Las Vegas Backstage Talk

Oct. LV Backstage Talk Column

by Michele LaFong

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Las Vegas Backstage Talk’s syndicated monthly column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today-Oct.

Finalist on Last Comic Standing Lachlan Patterson on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong (10 min. edited)

Oct. LVBST column
When Randy Bachman, founding member of The Guess Who, the Canadian band responsible for such hits as “No Time” and “American Woman” left to explore his personal musical horizons, he joined forces with Fred Turner to create Bachman-Turner Overdrive and rock & roll history was made. I, along with millions of other fans worldwide, grew up and sang along to radio hits such as “Taking Care Of Business,” “Let It Ride,” and “Roll On Down The Line.” So when I heard that after 20 years of fan demand these two giants of hard driving tunes were reuniting, touring, and appearing at The Cannery August 30, billed as Bachman & Turner, I knew I had to get an interview, which I finally landed with Fred Turner. You can imagine my shock when backstage, before their concert Fred casually dropped the bombshell scoop to yours truly that this was his very last show with Bachman. “I am retiring and have lots of other unfinished business to take care of…I’m just taking care of unfinished business, you might say…loose ends to tie up. I’ve got a bucket list with lots of things I need to do.” When asked how Randy Bachman took the news, he responded “Randy’s got so many things going on all the time with so many artists, and new projects, he’s just fine! …Maybe I’ll be back in a few years…you never know.” While watching the concert I was kind of sad but felt blessed to be witnessing the last historic show of Bachman & Turner. They never announced the news to the crowd and I haven’t heard a peep about it since.
Another thing that has come to an abrupt end is the celebrity impersonating “dealertainers” that the Imperial Palace, now The Quad soon to be the Linq was so famous for. It seems this was not a popular decision with many of their loyal customers. Also, the Clarion Resort on Convention Center Drive formally Royal Americana, Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino, Paddlewheel, and Greek Isles has closed for good. It’s been an interesting quaint little property that opened as the Royal Inn in 1970. Debbie Reynolds gave me my first running show there, “Vegas Live” starring Michele LaFong.
It is with a heavy heart that I am addressing the untimely passing of Comedy Icon Joan Rivers who at age 81 seemed ageless, and invincible. I was asked to join WTTG-TV (FOX 5) Washington via Skype to share some of my personal interactions with Joan when guesting on her afternoon talk show back in the 80’s and speak on the impact that she had on comedy in general. Like so many other stories being shared by industry over the weeks about Joan’s generosity, graciousness, and wonderful sense of humor, I experienced much of the same. Joan’s approach to comedy was fearless and unapologetic- breaking ground and paving the way for other female comics. Ironically she hated being referred to as a pioneer or a trail blazer because her work was not even close to being done. In fact, in a recent interview before her passing she was quoted as saying “I hate when female comics come up to me and say “Oh you broke barriers for women… I’m still breaking barriers….” Sadly her work was unfinished but her legend lives on and she is sorely missed.
Another feminine comedy ground-breaker of sorts is New Jersey native “Queen of Comedy” Sommore, who began her career as the first woman to host BET’s ”Comic View,” and then later hosting Russell Simmons’ “Def Comedy Jam” and “Showtime at the Apollo.” She was the 1995 recipient of the Richard Pryor Award for Comic of the Year, and in 2000 she entered “The Guinness Book of World Records,” performing for an audience of more than 50,000 people in Atlanta as part of the “Queens of Comedy” tour. A recording of the show became the longest-running and highest-rated special in the history of Showtime Networks.
I recently interviewed Sommore, who was promoting her upcoming weekend at Suncoast Hotel & Casino on Labor Day Weekend. With credits which include her status as being among the top-grossing stand-up comediennes in the United States and abroad, as well as Oprah Winfrey proclaiming her “a force to be reckoned with in the new millennium,” it’s of no wonder that Sommore sold out both nights at the 500 seat theatre before the weekend even began with Suncoast having to turn away hundreds of fans. Her show equally as impressive had substance and she drew a drinking, spending well-dressed crowd. I think it was obvious just from her credits that Queen of Comedy Sommore deserved to be performing in a much bigger theatre on The Strip. I’m sure Las Vegas won’t make that mistake again as word gets out fast!
Another impressive comedienne making a difference in comedy is Wanda Sykes. Wanda is Executive Producer of NBC’s Last Comic Standing which got renewed for a second season. I recently interviewed runner-up Lachlan Patterson, and Winner Rod Man who were promoting their upcoming Last Comic Standing Tour with all 5 finalists in the show. The audio of their interviews are archived on our site. I will be doing a backstage videotaped interview with both Lachlan, and Rod Man in between their sold out shows at Aliante Casino. An edited portion will be posted on gamingtoday.com, casinocenter.com.
Bill Maher returns to the Palms on Oct. 10 & 11. He always puts on a solid, funny, relevant show, and is one of my favorite return guests on LVBST. Bill’s interview will air on Oct. 9.
My Picks:
Wanda Sykes, Treasure Island, Oct 3, The Beach Boys, The Cannery, Oct. 4, Lewis Black, The Mirage, Oct. 4, Daniel Tosh, Mirage, Oct. 10 & 11, Legends of Motown: the Four Tops, Temptations, Spinners, Cannery, Oct. 10 & 11, Loni Love, Venetian, Oct. 10 & 11,
The Eagles, MGM Grand, Oct. 11, Queensryche, Eastside Cannery, Oct. 11, Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, Mandalay Bay, Asia, Red Rock Resort, Oct. 17, John Fogerty, Palms, Oct. 17, Ray Romano and David Spade, Mirage, Oct. 17 & 18, Zac Brown Band, MGM Grand, Oct. 17, Carlos Mencia, Treasure Island, Oct. 17, Smokey Robinson, Eastside Cannery, Oct. 18, Ron White, Mirage, Oct. 24 & 25, Bill Engvall, Treasure Island, Oct. 24, Wendy Williams, Venetian, Oct. 31.

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Sept. LV Backstage Talk column

By Michele LaFong

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Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong-

monthly syndicated column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today.

Coming off the heels of guesting on LVBST just two weeks earlier to discuss the exciting details of his new recording deal, Emmy Award winner Clint Holmes returned to LVBST to announce that Aug 1-3, would be his last weekend performing at his monthly resident weekend engagement at The Cabaret Room in The Smith Center before taking a hiatus in order to make time for his new gig… to star in GEORGIA ON MY MIND: Celebrating the Music of Ray Charles – at The Venetian Theatre this fall. Clint explained; “When the producer, Larry Rosen first asked me to do the show I said “you know…I don’t sound like Ray Charles, I don’t even sing like Ray Charles…Larry said “that’s not what we’re looking for. We want artists that do their interpretations of his songs. Co-Stars 10-time Grammy award-winning vocal group TAKE 6, six-time Grammy nominee and Downbeat Vocalist of the Year Nnenna Freelon, and Stella Gospel Award and Grammy award-winning saxophone star Kirk Whalum also do not sound like Ray Charles.” The show introduces the Las Vegas Mass Choir, under the direction of James R. Smith and Edie Aikels, and features the Las Vegas All-Star Big Band, under the direction of pianist and conductor, David Loeb. GEORGIA ON MY MIND, will be in the Venetian Theatre September 18 through October 29, 2014. Clint will return to The Smith Center in time to present his Christmas show.

Joy Behar may have retired as Co-Host from ABC’s The View…but that’s about all she’s retired from. In my latest interview with Joy she had this to say; “I lost about 18 pounds altogether after getting off The View…That show made me fat! Now that I’m off… it’s so much less stressful. It’s a whole new group over there. Let’s see how fat they all get!” That’s what I always loved about Joy…You never knew what was going to come out of her mouth next! “I’m doing more stand-up again, as well as working on a One Woman Show, which has more of a storyline than stand-up called “Me, My Mouth, and I.”  We’re currently looking for an Off-Broadway Theatre in New York.” When asked about other future goals in the works, she replied, “I’d be open to doing TV again…but it would have to be the right project.” Joy’s interview aired on August 14. A video clip of her and Colin Quinn on HLN, laughing about doing gigs for me back in the ‘80’s is posted on casinoplayer.com, gamingtoday.com, and is posted below.

Another popular, funny and exciting guest returning to LVBST is “the Voice of Boxing” himself, my next door neighbor and friend Al Bernstein. On Sept. 11, Al will be guesting in-studio giving us more backstage stories, celebrity updates and of course his take on the big upcoming Mayweather/Maidana fight at The MGM Grand that he is covering on Sept. 13 on Showtime.

Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe Winner Paul Williams returned on LVBST calling in from Dublin! Between being President of ASCAP, speaking to congress about songwriters getting paid in the digital age, and preparing for his new book release on Sept. 17th on Penguin called “Gratitude and Trust”, and winning another Grammy Award this year…we ran out of time before could hear the rest of what might be next for Paul Williams!

Rudy Ruettiger, whose life-story was the inspiration for the movie “Rudy,” one of the most inspiring movies of our time, guested in-studio together with his producer, Tony Sacca to promote the premiere of his new multi-media one-man show, “Rudy,” starring Rudy Ruettiger at the Troesh Studio Theater in The Smith Center Aug. 9. The show, like the movie is about his life story of how he accomplished his dream of going to Notre Dame and convinced Hollywood to make a movie of his life, which earned him an invitation to the White House. “After seeing Mike Tyson’s one-man show, I knew that I too could do this. The ultimate goal is Broadway.” Why Not?!
Here’s a treat: “End of Summer Bash,” a FREE concert featuring Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Brooklyn Bridge, The Rip Chords, 1910 Fruitgum Company on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 4pm at The Cannery.

Nevada’s 150th birthday is being planned for Monday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center. Proceeds will benefit The Smith Center’s education outreach programs. This variety show is a not-to-be missed event that will feature some of the best entertainers of the Las Vegas Strip as they come together for one night only to celebrate Nevada’s cultural heritage. Proceeds will benefit The Smith Center’s education outreach programs. Tickets are $25 to $100. Some of the names already scheduled to appear include: Bob Anderson, Susan Anton, Cirque du Soleil, Véronic DiCaire, Clint Holmes, Human Nature, Jersey Boys, Robin Leach, Jerry Lewis, Frankie Moreno, Penn& Teller and many more backed by The Lon Bronson All-Star Band and boosted by the Las Vegas Mass Choir.

The Best of Jethro Tull will be played by Legendary prog pioneer Ian Anderson at The Pearl inside The Palms Resort on Sept. 19. My two segment interview with Ian will air on Sept. 18.

Sept. headline entertainment really heats up in September as evidenced by the length and quality of the names in “My Picks” this month. LVBST should have great choices for interviews!

My Picks: Rock of The 80’s-The Romantics, The Smithereens, Marshall Crenshaw, Tommy Tutone, Eastside Cannery, Sept. 5,
Jerry Seinfeld, Caesars Palace, Sept. 5 & 6, Jim Breuer, South Point, Sept. 5 & 6,Kevin Hart & Friends Comedy All-Stars, The Cosmopolitan, Sept. 5, Susie Essman, The Venetian, Sept. 5 & 6, Deana Carter, Sunset Station, Sept. 6, Neil Sedaka, The Orleans, Sept. 6 & 7, Gabriel Iglesias, The Mirage, Sept. 12-14, Arturo Sandaval, The Smith Center, Sept. 13, Deana Martin, South Point, Sept. 13 & 14, Marc Anthony, Planet Hollywood, Sept. 13, The Guess Who, Eastside Cannery, Aug. 16, Diana Ross, Caesars Palace, Sept. 19, Ray Romano, The Mirage, Sept. 19 & 20, REO Speedwagon, The Orleans, Sept. 19 & 20, Tony Orlando, South Point, Sept. 19-21, Tesla Eastside Cannery, Sept. 20, Joan Osborne, M Resort, Sept. 20, Rod Stewart, Caesars Palace, Sept. 19- Oct. 5,
Gordon Lightfoot, The Smith Center, Sept. 24, Bill Cosby, Treasure Island, Sept. 26, Daniel Tosh, The Mirage, Sept. 26 & 27,
Katy Perry, MGM Grand, Sept. 26, Paula Poundstone, The Orleans, Sept. 26 & 27, Ralphie May, South Point, Sept. 26-28, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Palms, Sept. 27, Jerry Lewis, Smith Center, Sept. 30, Lorde, Hard Rock, Sept. 30.

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Gregory Popovich-Movie Premiere

Our friend: “America’s Got Talent” Finalist Gregory Popovich

PopovichLocals premier feature-length film at Las Vegas Film Festival
‘Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West’ debuts Aug. 3 at the Palms

 

 

 

 

 

“Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West” – the first film for performer Gregory Popovich and second feature film for local brothers Jerry and Mike Thompson – will premiere at the Las Vegas Film Festival this weekend and to the public during a screening at the end of the month.

The family friendly film tells the story of Popovich, a former circus legend struggling as a street performer on the wild streets of Las Vegas. When his junkyard home full of stray animals is put in danger, he and his animal pals use all their circus tricks to save it. See the trailer for the film here.

This summer, the film competed in the 17th Annual Dances with Films festival in Los Angeles and won the Audience Choice Award.

The Lied Animal Foundation will receive $1 from every ticket sold to the public screening.

WHO: Gregory Popovich, star of the film as well as of the Strip favorite the “World Famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater” at Planet Hollywood, along with the film’s directors and Las Vegas natives, Jerry and Mike Thompson (Rancho High School and UNLV graduates), will be available for interviews before and after the screening. The film features more than 45 animals, most were rescued from the local Lied Animal Foundation.
WHEN: Las Vegas Film Festival – 1:20 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 3
Public Screening – 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 30-31

WHERE: Las Vegas Film Festival: Public Screening:
Inspire Theater Brendan Theaters, inside the Palms
Corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas 4321 W. Flamingo Road
Boulevard in Downtown Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV 89103

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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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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.”

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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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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.

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