Saturday, March 13, 2010

No shows this week

Sorry everyone, but in case you haven't noticed from the paucity of my postings in the past week or so, I've been under the gun on a bunch of larger projects. And one of them is requiring a four-day reporting trip to L.A. from Saturday to Tuesday. I'll try to blog and I'll definitely be Tweeting during that time. But no live Strip or Petcasts this weekend.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This week's LVW col: Roger That!

Here's this week's column. Hear the podcast interview here and take a tour inside Roger's Architectural Digest-acclaimed home here. Enjoy! -sf

Roger that!
The Hangover may have struck out, but Vegas still scored a Wynn at the Oscars



Roger Thomas was trying to keep perspective and some distance from the goings-ons at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday evening. It was Oscar night, of course, and Steve Wynn’s design alter ego had a handful of his friends at his Architectural Digest-featured Summerlin home for a viewing party.

In many ways, it was a standard-issue gathering for the annual event the Advocate magazine gratingly dubs the Gay Super Bowl. Everyone enjoyed wine (or bottled water) and cheese and filled out mock Oscar ballots as they snarked at the more disastrous dresses parading by during the pre-game. Then the assembled feasted on homemade enchiladas and salad as the show crawled along to its inexorable conclusion.

Predictable debates ensued (Zac Efron vs. Taylor Lautner, etc.), cheers went up over openly gay Neil Patrick Harris’ official displacement of is-he-or-ain’t-he-already Hugh Jackman as the world’s reigning song-and-dance man, marveling was done over Queen Latifah’s weight loss, Matthew Broderick’s paunchiness and Tom Ford’s utter physical perfectness.

You could even forget with whom we were watching—until Thomas suddenly piped up as Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper strode on stage to deliver, uh, what were they doing there again? Also, who cares?

“Gerard and Bradley really loved my Bianca daybed,” Thomas said with a smirk. “They sat on it—together!—yesterday and remarked how comfortable it was.”

We could say that Thomas was name-dropping, except that it was one of the precious few times in the entire evening that he discussed or even alluded to how important he was to this year’s Academy Awards. He displayed for us his Oscar credentials (because he was asked to), let me track the telecast’s progress with the impossible-to-get run-of-show document he snagged the day before, and at some point early on mentioned as some star walked off the stage that they were heading “right into the green room.”

His green room, that is. The green room that Thomas, the man whose design aesthetic has revolutionized Las Vegas via the Bellagio, Wynn and Encore, was tasked to divine and then construct. The editors at Architectural Digest, who select the green-room designer each year, picked him from among the “AD100,” the 100 creative minds that the world’s most prestigious design magazine has declared as our best designers.

And so it was that he took a break from installing the Switch Beach Club at Encore Las Vegas and redesigning the 5-year-old rooms of Wynn Las Vegas to create the backstage area where the stars shook out their jitters over bottled water and, as he calls it, “nibbly bits.” For an old-film buff like Thomas (you should’ve seen his glee upon seeing a snippet of Bette Davis in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? during the Oscar telecast’s horror-flick montage), the assignment was about as plum as it gets.

Read the REST at LasVegasWeekly.Com

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Show is UP: Roger Thomas

Sorry to have been quiet for the past several days, but I've been really busy catching up and getting new work going. Here's this week's episode of the show. It's a long one, but many listeners have already remarked that the scrum between me and Miles after the Top Secret Tourist Tip of the Week was laugh-out-loud funny. Anywho, click on the date below to make it play or right-click to save it and listen at your leisure. You can subscribe, too, (it's free!) in iTunes or in Zune.

March 7: Wynn's Design Alter Ego

After designing several of the most beautiful hotels in Las Vegas if not the world, what does Roger Thomas do for, no pun intended, an encore? Well, for one thing, this weekend the world’s most famous movie stars will lounge in a green room of his design before appearing on stage at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood for the 82nd annual Academy Awards show. Does this star turn mean that Steve Wynn’s gay alter ego is launching a new phase of his career? Maybe, but he’s still got his hands full with projects for Wynn Resorts as varied as an luxury resort in Macau, a new beach club at Encore Las Vegas and a non-hotel casino in Philadelphia. Thomas discusses the Oscars, the Wynns, CityCenter and a whole lot more.

Plus, Liberace's home is in foreclosure, Miles recounts his Carson City trek, Steve chats about the Grand Canyon Skywalk, some good and bad news on CityCenter.

Links for stuff discussed:

Roger Thomas’ website
An image of Roger Thomas’ green room design
Miles' home in Carson City, the Hardman House
The Grand Canyon Skywalk
AOLNews on the Liberace home foreclosure
Liberace Museum is trying to move

Liberace movie news re: Michael Douglas and Matt Damon
The latest TicketNews.Com list
Maloof did react to the Palms-Harrah's debt question
Listen to analysis re: MGM v Atlantic City on the No. 44 of Vegas Gang
Roger Thomas's favorites, Pacific Design Center and
VegasHappensHere.Com on that poll regarding lesbian love for Vegas
The New Yorker piece on Peter Chang
Links for J&J Szechuan Cuisine and China MaMa

Pictorial: The Roger Thomas Home

On Sunday, for my forthcoming column for the Las Vegas Weekly, I watched the Oscars with Roger Thomas. Thomas, of course, is Steve Wynn's chief designer who designed the green room at the Kodak Theatre for the Academy Awards show.

The home itself in Summerlin is a showpiece. In fact, in 2004 Architectural Digest profiled it. There's a slide show and article of it found on their site in which he discusses the designer, Mark Mack and some of the inspirations.

I, of course, am no design guru. As Roger talks about the provenance of each lovingly chosen piece of art and furnishing and shade of paint, I just let it wash over me as part of a sense that I will never attain or retain that sort of knowledge. Loads of that insight is in that AD piece.

So I'd rather point out some of the cool, fun things that I saw and learned, stuff that laypeople like me will find intriguing as well. Like, for instance, the fact that Thomas has an Andy Warhol...

...and a powder room with no wall mirror...

...and, surprisingly, a set of coasters from, uh, Banana Republic.

Another artist I was very familiar with was Tim Bavington, whose pieces are based on the sound metering of music. He's a Vegas sensation, mentored by the esteemed Dave Hickey at UNLV, and his pieces pop up everywhere from Aria to the Spago at Caesars Palace. Thomas has several, and here's one:

Roger tells the tale of how when he was building the house, his daughter wanted a "secret door" because that was one of those cool things that you see in film. So this wall to the left of the TV and just beyond Encore spa designer Todd-Avery Lehanan...

...opens up to a hallway toward Roger's housekeeper's quarters, see?

This is Bianca. She's an 11-year-old Italian greyhound.

This, in the corner, is the Bianca Bench from the Roger Thomas Collection. They're also found in the Wynn Las Vegas lobby.

The connection?

That's modeled after Bianca's leg. Fun, huh? [Side note: There's furniture at Alex at Wynn Las Vegas that has feet modeled after Steve Wynn's recently deceased German Shepard, Paolo.]

Also cool is that there are things in Thomas' home that almost made it into the rooms at the hotel. For instance, reproductions of these original Warhol sketches...

...were used in the first model of the Encore room. And this cherub head...

...came from something that broke when being installed at Mirage.

Some things actually did make it, too. Does this look familiar?

That's in Roger's backyard. It was the prototype for...

..the dining area at Bartolotta di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas.

Here's the front of the house...

...and the back.

This is the inside of that front door from the first image in this post, followed by the kitchen and the second TV den where we watched most of the show...

I'm always intrigued by what's on people's bookshelves, although there weren't any real surprised at Roger's place:

One thing I was fascinated by was this hole in the overhang in the backyard.

There seem to be two points to it. First, when it rains hard, it channels water that is poured into that stone square below, becoming a cool waterfall. And in the AD piece on the house, Roger also points out that it acts as a sundial with the rays of light striking the wall to the right of this shot.

But some of the coolest things Roger had were acquired just this week. Like, for instance, the run-of-show for the Oscars telecast. As interminable as it may have seemed, the show only actually went over by about 8 minutes. Really. They PLANNED it to be that long.

As a credentials junkie myself, I'd probably frame the one Roger got from the Oscars. I had an image of it posted here, but the Wynn folks asked me to take it down because apparently even post-ceremony, the Academy gets a bit crazy about security.

There's much more to come from my Roger Thomas weekend, including a post about CityCenter and Philadelphia, the podcast and the column.