Wednesday, September 2, 2009

MJ Benefit: The Dirt

As you might imagine, I had to bite my tongue a LOT this summer for the good of the effort to raise $100,000 as co-producer of "Las Vegas Celebrates The Music of Michael Jackson." Biting my tongue, however, was not in my nature and now I'm ready to explode.

Tomorrow, I open up in my Las Vegas Weekly column, but there's more that didn't find a home or deserved more detail than I had space for there. Ready?

1. The Earl Turner Fiasco. I should have known that Earl Turner, the co-headliner at the Las Vegas Hilton of whom I'd heard little previously, would be a headache when KCEP's Patricia Cunningham tried to get him on her radio show. KCEP is a black-oriented FM radio station and Cunningham wanted Turner to come on to discuss the MJ benefit. Turner refused, I was told, because she had never seen HIS show. Yeah, that's the spirit, Mr. Turner! (Clint Holmes ultimately did the spot.) But it only got better. His producer, Angelo Giordano, called us the night before the show to demand 15 comped seats. We refused this request -- no other performer even requested more than a pair of comp'd seats and many paid full price for several more -- but decided to offer him the seats for $20 a piece as a good-will gesture. At that point, we had sold out of all but the $129 seats, so this was a heckuva deal. Giordano agreed to this and was asked to pay when he picked up his seats at the box office, but when he arrived at the box office he became upset that he had to pay anything and walked off. Result? Fifteen seats that could have raised $2,000 for Las Vegas kids went empty. Nice. [As a post-script, though, Turner and his co-star, Lani Misalucha, performed wonderfully in the show.]

2. Ready For His Close-Up. Or Something. We got a call one day on our Skype line from someone who said he was a casino host at a major hotel asking about the show. I called back thinking maybe he wanted to discuss what we could do for high rollers. Not so much. Rather, the guy tells me, "I do an awesome Moonwalk! I do a better James Brown, but my friends tell me my Moonwalk is pretty awesome." When I explained that this wasn't that kind of show, he was confused and deflated and I felt badly, so I told him to email us his YouTube clips and Web information and we'd take a look. His reply: "Oh, I've never actually performed on a stage before. I thought this could be a great place to get started!"

3. The Girls Will NOT Be Ignored. As the prior anecdote indicated, we heard from lots of acts who wanted to participate and my co-producer, Erich Bergen, carefully selected what would end up in there. (My contributions in idea or organization, by the way, included the Las Vegas Mass Choir, the Green Valley High String Quartet, Lion King representation and the Zumanity singers.) By far the most insistent and bizarre, however, was the lady out of New Jersey who manages The Girls, a trio of female singers who made absolutely no sense to include in a showcase of Vegas or Vegas-relevant talent. Erich let them down politely, but the manager kept coming back via email, more hysterically each time until this:

"Michael is and will always be the King of Pop not merely because of his skill, talent, and the execution of his performances, but specifically because he, more than any other performer truly loved his fans and people. That love was real and not just to impress others. His tribute should be ditto. He would've selected The Girls to perform. He was just that kind of a guy. He was real. He would not shove them away with a thanks but no thanks response. ... He would want The Girls to pay tribute to him, not merely the 'big names.' The Girls are heartbroken and feel additional hurt because Michael is being remembered under 'glory and pomp' and his real fans whom he adored are left out of the tribute."

Erich again replied that it wasn't personal, it just wasn't a fit. The manager quieted down for a few days before sending along this: "Do you know of other places where they can perform?"

4. CUL8R, VH1. At the outset, it seemed like working with VH1's Save The Music Foundation could have benefits. They have a big name and marketing potential and what they do -- provide funding for music educators' salaries -- was in line with what we wanted to accomplish. Except there arose a few serious problems. Besides for the fact that they were very bureaucratic and almost required us to beg them to let us give them our money, the representative told us they do not provide any funding for Nevada schools. Not only that, but if we pledged to raise a certain amount of money and we fell short, Erich and I would be legally obligated to make up the difference. But the kicker was when we suggested that we give some of the money to VH1 and some to the Clark County Public Education Foundation. VH1 would absolutely not be involved in any event for which they had to share in revenues. In fact, they wouldn't even allow us to have an instrument drive -- to collect slightly used instruments for local schools, an idea that didn't ultimately pan out -- in conjunction with something they were branding. And so in the end, they missed out on tens of thousands of dollars as well as all the international publicity we generated. Oh well. Keep all that in mind the next time the VH1 Divas concert returns to Vegas.

5. Hello, My Name is Erish. The beauty of press releases is that they're written down. Even better, when they come on the computer, you can even cut and paste the parts you like if you're that sort of journalist. So explain, someone please, how Erich Bergen became "Erish Bergin" in this ridiculously written piece? Yes, my name gets misspelled, too, although he (accidentally?) got it right once, anyhow. But better yet, given how I have repeatedly stated I was only a casual Michael Jackson fan, where would this fellow possibly have come up with this quote attributed to me: "I’ve been a huge fan of the Michaels music since I was a child."

6. Husband of the Year Joe Jackson: I told most of the story of my encounter with Joe Jackson, father of Michael, the day it happened. But there was one little bit I left out. When we met, I told him I was sorry for his loss. He thanked me. I asked how his wife was faring. His response: "She keeps bursting out in tears every so often all of a sudden, but I keep telling her if she'd only gone over there [to Michael's home] to check up on him like I kept telling her to, he'd still be alive today."

26 comments:

JeffW said...

I really cannot complain about VH1 STM as they gave over $250,000 to our school system last year. That said, is what you realized really all that surprising to anyone who has worked with corporations. I guess you need them more than they need you. Ha!

Cush said...

Hi Steve: Interesting stuff from behind the scenes. Thanks for sharing the drama.
The great thing is, it was all worth it, the event was amazing (if not a little loud).(am I getting old?)
I would have never expected Earl Turner to be such a diva...not so sure I want to see his show now. Clint and Kelly Holmes were great as always. Erich was amazing, and I also enjoyed Terry Fator. Heck...it was all good. And, of course, my jaw hit the ground when Elijah hit the stage. WOW WOW WOW. I also saw Lion King that evening, so I got a double dose of the young talent.
I tried to snap a good picture of you during your on stage appearance, however, you were quite the moving target and I didn't have a high speed camera. :)
What are the plans for the HD Tape of the event that was made?

Cheers,
Don

THE STRIP PODCAST said...

Jeff: Well, the working-with-a-corp thing also made us nervous. It was never clear how much of our money would go to administrative costs, etc.

Don: Had you already planned to see TLK or did you go b/c of Elijah? Also, yeah -- I managed to tame most of my nervous tics when I went on stage and then it came out anyway in the form of me pacing the stage! Oh well. Can't win 'em all. We've got some cool ideas for the HD recordings, but it'll take a few weeks to firm them up. Stay tuned!

ChrisR said...

Ah, Digital Journal. The home of the citizen journalist, and full of people who seem to think they have an entitlement to copy other people's work as their own and be journalists.

There's some good stuff on there (I wrote a few pieces there myself based on UK crime, which I had some knowledge of) but there's a lot of crap, a lot of plagarism, and was some vote rigging on what got on the front pages. It might have got better over time.

The concept was definitely interesting.

Cush said...

HI Steve:
I had TLK tickets all along. I know you aren't the biggest fan, but it is a great production. I saw it once before in Toronto, and the Vegas cast leaves nothing behind.
Any more dirt to share? Who did you really want at the event and said no? Who said yes and backed out? Who went above and beyond?
Robin Leach was sitting in front of me Twittering up a storm. I just saw this post: True? "Prince Michael II aka Blanket just arrived at Michael Jackson tribute concert. Sitting five seats down from me. He's got much shorter hair"
I had no idea?

Don
PS Yay Canada, 4% of Ticket sales..I was 2

Anonymous said...

Earl Turner performing gratis and "wonderfully" at your tribute show is not the postscript, it's the lead.

I find it very ungracious and atrotious that you would single out an African American performer for such personal and petty criticism when he gave his time to your event.

Shame on you, Steve.

Lionel Washington said...

Anon:

I was a volunteer at this event and I am BLACK -- and betting you're not -- and I disagree completely!

This has nothing at all to do with race -- the people with Earl were rude and selfish in a way that no other performer involved in this benefit was. Steve went EASY on him -- you should have seen some of the crap his people tried to pull in the ballroom where we were organizing talent. It was obnoxious. This post was mild, trust me. I was there.

There is no excuse for demanding large numbers of tickets, agreeing to pay for them and then stiffing the people of Las Vegas. It's a CHARITY thing. Just because you're black doesn't give you a pass to behave badly, but if you think that it does then *****YOU'RE***** the racist, BLACK or WHITE.

Plus, his first diss was to a BLACK radio host. She's still offended, from what I've heard.

Shame on Steve? Have you ever even met him? He and Erich are two of the most well-meaning people I've met in Vegas. Smart as a whip, too. For some, nothing's good enough.

Bravo to Steve. He gave up all that time to raise money for children. What'd you do all summer? Post anonymous comments on blogs attacking people for no reason?

Unlike you, I'll sign my name, too.

ChrisR said...

I believe the person singled out is the person whose entourage and agent was the single person who behaved atrotiously (sic) and ungraciously.

I'm really not sure where anything else comes into it.

Oh wait, was it actually because he was straight and male? That must be it! Steve, Steve, Steve! You hetreophobic, sexist pig!

Anonymous said...

Lionel, we need more people like you in the world! And for Steve, class act all the way.

THE STRIP PODCAST said...

Cush: Yeah, Wayne Brady backed out and it was weird because he was still discussing details of his number with Peepshow's Shoshana Bean when his PR firm in LA was saying he wouldn't do it because of a family obligation. So he wanted to do it and someone in his camp stopped him. There were also some Vegas locals of note -- Wayne Newton amongst them -- who had to go to Frank Fertitta's funeral and couldn't make the show. We really, really wanted Donny and/or Marie, but both had jam-packed schedules.

Lionel, ChrisR and Anon#2 - thanks for the support!

Anonymous said...

Casino City Times
Man Pleads Guilty to Bilking Investors
28 October 2003
FORT MYERS, Florida As reported by the Associated Press:"A man pleaded guilty to scamming casino boat investors and a bank out of more than $2.1 million.
"Angelo Giordano, 35,avoided trial on charges including wire and bank fraud, money laundering and transporting stolen property across state lines. He faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.75 million in fines, but he is not expected to get the maximum under federal sentencing guidelines.
"Federal prosecutors cut no deals with Giordano, who has been accused of scams and failing to pay his debts by dozens of people from Florida to Nevada.
"Instead of opening a casino ship or the Internet gambling site he promised, Giordano spent investors' money on a condominium and fast cars, and gambled away as much as $750,000, court records showed.
"Giordano also admitted stealing $519,500 from First Union National Bank in Fort Myers by cashing numerous checks from a bank account in the Bahamas he knew had nothing in it."

Scott Johnson said...

I have personally been to the Lani Misalucha show, which is an INCREDIBLE show by the way- A MUST SEE! But after reading this article, I must come into Angelo Giordano's defense quick. I have personally met him and his wife and they have done so much for the community and have been involved in a lot of charity work over the years. Please disregard this article as I can honestly assure you all that this must be one big misunderstanding!!

Go see the Lani Misalucha show as well as be sure to say hello to the show's producer Angelo Giordano because he is a great man!!

Kristin Matthews said...

I went to go see the Lani Misalucha show this weekend and it was such a hit!!!!! The Voices show at the Hilton Hotel & Casino was just awesome!

THE STRIP PODCAST said...

the lani misalucha show... interesting...does that mean earl's officially not in it anymore?

Susan said...

Why is this being referred to as "Earl Turner's people" and not "Lani Misalucha's people"??? Why is it being pinned on him?

Actually, why is it being blamed on the stars at all? Shouldn't it be the producers problem since it seems he is the one who did it? Doesn't seem fair.

Plus.... since Mr. Turner has left the show, couldn't one assume he didn't agree with what the producer did either? People should not be so close minded.

christine said...

August 28th, 2009
Angelo Giordano Giordano World Entertainment

Dear Angelo;
I wanted to take the time to thank you and your entire organization for participating in our Television Variety Show on August 23rd , to support Child Haven and the Foster Care Community. We are so blessed to have someone of your caliber and talent recognize the need in our community and step up to help with such enormous input
Please take the time to thank all of the Giordano World Entertainment team for their support and generosity .
Let me just say one thing from the heart of our entire entertainment community, Lani Misalucha is such a wonderful person both inside and out and she really exemplifies the true feelings of our endeavors. Her superb talent was the highlight of our show and the results generated much need funds for the Children’s Service Guild of Southern Nevada. Best Wishes in all that you do!

Yours Truly;
Jon D. Fondy
Jon D. Fondy, President Stars Among The Angels

THE STRIP PODCAST said...

Folks: The fact is, Giordano agreed to pay $20 a ticket for 15 seats and then refused to pay anything at all on the day-of, leaving 15 seats empty and costing the cause close to $2,000. I just had to reject an anonymous comment because it (a) alleged different facts and I know better because I was on those phone calls and (b) it alleged that this had a relationship with Erich's termination at Jersey Boys and I also know that to be verifiably untrue. While I clearly allow a very wide range of latitude in comments on this blog, I can't allow anonymous people to make up facts.

Also, again, remember that NO OTHER PERFORMER or his staff asked for comp'd seats for the MJ benefit. NOT ONE. Not Holly Madison, not Terry Fator, nobody. We chose to provide a pair of comp'd seats for the parents of the Green Valley High string quartet, but we also had them pay up for additional seats.

Giordano was the only one who asked for free seats -- and so many of them. Period. That's the fact. His conduct was outrageous and offensive and cost the students of Clark County a lot of money. And Earl's prima donna attitude prior to the show didn't help matters.

THE STRIP PODCAST said...

P.S. To Susan: I just looked it up. Stars Among The Angels took place on Sept. 20, not Sept. 23. So I suspect the letter you posted here is a fake. See: http://prvegas.wordpress.com/2009/09/17/%E2%80%9Cstars-among-the-angels%E2%80%9D-sunday-september-20th-2pm/

Anonymous said...

Don't be ignorant people.Use the internet to your advantage.Find out who Giordano really is.He's from Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Lee County Florida.Do a search.Court and police documents don't lie.

Anonymous said...

To Scott Johnson
Article isn't a lie and as far as the Giordano's doing so many wonderful things,well how did he do that when he is just out of Federal Prison? Wake up people. here check this page out.Just place Giordano Angelo in the name area.
http://www.leeclerk.org/Crim_Case_List_New.asp?SelType=Name

Oh and Yes Earl has left the show.

Katie Goins said...

My husband and I had the opportunity to see Lani Misalucha's show at the Hilton this past Saturday evening. We have seen a lot of shows in Vegas and we would have to rate Lani's performance as one of the best we have seen. The entire performance (everyone involved; dancers, band, magician, back-up singers) was simply outstanding! Lani's voice is utterly stupendous. She achieves a connection with her audience that you do not see very often. We will recommend "Voices" to everyone and are still raving about it as we write this. She outshines most Las Vegas "headliners" we have seen and would hold her own against the performances of Bette Midler and the late Danny Gans. Five stars to "Voices"!

Eric said...

LANI was amazing and she's come a long way and should be applauded for the stellar, no nonsense, stand alone, entertainers ENTERTAINER that she is!

With a talent like hers, and the professionally pleasant demeanor to match, I'm sure that she is a Producers dream to work with for Angelo & Christine, and I, for one, will do everything in my power to both insure and assure their $uccess in tandem with one another.

Keep up the GOD work and please give her my kindest regard to Lani on (both) my regard and on behalf of my entire family.

God(dess) with you always,

Eric

Christina Huss said...

Dear Angelo,

I know that you don't remember me, but I had the distinct pleasure of meeting you at a Lani Misalucha show in Vegas this past summer! We had the opportunity to talk at some length, and you were kind enough to give me your card. I, too, am in the entertainment business (smiling), I teach budding young musicians to play their instruments (band director and music teacher) and to perform for throngs of people (football games)! Laughing now- because of the beginning of school and football season here in Georgia, I haven't really been able to sit down and write to you until now!

I had seen Lani before when she was with the the SOS, but i had never see this particular show with Earl Turner - WOW! This is an amazing show, and should be on a gigantic stage with TONS of people in attendance! You put together an awesome show, and I haven't stopped thinking about it ever since! I only wish I could be involved some way in a production like that some day (as a musician, of course!) I have been scouring the internet for any Lani CDs that I can find (and i'm not finding much out there, which is a MAJOR shame)!

In closing, let me say, amazing job, and I am saving my money to come back and see you all again some day soon! You are such a nice person, Angelo. Thankyou so much taking so much time with those of us who talked with you! You didnt have to do that, and it was wonderful to have that rare opportunity! You, Lani, Earl- you were all so sweet and accommodating! I wish all of my students could have seen what it is to be a real STAR!

May God Bless you, Lani, Earl and all involved! And, thanks for the music!
--
Christina Huss
3106 Wild Oaks Circle
Valdosta, Georgia 31605
229-305-7700

Wes & Gina Roberts said...

Good morning Angelo: It is our pleasure to do whatever we can to promote Lani Misalucha. We have certainly become "Lani Freaks", having seen the show 8 times now. We will continue to support the show in any way we can. I have a question for you. Is the little boy that on occasion gets on stage and dances, your son? It was such a good part of the show. Anyway, we have already purchased our tickets for Nov 1 when my sister and bro in law come to town, and are going to take my son, his girlfriend and two small girls, when they are feeling better. Just went last night again, and might take my wife's friend and husband for her birthday, one day this week. We are so glad that you and your company are backing and producing the show. Her voice is world class, just as the entire show is. Thanks

Wes and Gina Roberts

Charo Yu said...

Dear Mr.Giordano,

This is Charo ,the manager of the group the ANGELOS, and it was a great honor to have
met you during the concert of my friend ms. LANI MISALUCHA. Congratulations for producing
such great show in Las Vegas.and I would like to thank you for believing in our FILIPINO
ARTISTS, and thank you to Jing, Tony & Noli for letting my group perform for Lani's concert.
After Las Vegas, we went to Georgia for the birthday concert of former president Jimmy Carter
which my group gained a standing Ovation, and now we are back in Manila, Philippines.
It will be a great honor to be working for your entertainment company in Las Vegas ,
Please let me know what is your proposal for my group for next year.
We have offers from Canada for the month of May, and some concerts for TEXAS cities for end of April
& June.

I am sending you some souvenir photos with my group the ANGELOS.
Please keep in touch . GOD BLESS!!!
Sincerely,
Charo Yu

Anonymous said...

Lawyer leaves fraud case
Angelo Giordano's lawyer asks to step down, saying the attorney-client relationship has broken down. The charges include bank fraud and money laundering.
By Associated Press
Published September 9, 2003

FORT MYERS - A judge has appointed a new attorney to represent a man accused of scamming investors out of $1.6-million.

Angelo Giordano, 35, is awaiting trial on charges including wire and bank fraud, money laundering and transporting stolen property across state lines.

He faces 30 years in prison and $1.75-million in fines if convicted.

U.S. District Judge John E. Steele allowed Tampa lawyer Manuel Machin to withdraw from the case after finding "a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship" in an Aug. 28 order. Steele appointed attorney Charles Michael Harris of Fort Myers to represent Giordano.

Machin filed a motion in early August asking to withdraw from the case or proceed under the "free narrative approach."

Under the approach, an attorney puts the client on the witness stand and allows him to tell his story without participating in the testimony.

Lawyers are prevented by law and codes of ethics from helping a client commit perjury.

Machin wrote that Giordano ignored his advice to enter a plea to the charges and "may be using counsel's services to perpetuate a crime or fraud" on the court.

Machin wrote that he might have already unintentionally presented "false and misleading statements" in court because of the questionable things he and his associates were told by Giordano.

Machin added that his relationship with Giordano had broken down to the point that he only communicated with him in writing or in court and that Giordano had threatened to file a complaint with the Florida Bar against him.

Giordano is in the Lee County Jail, where U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas N. Frazier sent him on April 21 because Giordano violated his bail terms by not providing the court proof that he owns a home in Las Vegas, which he had put up as collateral on a $100,000 signature bond.

He also had continued "to engage in fraudulent transactions," Frazier wrote.

Giordano was indicted in February for allegedly cheating several investors by telling them he would build casino boats.

He was also accused of making a series of fraudulent bank transactions totaling $519,500.

Giordano signed a contract with the Fort Myers City Council in 1997 to dock a gambling ship off a downtown pier, but the project was canceled when the council questioned Giordano's credibility as a business partner.