Saturday, May 2, 2009
If you want to hear the full 2006 interview with Gans from "The Strip" that Gillan excerpted in that discussion, you can hear it by clicking here or download by right-clicking on here. I just finished my column for the Las Vegas Weekly on Gans and will post it when it is published on Thursday.
Friday, May 1, 2009
I'm not allowing comments on this post because I do not want people to engage in reckless or insensitive speculation.
But the part that was so interesting was this exchange in which he explained what he wanted to be remembered for and why he didn't mind not being more famous. Here's the transcript of what he said, responding to that very question:
No, it doesn’t [bother me] because it is by choice. For someone listening, that might be a hard thing to understand, but I have times, if I elaborated on it, you’d think I’d be making up all the things that have been offered my way from sitcoms to motion pictures to talk shows. I don’t want that. I’m a family guy and I really treasure my privacy. So it is more important for me to be home with my wife and kids and be able to play golf and be with my friends than be on the cover of TV Guide? I really love doing my show but I don’t step out and say, "OK, I’m going to do that sitcom and that movie and that thing." It’s going to take away from the time I have with my kids while they’re growing up.
A conscious decision that Garth Brooks made several years ago to pull back so he could be with his children, I made that decision 15 years ago when no one knew who I was and I stepped into an opportunity where I was offered a one-man show on Broadway for a limited engagement for three weeks. I did the three weeks and I was offered a year on Broadway. I had already started doing some of the TV stuff and I turned down a lot of it but since I was in New York I said I’d do it so I did “Regis and Kathie Lee” and I didn’t like it. I just didn’t like it. I didn’t like the attention that goes along with it.
I had friends in the business who said, "You have no idea how lucky you are to be able to do what you do and not have to worry when I go outside because there’s going to be paparazzi every place. Hold on to that because you’re going to regret the fact that 50 years from now, when you’re about ready to go on to the next side, you look back at your life and you can say, 'I had a fulfilling life because I had a successful marriage and had raised three wonderful children and I had a career that I loved to go to every day or my marriage didn’t last and I don’t even know what the heck happened to my kids but hey, man, I was on three sitcoms and I did 17 films, people are gonna remember me forever now.'
What’s more important? Well, to me, honestly, from the bottom of my heart, it’s the family and being able to get up every morning and living my life as opposed to being the guy on the cover of People magazine. I have absolutely zero interest in that.
Here’s just one example. Just before I came to the Mirage, Aaron Spelling was a friend of mine and he said, "Look you gotta do a sitcom for me." I said, "Aaron, I don’t have the time, what am I gonna do?" He said, "Look, sign a contract that you won’t do another sitcom for anyone except for me." I said, "OK, I’ll do that for you." So we signed this contract and he gives me a ridiculous amount of money just to not do anything. And he writes the treatment, we start getting a casting call together the whole thing. He wants to do a pilot. I said, “Aaron, let’s really talk about this. Let’s talk about the day in the life of a sitcom actor. You can’t film it in Vegas so I’ll have to go to L.A.” He said, "Oh, we’ll private jet you up and back and I guarantee you it will make it on the air, it’ll have at least 13 episodes, I’ll put millions of dollars behind this, everyone will know who you are, you’ll be on the cover of every magazine, it’ll be huge, believe me, it’ll be a huge hit."
To make a long story short, Steve, a typical day would have been on Monday morning fly to L.A., do a table reading for four hours. Then I would rehearse, jump on a plane, fly to Las Vegas, take a cab to the Mirage, do the sound check, do the show, by the time I get home it’s 2 o’clock. … Do that five days a week, then on Friday, which would be my day off in Vegas, fly to Los Angeles and film two shows in L.A., then they have the weekend off but I have to go work at the Mirage on Sat or Sunday. And then Monday, it starts all over again. In other words, what is your motivation here. If I was single, I would do that, but I’m not.
Well, Mr. Gans, if you are measuring your life based on your devotion to your family, you were certainly a success. I bet you were a heckuva dad.
The national media may be largely indifferent to the sudden loss of Danny Gans -- here's my AFP wire piece on this but the rest of the national press has not taken an interest -- but Las Vegas is clearly in mourning today. Also, I'll be on Las Vegas One at 9 p.m. PT tonight with host Jeff Gillan to euologize Gans.
I'll keep adding to this post as more reactions become available.
From Donny & Marie: The unexpected passing of Danny Gans is such a shock to everyone here at the Donny & Marie show. He was not only our producer but also a good friend; we would routinely call him for advice and direction regarding our production. We've lost an amazing entertainer. His friendship, charisma and talent will be greatly missed. Our prayers go out to his wife, Julie and their 3 children, and our heartfelt condolences to our dear friend and partner, Danny's longtime manager Chip Lightman.
From Cher: "I was shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of such a unique and gifted talent."
From Celine Dion: "I'm very, very sad, and completely shocked to hear the news about Danny. Rene and I have loved him very much since the first time we saw him and met him at the Rio in 1997. Not only was he the best in his field, but he was such a kind and loving person. About a month before my last show at Caesars, Danny and his wife Julie, and their daughters came to see us. We talked and laughed for over an hour. I can't believe he's not with us anymore, and our heart goes out to his family. I wish them God's strength."
From Steve Wynn: "Elaine and I and all of us in the Company are devastated at the loss of our brilliant, talented and loving friend. One of the most unique human beings and entertainers in the world has been taken from us in an unexpected moment. A profoundly tragic event that leaves us all sad and speechless. The loss of Danny to his wife Julie, his children Amy, Andrew & Emily is at this moment impossible to comprehend. We will all try to go on with our lives without our dear friend. At this moment it seems almost impossible."
From Lance Burton, Monte Carlo headliner: "The news of Danny Gans’ passing is unbelievably shocking. Las Vegas has lost one of its best ambassadors. He was quite simply one of the greatest entertainers ever to step foot onto the stage. In my 27 years in Las Vegas, I have never seen anyone better. I first worked with Danny over 20 years ago in Palm Springs. President Gerald Ford was in the audience during the benefit at the Bob Hope Theater. As recently as last year I performed with Danny at a benefit show at the Mirage. He was a dear friend and I am profoundly sad today. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Julie, his children Amy, Andrew, Emily and his longtime friend and manager Chip Lightman."
From U.S. Sen. Harry Reid: "Danny Gans brought joy to the lives of the millions of Nevadans and tourists who came to Las Vegas to see his show. He was a talented performer who used his celebrity to give back to our community and those in need. Las Vegas is a better place because of Danny Gans. He will truly be missed."
From U.S. Sen. John Ensign: "Danny Gans was a talented entertainer and a valuable member of our community whose contributions to help those in need will be greatly missed. Darlene and I will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers as they mourn such a sudden loss."
Wow. This is a sad morning for Las Vegas.
I just got off the phone with Chip Lightman, Danny Gans' manager of 18 years. He confirmed that Gans was pronounced dead at his Henderson home at 3 a.m. PT today. He was 52. Lightman said Gans had been having trouble sleeping the night before so, having no show Thursday night, he went to bed late in the afternoon.
At 1 a.m., his wife, Julie, noticed he wasn't moving, which was odd for Gans while sleeping, she said. She called 911 and they declared him dead. An autopsy is pending. He had two daughters and a son.
"The guy was healthy as an ox," Lightman said. "I spoke to Steve Wynn several times this morning and both of us were shocked. I was with Danny the day before yesterday. Healthy as an ox. I mean, all he ate was egg whites and spinach and worked out religiously."
I'm scheduled to join Dave Berns on KNPR this morning at 9 a.m. to discuss the news and the legacy. Go to knpr.org to listen. You can also read my recent column on how much his show had improved since its recent move to the Wynn from Mirage.
Gans was successful to the end. Here's this week's TicketNews.Com rankings of Vegas' top shows by ticket resalers:
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Top Chef is filming its latest season in Vegas -- could it be the answer to our prayers?
By STEVE FRIESS
We’ve been waiting for a lifeline. The obituaries are being written, and, unless you’re Oscar B. Goodman or Pollyanna or someone allergic to statistics, they hardly seem premature. Las Vegas is drowning in debt and red ink, our houses are rapidly approaching worthless, our unemployment rate is speeding toward a record, our casinos are echo chambers, and our taxes are, regardless of what the Review-Journal thinks, going up. Pretty soon the obits are going to become autopsies.
Something needs to change. Something big. Something game-changing. And late last week, that wished-for antidote may have arrived.
Top Chef began filming Season 6 in Las Vegas on Monday. This could easily be the start of the recovery.
Stop. Hear me out. It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds.
Remember how seminal that 2002 season of MTV’s The Real World at the Palms turned out to be, not just for George Maloof’s nascent themeless off-Strip resort but also for kicking off the What Happens Here Stays Here Decade? Remember how watching those silly characters cavort and mate in that fantastical suite imprinted upon a generation the impression of Vegas as the coolest, most creative place on the planet to party?
Yes, one phenomenally successful TV show did all that. And it could happen again.
Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com.
April 30: Top Chef's Top Chef
Some chefs are TV stars first, then Vegas restaurateurs. Tom Colicchio did it the other way around. The five-time James Beard Award winner already owned Craftsteak and ‘wichcraft at the MGM Grand when he was tapped to become the chief judge for the hit Bravo reality competition Top Chef. The show began filming its sixth season in Las Vegas this week, although this interview took place a day before that was confirmed. Still, Steve spoke to Colicchio at length about everything from his criticism of the show’s finale format to the late Natasha Richardson’s stint as a guest judge last season. Colicchio also explains why he's never had a Food Network show retells how he saved the life of a famous food writer at an Obama inauguration party in January and reveals the secret to Craft's sumptuous monkeybread. Plus, as always, we asked him about his fast food preferences, if any.
In Banter: Top Chef a'coming, Angel v. Perez, the Kelly Monaco break-in, Fontainebleau's problems, coinful slots, changes to WSOP and more.
Links to stuff discussed:
Craft Restaurants’ website
VegasHappensHere.Com on Top Chef Vegas
The UPI wire service on the Kelly Monaco burglary
TripAdvisor.Com on Golden Gate’s $19.06 special
Elvolution star Trent Carlini’s site
Las Vegas Sun’s Joe Brown raves about Elvolution
Norm Clarke’s call for Criss Angel to be fired
Hear the podcast of the vermin Perez Hilton’s panel to Vegas for a charity event
VegasHappensHere.Com’s post about the Fontainebleau problems
The Associated Press on the trend back toward coin-full slot machines
The New York Times on the possible Nevada lottery
VegasHappensHere.Com on the changes afoot for the 40th World Series of Poker
The site for that wacky plastic surgeons convention
the photo Mark from Chicago sent us on VegasHappensHere.Com
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
About 75 minutes ago, MGM Mirage stock stopped trading "pending news." Speculation is largely centered on the sale of some asset. Some seem to think it's the fruition of Wynn's alleged desire to buy Bellagio and, uh, Circus Circus, that sillyspeak that the R-J decided today was worth a banner headline. It would be shocking of Wynn, on the cusp of a real deal of any sort with MGM, commented at all yesterday let alone be so flippant as to toss out the ridiculous suggestion that he wants to own a hellhole.
As usual, we should take note of where the Las Vegas press is as this story unfolds. The Sun went up with a top headline 33 minutes after MGM halted trading at 12:11 p.m. PT.
The Review-Journal? It's now been more than an hour since the halt. Take a look:
They've posted "breaking news" bulletins on three other stories since 12:11 p.m. PT -- a shooting, a possible bank merger and passage of a bill in Carson City. But not a trace of the mysterious fate of the state's largest private employer.
Now, which site would YOU go to first for breaking news?
Spoke too soon. This morning, the Centers for Disease Control updated their website to show a case in Reno. And away we go.
This tourism-dependent state is already in disaster. What's going to happen when this hits Vegas and those iconic face masks are being worn by showgirls and Elvis impersonators? (That's me above wearing one in 2003 when I covered the SARS outbreak for USA Today from Beijing, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China.)
The governor announced last week the state has a stockpile of 140,000 doses of medication with another 86,000 on its way from the feds. Here's hoping that's enough.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Get a load o' this. From under the headline, "Affordable Housing: It's 2004 in Las Vegas all over again," some choice excerpts:
Working men and women who were convinced only two years ago that they'd never be able to afford a new house in Southern Nevada now have an abundance of choices around town. In the northwest valley, one builder is selling homes from $149,900. In the northern valley, homes with more than 2,000 square feet start at less than $200,000. Homes with more than 3,000 square feet can be had for a little more than $300,000.
Naturally, builders and real estate agents are doing all they can to tout this buyer's market. "These prices won't last!" they warn.
They're just a bit off the mark. It's not that these bottomed-out prices won't last. It's that they can't last.[snip - longish market-is-God blather explaining how capitalism works in kindergarten terms that ignore any broader potential complications.]
The days of discounted new housing are nearing an end. At some point in the next few years, consumers will have to pay full price. And when that happens, the hand-wringers of the political class will moan, "Remember when you could get a new house for less than $200,000 -- in 2008?"Ya don't say. So, how much farther have values around here fallen in 12 months since this editorial? 30 percent? More? What was that I read last week about the prospects of the median home falling to $100,000? Where'd I see that again? Oh, right.
Well, not until just now. Evidently, when Wynn tells it to Bloomberg News, it's real to the R-J and worthy of being flashed atop their site as "Breaking News."
And all that because Wynn told Bloomberg: "I’d be interested, if at the right price, whether it’s Bellagio or Circus Circus."
See? That's how you know he's just funning them, needling his old friend Kirk. Wynn wouldn't take ownership of Circus Circus if he could have it for free plus a lifetime buffet pass. But thanks, R-J, for bringing us the latest just as soon as it happens. Or something.
Join us at 6:45 p.m. PT at LVRocks.Com to hear the live show or grab the podcast edition when it's posted on Thursday morning. Subscribe (it's free!) in iTunes.
Miss California Carrie Prejean, whom the vermin Perez Hilton has singlehandedly minted as the newest and by far prettiest right-wing superstar, has complained that sponsors have told her to renounce her views opposing marriage equality. Instead, she's on a church tour.
This morning, a colleague asked me what I thought so I went to my blog to email her the post above. And that's when I spotted that automatic Google Ad associated with the post. Here it is closer up:
If you click on it, get to download a pdf of companies that "are involved in practices contrary to Judeo-Christian principles." It's an ad for a conservative investment fund called the Timothy Plan and the Hall of Shame includes, among others, pretty much every media company (including Fox News owner News Corp) for promulgating pornography. Here's their mission:
Two questions here:
* Is there a way for me to tell Google not to allow such ads to be paired with my blog?
* How is it the Timothy Plan has listed not a single gaming corporation even though there's a column on the chart for gambling? The only companies checked off are beer and amusement park purveyor Anheuser-Busch and Planet Out, the gay online media company that, so far as I know, does not provide any gambling services. Are Vegas interests just such lost causes, so beyond help that they don't even belong in the Hall of Shame?
In any event, Ms. Prejean is well on her way to full-fledged right-wing exploitation. I just hope she gets her cut, because clearly the Timothy Plan is placing these ads where her name appears without her knowledge. That would seem unethical -- immoral even! -- so maybe we shouldn't invest with them.
[P.S. If you're really into this Carrie Prejean stuff, my pal Rex Wockner, a prominent gay journalist, had a terrific Q-and-A with her posted to his blog. I only wish he'd asked her if she was a virgin since I suspect if she's dating stoner Michael Phelps she's not and that would see, as she likes to say, Biblically incorrect.]
Monday, April 27, 2009
Thus, while F'bleau has not officially postponed its opening, there are signs that such a move is imminent. For one thing, it's almost May and the resort's website isn't taking reservations yet or even showing images of the room product. Aria, which is scheduled to open in December, is. Vdara, an Aria neighbor at CityCenter which also is planned for an October opening, has been taking reservations for months. And until last week, CityCenter's financing was far more iffy than F'bleau's.
Anyhow, I wasn't the only reporter chasing the word that F'bleau had told conventions to move, which would be the surest and most concrete indication that they're planning for a construction shutdown and a completion delay.
But, alas, I received a somewhat cagey statement a few minutes ago from the crisis-management PR folks F'bleau has hired to deal with this drama. Have they been telling groups to find other places to convene? This was the official line:
Uh, OK. Strange, though, that the rumors are so persistent. Could it just be competitors playing dirty pool?
Interestingly, there really aren't that many conventions scheduled for F'bleau, and none until January 2010, three months after the scheduled opening and only seven on the LVCVA's calendar through May.
I guess, as they say, this one is developing...
Sunday, April 26, 2009
And then, 20 minutes ago, the OWNER CALLED.
He's a trucker who had been on the road and his wife or something didn't even notice the dog had wandered away from their home yesterday on the other side of our complex. He got home this afternoon, spotted my signs, called and described the animal to a T. Well, he didn't mention the bulging tumors or the freakshow teeth, but he got the blind part right.
His name is -- commence gagging -- Renegade. He's 15. The owner says he does have a microchip. My vet scanned him for it but didn't find it.
Mr. Trucker was very friendly and grateful. I explained that my vet said (gag!) Renegade had a litany of health problems and that I couldn't afford to handle it so I gave him to Lied. Mr. Trucker has 72 hours from 9 a.m. this morning to claim (gag!) Renegade; he said he would call right away and I gave him Lied's phone number. Mr. Trucker claimed he took on this dog from a neglectful owner when (gag!) Renegade was 8.
I was in no mood to lecture the guy on how he could have allowed this creature become a huge flab of disease and decay. I didn't really see the value in that and I was glad he offered to go around and take down my fliers. I'm just happy that the dog won't die alone in the shelter.
That said, I also have no intention of taking Mr. Trucker up on his offer to come by for a beer. I sense it would just be too depressing.
[UPDATE #2: At suggestion of Facebook comrades, I called and emailed Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, to see if they'll consider helping this dog. Will update if/when I hear more. Best Friends is the setting for the NatGeo show Dogtown.]
If not, she might end up being ours. Yikes.
Black, Jack and I were finishing our walk tonight when this dog was wandering around our front yard. It didn't just seem lost, it seemed very confused. I put our dogs in the house and went outside to get to know her. She's got huge cataracts, clearly almost blind and bumping into stuff, overweight and no tags. All she's got on is an ill-fitting chain collar.
I walked her around the block to see if anyone was missing her. No luck. I took her in, posted on Facebook about her and created a flier. Then I took her to put the fliers on the gates at each end of our large complex but she wasn't dealing well with the walking. So I tied her to a tree in the middle of the complex and went to finish putting up the signs. When I returned, she was gone.
Wow, I thought. Only I could lose a lost dog. I hurried home to get my car to drive around and see if I could find her. Lo and behold, she was about a half-block from...our house! That was quite a distance and a number of turns, so I'm kind of thinking she's chosen us as her new owners.
Pretty, huh? Black and Jack are a little thrown, but this dog is quite gentle and very quiet. Panting a lot, though, and we're having a tough time leading a blind dog to water.
We'll see if anyone calls tomorrow and take her to the vet. The signs to me are pointing toward a deliberate abandonment, particularly that odd collar situation. We're a little worried about the expense of inheriting an abandoned dog, but I think I'm falling in love. I've already got a name picked out. Well, two. Kate or Juliet. "Lost" fans will appreciate. Can't call her Claire. That was my grandma's name and we're saving that for a daughter. A human one.