Friday, November 12, 2010
We're doing two new episodes of The Petcast from Noon to 1 p.m. PT and then an hour of The Strip from 1-2 p.m. PT.
For The Petcast, guest host Amy and I will chat in the first half-hour with Mary O'Connor-Shaver of the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions. Then we'll hear from Barbara Schmitz, who spearheaded the successful movement to pass Prop B in Missouri, which radically alters the laws regarding dog breeding in that state.
Then, on The Strip, our guests are Jabbawockeez founder Phil Tayag and Mystere clown Brian Dewhurst.
As always, you can listen live at via LVRocks.Com and join the chat with fellow listeners. Or wait and grab the podcast version via iTunes or Zune or listen via that nifty "Listen Now" player on TheStripPodcast.Com or ThePetcast.Com. Your call.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Nov. 8: The Agony of Frank Sinatra Jr.
Frank Sinatra Jr. has the voice, the stage presence and the look. So why is he not successful? Or, rather, why does HE say he’s not successful? In this conversation with Steve, the son of the legendary Chairman of the Board is stunningly candid about the disappointments in his life, including the fact that he never really felt close to his father and doesn’t know whether his dad was proud of him. Plus, find out what famous actor’s home he and his friends never visited on Halloween, learn how he felt about playing such off-Strip sites as Boulder Station and the Suncoast, and hear some intimate details about his 1963 kidnapping. Also, how did that unusual appearance on the pilot of the Vegas-set CBS show “The Defenders” come about?
Links to stuff discussed:
Steve: Before we let you go, your contract is through 2012, is that right?
Steve: Well, Harrah's has been rolling out these longer contracts lately. They signed pretty much everybody else to these deals into the next millennium, so I would assume you guys are ready. Or are you guys going to leave sooner?
Rita: You know, we don't know.
Martin: We've got an 8 year old. We're not sure that we want her to be a 10 year old in Las Vegas. And we also have a place in California. So we really don't know.
Rita: But my daughter and I did get stuck in a traffic jam behind the 'Hot Babes' truck the other day.
Miles: So it might be time to go.
Rita: It might be time. She said, 'Mommy, what are those women doing?' and I told her the truth. I said, 'Those are the ladies who didn't study in school.'
I don't know how I forgot this item in the earlier post of Wynnderfulness, but as you probably saw on my Twitter or Norm's column or David McKee's blog or in skywriting over Talladega, Wynn is jacking up the Garth Brooks tickets by $110 to $253, including taxes and pencil-sharpening fees and whatever else.
That's well and good, given the manic demand. And it is a wonderful show. In fact, as the ads in every Wynncore room quotes me from my Las Vegas Weekly column as having said, it's the best thing I've seen on Las Vegas stage, ever.
But Brooks had made such a big deal out of being affordable for his fans, and there is no way he can stake that claim anymore. Not to mention, on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, he's taking a shellacking for this. The idea that $500 for a couple for a show is affordable to anyone but the wealthiest or most dedicated among us in this economy is pretty ridiculous.
And here's the thing: It didn't need to be this way. For some reason, Wynn and Brooks seem insistent on sticking with the one-price-fits-all scheme. When the tickets were (arguably) undervalued at $143, that made a little bit of sense. But now, if I'm paying $253, I want to be down in front, not in the last row of the balcony. Why don't they do what every theater has done forever and have more affordable seats farther away? In fact, make the gulf bigger -- make it $300 for the first 10 rows, then lower and lower as the mom jeans and baseball cap on stage gets more and more distant from the viewer.
Differential ticket pricing is how everyone gets to see the show, Mr. Gaines. Wynn's already got the super-duper anti-ticket-scalping practice in place, right? Or do they? I mean, if I'm paying $253 a seat, are they really going to get all badass on me about buying it for my grandma or reselling it if I get sick or whatever else?
If I remember correctly, Wynn said that Garth could get out of his contract whenever he wants to. If this extravagant price sours Brooks fans as much as it seems in the blogosphere so far, he may decide that the Garth Brooks brand is being damaged and pull out. I wonder who keeps the plane.
Ads seriously undercut design
By STEVE FRIESS
MGM Resorts brass made many pre-opening claims about CityCenter that were, in retrospect, ridiculous. CEO Jim Murren predicted the super-expensive mall would become a communal gathering place for locals who otherwise avoid the Strip, that there was something akin to Central Park somewhere in that 67-acre, concrete-steel-glass landscape, that opening the complex would single-handedly increase Vegas visitation this year by 7 percent.
But one of Murren’s assertions rang true: They had built a collection of ambitious structures designed by the world’s great architects, proving a commitment to high-brow culture that would make a serious statement about Vegas’ maturation. These were special buildings, to be treated with great respect and honor, their exterior magnificence CityCenter’s calling card to prove the sea change promised to those who ventured inside.
Yet, now comes word that Murren’s crown jewel, the glittery and gorgeous Aria, could succumb to the modern Strip’s worst aesthetic trend, The Wrap.
Please, Mr. Murren. Anything but that. I beg of you. Don’t do it.Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com
* 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:
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.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I think I may have finally stopped writing about the 2010 midterms with this Politics Daily piece that expands on my earlier blog post in crowning the mainstream media a big winner this year. It includes some insight from Sunbelt chief Bob Stoldal and Tony Hopfinger, the Alaska reporter handcuffed by GOP candidate Joe Miller's goons. Favorite line: "But it went further than that, with Angle providing so much footage of herself running from cameras that she may be ready for this weekend's New York City Marathon ... ."
And then it was on to poker. Early this morning, the World Series of Poker Final Table was reduced from nine to two, and these two guys will square off at 8 p.m. PT at the Rio. I've been covering for Agence France-Presse and for AOL News, and you can see how subtly differently the approaches are based on the audience. If you're really, really into this, totally check out Howard Stutz's and Oskar Garcia's coverage of same.
If you're not hip to the rah-rah poker stuff, check out my current Las Vegas Weekly column about the fact that the Cosmopolitan won't have a poker room and what that portends for The Game. And apologies to East Coast Gambler, who had known and blogged about the Cosmo's no-poker deal back in August.
I had planned to do some other blog posts today about stuff in the papers and such, but I've gotta be up ridiculously early tomorrow to appear on radio shows around the country discussing my Daily Beast and Politics Daily coverage of the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle race. So after that, I'll post this week's episode of "The Strip" and catch up on some other stuff.