Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The NYT Loves, Invents Stuff About Clint Holmes

Don't get me wrong here. I love Clint Holmes. He's an amazing performer and I wish he were still a Strip headliner. He's old-school and genuine and works so hard you feel lazy watching him.

So I'm thrilled that New York Times music critic Stephen Holden adored his performance at Feinstein's at Loews Regency in New York City. Among other superlatives, Holden wrote:

Vocally, Mr. Holmes is a solid belter who pays close attention to lyrics. He doesn’t simply recycle oldies with the blas√© suavity of standard lounge singers. Rethinking them from the beginning, he turns them into personal dramatic monologues.

High praise. And, no doubt, well-deserved.

But Mr. Holden also shows an ignorance of Las Vegas entertainment that is truly boggling. Here's how he describes Clint:

But under the aegis of Steve Wynn, Mr. Holmes, now 64, has become a major Las Vegas attraction who might be described as the next generation’s Wayne Newton.

Uh, what? How many years has it been since Holmes was a Strip headliner? Almost five. He does the occasional show here and there at outlying locals venues, but is he, as of April 20, 2011 when Mr. Holden (left) published this, a Las Vegas attraction at all, let alone a "major" one?

And Steve Wynn? Huh? It took a little digging to realize that, yeah, Clint once toiled for The Steve at the Golden Nugget. It's hard to find; Holmes' own website bio doesn't mention that. But that was downtown; his big break was becoming the marquee star for Harrah in 2000. Wynn is responsible for a lot of major entertainment milestones in Vegas -- Siegfried & Roy, Cirque du Soleil, Danny Gans -- but Clint Holmes? WTF?

And what is this "next generation's Wayne Newton" crap? The Wayner is only four years older than Clint, and Wayne's honorific as Mr. Las Vegas was earned for an extremely long tenure that nobody else is ever likely to match. Also, Wayne was much more recently a Strip headliner (last year) than Clint (2006). With what wisdom, perspective or insight does Mr. Holden get to anoint Vegas stardom or historical relevance? None.

Then there's this:

Mr. Holmes, fortunately, has more talent than Mr. Newton.

Yes, Clint has far better pipes than Wayne these days. Fine. But I'm going out on a really short limb here when I suspect Mr. Holden has probably never actually seen Wayne perform either lately or in his prime. It's just an easy shot, and an unoriginal one at that.

I have no idea if Clint put these absurdities into his program or media material to entice The Times to cover his show, but anyone with a vague ability to use Google should be capable of separating hype from reality. Then again, accuracy rarely matters to the New York media when it comes to Vegas entertainment, so I'm sure Mr. Holden would shrug it all off anyway.

Naw, this is paint-by-numbers Vegas-As-Seen-From-2,500-Miles-Away scribble: (1) Sprinkle a dash of the only Vegas figure anyone in Manhattan knows/likes, Wynn; (2) Insult Wayne to bolster whomever has pleasantly surprised you; (3) Make a reference lounge lizards. Yep. Check this out conclusion:

If Mr. Holmes’s performance indicates a trend, the new lounge lizard has a trait not commonly found in the old: sincerity, or at least the appearance of it.

This is where even Clint ought to take umbrage. Holmes is not now and wasn't ever a lounge act in Vegas. He commanded -- and frequently filled -- a showroom of some 600 seats at Harrah's. Feinstein's in New York, too, is not a lounge but a nightclub/supper club. It's as though Mr. Holden seems to think that serious Vegas headliners still croon by casino bars rather than appear in lavish theaters. And, anyway, the Vegas lounge performers of old were among the most revered legends in the live music world specifically because of their dedication and sincerity. You know, folks like Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Sam Butera, Bobby Darin, Jackie Gleason and on and on. The "old" to which he refers is known for precisely the opposite of what he suggests.

Mr. Holden has no clue what he's writing about, so he goes for the cheap cracks. And that's too bad because I'm sure Clint deserved his plaudits free of insults and bizarre misunderstandings about his hometown.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Strip is LIVE...on Wednesday!

Due to Passover and Miles' work schedule, we're now planning to record the next episode of The Strip on Wednesday starting at 8 p.m. PT. Check back for an update on Wednesday.

Pulitzer Shucks! And Congrats Anyway!

The 2011 Pulitzer Prizes were announced earlier this afternoon and the Las Vegas Sun's Marshall Allen and Alex Richards were not winners. They had been favored after sweeping several pre-Pulitzer honors for investigative journalism, but in the end they were considered -- and then passed over -- in the Local News Reporting category. The winners were the team of Frank Main, Mark Konkol and John J. Kim of the Chicago Sun-Times for coverage of street violence and difficulties getting witnesses to talk. Zzzzz.

Here's what the Pulitzer gang wrote about the Sun's "Do No Harm" package:

Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Marshall Allen and Alex Richards of the Las Vegas Sun for their compelling reports on patients who suffered preventable injuries and other harm during hospital care, taking advantage of print and digital tools to drive home their findings

If you want to know to whom to send newspaper-wrapped dead fish, here's the jury.

You can read overview Pulitzer coverage from The New Yorker blog, but odds are good this is the only place -- other than the Sun, perhaps -- where you're likely to get any Vegas/Nevada-related news or analysis. It's too bad because just being a finalist is a gigantic honor, and this is only the second time in Vegas media history that even that has occurred. Let's see if the R-J, when they run the wire copy they'll run tomorrow, bothers to stick in that local angle.

It was surprising that Allen & Richards didn't end up in the Public Service category, which is what Alexandra Berzon and the Sun gang won for in 2009 for their series on deaths at the CityCenter construction project. The winner for Public Service this year was the L.A. Times for its expose on corruption in the tiny city of Bell, Calif. In the Investigative Reporting category, which is the other logical home for the Sun's medical series, the winner was Paige St. John of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune for pieces on the property insurance system in Florida. I'm sure St. John's stuff was terrific, but I do wonder if it saved any lives, as the Sun's work did.

A couple others that I care about include Chicago Tribune columnist and former Brenda Starr writer Mary Schmich getting a finalist nod and Mike Keefe of the Denver Post winning for Best Cartoonist. I keep wondering if the Sun has ever entered Mike Smith, their ace cartoonist whose work is reprinted all over the country.

Just so y'all know, I wasn't the only one thinking the Sun could nail its second Pulitzer in three years. Earlier today before the announcement, Pulitzer expert Roy Harris handicapped it for Poynter.Org thus:

If there are front-runners for the 2011 Pulitzer mix, then, this last-minute review suggests they are:
  • The L.A. Times for its “Breach of Faith” Bell, California salary disclosures – rooting out wrongdoing with classic reporting techniques prized by the editors who dominate the Pulitzer Board (Selden Ring Award winner, IRE award winner, George Polk Award winner)
  • The Las Vegas Sun for “Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas” (Goldsmith Prize winner, Scripps Howard award winner)
  • The Seattle Times for the “Seniors for Sale” (Worth Bingham Prize winner) or “The Other Side of Mercy” (IRE award winner)
Then, finally, don’t forget to factor in those Pulitzer Board surprises.

Yes, those surprises. The Seattle Times, it turned out, wasn't a finalist in any category.

I was waiting in the lobby at the Sun at noon today to see what would happen, having asked but been refused access to the newsroom for The Moment. Alas, their loss was also mine, as suddenly I had the afternoon free on account of AOL/HuffPo not wanting the feature I had planned on The Odd Little Vegas Paper That Could. Bummer.

Oh well. Good try, guys. You should all be proud nonetheless.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Monday Is Pulitzer Day!

Somewhere around noon PT on Monday, we find out if the Sun has done the improbable and won its second Pulitzer Prize in three years. Last time out, it was a surprise even to the reporter, Alexandra Berzon, who did it. This time, as I've been chronicling for months now, the "Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas" series picked up two of the biggest pre-Pulitzer honors, Harvard's Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and Best of Show at the National Headliners Awards in Atlantic City.

So it'll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow, and you can find out here once it's out. Landing just one is super-impressive, but nabbing two in three years for a small entity like the Sun would be absolutely amazing. And all I know is that the health series by led by Marshall Allen and Alex Richards is in the mix. I've no idea if Jon Ralston's work as columnist is in contention -- his work in the Reid-Angle and Ensign matters would absolutely be worthy if he were at the New York Times or similar -- or Mike Smith, the cartoonist who has gone far too long without proper national recognition.

Anyhow, here's the list of those who may by this time tomorrow be able to claim a Pulitzer to their credit:

Good luck to all. Make Vegas journalism proud.