Burke leaves his Cave with flourish

Aug 14, 2018 3:08 AM

Kevin Burke, the acclaimed stage actor who carried Defending the Caveman for more than a decade in downtown Las Vegas (15 years worldwide), closed his spectacular run with the long-time favorite on Aug. 2.

Vegas’ Entertainer of the Year in 2008, Burke didn’t entirely call it quits on the show, noting he could be part of the touring entourage in the future, yet for now seeks to spend more time with his family. He was the personal, handpicked successor for the part by Rob Becker, the original Caveman and writer.

Burke joined the show at the Golden Nugget, then followed it to Excalibur Hotel & Casino, Harrah’s Las Vegas and its current home at the D Las Vegas.

But don’t fret! The show will continue with several substitute Cavers.

Texas born actor John Venable (“Friday Night Lights,” “Elevator Ride”) will fill the role next week; then Aug. 22-26, renowned Icelandic actor Joel Saemundffon will bring his own version of the show from its North Atlantic Ocean home to the D Las Vegas. Saemundffon’s version is thought to be an entirely reworked script, so if you’ve seen the show before, you will need to come back to enjoy the updated production.

It seems Vegas’ Ivory Star Productions are partners with the company based in Iceland that owns the franchise. And, when Saemundffon comes to town, so will the management team for call-backs (starting Aug. 19) to determine the new face for the show (videotapes are still being accepted).

Sorry, I refused to audition for the role, although the show’s make-up artists would love it because they wouldn’t need to prep me every night – the hairdresser thinks I already look like a Caveman!

Little in paperback

World-renown impressionist Rich Little, a fixture at The Laugh Factory at the Tropicana since February, released his autobiography titled, “Little By Little: People I’ve Known and Been” about two years ago.

Unfortunately, the publication – now in paperback – may need some updating as his co-star on the NBC summer series, “The Rich Little Show,” passed away Aug. 5.

Charlotte Rae, who had a show business career spanning six decades after debuting on NBC in 1954, has left us.

Rae was a mainstay in situation-comedy television in the 1980s, best noted for her Primetime Emmy Award nominated role as Edna Garrett, the mother in “Diff’rent Strokes,” plus a starring part in “The Facts of Life.”

The beloved redhead had a career ranging from Kraft Television Theatre, NBC Television Opera Theatre and “The Phil Silvers Show” in the 1950s, through appearances on “The King of Queens” and “ER” over the past decade.

Magical return

Don’t tell, but Penn & Teller are back.

The comedy-magic duo – the longest-running headlining act in Las Vegas history – will be back at The Rio with the return of Teller – I dare not state Raymond’s real first name... Oops! – following his month-long hospital-and-home recovery stay from back surgery.

Last month, on his Twitter account @MrTeller, he wrote, “We’ll be back and bad August 18th! Whew!”

Kudos to the “little guy” – Penn Jillette is the one not vertically challenged – and keep on going until at least 2025, the team’s 50th anniversary in show business.

Teller claims – no, really, he said this, contrary to his non-verbal stage persona – his back problems were “lingering result of hanging from straitjackets and climbing in and out of boxes.”

Did he say “straitjackets”?

Also, a belated kudos to Penn for professionally extending himself while performing in “The Tempest” during its run at The Smith Center, then to South Coast Repertory theatre in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Still Gaga for her

Lady Gaga keeps eating my heart – indeed, we would be a “Bad Romance.” I guess we were just “Born This Way.”

I’ve been a great fan of Gaga since the day she left NYC’s Collaborative Arts Project with New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to become an immediate star.

But what is she? A pop singer. A jazz singer. She does everything from electronic and dance all the way to working duets with entertainers like Tony Bennett with pieces from The Great American Songbook.

Now, “my” Lady will be starring with Bradley Cooper in yet another re-make of “A Star is Born.” Cooper will direct the film, while also singing with his beautiful co-star.

Typically, when some producer creates a new version of a classic film, I will pass on it. Can the Gaga-Cooper tandem top previous “Star” versions by the acting teams of Janet Gaynor-Fredric March (1937), Judy Garland-James Mason (1954), and Barbra Streisand-Kris Kristofferson (1976).

Yet, somehow knowing Gaga’s innovative and provocative mind, I can’t be anything but intrigued about the result of this project. To me, Gaga is part singer, part promoter and part “Enigma,” the well-chosen name of her Vegas show.

The film will first screen at the 75th Venice Film Festival over Labor Day weekend (probably Aug. 31), then be released to theaters nationally in early October. Prepare for an Oscar publicity campaign, too.

Afterward, Gaga will be returning to Las Vegas over New Year’s weekend, perhaps as part of her new residency at The Park Theater at Park MGM – ticket prices are highly reasonable!

Rumor mill

Speaking of Garland, her daughter Liza Minnelli, best known for her Academy Award-winning performance in Cabaret (1972), is said to be hiding in L.A.

In 2015, after Liza celebrated the 50th anniversary of her Broadway debut in “Flora the Red Menace” at the Imperial Palace Hotel, plus a guest appearance as a judge on Australian Idol, she is said to be locked in her home with no plans on coming out anytime soon.

Lorna Luft, always referred to as Garland’s “other daughter,” once wrote a book about her eccentric family, titled, “Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir.”

I’ve lived long enough to know of these people, so as a celebrity columnist, I just love being a gossip queen.

Gong Seth

Seth Myers of SNL and Late Night fame is now hosting a revival of “The Gong Show.” Myers appears as Tommy Maitland, the show’s host, similar to the show’s original host, Chuck Barris.

Look, there are already way too many talent competitions on television. However, since Gong highlights the worst of these “talents,” it’s entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, we all love to watch people fail.

Let’s bring back all of these so-called “winners” and let’s see any of them hold up to today’s standards. I will review them and let’s see who are the real hits and misses.

Also, look forward to my new show, “An Intimate Evening with the Fabulous Monti Rock III” at a contest near you.