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Persisting produces chat with Desi Arnaz Jr.

Feb 25, 2014 3:00 AM

Desi Arnaz Jr. doesn’t grant many interviews, although we remember one with Barbara Walters. However, after much persistence and good timing with the upcoming Dam Short Film Festival last month at the Historic Boulder Theatre, which Desi and his wife Amy have owned since 1986, I finally was the very lucky person to break his silent streak!

When I do an interview I never know what direction it’s going to go. Initially I attempted what would have been a very “rare interview with Desi Arnaz Jr.,” speaking about growing up with Lucy and Desi. But as it progressed it became an interesting and informative “where are they now” episode like the ones Oprah Winfrey has made so popular on the OWN network.

Shortly into the hour-plus conversation, it was evident we were in need of at least a five session series because Desi said it best: “I’ve lived over 200 years in 60!”

Much of the conversation got really deep, had many layers, and took twists and turns. When I asked him about his plans in the near future, besides what he is already doing with the non-profit ballet company he and his family run and events at the Boulder Theatre, surprisingly Desi responded, “I’m going to be Michele LaFong! “

I will be interviewing celebrities on video on-stage at Boulder Theatre who are in town for up-coming projects, or who just have a story to tell.

Since Desi grew up with an “inside view” of show-biz, and a dating history that includes Liza Minnelli, Patty Duke, and almost every other “A List” hottie in Hollywood, I think this is a natural that would make great television, which we are so in need of today.

For more information on the Dam Short Film Festival, Boulder Theatre, or to listen to the archived two-part interview that aired on Feb. 6 and 13, go to lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.

After 16 years as co-host of ABC’s “The View,” comedian Joy Behar retired from the show but has not retired from her very long career. In fact, there are persisting rumors of Joy returning to television…and that could be happening very soon.

In the meantime, Behar continues to perform her stand-up – as she did so well at The Orleans showroom last month. Hanging out with Joy and her husband Steve after the show was déjà vu for me as it’s been over 20 years since we’ve seen each other.

We had a bite at the coffee shop then joined Steve in the casino and played blackjack and craps. They love Vegas! Joy was noticeably happy, content, and much more fun than I remembered her to be back in the late 80’s when she was a struggling comic in New York, bitching about how far she had to schlep on my “LaFong gigs,” which I used to book her on quite frequently.

Of course this was before Barbara Walters discovered her and cast her on “The View.” A couple of years ago, I was watching her on “The Joy Behar Show” on HLN interviewing comedian Colin Quinn. She brought my name up and told a funny story about working for me that she’s been telling for years. The video is posted on our website with my side of the story too!

After interviewing Chuck Negron, former lead singer of Three Dog Night, I went to check out his show at the Suncoast showroom. His signature voice was in rare form and his band was truly exceptional. They sang many complicated harmonies together and were on fire when they played Three Dog Night’s many hits, including “Joy to the World,” “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” “Shambala,” “One”…there were so many, plus my personal favorite, “The Show Must Go On.”

It was obvious by Chuck’s energy, swagger, and million dollar smile how much he truly enjoys and appreciates being on stage. He is grateful for the opportunity to still be able to entertain today in spite of the years of drug abuse his body had endured.

Negron was simply joyous on stage soaking in every moment, never taking his audience for granted. This was also evident in his meet and greet after the show, where he made sure to say hello to every last fan who wanted to speak to him. And there was no shortage!

Hopefully I will get to see Negron and his rockin’ band perform in a larger venue next time.

Dana Carvey is almost always on my “must see” list when he is in town, and this time was no exception, especially when he told me he had been working on new material and would be doing a Q&A at the end of the show with his opening act, Mark Pitta. He had never done this before in Vegas.

Carvey was relaxed, and his material was funnier than ever. During the Q&A, former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Rob Schneider made a surprise guest appearance. The three were improving together. It was a fun unexpected bonus.

Bill Engvall returned to LVBST to promote his upcoming appearance at the TI on March 7. He spoke about his entertainment strategy, which earned him a spot in the finals in this year’s “Dancing with the Stars.” The show introduced him to a new set of demographics that may not have been familiar with the Blue Collar Comedy troupe.

When I asked if the other guys from the troupe helped in soliciting votes for him he responded, “Larry the Cable Guy did.”

This led me to curiously wonder why no support had been extended from Jeff Foxworthy or Ron White, both of whom would have been most effective and influential in racking up votes for Engvall from their fans. Hmmm, sometimes what an artist doesn’t say in an interview can be just as telling as what they do say.

Engvall’s full interview will air March 6 from 6-7 p.m. PST on 1230AM radio in Las Vegas and stream live on lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.

Last year, in a backstage videotaped interview, Engvall spoke about his career and marriage. That interview is now posted on gamingtoday.com.

Congratulations to Bill Maher for getting renewed on HBO’s “Real Time,” and for his 2014 residency at the Palms. He returns March 22 and 23, and Oct. 10 and 11. Maher’s interview will air on March 20.

Your feedback and comments are always appreciated.

Visit Michele's webiste at LasVegasBackStageTalk.comContact Michele at [email protected].

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