Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Wayner on Norm, Cirque & eBay

I've been so busy traveling that I'm afraid some critical nuggets from my Wayne Newton interview earlier this month may have gotten overlooked. Sure, I podcasted the conversation and did a point-of-view column for the Weekly, but these bits are just too savory not to blog about as well.

1. The Wayner Buys His Own Stuff Back On eBay

I asked whether there's anything special about his cufflinks and studs, given that his stage uniform for 50 years has been tuxedos. He said his wife has the studs monogrammed, which led to this exchange:

Wayner: At the Stardust, one of them got knocked off and it went on stage, bounced into the audience. I realized when it happened. I said, "You know I just lost one of my studs in the audience." I said, 'Don’t bother looking for it now, but at the end of the show I sure would like to have it found.' And needless to say it was never found.

Friess: And it was found in eBay a few years later.

Wayner: Listen, I have found on eBay that I bought back that have been stolen form the ranch here.

Friess: No! Like what?

Wayner: Like signed pictures of Lucy, on and on and on. Signed pictures to me end up on eBay.

Friess: You’re telling me people come to your home, take things, and then try to sell them and you are the one who buys them back?

Wayner: Yes.

Friess: Why don’t you just call the guy who owns it and say, "Hey that’s mine"?

Wayner: We can’t find them. They’re protected.

Friess: Wow. How much have you paid to get things back?

Wayner: None of them have been very, very expensive because they would be afraid ot steal those kinds of things that you would immediately miss. I would bet you I have bought back 10-15 different items on eBay.

Friess: That’s amazing. That’s just shocking.

Wayner: And it’s just easier to buy them back than to go through all this.

* * *

2. The Wayner Expresses Regret About the Norm Clarke Plagiarism Flap

Back in the summer of 2002, R-J gossip columnist Norm Clarke turned over his space to guest writers during a medical leave. The piece run under Wayne Newton's byline, however, was actually largely lifted from something written from an Anna Quindlen book.
Anna Quindlen had a great deal of fun with it in a Newsweek column on Aug. 12, 2002 but on a recent episode of "The Strip," Norm said Mr. Las Vegas never acknowledged or apologized for the situation. Read on.

Friess: You substituted for Norm Clarke a number of years ago, you remember this?

Wayner: Yes, I do.

Friess: And apparently the piece that you wrote came from an Anna Quindlen column of some sort. Did you actually write that piece or did someone on your staff pick that out?

Wayner: Actually, someone on my staff write it. I didn't realize that part of it had been plaigarized. And the person that wrote it, to a great extent, believed they had not done anything wrong. And, in fact, I called the original author. Now, certain aspects of it had been changed a little bit but there were no questions that it had been plaigarized. I called the person, it was a lady, who could not have been nicer, and I explained the conditions and I said, "It's the last thing in the world I'd ever do and I just want you to know that I was so impressed with the article that I wish the person who had written it for me had truly written it for me." She couldn't have been nicer.

Friess: This was Anna Quindlen of Newsweek.

Wayner: Yes, and she was very understanding and that ended that.

* * *

3. Wayner Will NOT Be Seeing "Viva Elvis"

He was describing the historic Vegas entertainment trends -- magicians with white tigers, Danny Gans-esque impressionists and now "the Cirque syndrome," which he says is waning.

Friess: Is that because they've made bad choices like working with Criss Angel or because things go in cycles?

Wayner: I think it's both, actually. Both.

Friess: You were a friend of Elvis Presley's. They have an Elvis show they're about to open. Are you excited to see it?

Wayner: Uhh, no.

Friess: How come?

Wayner:I’m not a big fan of Elvis impersonators. I’m not a big fan of Wayne Newton impersonators.

Friess: Are there? Are there Wayne Newton impersonators? Are there many?

Wayner: There are about three that I can think of and I’m not a big fan of Frank impersonators. And the reason for it, frankly, Steve, is that having known those people and been friends with to those people and have them be friends to me, these people are simply touching on the aspect of what the tabloids write. They really don’t do an honest impression of Frank or Dean or Sammy. They do what they think the audience expects. Frankly, they're making a living and careers that people spend their whole life creating.

Friess: I just can't think of the last time I saw somebody doing a Wayne Newton impersonation and I was wondering why there aren't more of those.

Wayner: Well, it's probably because I'm still alive.


Anonymous said...

Regarding the 'Viva Elvis' Show I would like to point out that there are NO Elvis impersonators in the show. The only male voice heard throughout is that of Elvis.


yeah, they keep saying that, but then what exactly is that dude on the stilts in this video:

Oh, right. An Elvis impersonator.

Jeff in OKC said...

I googled it; there really are Wayne Newton impersonators! I don't know why I never thought about that before. Maybe they could have a pit of nothing but Wayne Newton dealertainers at The Plaza. They could call them the WaynerTainers! They could put the just outside the entrance to the Rat Pack is Back showroom.

Anonymous said...

How do we enjoy the music of Elvis and Frank without impersonating them? I have seen an Elvis impersonator that seems inspired and not a straight impression. Perhaps the better metaphor is a impressionist painting rather than a Xerox copy. I agree a straight impression will not do and they are actually quite boring. To entertain requires a bit more artistry.

Anonymous said...

The dude on the stilts in the 'Viva Elvis' show is not an impersonator. If he were he would not be wearing stilts as Elvis never used them.

Of course there has to be some visualisation of the Elvis personna but the fact remains that Elvis' is the only male singing voice used. The rest is solely Elvis and females duetting with him.