Saturday, February 20, 2010
Then, 5-6 pm PT, it's a very presidential episode of The Strip featuring Palms owner George Maloof talking about what it was like to host President Obama's $30,000-a-head DNC fundraiser at his home on Thursday night and then Bellagio pianist David Osbourne telling some fantastic tales about playing for six U.S. presidents including for the past three at the White House. Amy will be guest-hosting because Miles will be driving to Carson City on assignment.
Join us live at LVRocks.Com from 4-5 pm for The Petcast and 5-6 pm for The Strip. Listen and chat with other fans. Or wait for the podcasts. Your call.
Friday, February 19, 2010
That time, he stayed in a Penthouse Villa that, to quote my own New York Daily News report, is "a 22,000- square-foot mansion complete with six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, two kitchens, two outdoor decks with waterfalls, a sauna and much, much more. One of the eight marble bathrooms with an over sized jacuzzi tub. ... The suite occupies the entire top floor of Caesars Palace on the Vegas strip. Bronze-swirled marble floors and pillars accent the Roman themed abode."
Here were some blogged photos of it from back then and Obama himself even remarked on it: "I thought I had a pretty nice room" while campaigning, "but now that I'm president, they upgraded me. I got the upgrade, and it's a really nice room now."
Last night, though, Obama stayed in the presidential suite at the Bellagio Spa Tower. To answer my own question from my 5 Questions post, Secret Service had him stay at Bellagio and not Aria because they don't like to have him stay at the same place where he's appearing.
Here's the floor plan:
Here's what the Bellagio site says about it:
"Our Presidential Suite will have you marveling at the 4,075-square-feet of contemporary ambience. Upon crossing a walkway suspended above a tranquil reflecting pool, you'll enter this magnificent estate. Enjoy your own solarium, verdant indoor garden and fountain, fireplace, and L-shaped bar. Two master bedrooms, private bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, steam showers, and a conference room further sophisticate this dynamic Las Vegas Suite.
In addition, your stay in the Presidential Suite entitles you to customized complimentary services including 24-hour butler attention, VIP seating for Cirque du Soleil's “O™,” VIP check-in and lounge access, reservation handling and premium seating for any of the fabulous MGM MIRAGE® restaurants, clubs and shows. For your personal staff, three 1,000 square-foot Entourage Suites are available on the same floor."
Don't think O went to see O™.
Murren told me he expected Obama to “celebrate in our accomplishment” of completing the $8.5 billion project and opening three new hotels and a 500,000-square-foot mall in December. “He’ll most likely respect the fact that we were the largest single job creator in the United States last year and that this is the only LEED-certified gold conference center in the nation.”
Or not. The words "Citycenter," "MGM Mirage," or "Aria" did not fall from Mr. Obama's lips. He was very funny and in great spirits, possibly due to his night at Bellagio, but there was no acknowledgement or endorsement of Murren's business efforts.
I'm not sure how that made them feel and I don't imagine anyone from MGM Mirage would tell me on the record that it bothered them. I do know that Murren didn't like my next question, which was about his reaction to Obama's "blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you're trying to save for college" remark. The minute I went there he said he didn't want to answer that and when I persisted because THAT was the news of the moment and all, he said, "I don't want to talk to you anymore."
I'm hurt. Or something.
Btw, the best line from POTUS was: "I love Vegas! Why, just last night I hit a flush on the river and cut the deficit in half." Even when he's joking, it's bad news for MGM Mirage!
Photo: Stephen Voss
Remember how I blazed through all the Cirque shows in December and January and many of you wondered, WTF? Well, I did it so that I could review them all in this nifty primer I did for Portfolio.Com, posted today in time for the Viva Elvis premiere. This is a companion piece to a longer, in-depth Portfolio piece I wrote about Cirque. It's different than the Las Vegas Weekly cover inasmuch as the focus is more national and international and the LVW piece was specifically largely about the Strip.
Anyhow, if you care, you can go through the slide show and see my Cirque reviews. And here's the short version:
Criss Angel Believe: D
Viva Elvis: B-
I'll be pretty busy today, obviously. I've got to get from GVHS to Aria for Obama's second speech, then file for AOLNews.Com, then tape Nevada Week in Review at 6:30 p.m. before returning to Aria for the premiere and party for Viva Elvis. In other words, I've got two events at Aria today and odds are I'll be late for both.
I'll be Tweeting throughout the day, and you can follow that either via this link or in the upper left column on this blogsite.
OH! Also - tomorrow's episode of The Strip will be presidential-minded as well. We're expecting to have an interview with Palms owner George Maloof on hosting the $30,000-a-person Obama fundraiser on Thursday night and then a totally fascinating chat with David Osbourne, the Bellagio pianist who has played for six presidents including, at the White House, for Obama, Bush and Clinton.
Join us live online and listen/chat at LVROCKS.Com at 5 pm PT Saturday. Amy will be subbing for Carson City-bound Miles, off to cover a special session of the Nevada Legislature.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010
Public Administrator Action Would Need Probate Court Approval
"We hope to settle Redd's estate, pay all taxes owed, and get money for his heirs," Cahill said. "Redd deserves that, he was a Las Vegas celebrity classic and he loved our city."
Petitioning the Court to market Foxx's life story will notice all parties with standing and clear any questions about the title to those rights.
"We have always been confident that the estate owns the rights, but there have been questions and some confusion in the past. When buyers come to the table it's important that the rights are clear and available," Cahill said.
Foxx's life as a TV comedy pioneer and the wealth, fame and all that goes with celebrity would merit a screenplay but there is much more to his story. Foxx was a man of his times and those times included the civil rights turbulence of the 1950s and 1960s. In Chicago Foxx once roomed with Malcolm Little, later known as Malcolm X. Both were critical observers of social justice for African Americans in America. One took a path toward political activism and one pioneered what would be called, “Black TV Comedy.”
Foxx's pioneering comic career influenced many who followed him, including Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Bernie Mac, Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx and others.
Foxx was born John Elroy Sanford in St. Louis, Mo., on December 9, 1922, and died in Los Angeles on October 11, 1991, but was a resident of Nevada and is buried in Las Vegas. It is reported that Eddie Murphy paid for the funeral because Foxx died broke after the IRS seized his assets.
"We tried some negotiations last year and had offers ranging from $20,000 to $2 million, but it was all lunches, meetings and talk,” Cahill said. “I did get to visit with some producers and a star but they asked not to be identified.”
As estate administrator Cahill's duty is to get the best return for the sale of property.
"I'm hiring professionals to market the deal and adding a twist at the court hearing to confirm,” Cahill said. “The deal will be put to auction in the courtroom. The terms, conditions, details and rights will be locked but the final offer by a qualified bidder will determine who wins. If a deal favors the buyer rather than the estate it could get taken away at court by a higher bidder."
The petition filed by Cahill’s office is tentatively scheduled to be heard on April 2 at 9:30 a.m. in probate court at the Family Court and Services Center, 601 North Pecos Road. The Public Administrator is an elected County office and may be ordered to administer a probate when there is no eligible administrator available or able to serve.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 15th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to more than 2 million citizens and 40 million visitors a year. Included are the nation’s 7th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The county also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to almost 900,000 residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation,
OK. So. Wow, huh? The county's probate office is selling off the rights? That's weird. And the public administrator is doing lunch in Hollywood? Also odd, no?
Also weird is the extra paragraph about what a "dynamic and innovative organization" our county's guvmint is. Although, truth be told, apparently they ran out of things to say and just gave up mid-sentence.
Can't wait to see how this one plays itself out. Usually deals for rights like this are private matters. It seems like we're about to find out, down to the penny, what Redd Foxx's story is worth.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
But I've got a few other questions. And here they are:
1. Will cell phone service work at Aria? The president will be speaking at noon to business leaders at the Pinyon Ballroom at Las Vegas' newest resort. I was at ARIA last week and still, two months along, I was having trouble getting emails in there. If they think Robin Leach and I are whiners, they better brace themselves for the backlash to come if 100+ political journalists from all over the world can't email, text or Tweet. This is CityCenter's close-up outside of the travel press. Fuck this up and it seals their already-impending doom. Speaking of which...
2. Why the hell is President Obama staying at...Bellagio? What does that say about the White House, Harry Reid and even MGM Mirage's opinion of the new place? Wasn't it supposed to be the ultimate? Lord knows he could have a floor to himself the way things are going over there. Bellagio doesn't need to PR. It's already kicking ARIA's ass.
3. Will Hizzoner swallow his pride and his olives? Will Oscar Goodman, defender and family friend to thugs and murderers but grudge-holder against gaffe-prone presidents, extend a gin-soaked hand to Obama and offer a martini summit? Or will he sit in the corner with his arms folded and then accept Fox News' invitation to explain why it IS a good idea for people to blow their college dough at the Vegas slots?
4. Green Valley High School for Friday morning's town hall? Really? Why do the rich kids always get the fun stuff? GVHS' band got to march in the Inaugural Parade and GVHS was also the scene of Hillary Clinton's first pro-Obama stumping in the summer of 2008 after the detente. I get that he wants to suck up to endangered first-term Democratic Rep. Dina Titus' district, but there ARE other high schools in Henderson.
5. Will Obama dare to actually be seen walking through the ARIA casino? That would be a first. No sitting U.S. president has ever been photographed walking through a casino. Then again, he shouldn't worry about anyone's photos coming out in there. The allegedly sunlit gaming parlor is like a cave.
Oh, sure there's more: Will Fox News think Gov. Jim Gibbons is credible enough to fill the aforementioned slot if Oscar Goodman sobers up in time? Who will Elaine Wynn take to the $30,000-a-head fundraiser Thursday at George Maloof's bachelor pad? What screwed up thing will Harry Reid say to ruin the whole she-bang? Will Titus curse after Harry Reid says something to ruin the whole she-bang? Will Review-Journal publisher Shermy Frederick write on Sunday about how his editorial board was dissed by Obama, citing the dates when prior presidents gave a shit what Shermy Frederick thought? Who's going to be the first unoriginal journo to use some variation on "What Happens Here Stays Here"? (Note to self: Forewarn AOLNews editors not to do so in my headline.)
I could go on and on, but the Olympics are on. Follow my exploits with Obama via Twitter tomorrow and Friday!
Feb. 15: The Franco Files
Plus, Celine's coming back, Obama's coming back, FAO Schwarz and Ritz-Carlton are going, the Ruffins are with child, Chippendales does it 3000 times, candy is all the rage and the NFL and Vegas are at odds yet again.
ALSO: A special LIVE INTERVIEW edition of the Top Secret Tourist Tip of the Week with "Jersey Boys" star Travis Cloer, who appears at the Liberace next month.
Links to stuff referenced:
Franco Dragone’s site
The worst movie critic of the year piece Miles referenced
A Twitter pic from the Chippendales’ 3000th show
Joe Brown’s piece in the Weekly on sweet, sweet Vegas
The Associated Press on Celine’s return plans
Obama’s coming back to Vegas for…a martini summit?
FAO Schwarz and the Ritz Carlton are both closing
Time Magazine’s Viva Elvis blowjob
Steve’s losing Super Bowl bets
The Portfolio.Com piece on the Kia-NFL-Vegas Super Bowl flap
Pink’s love for Friendly’s Reese’s Pieces Sundae
The Petcast interview with Wynn oddsmaker Johnny Avello, re: Westminster odds.
Travis Cloer’s website and upcoming shows at the Liberace
So I open my dead-tree paper today and there's a prominent notification on the front page above the fold alerting me that the Review-Journal's website has been redesigned! There's even a full page in the back of the A section of the paper devoted to how it's all so different and better and schnazzy. It must be if they've got good ole Nate Tannenbaum point out its features, right?
Aww, Jeez, I thought. This is going to take a chunk out of my morning assessing for this blog.
But then, of course, it didn't! And why not? Well, folks, while the R-J has redesigned its front page, it hasn't really redesigned ANY OTHER PART OF THE SITE. In fact, in some places the design is actually more spastic, glitchy and unreadable than ever. It also doesn't appear they've actually deployed real journalists with real news judgment to manage it. We'll get back to that momentarily.
So let's first start with the happy news. The front page that greets visitors is definitely an improvement. To remind you what it used to be like, let's compare side by side the old and then the new:
OK, so the navigation from the front is cleaner and easier. No longer will I have to wade all over the place hoping to locate a certain columnist or blog. I like the tabs to the latest in various categories and I suppose putting the Top 10 "most popular" stories under the Buzzworthy click makes some sense.
These drop-down menus are a good help:
In Nate Tannenbaum's online video explaining the new orientation, he seems to imply those drop-downs already existed. That's possible. I've long since actually gone to the R-J site to find anything. I just use Google and get to what I need. Now I might come here and go this route.
But as you drill down, the whole thing goes awry. That Most Popular list, for example. What measure are they using? Page views? Most E-mailed? Most Comments? Because any way you dice it, the list is bullshit. LOOK at it:
You expect anyone to believe that the most popular story on this website is a 5-day-old report on Harry Reid criticizing the American Bar Association? Ahh, but the entire list is from pieces that posted prior to Feb. 13! Nothing's happened since then to capture anyone's interest? Really?
And hey! Check this out! In the 10 minutes since I took the screenshot above, some of the rankings have changed! Apparently, that syndicated column by J.C. Watts from Feb. 7 that was at No. 4 is, um, now No. 8.
Sorry, J.C., but folks in Vegas are just ravenous for 4-day-old crime stories! Tough business, huh? Bad dog food indeedy!
The R-J is wrapping itself in self-congratulations but, really, they didn't change anything else. If you're looking to browse general or older news, you're still stuck with this stupid, alphabetic dump of headlines:
And remember what I said about real journalists applying real news judgment? Look what qualifies as BREAKING NEWS:
The shooting is fine, but a feature about vendors showing up for the MAGIC convention? Stop the presses. No, really. That's BIG.
If you want a good, fun scare, click here and wait for peek-a-boo Nate to dash on the screen like Colbert racing to his interview set. Oh, actually, don't bother. Here, I'll save you the hassle:
Sadly, this 4-minute tutorial is probably going to do more harm than good. The imbeciles who need it -- and they really assume every one of you is a total moron -- will be confused by watching Nate on a life-sized version of the site, using his finger to click on stuff. They'll be so frustrated poking at their computer screens!
One of the things Nate is proud of is the new-and-improved search bar. I tried it. I wanted to see if there were any articles about President George W. Bush visiting the R-J's editorial board back when he was in power. Shermy Frederick today taunted President Obama to do so after Shermy fully established that his editorial page's voice had completely and utterly no sway in the 2008 election.
But I was just curious whether any recent sitting president had come to this particularly irrelevant lion's den or if this was just another gambit by Shermy to get on Fox News. I may never know because the search failed to help me. Also, I couldn't even read what I was typing into it, see?
My search bar type worked on the FRONT page, though, see:
It just doesn't work right on any of the interior pages. Try it! I never did find that piece on Bush ever chillin' with Vin and Shermy, but it must've happened because Shermy couldn't possibly set himself up for exposure as a total hypocrite, could he?
The glitches are the story all throughout the site. Click on this screen shot and check out this mess of a page, taken in two parts:
The type is all over the place, there are meaningless links, the boxes have no air to set off the content. This is NOT new to Web graphics. They wouldn't print it in the paper like this, would they?
Which brings me to my favorite part. The "Online Guy" Al Gibes undoubtedly oversaw this silliness. And the same "Online Guy" Al Gibes had a blog item just two days ago that somehow did NOT burn its way up his Ten 10 Most Popular list in which he took NBC to task.
OK, Al. You asked for it. Before you start spouting off at ANYONE for failing to get with the times, you manage probably the most archaic and idiotic news website in the nation. You have improved the front page to, say, 2006 standards and decided to throw yourself a party? Your site's video quality is still ridiculous and provides no embedding capability. Your most-popular list is clearly broken. You have no audio or video podcast feeds, your bloggers don't write on weekends, holidays or late at night and your latest column is about some no-name online dating service?!? Are you really in any position to lecture other media about modernism?
Oh, and one more thing. Nate...
...please wear darker shirts. I've asked you before. This is just fug.
P.S. Also, Nate, you've only been in town for possibly my whole lifetime. How about learning to say the name of the state properly?
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
You gotta hand it to the Harrah's peeps. Staging their lion dance for Chinese New Year on Sunday under the main porte-cochere was brilliant for ... Donny & Marie! I knew the minute I snapped this it would become THE shot that AOLNews.Com would used for my piece on the second-biggest gambling event of the Vegas year.
It's a fun time around Vegas, with lion dances galore and decorations that, frankly, are more impressive than what Vegas does for Christmas. I mean, what does the Venetian-Palazzo do quite like this:
There's something amusing to me about arraying a 16.5-foot-long tiger in front of a restaurant called Cut. Not sure about the feng shui of that. And, of course, I needed a closer shot of the girl in the huge Chinese-debutante-prom dress. Wow, huh?
Here's Caesars' main entrance and the Augustus Tower...
...and Wynn Las Vegas:
Chinese New Year is such a big deal, it's one of the five (or is it six?) seasonal decoration changes that Bellagio's Conservatory observes. I didn't make it over there, but reader Mike Dobranski (Follow him on Twitter) did and gave me permission to use these shots. The tiger's fur is dried botanicals.
It's no surprise, really, given the huge business Chinese players provide. I counted at least 15 resorts doing lion dances this year -- ARIA and the Orleans were the last, doing them tonight -- but I caught the ones at Caesars and Wynn on Sunday for my story.
Caesars deserved the love because it was their idea first. They did the first Chinese New Year celebration in 1975. The lions and dragons first set off firecrackers in the porte-cochere, then shimmy through the casino. They stopped at the threshold of Beijing Noodle No. 9 and the high-limit gaming parlors to fling lettuce -- a symbol of prosperity that hit me in the back -- and then went through both. Most folks were entertained...
...but the lady in the blue in that last shot maybe not so much.
At Wynn, the dance began in the south porte-cochere, where executives including Wynn President Andrew Pascal and high-roller special guests painted the eyes of the dragons, part of the ritual.
After this, about 2,000 special guests were treated to a banquet in a ballroom in which Wing Lei executive chef Richard Chen served up abalone that costs about $2,000 a pound and other delicacies.
Today, I went with a blog reader for Wing Lei's fabulous Chinese New Year's dim sum menu. If you're around, they're offering that until Thursday, Feb. 18, but it costs $58.88 a person.
Finally, my favorite. It may be the Year of the Tiger...
...but somehow this panda is making it ALL about her, huh?
Sunday, February 14, 2010
* Joe Brown's fun Weekly piece, reprinted in the Sun, about how CANDY and SWEETS are trendy these days in Vegas. You know, like that $40 box of cupcakes I bought in December.
* Corey Levitan's Review-Journal piece in which Vegas' top magicians discuss their favorite illusions.
* Liz Benston's two-fer on the impact of smoking in casinos on workers there. There's the story of Cheryl Rose, who is so honorable she doesn't even want to sue or name the casino that likely will have killed her and then a piece about those who are suing places like the Wynn.
* Norm Clarke's column, in which he credited me and this blog regarding the scoop that 74-year-old Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin's 28-year-old Ukrainian beauty queen wife is eight months pregnant.
* Michael Geeser, former KLAS journalist turned AAA spokesman, on one of his favorite stories back in the day to the R-J: "Back in the mid '90s, there was a synagogue in town that didn't have enough room in its building to hold its Passover seder, so it rented a ballroom at a hotel. The hotel they rented the room at was the Luxor. I remember saying to the news staff, "Does anyone see the irony to this?" My story that night was, "Tonight, Jews around the world will celebrate Passover, but here in Las Vegas, one group is going back to Egypt." Only in Las Vegas would you ever find that story."
* Sarah Silverman to USA Weekend on marriage: "Why would anyone want government involved in their love? I think it's a disgusting club to be in where people who love people of the same sex aren't allowed."
* Amy Tarkanian, wife of GOP Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian, to the Review-Journal: "Because of the Gibbons and Ensign thing, people come up to me at every event and say, 'Can he keep it in his pants?' "
Laura Myers' nearly 4,000-word profile of Danny Tarkanian was fascinating in a perverse sort of way. It was far less gauzy than Myers' profile a few weeks ago of GOP Senate candidate Sue Lowden, to be sure, but I'm not convinced Tarkanian will actually realize that. We'll see if he ever puts it on his campaign site.
You see, Myers watched the Tarkanians -- including his very small children -- being carted all over the state like a circus troupe in the service of his as-yet repeatedly unfulfilled political ambition. Lois is his eldest daughter and, evidently, opening act. Check out this:
"He was born in 1884," she says as a few people trickle in, including a man in a cowboy hat.
"I'm done," Lois calls out after a few minutes, and four people present applaud her on cue.
Tarkanian: "How long does it take Harry Reid to change a light bulb?"
Lois: "It doesn't matter because he will never see the light. If he can't see the light we'll show him the door."
Is that not bizarre? Slightly heartbreaking? There are also 6-year-old twins and a 2-MONTH-OLD child in tow. I can't tell if the journalist writing this piece is as horrified as her readers inevitably will be. She does, after all, find it remarkable that the Senate candidate "pumps his own gasoline" as if maybe someone else -- say his nursing wife or one of his rugrats -- ought to do it for him. So maybe she got sucked into some notion that this is all normal.
Then again, maybe not. She does manage to extract this gem from his mother Lois, who has won four more elections than her 0-for-2 son:
"Harry's been good to me," she says, then tells a story about a fellow Democrat asking her how she could even consider not supporting Reid. "He said, 'How could you do this?' And I said, 'Would you vote for your son?' And he said, 'I know what you mean.' So yes, I think I would vote for my son. I believe my son would be an excellent senator. He hasn't disappointed me."
Did you catch that? His OWN MOTHER is torn! You didn't hear that from Maria Shriver or any of the Kennedys when Ah-nold ran for governator, did you?!? The best she can say is that he's NOT a disappointment?
There's just something incredibly pathetic about Danny Tarkanian's entire effort and how he shamelessly exploits his family, from his famous surname to his kiddies. One last snippet, from the candidate's mouth:
Dude, if you've been to those places that many times and you still haven't won something ever, maybe that's a sign?