Saturday, March 6, 2010

Breaking: Liberace Home In Foreclosure

JPMorgan Chase is foreclosing on the troubled, ornate 15,000-square-foot Liberace Mansion, which was bought in 2006 for $3.7 million. The owner admitted to me for my AOLNews.Com exclusive that he hasn't paid the mortgage for more than a year, then blames Clark County for hamstringing him from conducting the banquet and wedding business that has kept the place going for a while. He's also playing an interesting anti-foreclosure stalling tactic that I'd not heard of before, suing Chase to produce his original loan note.

The house is on Shirley Street immediately south of the Thomas & Mack Center. Here are some interior images, borrowed with permission from the site of Las Vegas Villa. That's what they call the place because the Liberace Foundation won't allow them to use the late pianist's name in their title.

What was interesting to me was how little the usual suspects seem to care. The Liberace Foundation folks had absolutely no interest or use for the place and even Old Vegas groupie ringleaders shrugged. Very Vintage Vegas real estate guru Jack LeVine, for instance, said it's a shame but the house is not on the radar of the folks who aim at preserving such places as the Huntridge Theater. Liberace's place is so overbuilt, LeVine said, that nobody would use it as a single-family house -- there's a 5,000-square-foot banquet hall in the backyard -- and the neighborhood parking issues all but kill the chances to make it a thriving business for parties or tours.

Thanks to Realtor Roberta LaRocca for the big tip-off here. Her schedule didn't allow her to be interviewed for the piece, and that's too bad because she all-but-predicted precisely the scenario the home is mired in now last year in this post.

So, local TV and newspaper reporters who follow up on this, give her a call.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Roger Thomas, Killer Orcas and You!

In honor of the Academy Awards on Sunday (go Hurt Locker!) we've got an awesome interview for The Strip with Wynn uberdesigner Roger Thomas, who also designed the Green Room at the Kodak Theatre depicted above. It was a great excuse to get him to gab about the Oscars, the Wynns, CityCenter, Macau, Philadelphia and so much more.

We'll get to play some of it on the live show from 5-6 pm PT on Saturday at LVRocks.Com and then, of course, the rest will be on the podcast version which I'll try to get out quickly. You can listen live and/or join the live chat.

Before that, Emily and I will be recording two new episodes of The Petcast from 4-5 pm PT. First, it's Dr. Ross Hawkins of the Hummingbird Society on the group's efforts to save a breed of the bird that's in major trouble following the Chilean earthquake and tsunami. Then we chat with Dr. Elliot Katz of In Defense of Animals, a welfare group that has for years warned of the potential for disasters such as last month's fatal Sea World orca attack. Katz will certainly have some thoughts on the Dolphin Habitat and Secret Garden at the Mirage, too.

So join us at LVRocks.Com from 4-6 pm PT Saturday. It's fun!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Marie Osmond = Class


I'm not sure there's any other word to sum up the press release I just received, but this very rare time I mean it in a good way.

You probably know that Marie Osmond's son committed suicide last week. Obviously, this shut down the show at the Flamingo where she and her brother appear nightly. The depth of this woman's grief is unimaginable.

There was never any question of whether the siblings would return to the stage and that date has now been announced as March 9, 12 days after the tragedy. That's surprisingly soon, but I suspect that being on stage performing and singing is a therapy of sorts for the Osmonds.

But the thing that gets me is that they're also adding five shows in April "to accommodate guests who had tickets to the recently canceled shows" from March 2-6. Now, I'm sure there's some contractual obligation the duo have to the Flamingo to give them a certain number of performances a year and all. But I'm equally confident that no suit over at Harrah's would have held these missed dates against them.

What's just amazing to me is that, even in their suffering, the Osmonds feel an obligation to their audiences. It's just another reminder that they not only perform one of the best shows on the Strip but they're also really, really good people.

This Week's LVW Col: Critical Divide

Here's this week's LVW column. Nothing too profound, but I thought it was worth taking stock of. -sf

Critical Divide
Are out-of-town reviewers blinded by the lights?


One week before Viva Elvis “officially” opened, Time magazine’s Richard Corliss wrote the most effervescent review of the new show that Cirque du Soleil could have ever prayed or paid for.

“They’ve concocted an experience that’s both symphonic and in every way fantastic,” Corliss gushed in a line destined to be bathed in exclamation points and emblazoned on advertisements and probably the marquee for the show for years to come.

Corliss’ commentary came out long before Cirque’s requested embargo on reviews; those of us who went to see it for reporting purposes prior to the February 19 opening were asked not to judge because it was still a work in progress even though Aria and Cirque were happily taking good money from patrons. Alas, as the Time writer’s piece was so uniformly gleeful and full of absurd smiley faces like “no tribute show can touch this one in its level of sophistication and its power of evocation,” I don’t imagine anybody from Montreal complained.

Here in Vegas, however, those of us who keep tabs on all things Vegas and Cirque were flabbergasted. Most had endured the dreadful 15-minute preview staged for journalists in December and some had a chance to see the show in improved form in the weeks preceding the big debut. But while there was plenty of chatter about how the show had gotten better, the notion that it was in the league that Corliss claimed was baffling.

And yet after the show’s bow, the critical divide grew even more pronounced. That is, local reviewers were highly critical and out-of-town critics could not have been more thrilled.

It forced the question: Why? This was the very first time in my memory that I can recall such radically different takes from two populations of reviewers on a Vegas production. When Le Reve and Criss Angel Believe opened, the critical response everywhere was unanimous: They sucked. Anyone and everyone who came into even casual contact with those disasters went forth to warn people in the sternest of language that these were productions unworthy of a tourist’s precious time or money. Likewise, when a show was an obvious masterpiece—The Beatles Love and Garth Brooks spring to mind—everybody everywhere seemed to get that, too.

There is only one conclusion: When it comes to Vegas and Elvis, the prejudice toward stereotype and mockery and the expectations of banal schlock are so intense that anything even remotely elevated seemed to the out-of-towners like brilliance incarnate.

Read the REST at LasVegasWeekly.Com

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hello, Again

Yes, it's been a quiet weekend after a very busy couple of blogging weeks and my only explanation is that I needed to step away, get out of town for some assignments and refresh a little. I'm still not 100 percent back on top of things, but I thought I'd rattle off a few quick, vaguely related matters:

* Miles and I could not be more pleased to have ended the KNPR auction as the top-selling "lunch-with," drawing $370. Miles had several co-workers at KVBC also in the auction including the station owner, so it's kind of cool that a couple of guys who do a podcast and some other stuff can bring in more than several on-air TV people. The power of the Web indeed. Thanks so much Diane Taylor of Las Vegas but also to the readers of this site, which was again one of the top referring sites for KNPR's auction. I hope you all got some great deals.

* A few weeks ago, I answered an e-mail from the fine folks at Las Vegas Advisor about a Question of The Day regarding on-stage injuries in Vegas shows. I believe you must be an LVA member to see the answers to these questions after the day they're posted, but at least for the rest of today (3/2) my wisdom is there.

* I'm about to hit 2000 followers on Twitter. Also, a year ago I was on my show saying that Twitter was over. Heh.

* I'm getting used to being ignored by the MSM, but it's truly incredible that both the Review-Journal and the Las Vegas Sun wrote that George Maloof had not reacted to the rumor that Harrah's was buying him out when, in fact, he sure as hell did. Oh well.