Friday, May 2, 2008

Show is UP!: Deux Chefs du Jour

This week's episode of "The Strip" is up. Click here to hear it or right-click here to download it to your computer, or click here to subscribe in iTunes. We're also now in the Zune directory as well.

On this week's program, find out why Kerry Simon left the Hard Rock and why the Cathouse had to close for a while (now reopened!) because of a structural concern. Simon opens his newest restaurant inside the Palms Place hotel-condo tower this month. Then, hear chef Charlie Trotter explain why he left the MGM Grand and is happier at the Palazzo. And both chefs answer our favorite chef question: What fast food do you eat?

In banter: Perez Hilton sucks, the Donnie and Marie idea sucks, a Hustler hotel-casino would suck and the broken Encore sign sucks. Also, news on Tamara.

Show links:

Kerry Simon’s website is here
Simon’s Cathouse is here and Simon at Palms Place is here
Charlie Trotter’s Las Vegas site is here
A CBS piece about the Chicago foie gras law is here
Steve’s USA Today piece on the Oprah-Tina-Cher event is here
Kerry Simon’s local favorite place, Go Raw, is here
VegasTripping.Com’s amusing take on Donnie and Marie is here
Steve’s post about the Perez Hilton rip-off is here
Richard Abowitz’s item about the Hustler idea is here
The Las Vegas Sun’s piece on Vegoose’s cancellation is here
Steve’s LVW column on Tamara is here

Busy, Busy

Crazy busy the past two days, which explains my absence from blogging on Thursday.

Yesterday, I had this New York Times piece run online about the congressional race to save Harry Reid. Confused? Read it. I also enjoyed Norm Clarke's attention on the plagiarism flap with Perez Hilton. There's more to say about that, but I'm not ready to get to it yet.

Today I woke early to spend an hour interviewing Frankie Valli for a print story and, I hope, to air on "The Strip." I'm also busy, while I wait for the exterminator to arrive, working on a follow-up to this Review-Journal report that the state wants Steve Fossett's widow to pay $687,000 for the search for her husband. And I have to get to the headquarters of Cirque du Soleil this afternoon to scope out a story I'm curious about over there, then head to the Flamingo to sign 500 copies of my book given to attendees of the convention of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. Then it's off to the PBS studio to appear on this week's "Nevada Week in Review" program.

After that, I think we're going to skip the media opening of "Jersey Boys" because I ought to go check out this year's Gay Pride Parade in downtown Las Vegas and we already got to see the show. If I've got the energy, I'll start tearing into Harry Reid's book. If not, I can do that tomorrow.

That's all. Bug man is here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Leach: Celine Dion Back in Vegas by 2010

So the show, like her heart, may go on and on.

Robin Leach, who unlike Perez Hilton doesn't use out-of-work Canadian actors as his source for important Vegas news, is reporting on his blog that Celine Dion may return to the Colosseum by the end of 2009 or sometime in 2010. She's in talks with AEG Live.

Leach says Dion, who ends her current tour this January, would take some time off and maybe have another baby, and return to the Colosseum for another extended gig. It would be like Joe DiMaggio returning to Yankee Stadium! (Hands off, Perez, that's my phrase.)

Leach surmises that this means Celine would pick up Elton John's dates after he's gone or some such arrangement. No word on whether Franco Dragone would come back to stage something new; Robin seems to believe the show would closer to a concert than "A New Day..." was and not quite the 200-dates-a-year drill, either.

Props to Robin for this break. Read his report here.

R.I.P. $250,000 Game Show Spectacular

I guess it wasn't that great an idea after all. I thought it would be.

With no publicity at all, the Las Vegas Hilton shut down the $250,000 Game Show Spectacular, a daytime production featuring a rotation of hosts including Chuck Woolery, Jamie Farr and Bob Eubanks. We had Chuck and Bob on "The Strip" last fall; I only found out that this show was no more when I tried this week to reach Jamie Farr for a future episode.

Ira Sternberg, the Hilton's spokesman, said the producers of the show, which opened on Oct. 8 and lasted about 6.5 months, pulled the plug. It was apparently a four-wall deal, meaning the producers were essentially renting the room.

There are no plans for another daytime show right now, Sternberg said. Having a show in that room during the day created conflicts with Barry Manilow and other performers who needed to rehearse for their nighttime gigs. And speaking of nighttime gigs, the band Phoenix, featuring Aerosmith guitarist Jimmy Crespo, performs every Thursday in that same theater starting tomorrow night. Tickets are only $19.99.

And since I know you're wondering: Nobody ever won that $250,000 prize. Bummer.

Perez Hilton On The Plaigarism Charge

Three days later, Perez Hilton has responded to my initial, polite e-mail asking for proper credit.

Here's how he explained the fact that a unique, distinctive phrase created by me ended up in one of his blog posts as if it had been uttered by Sophia Loren. Which, incidentally, it was not. Unclear on whether I was ripped off? Here's my post and here's the screen cap of his.

This was his e-mail:

Just as an FYI:
A reader sent me that item as their own.
I will send you their email (but I will block their address out because it's none of your business who my sources are).
But, it is so desperate and pathetic of you to contact the Los Angeles Times and try and get them to write an article about my "plagiarism."
Be careful what you say, making false accusations.

So a few things here. Perez did pass along the e-mail he received and -- oops! -- he left in source's name. It's a fellow named Drew Mullins who, so far as I can tell, lives nowhere near Las Vegas. His e-mail address, in fact, ends with a dot-ca, as in Canada. He's an aspiring actor who has appeared in one thing, a Nickelback video, two years ago.

So, taking Perez at his word, he has blindly quoted a "source" who lifted a phrase from someone else. No checking it out, nothing. Just up it goes, virtually verbatim -- from someone who HAS NO REASON TO KNOW ANYWAY. Think of that next time he posts something his "sources" are telling him.

Further, it's especially odd that, having been informed of where the information actually came from and how it had been mishandled, he did not correct the error. Thus, he becomes culpable.

Finally, it is neither pathetic nor desperate to seek proper credit for one's work. I'm a widely respected journalist with regular credits in most of this nation's major publications. Walking all over people and stealing from their work may be accepted practice in Perez's world, but there's no shame whatsoever in attempting to show people that this is how he operates.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Join us tonight 7-8 pm PT at LVRocks.Com for another splendid live episode of "The Strip" with chefs Charlie Trotter and Kerry Simon. Find out from Trotter why he refuses to cook foie gras and from Simon why he defected from the Hard Rock to the Palms. Also, Simon reveals the structural reasons why his latest, the Cathouse, had to shut down for a while. Both chefs have new restaurants in Vegas.

And, yes, both chefs answer my inquiry about their fast food preferences.

Join us live at LVROCKS.Com or grab the podcast later. Subscribe in iTunes here.

From The Bad Idea Files...

Evidently not learning from the failed Hooters Hotel experiment, the folks at Hustler are looking to get into the Vegas hotel-casino game. Richard Abowitz has this breaking item on his blog today.

(I actually reported on "The Strip" podcast in Jan 2007 -- and Norm wrote it up -- that Flynt was seeking a liquor license for the former Chez Moi strip club, but I don't know what ever came of that.)

Sounds like a wretched, wretched idea. There's a reason there are no strip clubs in Vegas casinos, because there's something about them that offends the gaming-license dudes. And what the heck would be the point of a Hustler hotel without some hard-core nudity to uphold the branding?

Not to mention, if wives wouldn't book at Hooters, which is campy-sexy with redeeming chicken wings, how likely are they to book at Hustler, which is porno-sexy with unredeeming chicken hawks?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Harrah's Gets Free Two-Page Ad From R-J!

OK, OK, not really. But it is interesting that Harrah's Entertainment, which kicked the local newspaper out of its guest rooms and off its newsstands and has not bought a single advertisement* in the paper for at least two weeks was nonetheless treated to being the focus of another a fun-filled column by Corey Levitan. Levitan writes a weekly Monday feature in which he does odd jobs about town, and today he's a Julius Caesar at Caesars Palace. (I'm usually a fan of Corey's work; as with any such feature, there are better and worse weeks. This one seemed a little too obvious, but I suppose it had to be done sooner or later.)

Of course, I do not advocate journalists ignoring Harrah's in retaliation for being retaliated against. It just struck me as interesting, is all. But hey, the publisher is evidently the last one to even realize he's being punished anyway, so whatever.

Two other things in today's paper. First, Norm Clarke picked up the item about Wynn and the golf course. Yay for us. And Doug Elfman had a terrific take on Oprah, Tina and the toilet chatter, too. Yay for Doug.

Oh, and many folks know I love my comics. I still read "For Better or For Worse" daily even though it long since lost its footing in realistic human interaction and this one cynically funny blog has forced me to look at it in a completely different light. But even given all that, I couldn't quite figure out why strange old John here thought it was romantic or sweet to show up with this massive pot as a floral surprise? Hasn't anyone in that art studio ever heard of a bouquet? She needs TWO HANDS to hold it! How is he ever gonna get any from her THAT way?

OK. Enough loitering. Back to work for me.

* There have been ads for the Harrah's Foundation, a non-profit arm not operated by the same corporate folks.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another Kind of Vegas Cathouse

(FINAL UPDATE, 9:58 PM PT: The cats have been taken by one of our neighbors to a vet clinic nearby. I believe they'll fix 'em up and get 'em ready to be adopted. God, are they adorable! Here are two more pix I took today. I'm told they're probably about 5 weeks old. Not sure how none of us noticed them until this weekend, but oh well.)

(UPDATE, 1:38 pm PT: A woman from Heaven Can Wait called back. She said to leave the cats there untouched at the moment so they can nurse from their mom. If we try to touch the kittens -- which the momma can won't allow in this instance anyhow -- the momma cat will become disinterested. The lady promised help trapping, spaying and neutering but was vague about how to handle adopting out these kitties. She said someone may need to foster them for a while until they're adopted out. I dunno how Black and Jack - not to mention Miles -- will feel about that.)

Hi there!

I know I'm supposed to know about these sorts of things because I co-host a usually "twice weekly animal affairs podcast," but today I was surprised when my dogs spotted a momma cat hissing at them as she protected an adorable group of white and black kittens that are living behind a large tree pot and inside the foundation of a home on our block. I think I counted five or six in all. Nobody was home at that house when I rang the bell, and the next door neighbor had put some cat food and water out on their driveway. They, too, weren't home when I rang. It's unclear if they momma cat is someone's pet or what, but a responsible pet owner would (a) have had the cat spayed and (b) wouldn't have the mom and litter fending for itself outside. Right?

They're awful cute, yeah? But nobody was home at that house and I'm not entirely sure what to do. I understand it's kitten season but now I'm worried that if I call the HOA or animal control, these little guys will be hauled off to the shelter and put down. Anyone know what other choices I might have? I'm not sure Miles or I have an appetite to adopt one, although gosh they are handsome little critters. We're already got two 12-pound chihuahuas we got from the pound, Black and Jack, see?

Maybe we could name our kitty Poker?

USAT on Tina-Oprah-Cher-Tom-Toilets

Look for my report on the Tina-Cher-Oprah show in tomorrow's USA Today. It's already up, so here's the link to it. Apologies in advance for the cliche headline; not my department.

Reminder: Trivia Question Almost Over

Just a reminder that you've got till 9 a.m. PT  on Tuesday to email TheStripPodcast [at] and give me your list of all the mistakes you can list in this map. Whoever gets the most wins unless there's a tie. Then we'll draw. Click on the image above to enlarge it.

Plaigarized by Perez Hilton?

So it looks like Perez Hilton found my post about Tina Turner going on tour of interest and repackaged it today. Except that he literally quoted from my prior blog post the part about "lolling about her Swiss home" without providing any credit or a link. He actually puts those words in Sophia Loren's mouth when, in fact, that was my paraphrase of what Tina explained.

Here's the screenshot below:

I'm happy to believe it was an oversight, but I've emailed Perez Hilton hours ago to both of the e-mail addresses I have for him reminding him that I was the one who brought him to Vegas for his first public appearance here and asking him for the courtesy of credit and a link.

So far, no response.