A premature year-end review

Jun 12, 2006 4:53 AM

With all due respect to the solar calendar, this is my year in review. Or is it, half-year in review?

So far, we’ve seen the demise of several shows. Hint for show producers: This is Las Vegas, not Broadway. Please don’t confuse the two. Audiences are different. As different as the cities.

Las Vegas’ brand of entertainment relies on amusement and diversion. Vegas audiences aren’t going to be impressed with campy, understated subtle entertainment.

Think of Hairspray, for example. Here’s a transplant from New York that didn’t do as well as expected. The reason? We know that Harvey Fierstein was brilliant, of course, as mama Edna Turnblad, the role that won him his fourth Tony Award in 2002. But the show just couldn’t find an audience.

If you want to know what works in Las Vegas, you don’t have to look further than Cirque du Soleil productions. The latest is the musical, Love, starring the Beatles music. Their music is interwoven into a Cirque production, which will no doubt be another hit in town.

It will be interesting to see what happens at The Venetian, where The Phantom of the Opera — the longest running musical of all time — comes to Las Vegas. No matter how the show is accepted, it could have done better by casting me in the role of Christine. I can sing.

I would like to see the Broadway version of Saturday Night Fever land in Las Vegas. More importantly I would like to reprise my role as the DJ in the movie. The residuals just aren’t enough.

It took a little show called Menopause with a brilliant cast to be a bona fide hit at the Hilton. What does that tell us? Miracles do happen even in show biz in Las Vegas.

I have to marvel at Paris bringing in The Producers, the Mel Brooks extravaganza. And, remember, Steve Wynn just took over Le Reve and Spamalot is opening in place of Avenue Q. I still feel they made a mistake by not signing Bette Midler. She would have rocked the house.

On the headliner front we have Celine Dion starring in A New Day at Caesars Palace, where she is receiving countless standing ovations. When she’s not playing there’s Elton John, The Red Piano, performing hit after hit to rave reviews.

Over at the Hilton, Barry Manilow performs his Music and Passion and, judging by the crowds, he is still adored here in Las Vegas.

The Hilton has added a country flavor with Reba, who performs Wednesdays through Sundays in the legendary Hilton Theater. All you Reba fans know she has been singing No. 1 country hits for over 20 years and has received numerous awards. We know that Reba has a hit television show and she was also just great in Annie Get Your Gun on Broadway. Seems there is just no end to her talent.

Also scheduled to appear at the Hilton this year are Vince Gill and Brooks & Dunn.

Around town, the Scintas enjoy a revamped show at the Sahara. Rita Rudner is opening at Harrah’s and so is Wayne Newton. Clint Holmes is going to New York. The Havanah nightclub is opening at the Paris. Penn & Teller, the "Bad Boys of Magic," will be back at the Rio July 3-7. They are always great. And by the way, my sincere thanks to both Penn and Teller.

I went to a press conference for Jerry Lewis. He is coming back to work. He will be on Broadway, running a Broadway show. Good news! Welcome back, Jerry. You have been missed.

I want to thank Preferred for giving me a dinner for 30 of my closest friends at Sapporo on West Flamingo. What a divine dinner. What a divine restaurant. The dinner, champagne, cake, service — all were excellent. Thank you to Kep, to the chef, and to all the great waiters. It was truly a night to remember.

CineVegas is coming my film will be shown June 15. The eighth annual film festival will be at the Palms Resort Hotel June 917. I would like to thank Bill Lairamore and his lovely wife, Molly for all their help and support, but I would especially like to thank Danny Lairamore, a student at UCLA, who put this marvelous film together. Thank you, thank you.

I would also like to thank Brian Bell and Chris Holt who are finishing up the last details of the book, Grifter With A Heart, the story of my life. We are also working on a screenplay, Ms. Monti Meets Joey. Also, very heartfelt thanks to my designer, Rene DeHaven.