Rumor is, That’s Entertainment?
Times change!

Feb 3, 2004 3:01 AM

Our city’s slogan as the entertainment capital of the world holds true today, albeit with a different definition of the word entertainment. Yesteryear it meant gambling, ladies of the world’s oldest profession and performers at every hotel doing two-shows-a-night, seven-nights-a-week, two and three weeks at a time.

The biggest names in show business played here at unbelievable bargain prices. Entertainment was considered a lost leader as it brought people to town to play the tables and get away for a few days or even a few hours due to hourly airline flights to-and-from Los Angeles that were dirt cheap.

We still hold the title as the entertainment capitol of the world, but now, for the most part, the stars are gone with gigantic hotels, shopping malls and restaurants taking their place. The few headliners that we have left are excellent, but they truly our best-kept-secrets to non-visitors. Today, hotels account for every nickel spent; gambling reigns supreme and the ladies proclaim their trades in the back pages of weekly newspapers.

Around-the-world media does stories about us, but little is about "real" entertainment except for Cirque de Soleil. And, when today’s stars do come here to perform, the prices are ridiculous hitting the $700-plus range on a regular basis.

I wasn’t surprised that the Castaways shut its doors. I performed at the hotel not too long ago with my competition being the bowling lanes.

Saturday night a slightly off-kilter radio show — Las Vegas Wired — starts broadcasting from NY/NY’s The Bar at Times Square. The Dennis Carr-produced ensemble is reminiscent of Saturday Night Live and promises to be hilarious.

One of my local favorites, Jeff Hobson, gets his own show — Jeff Hobson’s Money and Madness Show — starting Monday at the Excalibur’s Merlin Theater. Previously, Hobson has been part of reviews and warrants his own venue.

Who came up with the idea that Celine Dion should sit center stage for the entertainment part of the Nevada Ballet evening honoring her? It was awkward, not only for my precious Celine, but for the performers. One of them told me it was among their most uncomfortable experiences. Ouch!

Breck Wall was recently honored as Producer of the Year at a reception of Little Buddha. He certainly deserves the nod for continuing the Bottom’s Up tradition for 47 years. Breck’s secret of success: make the show as tacky as possible because people won’t believe what they saw and will come back to see it again.

The Cannery Casino and Hotel in North Las Vegas is making February its legends month. A Beatles salute is scheduled Valentine’s weekend and a tribute to Sammy and Dean will be offered in The Club lounge.

A couple of oldies-but-goodies (Lesley Gore and Connie Francis) did sold-out business at the Suncoast and Texas Station, respectively.

The Las Vegas television series will continue to be free promotion for our city as NBC has picked it up for a second season of 22 episodes. Maybe now the producers will consider actually shooting more of the show here instead of a Los Angeles soundstage?

Look for Engelbert Humperdinck to be the mainstay performer at The Orleans after his just completed four-day, sold-out engagement. See, headliners still can draw crowds.

Steve Wynn isn’t the only local personality mentioned in the film, The Cooler. Backstreet Boy Joey Fantone has a couple of scenes as a young singer "opening" for Danny Gans at The Mirage who wants to be a headliner. Irony is, Gans never has had an opening act.

Fans are wondering if Patrick Swayze’s makeup for the San Diego production of Chicago was done my Michael Jackson. Not true. He called me, but I wasn’t available, so he’s doing the eyeliner and lipstick himself. It’s tough being in demand.

The biggest bargain in town this week’s could be the $25 ticket price tag to see, Lenny, a play based on the life of Lenny Bruce at UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre. For those not old enough, Bruce is where Dennis Miller got his act.

I’m blue enough to perform with Blue Man Group this week as I’ve heard through the grapevine that when The Tonight Show is here in May, the producers are planning to bring in talent instead of using local performers.

Anyone working around a magician in Las Vegas has always had to sign a confidentiality agreement, but now I hear Hollywood has taken it a step further. Employees of famous stars have to do the same or lose their job.

Paige Davis, who was the understudy for Chita Rivera in the Mandalay Bay production of Chicago (she’s the host of the TLC series, Trading Spaces), will star as Roxie on Broadway from June 22 — Aug.8.