Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wynn, Wynn and More Wynn

I've been a quiet little blogger the past few days, but what better way to get back into the action than to take note of the fact that there's just been an explosion of Wynn-related fodder in the past week. Some of it and some thoughts on it:

* Steve Wynn, Eponymous. I've got a piece up on Portfolio.Com today that is another entry in their series on business people whose name is their brand.

* Steve Wynn, Vegan. John Katsilometes flexes his outstanding writing muscle and observatory skills in his Las Vegas Weekly cover on Mr. Wynn's newfound vegan zealotry. Given how many of the interviews with Wynn that I've aired involve him eating something, John's opening passage is particularly ingenious. I'd feel jealous of Kats for this scoop except that he was precisely the right reporter to do it, having spent the summer being vegan himself. Also, for the second consecutive week, the Weekly's cover was nothing short of brilliant. On a related note, Robin Leach had a follow-up scoop in getting Wynn to say he's changing his will to emphasize his animal-rights interests.

* Steve Wynn, Action Hero. There's a riveting video interview with Wynn with Prannoy Roy from the Indian TV station, NDTV. It's weird because the interviewer is a thorough suck-up who doesn't challenge a thing and is given to such pronouncements as "You singlehandedly changed Las Vegas!" But the exchange turns from banal to absolutely fascinating when Wynn gives the gritty details about his experience when his daughter, Kevyn, was kidnapped in 1993. That stuff starts at about 24:30 if you want to skip Wynn try to sell himself to the Indian government for potential casino opportunities as well as his now-standard anti-Obama dissertation. He goes on for about 15 minutes, and it is classic Steve Wynn storytelling at his best, most emotional.

* Steve Wynn, Harrah's Poacher. Of the oddest bit of news that has emerged from the Wynn world lately, it's that Elaine Wynn's nephew, Wynn Las Vegas president Andrew Pascal, is leaving the company. Odder still is that he's being replaced by Marilyn Winn Spiegel, longtime Harrah's executive most recently regional president of three Vegas properties. Both pieces of these developments are peculiar. Pascal had seemed likely to become Wynn's heir; could it be that the Wynn divorce is, in fact, creating awkwardness between her family and him? Or maybe he's gotten a signal that he won't be the heir apparent and wants to make a name for himself in some other way? The filing indicated that Pascal had no conflicts or disputes about the company's approach or mangement, so what gives then?

Meanwhile, though, with all those folks in house looking for a chance to shine -- Tim Poster, remember him? -- Wynn hires away a veteran of the company that does things exactly the opposite of how he does them. It would be like Prada hiring the head of J.C. Penney's, no?

Seriously, I have never in my entire history of talking to Steve Wynn ever heard him say a complimentary thing about the modern Harrah's operation. And on last week's earnings conference call he even went out of his way to dis Harrah's chief Gary Loveman over the all-too-familiar design to your left. Here's the passage:

And I was walking out of the Borgata [in Atlantic City], which I want to look at and there next-door was Harrah's, with a curved tower and asymmetrical roof, a very poor, homely copy of the Wynn Las Vegas. And I called up Gary Loveman, and I said, "Hey man, have you no shame?" I mean, and in the building was in the wrong proportion. In order to do what we do with our building, it has to be horizontal in its proportion or doesn't look right. And this one was verticals, which just looked like sort of a tall rectangle with point on one end. And he said, he gave me an answer, he said, "Well, duplication is a serious form of flattery." I found that relatively unsatisfactory answer. I think maybe someone should try to do their own thing instead of doing bad copies of other people's things. But we do give the boys a chance to louse up what they think we're doing.

Ouch. I realize Winn Spiegel had nothing to do with that design, but it's also not as though she has been running Caesars Palace, which is the closest thing Harrah's has to a Wynn. Huh.

Oh, there's also some news on Wynn and the whole drama with his dealers and tip-sharing. For some reason, this story has never really intrigued me that much, but if you care, check out Liz Benston's account.


Anonymous said...

Didn't the Dixie Chicks get flogged in the media and by real, freedom-lovin' 'Mericans for dissing the president in front of/to foreigners?

Wynn is tiresome.

Of course, he has F you money, so he can afford to piss off large swaths of potential customers by farting out every anti-Obama thought that comes into his head.

Funny all these anti-money spending types were silent when W was spending trillions in Iraq.