also said he that he was the sweetest guy. “We called him the “Mikey” of the Comedy Troupe. He could be talked into going along with anything. He really was the only redneck amongst us, and… that’s not a costume that he wears. It’s not at all an act. He pretty much got married on four wheelers! That’s part of the reason that he’s so popular and people can relate to him so well because there are no airs, he’s just genuine.”
Other Headliner picks for January are: Garth Brooks and his band at Wynn Jan. 3 and 4, Wayne Brady at The Mirage Jan. 4, Tim Allen at The Venetian H&C Jan. 8, 18, 31, Gabriel Iglesias at The Mirage Jan. 17, Paul Revere & The Raiders at The South Point H&C Jan. 10-12, Styx at The Palms H&C, Santana at Mandalay Bay Jan.22-Feb.1, Shania Twain at Caesars Palace Jan.22-Feb.15, Jay Mohr at The South Point H&C Jan. 24-26, Dolly Parton at Primm Valley Casino Resorts, Rob Schneider at The South Point H&C Jan.30-Feb.1, Daniel Tosh at The Mirage Jan.31-Feb.1.
Your comments and feedback are always appreciated.

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