Sad farewell to Merv

August 20, 2007 11:08 PM
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With the passing of Merv Griffin the column this week has to start with a tribute to this one-of-a-kind gentleman.

The Griffin connection with Las Vegas is kind of enormous. Merv had great friends here, like Kirk Kerkorian, of the MGM Grand, and Donald Trump, even after the bidding world over casinos.

In addition to his billion dollar fortune, Merv left us with the forever television shows of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune as well as the memories of his generous heart.

Speaking of memories, appearing on the Merv Griffin talk show was a very young and inexperienced hair dresser called Monti Rock III. Arthur Treacher who was his co-host, a movie legend himself, took a liking to Monti. Merv was sweet and kind of patient, so all I wanted to become was a singer, my title was at the time was the Singing Hair Dresser.

I remember people like Richard Pryor, Renee Taylor, Genevieve. It was like an ensemble. Monti Rock was learning what the power of television was. Merv, always gracious, tried to dive in deep into what I was selling.

Well, I was selling talk, talk, talk. In retrospect I looked at and found out that I was unique for that time. Remember, there were only three television channels. Merv, may you rest in peace. You helped so many and you helped this humble correspondent create the beginning of a brand that is Monti Rock III.

The Osmonds (remember them?) were at the Orleans last week. It was the Osmond Family Reunion Show. Andy Williams, who just turned 80, was the surprise guest. A special PBS television show with Donnie Osmond looking for a home here in Las Vegas or so the rumor is. What can I say about the Osmonds? Three shows sold out.

For all the fans of the fabulous Clint Holmes, take note. Clint has just opened at the Excalibur in his new show, Unplugged Jam. Clint has been a favorite of Las Vegas for the last few years and after seeing his performance it’s easy to understand why he was voted Best Entertainer of the Year so many times. Check out the new show at the Excalibur until August 29. We’re always behind Clint who possesses such talent... Clint Holmes, a Las Vegas gem not to be missed. By the way, the Excalibur show is dark on Sundays.

Can it be true? Can it be true? Don Imus coming back to radio? I always felt too much was made about the freedom of speech issue. The controversy has made him hot again. How old is he now, 70 or something?

What’s the latest news on the Hollywood bad girls? We all know Britney Spears is out of control, but aren’t we all from time to time? Kevin is suing for custody of the kids. It’s all about the money with Kevin. Lindsay Lohan is in rehab, again and Lindsay is being sued. She has a court date and who knows maybe the jail time will help her come to her senses.

Paris Hilton has become our new Mother Theresa. Here’s a little known fact: Paris has a cousin named Francesca Hilton who is the daughter of Zsa Zsa Gabor. Yes, Zsa Zsa and Conrad Hilton’s daughter. Zsa Zsa’s current husband, the Count, was recently arrested or at least taken into custody after being found nude and handcuffed to the steering wheel of his car. I’m sure there must be bigger stories somewhere in that, don’t you think? Of course Zsa Zsa’s sister, Eva Gabor, was a friend and companion to Merv Griffen for 20 years. I’ve always been a great fan of the Gabors.

Lo and behold! For the first time in 25 years it’s the Van Halen tour and David Lee Roth is coming back to the group. That won’t last! Hi ex-wife, Valerie Bertinelli, lost 100 pounds when she dropped him and she’s still working on the last few pounds with her new friend Kirsti Alley who is the spokesperson for Jenny Craig. Not sure, but does it look like Kirstie is packing on a few?

Over at the Paris Hotel and Casino the multi-talented Tony Danza takes over the lead in The Producers. I’m a big fan of The Producers and this show needed a jolt since David Hasselhoff moved on to television’s America Has Talent. We all remember Tony from Taxi and he most recently received critical acclaim as Rocky the bartender in The Iceman Cometh on Broadway.

The Phantom, which is a favorite of mine, remains brilliant at the Venetian. The theater, the costumes, the music ... it’s a must see.

It’s almost countdown to Celine Dion at Caesars. Bette Midler, and anyone else that follows, well it will be a run for the money!

A lot of the news and chatter around Las Vegas this week has been about the signing of Toni Braxton for another year at the Flamingo. David Saxe, does Vegas have talent? Give me a break!

This week will be 30 years since the passing of Elvin Presley. What can anyone say about Elvis that hasn’t been said before? He was an icon, an entertainer’s entertainer. He brought Vegas back from the brink. My connection with Elvis goes back a long, long time, when I worked with the Red Velvet in Hollywood. I was trying my hardest to fit into rock ”˜n roll. I was working at the record plant making my last album and next to me was Bette Midler making one of her albums. We all walked out of the plant at the same time and Bette told me Elvis died, Elvis died. It was a surreal moment. Elvis died and my career died at that same moment. The album was called a Piece of the Rock. Together with all the scandals I created in Hollywood, all these moments are part of my autobiography about my connection with Hollyweird and how I became the infamous television icon and recording artist.

On August 22 there’s a release party for the Fantasy Calendar at the Luxor. There will be a lot of flesh on display.

Rumor has it the Scintas will be back on stage sometime in September at the Golden Nugget. Apparently the Cave Man is a smash. At the Luxor rehearsal in full gear for Kris Angel’s debut of the Cirque show and Ron Lucas is still the afternoon attraction at the Luxor. It’s marvelous and wonderful.