Thursday, September 24, 2009

Take a GOOD look, Aubrey O'Day...

...cuz if ya keep this crapola up, this is the only sort of Peepshow that's gonna hire you. (I walked by that earlier tonight in New York and thought it would be funny, given the drama I'm missing back west. Something weird ALWAYS happens when I'm gone!)

If you haven't heard yet, O'Day -- whose claim to fame I still am unclear of -- called in sick on her second night as the singing lead of "Peepshow" at Planet Hollywood because someone in the audience took a photo of her topless and posted it online. Then she posted this bizarro YouTube clip...

...that defies logic and reason. And, Aubrey, trying to make sense of what you say is not being a hater. It's an earnest effort to figure out if you have any brains, is all.

In that vid, Ms. O'Day goes on about being insecure about her body. Yet she's the lead of a topless show in Las Vegas, a role that I'm pretty sure she consented to perform. Whatever might have been in the illicit photos -- and I honestly don't care enough to find them and see for myself -- had to have been what the audience saw at the show, so how exactly is she the new Erin Andrews?

Sure, nobody should've taken photos and posted them, but what exact damage was done? Daniel Radcliffe appeared in "Equus" and was not at all surprised when photos of [NSFW link ahead!!!] Harry Potter's magic wand ended up online. What century does this O'Day babe think she's living in? Even Patti LuPone coulda told her this was gonna happen. And then she slaps back and scores one for the female race by, uh, showing off her boobs on YouTube? (Aha! So NOW you're going to click on that video, is that how it is?)

Beyond that, her consternation over the predictable leakage of these photos was enough for her to skip a show?!? But my favorite part was what Richard Abowitz learned as he reported on the situation for his L.A. Times blog: Only two ticketholders asked for refunds. So what's worse, Aubrey, the fact that one audience member thought your goods were exciting enough to post online or the fact that 1,700 didn't care if you were there or not?

Finally, I just wonder. Is it just me or does this image of the clearly quite modest and insecure O'Day from her website...

...kinda remind you of...

...Lucy the Slut from Avenue Q?

OK, that qualifies me as a hater. Guilty as charged.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This Week's LVW col: Grin & Luv-It

Hey! They posted this week's piece early! And it's a lot of fun! They even made up that funny graphic! Read on and join the Facebook group, "Las Vegas Needs To Grow A Pair." -sf

Grin and Luv-It

Does a Las Vegas neighborhood slam really merit all this fuss?



The clerk has to pause and think about it.

“Let’s see,” she says, eyes rolling around as she calculates the answer. “One, two, three. Three. I think. At least three.”

That’s three—at least. Three times since she came to work at this Mighty Mart a few months ago, the place has been robbed while she was behind the counter. That doesn’t count the minor incidents of shoplifting, “of course,” she adds. Or the stabbing. Or when the drugged-up prostitute fell off her bicycle, hit her head and died.

Or the countless times the clerk’s car has been vandalized as it sat outside her apartment a couple of blocks away.

“It’s a bad area,” says the clerk, who asked that her name not be used because, uh, she fears for her safety. “So bad.”

God forbid she had said that on national TV. Regardless of how true it may be, the clerk would be strung up by USB cables and hung in effigy on Facebook and Twitter for such an outrageous sin. You see, this isn’t just any old Mighty Mart. This Mighty Mart stands a rock of cocaine’s throw from the venerable, much-beloved Luv-It Frozen Custard, a legendary dessert stand at the corner of Oakey and Las Vegas Boulevard.

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com.

Erich Bergen's Last Stand As Bob Gaudio

I found the YouTube clip of the Vegas "Jersey Boys" appearance on America's Got Talent earlier this month. This would turn out to be Erich Bergen's final performance as Bob Gaudio.

There he was at the end with the presence of mind to remind the millions in the audience that the show is at the Palazzo. That was a good and unrehearsed move because the host was so busy pushing the AGT show at P-How that he never mentioned where to see JB on the Strip. Right up till the end -- and beyond, really, given his statement -- Bergen was a persistent salesman for the production. All class.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Erich Bergen Drama

As you all might expect, I'm getting quite a few emails and texts asking me what's up with Erich Bergen, my co-producer of the Michael Jackson tribute show last month and now one of my best friends.

Yes, the reports are true: Erich was fired by Dodger Theatrical Productions last week after nearly three years of performing the role of Bob Gaudio in "Jersey Boys" on tour and then since May 2008 in Las Vegas. His final performance in the role, strangely, was on Sept. 9, when the four Vegas leads appeared on "America's Got Talent." He was placed on vacation the next day -- his first in his three years, although there were absences due to injury and sickness -- and then let go while he was visiting his folks in New York. His last official on-stage utterance as a member of that cast, then, was beckoning millions of people to come to the Palazzo and see the show. Contrary to my friend and colleague John Katsilometes' blog post at LasVegasSun.Com, this turn of events was, indeed, a surprise to Erich and to many in the cast.

Because Erich and I are obviously close, I am not at liberty to discuss publicly more than the bare facts as I've recited them. Erich has, however, allowed me to be the first to publish the statement he is releasing to the press:

"While I am no longer involved with Jersey Boys, I wish nothing but the best for the show. It's been my home and family for the past 3 years, and I'm proud all of the accomplishments we achieved together. It saddens me to think that I won't get the chance to perform in the show anymore, but all I can do is look forward. I love Las Vegas with all my heart and am proud of my work there. I won't be gone for long."

All that being said, I have a little bone to pick with my friend and Las Vegas Weekly colleague Richard Abowitz. Richard wrote a very peculiar item for his Los Angeles Times blog about Erich's departure in which he puzzled over why this particular casting change was newsworthy and called it a "media kerfluffle."

You would have thought that the matter was garnering massive headlines or something when, in fact, evidently what amounts these days to a "kerfluffle" was a few exercised Tweets from KVBC's Alicia Jacobs and the aforementioned blog post by Kats. That's it. That is all that has been written or said in anything vaguely related to the mainstream press. In fact, Richard is personally responsible for the biggest and most extensive discussion of the matter to date!

And then there was his explanation for why this isn't really news, that cast changes are routine. Except that departures of leads of major Vegas shows generally don't go unnoticed, even when they're not as sudden and unusual as this. The exits of Tina Walsh from "Mamma Mia!", Sierra Boggess and Brent Barrett from "Phantom" and Elijah Johnson from "Lion King" all received ink, and those are only a few.

Plus, it's odd to me that Abowitz overlooks the fact that Erich's name has been in the papers for most of the time he's been in Vegas, an unusual feat for even the stars of shows with more singular performers. He's been pivotal in turning the Liberace Museum's showroom into a hip place for young Strip talent to jam, he raised $103,000+ less than a month ago for Las Vegas schoolkids in a show that drew massive amounts of international news coverage and he was the mouthpiece for "Jersey Boys" only a fortnight ago on one of the most-watched TV shows of the summer.

When someone makes a name for themselves, we call them celebrities. And when celebrities are summarily dismissed from the jobs that made them celebrities, the public is understandably curious. Fame + Controversy = Newsworthiness. Is it really that baffling?

Of course, I have a personal bias because another close friend is probably leaving Vegas and that bums me out. But I think my news judgment sensor is still intact and some scuttlebutt in the entertainment press seems about right to me for this situation.

I'm also bummed that the closing note of this Las Vegas Weekly column -- written when I barely knew him personally -- is coming to pass far sooner than I could have known. In that piece, I warned the public that they ought to get out and see him when he was small Vegas fry so "you can say you knew him when."

I hope some of you heeded that.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Top Chef Vegas Scandal?

Well, not exactly. Maybe just a mini-scandal. I'll let y'all decide.

Last week's Top Chef episode found our cheftestants out at Sandy Valley Ranch where they had to camp out overnight and then "plan a menu for some Las Vegas cowboys," to cite BravoTV.Com, cooking it on temperature-uncontrolled fire pits and the like. It was pretty inventive, as have been several episodes this year that have taken place in less expected Vegas locales including Nellis Air Force Base. Coming soon, I'm told, are episodes at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve and the World Market Center.

Except one itsy bitsy little thing. Those rough-and-tumble ranch hands the cheftestants were feeding? Good thing the blurb said "some," because "some" were also, in fact, rootin'-tootin' city slickers.

One is my (Facebook) friend, Martin Kreloff, who is a very successful pop artist. He's (real) friends with Sandy Valley Ranch owner Marilyn Gubler, who called him up and invited him on out to partake when the episode was shot in May. And she told him, and I quote Marty, "to dude it up" so off Marty and his partner, Tim, went to Shepler's Western Wear for costumes. See?

Awww. Don't they look cute and dapper! Almost like real ranchers! Kreloff joked that the other couple at his table were also gay and also non-rancher invitees, so they dubbed it the "Brokeback Table."

Kreloff, a devoted Top Chef fan, had a grand ol' time and was really impressed by the production. "I was eager to see how reality TV works and it was beautiful," he said. He explained that they were seated at tables and each contestant stopped by to serve a dish. At the end, the judges split up and sat with the tables to chat about the food. Padma Lakshmi visited Brokeback. "I enjoyed so much getting to chat with her," Kreloff said. She’s quite ethereal and very beautiful." Sounds like he wants to add her to his impressive celebrity paintings collection!

He also defended the idea that the seem-to-be cowboys weren't really cowboys by noting that at least half of the diners were, in fact, real-life ranchers. That's good to know. And Top Chef doesn't give the diners any say in who wins, so it's not like it impacted the outcome. But the conceit of the episode to some extent was that the chefs were supposed to cater under punishing conditions to the less-fancy palates of ranchers. A number of folks in their audience, then, were folks like Kreloff, a self-confessed TV food-show addict with a "pretty sophisticated palate."

In fact, he's done something I'm doubting the real cowboys have done: He's trying really hard to recreate a delightful cold radish salad that he and Tim "thought was incredible. ... It was a fresh way to look at radishes. That's the one we came away talking about." It got little love from the judges, but that was the memorable moment more than the pork loin, polenta, and glazed rutabaga that the winner made.

Does it matter? No, not really. I'm reminded by my own partner that it's reality TV which evidently is code for faking stuff. But it does open Top Chef up to questions, though. Like, for instance, in the challenge at Nellis, they made a big emotional thing out of cooking for the men and women of the Air Force, right?

But there! I see a guy in a hot pink T-shirt over there to the left! Is he really in the Air Force? Just saying...