John’s 16-year-old boy Jett died while on vacation in the Bahamas. My friendship with John goes back to the "Saturday Night Fever" days when I was fortunate to land a role as the young DJ that took years off my 31-year-old body. When we filmed "Saturday Night Fever," he showed how friendly and helpful a star could be to me and the rest of the cast.
Through three decades now I’ve known John to be a great family man. He’s one of the kindest men I’ve ever met and I owe what fame I’ve had over the years in show business to him. He really touched my life and I will always value the time I’ve spent with him, wife Kelly Preston and his family. I can only wish the very, very best to John and Kelly as they deal with a terrible tragedy.
As much as it hurts me this week, I am a columnist and so we have to move on to business. We’re waving goodbye to 2008 and to the layoffs, new shows, scandals, controversy and campaigns. It’s almost refreshing to start the new year, although I’m still waiting for my invitation to the Obama inauguration gala. I know it’s just an oversight. I’d invite Barack to my show!
Three of our local Las Vegas entertainers have been invited to the Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C. – Mary Wilson, of the original Supremes, George Wallace, and Clint Holmes. Clint may even get to perform. Again, I figure my invitation was lost in the mail.
Anyway, the fireworks, shot from the ground this year were a disappointment on TV, as the full effect was lost due to the camera angles. The hosts Kathy Griffin and CNN’s Anderson Cooper were an odd couple if ever there was one. They were great, as was Dick Clark, Patriarch of New Year’s Eve, working with Ryan Seacrest.
I spent New Year’s Eve with the gang at Huntington Press. In the mix were the Hilton’s Ira Sternberg, Tom Crangle, writers, columnists and some of the best characters I have met in quite a while. Host Anthony Curtis promises my book will be ready by year’s end.
Also I had an earlier lunch at the Bootlegger with Bill and Danny Lairemore, getting ready for my Internet show called "Live With Monti In Las Vegas." Just think of me as Regis and Kelly meets Johnny Carson.
Included from my year in review has to be a nod to Tina Fey as Entertainer of the Year. For those that don’t recognize her name, Tina has been a writer on "Saturday Night Live" and more recently both produced and wrote the television show "30 Rock." Her fame gained a new level with her stellar impersonation of VP candidate Sarah Palin.
The year started off with constant news surrounding Paris Hilton. Seems her 15 minutes of fame hasn’t completely diminished. She reportedly lost more than a million dollars in jewelry following a burglary at her Los Angeles home.
Once again this year will show that magicians are as popular as ever. My Network TV starts a 13-week series, called "Masters of Illusion." Filmed in Los Angeles, it features 70 magicians include Las Vegas regulars, The Amazing Johnathan, Mac King and Nathan Burton.
The year saw the passing of so many in the entertainment field. Van Johnson, Bettie Page, Paul Newman, Estelle Getty, Suzanne Pleshette, Odetta and Ima Sumac to name a few. The world lost a true adventurer in Steve Fossett. Las Vegas lost an icon of sorts in Lefty Rosenthal, last of the so-called Vegas mob.
A brighter more exciting year is on the way with Steve Wynn having just kicked off his latest megaresort, Encore. A private party (The Chairman’s Ball) celebrating the opening will be held on Jan. 12 with singer Harry Connick Jr. as the featured entertainer.
Danny Gans has found his new home at Encore and will open in February. It’s official, Bob Anderson will headline at the Cannery on Feb. 13-14. Terry Fator will be opening at The Mirage in the Terry Fator Theater.
Phil Ruffin just bought TI (Treasure Island) and says he won’t change a thing. Guess we’ll see if he’s a man of his word. Also, rumors continue that "Stomp Out Loud" will open at the Sahara following a three-year engagement at Planet Hollywood.
This revolving door of shows makes me wonder just exactly how they manage to survive in this economy. Seems the four-wall deal is alive as well as the two-wall.
Long-time TV weather man, John Fredericks is leaving the local TV scene, ending a 12-year run. The fact that the station allegedly banned his new dog LJ from the studio was the final touch. John, we’ll miss your take on the weather.
One of the current miracle men of Las Vegas has to be David Saxe. The V Theater at Planet Hollywood has show after show and may prove to be one of the few recession-proof operations in town. Proof of this is the way he brokers the shows.
I must tell you that JR’s is the place for an evening of great ambiance and great food, It’s located at 5745 S. Durango Drive. The Italian dishes are like what "mama" made and the cannoli is the best.
To all the readers of my GamingToday column, I promise to get most of my facts right, do more interviews and additional Million Dollar Weddings. Be sure to e-mail me ([email protected]) any news or gossip you come upon. All e-mails will be answered.
Finally, apologies to Criss Angel’s "Believe" at the Luxor. John McCoy, senior publicist for Cirque du Soleil kindly told me that the show will be dark only from Jan. 7-22. I had heard it was two months. Not so. My bad.