2007: Grown up, blown up, sewn up

Dec 10, 2007 4:01 AM

Looking back over 2007 there were some major changes, some highs, some lows, some unanswered questions and of course a promise of better things in 2008.

The Stardust and the New Frontier are gone, unceremoniously imploded with several hundred pounds of dynamite. I wonder if I’ll check out in similar fashion. These properties were icons of the Strip for years.

It makes us wonder about the fate of another old timer, the Tropicana. Just rumor, but things are not looking good. Make way for the mega, mega properties with all their shopping, nightclubs and moon-faced swingers cluttering up the place.

With the sale of the Sahara the new owners are investing major dollars to refurbish (didn’t see a wrecking ball in their moving van).

Is the Riviera for sale? When was it ever not for sale?

A revolving door for production shows is nothing new in this town. But Broadway transplants have a hard time taking root. As I noted a few months ago, The Producers at Paris is on its way out while the Jersey Boys gets set to debut at the new Palazzo.

After five years Celine Dion takes her final bow in a couple of days at Caesars Palace and the plans are already in place for Bette Midler’s arrival. They have already added more performances due to the early interest.

Let’s face it, the Divine One is one of the really great performers of our time

The Scintas left the Sahara and landed at the Hilton. Some of the smaller shows like Menopause the Musical at the Hilton continue doing an unbelievable business while Hans Klok has disappeared from Planet Hollywood.

Clint Holmes’ production at Harrah’s closed after a six-year run and Greg Thompson’s Skintight also closed. Wayne Newton bowed out of his Harrah’s stint, but will continue with the touring Dancing With the Stars show. Rumor has it that Harrah’s will no longer use him at any of their properties.

The latest Osmond news, which I also announced a few weeks ago, is that Donny and Marie will be appearing here for the long haul at the Flamingo. It remains to be seen if they can find an audience. Remember, Marie will be doing her Xmas show at the Suncoast this coming week.

LAX Nightclub at the Luxor brought in stars like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan who turned their 15 minutes of fame into 15 minutes of shame. That couldn’t have been a highlight for Luxor.

The real news for the Luxor is Criss Angel and his Cirque du Soleil. spectacular. The line-up at the Luxor continues to grow with the arrival of the Irish Tenors and rumor has it Jeff Beacher may move his show, Madhouse, to the Luxor. Nightlife at the Luxor also means Anita Mann’s show, Fantasy.

What amazes this columnist are the mainstays, the shows that remain en vogue, even after all these years. For instance, "O" at the Bellagio continues to draw crowds. Mystere at the Mirage is currently offering two for one tickets to locals. And of course Mama Mia at Mandalay Bay is still doing good business, even though it will close next August .

The Reve at the Wynn is being retooled to add some ballroom dancing, with choreography by Maksim Chmerkovskiy of Dancing with the Stars fame.

Spamalot is still doing business but not sure if it’s meeting expectations.

The Wynn property is Steve Wynn’s crowning achievement following the Bellagio and Golden Nugget and of course Encore will soon be added to the list of accomplishments for Steve Wynn.

The Phantom at the Venetian has become a Las Vegas mainstay, too. The Phantom theater, the cast, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s creation is at the top for the Venetian but don’t forget Wayne Brady, Gordie Brown and Blue Man Group have all found their performing niches at the Venetian.

The new Palazzo mega hotel, also an Adelson creation, is bringing in one of the latest Broadway hits, Frankie Valli’s Jersey Boys, which I predict will be a big hit. The Monti Rock III and Frankie Valli connection goes back to the 70’s and a producer by the name of Bob Crew who produced Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as well as yours truly’s Disco Tex and the Sex-o-lettes. Frankie has always been a friend and a Monti supporter and I’ve always been behind him a thousand percent. .

As I wrote weeks ago Planet Hollywood’s Robert Earl is bringing a flavor of Hollywood to Las Vegas even though the MGM has been slow-cooking that brand for years. Remember, MGM was a big movie studio and still has all the stars. The MGM properties consist of Mandalay Bay, the Luxor, New York-New York and the wonderful Bellagio, which still holds up as a major tourist attraction with its beautiful fountains, atrium and restaurants.

Currently the two properties making the most noise are the Golden Nugget downtown and the South Point on the south end of the Strip. The South Point has developed quite the Latin connection while the Golden Nugget attracts tourists and high rollers with headliners like Rich Little and Don Rickles.

Top of my list for this year would have to be Danny Gans for consistently polishing his show, Celine Dion, as an international star, for raising the bar and filling 4500 seats every night for five years, and Barry Manilow, whose retooled show at the Hilton works for his fan base of screaming women and baby boomers. In part, thanks to Barry for making the Hilton a major property in the entertainment field again. The Hilton has spent millions and their efforts are paying off.

With gas prices hitting an all time high, the real estate market tanking and constant talk of foreclosures, it’s surprising we still have more commercial buildings and more high rises or condominiums that have multi-million dollars price tags. Who’s moving in?

Is it true Siegfried and Roy may soon have an announcement about a comeback? I’ll let you know.

Looking forward to 2008, I foresee we’ll find Bette Midler and Criss Angel as major stars here. But, as this columnist keeps saying, "surprise me, thrill me, excite me." Last but not least to all my readers at GamingToday, thank you for reading my column, Happy Holidays and may 2008 be the best for you.