Friday, October 10, 2008

Obama v McCain = JT v Frasier

We're having a bit of a celebrity political smackdown in Vegas this weekend in swing-state Nevada and the contrast couldn't be more stark.

In one corner for John McCain: Ex-"Cheers" stars Kelsey Grammer and John Ratzenberger. The TV stars pop in today to do phone-banking for McCain at two locations. To promote this, they're sending around emails that look like this:

I'd love to send you to the McCain website for details but, alas, they're nowhere to be found. So instead, here's the details from the MediaBistro's FishbowlLA blog. I will note, however, that the use of the "Cheers" logo is more than likely illegal. But hey, that's politics.

And in this corner for Barack Obama: Six-time Grammy winning recording artist Justin Timberlake. JT shows up at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater to excite the masses to go canvass for Obama. This is how they're pushing it:

See, a 21st century campaign pushes its events on the Web. If you care, you can read more here.

Here's the real question, based on these celebrity endorsements: Which inauguration party do you think would be more fun to attend?

Trying REALLY HARD To Look On The Bright Side

Economic news is so frigging depressing these days. People ask Miles and me what happened to our plans to adopt a child and all we can say is that adoption is expensive and we used to have a whole bunch of equity in our house that's now gone. Poof! Disappeared! So we'll wait. Every day the newspapers overflow with unhappy statistics, job losses and stock collapses. It's gotten so bad that newly minted pauper Sheldon Adelson is offering $119-a-night rooms.

So this morning, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority emailed out its monthly summary for Clark County of hotel occupancy, convention attendance, visitor volume, the works. And, true to form, it should have come with a loaded pistol for any gaming stockholder wanting to blow their brains out. It's just a bloodbath of negative percentages versus August 2007, with the most stunning drop to me being that the economic impact of conventions fell from $1 billion to $777 million, a 23.6 percent decline. Sad times and, if you want a reason to weep, you can look at all the figures here.

But I'm an optimist! I scoured the information for something -- anything! -- that was going well to cheer y'all up! And lo and behold, there was one itty-bitty happy note in... Laughlin!

Yep, Laughlin. Hotel occupancy was up 2.8 percent in August! What's more, they're getting 14.9 percent more per room -- the average room there is now $47.21 versus $41.10 in August 2007. And 19.6 percent more people were flying into the Laughlin-Bullhead "International" Airport, too. Why Laughlin? Beats the hell outta me. But there you have it.

Oh! There is one other upside, at least for consumers. Room rates in Mesquite plummetted 41.2 percent from an average of $78.42 in August 2007 to $46.11 for August 2008. Mesquite is a sensational place. If you've never been, it's so pretty up there with the mountains and the river.

And that, folks, is it. Almost every other indicator was negative except one that I don't think is actually a good thing -- there are now 3.3 percent more rooms in the Las Vegas area. We're now at 137,690, up from 133,328 last year at this time. Most of that is the Palazzo, but about 300 come from the Eastside Cannery. That's sad because the part of Vegas that took the biggest gaming-revenue drop? That would be the Boulder Strip, off 22.4 percent in August year-over-year. And just think, this time next year we'll have Encore (+2,000 rooms), Aliante Station (+200 rooms), M Resort (+390 rooms) and Caesars' Octavius Tower (+650 rooms). And that's before Aria (+4,000 rooms) and the rest of the CityCenter crowd opens.

But, you know, anyone who suggests Vegas is even temporarily overbuilt is a pooh-poohing naysayer who doesn't know his history and hasn't seen a 1955 cover of Life Magazine. Or something like that.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This Week's LVW Col: Don't 'Believe' The Hate

Here's this week's Las Vegas Weekly column. My apologies for being a bad blogger and podcaster this week. I've not been feeling well most of the week and then we had Yom Kippur. I should be back on top of things fairly soon.

Don't "Believe" the Hate
Las Vegas has a history of shows that debuted poorly but went on to become hits


The week before Mystère opened at Treasure Island, an enraged Steve Wynn tore into the creator, Franco Dragone. “This is shit,” a red-faced Wynn shouted. “It’s a fucking German opera.”

Dragone calmed Wynn down, stayed true to the vision and redefined Las Vegas. Mystère, might I remind you, is entering its 15th year as one of the most successful, most profitable live shows ever mounted not just in Las Vegas but the world over.

Which is a circuitous way of saying that first impressions aren’t everything in Las Vegas. Especially when we’re talking about something as malleable as what Cirque du Soleil does onstage.

Yes, I have had my doubts about the alliance between Criss Angel and Cirque du Soleil. Those doubts never really trickled down to what the two entities would ultimately put on the stage or even whether people would come to the Luxor to see it. My concerns have been—and remain—that Angel himself is a mercurial, emotional public figure and that adds an element of uncertainty to the well-oiled Cirque and MGM Mirage machinery that seemed foolish to bet the mortgage on.

Still, reports of Angel’s Las Vegas Strip demise are more than premature. They’re ridiculous. At least for now.

Read the rest HERE

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

No Live Show Tonight

Sorry everyone. I'm just too overwhelmed by work to prepare a show and am still battling the eighth or ninth day of a headache that sits, thankfully, mildly at bay right now. So we're not doing a live show tonight but we'll put up a few interview specials this week, I'm pretty sure. And we'll be back on track next week with a pretty good one. That's all I'll say 'bout that right now.

Monday, October 6, 2008

BREAKING: NY Plaza Wins, Can Use "Plaza" For Strip Resort

The jury's verdict just came down minutes ago. Here's a bit of a press release from Elad Group, which was sued by Tamares, owners of the Plaza Hotel in downtown Vegas.

The jury found that El-Ad has senior trademark rights based on its federal trademark registrations, which gave it the right to use The Plaza mark throughout the United States.

“Our victory is based on the abiding strength of The Plaza brand and we are very pleased by the jury’s decision affirming our rights,” said Miki Naftali, President of El-Ad Group. “Our rights date back more than 100 years; there is certainly no confusion about the highest standards of luxury and elegance we represent. The new Plaza Las Vegas will occupy a magnificent complex in a prime location on the Strip--building on the traditions and heritage of its iconic namesake, the Plaza Hotel in New York.”

The release also says the Plaza property in Vegas is due to open in 2012. I hadn't seen an open date before.