Friday, November 23, 2007

"The Petcast" and "Grits To Glitz" Are LIVE on Sat!

We're recording two episodes of "The Petcast" from 10-11 a.m. PT and then, at about 11 a.m., we're turning over the LVRocks.Com airwaves (airwaves???) to the luscious ladies of "Grits To Glitz" for their very special 100th episode! Amy and Bay will chat live online, so come to the chat room to join us!

As for "The Petcast," we'll chat with prolific pet author Amy Shojai ("Chicken Soup For The Dog/Cat Lover's Soul," "Petiquette") about her books and a recent Cat Fiction Writers' Conference she attended. Then Jo Sullivan of the ASPCA will offer some pet-related gift ideas for the holidays.

Join us for all of that at LVROCKS.Com. Or wait for each show to post their podcasts, of course.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BREAKING: "Producers" Closes Feb. 9

You heard it here first: "The Producers" will close Feb. 9. An announcement goes out later tonight.

This is not a surprise, seeing how Mel Brooks basically said as much in June on "The Strip" and in my interview for Newsweek. But the other bit of news is that Tony Danza, who has been playing Max Bialystock since late summer, will remain in the gig for the rest of the show's run.

It's unclear whether we can call this a failure if Brooks himself didn't expect it to be more than a one-year run. From what I understand, the show essentially broke even and brought healthy foot traffic into Paris Las Vegas.

With this show gone, we've still got "Spamalot," "Phantom," "Mamma Mia!," "Menopause" and the upcoming "Jersey Boys." But I suspect that the Broadway "experiment" is petering out, and I'm predicting "Spamalot" won't stick around through the end of 2008. (Wynn did say on "The Strip" in September that the royalties to Eric Idle and Mike Nichols eat deep into his profits.) It's hard to imagine what show anyone would go for now given the difficult recent history although the Billy Joel-scored "Movin' Out" certainly has potential for all of the "Mamma Mia!" and "Jersey Boys" reasons.

Robert Earl Hates Me: The Column

Here's my take on the Robert Earl flap for LasVegasWeekly.Com.

More tales of the thin-skinned city

by Steve Friess

It took a few days for the phone to ring. I had expected it. I just didn’t expect quite what I heard from the other end of the line.

Robert Earl, the impresario who just relaunched the Planet Hollywood brand as well as his own career after ruining both in the 1990s, was hopping mad. I can’t say I was surprised.

Over the weekend, I penned a piece for the Sunday Telegraph in London about the Planet Hollywood grand “opening” and all the celebrities who were to attend the bash of all bashes. I even quoted Robin Leach, who gushed on his blog that “this may well go down as the biggest showbiz weekend in Vegas history.” In a scant 500 words, I provided Earl himself 20 percent of my space to speak and elsewhere gave great detail about what Earl’s been up to with the former Aladdin.

But I knew trouble was coming when I saw the headline to my piece on the Internet before leaving for Saturday night’s party: “Planet Hollywood's Vegas casino rolls out. Robert Earl's celebrity friends will be at the party -- again -- but it feels phony.” Yes, “phony.” It’s British.

That headline was, indeed, weird. I hadn’t made any such pronouncements about whether the sensibility of the event seemed false, but that was the impression most people would take away from the headline. It was problematic, yes.

It came about, though, because I opted to turn to one of the Vegas-watchers I respect, Hunter Hillegas from, for balance. As a journalist, I’ve developed a list of observers whose expertise and independence is unimpeachable while still being eminently quotable. Hunter has become one of mine and he happened to be available on short notice in the four hours I had to write the piece.

Here’s what Hunter had to say about Earl’s reworking of the property and the self-conscious flooding of celebrities into the hotel: “It feels very fake. He's got a lot of celebrity friends, but it still feels totally phony to me. The kind of people he's getting are on the way out, they're not up-and-comers. I have serious doubts of the prospects of Planet Hollywood on a long-term scale.”

When Earl called me, I figured he would be angry about the headline. He had every right to be. But as someone who has been in the public eye and in business for so many years, I also assumed he would know that I don’t write headlines and that my piece itself was a balanced look at the story. The vast majority of it was what he ought to have viewed as “positive,” and he should’ve been able to tolerate some criticism.

Still, the entire piece was tainted by the headline, and I conceded that point to Earl. But that’s not where he stopped. He ranted on about who the hell this guy was, why he ought to have credibility and how I could possibly defend this “piece of sh-t.”

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Brian Williams Loves Me, Tho

This little flap arose today. Brian Williams, the NBC anchor, finished last night's newscast with a piece on Queen Elizabeth II's 60th wedding anniversary by saying something like, "In an era when marriage is under attack...". You can see a shaky YouTube version here.

Some gay bloggers and fellow members of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association pointed to it as a reference to the same-sex marriage movement. It's not that farfetched because "under attack" is a phrase used routinely by anti-gay activists.

But in this context, it seemed to me like something else. So I wrote on the NLGJA list-serv: "It seemed to me he was talking about the sky-high heterosexual divorce rates. Marriage IS under attack -- by straight people. This was a story about a surprisingly durable straight relationship. It had nothing to do with the gay marriage movement."

And Brian Williams responded tonight on his blog. And he quoted... ummm... me!

Robert Earl Hates Me

I just got off the phone with Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl, who tells me he will never speak to me again because of my piece in the Sunday Telegraph of London about the Planet Hollywood opening. He's not just pissed about the misleading headline, which I didn't write but which I agree is problematic, but in general that I dared quote someone like Hunter Hillegas from RateVegas.Com as an independent observer.

More to come on this - and we'll discuss tonight on the live show.


Come join us at 7 pm PT tonight for our interviews with Patti LuPone and Ellen DeGeneres, not to mention news from Vegas, the trivia question, the poll, your own chatter and that silly drinking game y'all love so much in the chat room. Patti's pretty fiery about the current state of Broadway, so don't miss that.

Join us at LVROCKS.Com. Don't worry if you're a few minutes late -- we are, too, most weeks! If you can't make it, grab the podcast edition on Thursday when it's posted!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Elad May Need a New Name for "The Plaza"

In a court ruling that makes a surprising amount of common sense, the Tamares Las Vegas Properties LLC, owners of the downtown Plaza Hotel & Casino, got a judge today to send their copyright infringement case to District Court for consideration. It'll be interesting to see how the Elad folks, who own the Plaza Hotel in New York and want to call their property in Vegas by the same name, defend the notion that they ought to also be allowed to call their hotel-casino in Vegas by that name. It's hard to imagine a more clear-cut case. Do they really think that a reasonable defense could be that their place will be beautiful (and the renderings make that questionable) and the current Plaza is a toilet?

To be continued...

Judd Apatow Hearts Hans Klok?

I'm feeling lazy today, so rather than bother to give you a blog entry of my own, I refer you to Richard Abowitz's item on his Movable Buffet blog for the L.A. Times. Seems he cornered Judd Apatow at the P-Ho thing on Saturday night and Apatow professed great love for Hans' silly show. Hans' comments about Apatow, though, are the clincher.

Read it here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Planet Ho's Big Night, The Review

Streisand only lasted about 20 minutes and the escalator kept breaking -- with people on it. There. I'm done being catty and snarky.

Other than that, the P-Ho Grand Opening was really a much better time than I had anticipated, primarily because I brought as my date Amy from Grits to Glitz and she got molested. But I'll get to that in just a sec.

The festivities were actually pretty straightforward: A red carpet with loads of stars, which I skipped because I don't do red carpets unless Elizabeth Taylor might be rolling down it. Instead, I met up with Amy, whose new duds bought for the occasion were sensational. (see left)

Then a concert at the Theater For The Performing Arts featuring comic/actor Kevin Pollak, whom I could hardly hear because the hearing-assistive device didn't work real well, but at least they had one. The main entertainment, Streisand, gave us about eight songs - "Memories," "Evergreen," "Smile," "Don't Rain On My Parade," "Rain or Shine," "Happy Days Are Here Again" and one or two others - that she read off a TelePrompTer. I thought she sounded great, and I loved how she was all business and didn't even bother to congratulate P-Ho on its "opening." Also, no political jabbering, either.

From there it was on to the big, star-studded party. Well, we all tried, but there was this escalator problem. Which is funny because two years ago when this place was still Aladdin and they were hosting Miss America, the exact same thing happened - the thing stopped moving. This is the main escalator from the casino up to the conference area. Bad.

The path to the party went through this long, winding hallway of white and pink where Amy took this pic of me with one of the babes showing us all the way.

Once we got there, this is what the room looked like:

There was an open bar, of course, and lots of yummy food...

The first celeb we saw was Criss Angel, who happened to follow me into the bathroom...

Amy and I were both tired and her feet were hurting, so we were going to call it a night but we sat down at a table right next to a velvet rope where, shortly thereafter, Danny Glover was chit-chatting with the common folk. I wonder the conversation between the two commoners in the foreground...

Next thing we know, though, a woman I know is inviting us to tag along into the roped-off area, where we got to spot such people as Tom Arnold, Frank Marino, Tom Jones and Sugar Ray Leonard...

But the classic moment of the night was when Amy spotted Gene Simmons of Kiss. You know, the misogynist who said all kinds of creepy things to Terry Gross on "Fresh Air" a few years back. And Amy, emboldened by wine and adrenaline, simply had to have her photo taken with him. So she went right up to him and he, uh, grabbed her by the hair...

So that was the deal. If you want to hear Amy's version on the Grits To Glitz podcast, click here or right-click here to download it and hear it whenever you wish. Especially hilarious is hearing Bay hearing about the Gene Simmons thing for the first time.