I always thought when somebody asked what the Las Vegas point spread was they were talking
about a sexual position. Seems it also has to do with football. As many fans flocked to Las Vegas
this past week-end to attend hotel sponsored Super Bowl parties as showed up in the host
On Saturday at the Riviera Hotel Former NFL quarterback Joe Montana signed autographs - for a
hefty price - on items such as photos, helmets, footballs and jerseys. Tickets for the autograph
session were $100 and $125 for nonpersonalized autographs and $200 for personalized
The Stardust Hotel hosted a VIP party for 700 of their best bettors and another for 1,000 guests.
130 kegs of beer were tapped. No problem. At least one bathroom is in every Stardust hotel
The Calorie Control Council - there really is such a group - declared that the average person
watching the game consumed 1,500 calories, and 50 grams of fat during the game.
The multi-billion betting industry was in overdrive. Las Vegas sizzled as over $80 million was
PALTROW PRETENDS IN VEGAS
Filming of Duets the movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and directed by her father Bruce
got back on track with filming in Las Vegas. Director Paltrow who has had a tough time
recovering from having his tonsils removed --- no fun at any age, but even less laughs when
you're an adult - managed to yell Roll Em. The film had derailed when Paltrow not only lost
his tonsils but the film lost its star.When Gwyneth's engagement to Brad Pitt went into history he
bowed out of both pending marriage and the movie.
The Paltrow clan seems to be over their bumpy roads. Gwyneth looked gorgeous with her
extensions, picking up her Golden Globe Award, is giddy and relieved that both her ailing
grandfather, Arnold "Buster" Paltrow, who at 85 is battling stomach cancer, and father are doing
As for Duets Scott Speedman who got everyone's attention opposite Keri Russell in
Felicity has replaced Pitt. The comedy about a bunch of karaoke singers converging on a
contest also stars Emmy winner Andre Braugher and Paul Giamatti, who has been in My Best
Friend's Wedding, Saving Private Ryan, and The Truman Show.
Director Paltrow needed to film a scene at the Omaha, Nebraska airport. Using his artistic license
he decided that McCarran Airport in Las Vegas looked more like the Omaha airport than the real
Omaha airport, so Las Vegas became Omaha.
DRAWING DRAWING DRAWING
Don't forget to enter our free drawing for the Columbia Telecommunication Crusader Piano
When you dial, music plays "Do, Re Mi..." - can be used as a piano-electronic tone ringer with
on/off switch - mute key for private conversation - full modular plugs - tone/pulse switchable -
hearing aid compatible. Just E-mail us your name and mailing address. See details at end of
TOUGH ON BLACK ASSES
They called themselves Butterbeans and Susie, Stump and Stumpy, Bojangles, Pigmeat, Moms,
The Whitman Sisters, Miller and Lyles. Kid and Coot, Hamtree, Sweet Mama Stringbean, and
Black Patti and Her Troubadours.
They sang, danced and told jokes about themselves. They rode trains all night to towns where
hotels offered no rooms for blacks. And they weren't surprised when another payday passed and
their pockets were still empty.
These were the black practitioners of vaudeville, the live variety show that was the staple of
American popular entertainment in the days before the movies.
Records of their work are fragmentary, yet their influence was strong in an ironic way.
Their essence was absorbed by the white mainstream and re-emerged as the greatest "hits" and
"routines" of more than a few white film and radio stars of the next era.
Rollin On The T.O.B.A. which opened last week at the 47th Street Theatre, is a salute to
the genius and stamina of these brilliant entertainers who toured the black vaudeville circuit
known as the T.O.B.A. - Theatre Owners' Booking Association - in the 1920s and 1930's.
Although the T.O.B.A. housed over 80 theatres along the circuit and provided seemingly endless
opportunities, it became the enemy and destroying force of black vaudeville. The association
provided the bookings, then, with the white theatre owners, financially exploited the black
The performers quickly referred to T.O.B.A. as "Tough On Black Asses."
Rollin On The T.O.B.A. is in honor of the many black vaudevillians that made vaudeville
an integral part of American culture. Conceived and written by Ronald "Smokey" Stevens and
Jaye Stewart, Rollin On The T.O.B.A. stars Sandra Reaves-Phillips, Rudy Roberson and
Jeffrey V. Thompson. David Alan Bunn serves as musical director. Last Thursday Gregory Hines
caught the show.
BETTER LIVING STARS DUKAKIS
When The Hamptons International Film Festival staged a winter showing at the Directors' Guild
Theatre in New York two weeks ago, panel discussions featured Olympia Dukakis, Roy
Scheider, Peter Bogdanovich, Steve Buscemi and Griffin Dunne.
Dukakis and Scheider star in Better Living a highly acclaimed independent film that is a
film version of the play by the same name. Canadian playwright George F. Walker penned the play
and co-wrote the screenplay.
I spoke with him by telephone from his home in Canada.
"It's an independent film starring Roy Scheider, Olympia Dukakis, Edward Hermann and
Deborah Hedwell," he explained.
"It hasn't been released yet, but I've seen the final cut of it. They did it cheap and I like that. It's
independent, so who knows what the audiences will be. It was filmed in New York, but it's
going to Europe first.
The stellar movie cast had been aware of the script through the stage play. "Olympia had done the
play, so she knew the story," explained Walker. "They got her first and then they got Roy.
This is Walker's first venture into the world of celluloid. His new play The End of
Civilization opened January 22 at the Sightline Stage Co.
It's easier to become a star than a successful playwright. Walker, who is considered Canada's most
successful playwright, discussed his road to success.
"I have a working class background - a blue collar background. My father was a laborer. All
that means is that I wasn't destined to have a life in the arts. But people reached out and said -
we're trying to start a theater culture here in Canada and wanted people from all type of
backgrounds - to see what they do and how they interpret. Because it was inviting like that, I
grabbed it!" explained the playwright.
George Walker Photo by: David
"There is what is called the Canada Council for the Arts. They give individual grants - especially
for emerging artists. So, there is an operation in place to help artists. Everyone has benefited
from that to some extent. I have, for sure. When I was younger, in particular.
Walker's works have included both comedy and drama. "They all have a common tone," he
explained. "I call them serious comedies. They all have a comic tone to some degree I suppose,
but they are serious. Sometimes they call them dark comedies. That just means that people are
still getting used to them. More and more they are entwined.
"I kind of live in the world," he continued. "Everything that bothers and concerns most people,
bothers me, perhaps to a greater degree or more intensely, but I have an outlet for it. So the
things that can move a play can be the minute thing - a moment can be amplified in a play. It can
underpin your whole life. Mostly the characters just start to talk in my head."
From his head to a note pad. "I write in longhand. Then I enter it into a computer and then
re-write on a computer. But, the first draft is in longhand. I write anywhere, any time," he
Plays rest in the hands of directors and Walker has been blessed with directors who view his
scripts from the same emotional eyes. "You have licensing rights, if you are that concerned about
how they are going to interpret the script," responded Walker. "You get to know the people who
want to do your plays. You don't give the rights over to people," he said then admitted
"sometimes I just close my eyes and just give them to anyone. You have to consider the things
that are out there. It's getting to know the people who are going to do them. You can't do it
yourself. You can't travel the road. There has to be some sort of freedom of interpretation. You
have to think that the director only enhances.
SARAHA BROCKUS and BRYAN JOHNSON in THE END OF
Photo by: Carol Rosegg
Walker's current New York production The End of Civilization is being directed by Randy
White. Possessing an extensive background, White was a member of the Lincoln Center
Directors Lab in 1997 and 1998 and is a reader-dramaturg for the Development Program at The
Joseph Papp Public Theater. Next season White will be the Resident Staff Director at The Acting
"He's done my work before. And, I've known him for three years," said Walker about White.
Commenting on The End of Civilization Walker reflected that he "noticed when it was up
here in Canada The End of Civilization could reach people. It's about a middle class
couple in deep deep distress. There is a big heart there, in the work, I think. And, a lot of concern.
It's very much an actor's play. So, there is a lot of room for them to feel things and pass that
"Again, I'm considered a working class writer - blue collar writer- and there aren't many of us
around. Not many people wrote about those characters. I don't write about professionals. "
Walker spent a year as playwright in-residence at the NY Shakespeare Festival during which
time his play Zastrozzi had its NY premiere. Recalling those days Walker commented,
"Joe (Papp) was around and it was okay. I made some good friends living in New York for most
of the year. I always though that Papp was more interesting than most of the things that made it
to the stage. He was a fascinating guy."
As to the changing American theatre scene Walker observed that "it's kind of got a wider
spectrum, a more political tone coming. I used to think that American theatre was almost void of
a political conscious. And, I think it's starting to work it's way in. People are kind of taking a
stand on something."
Walker has recently completed a new play. "It's called Heaven about religion, race, crime
betrayal and love. It all takes place in a big city park."
"The play was commissioned by the Canadian Stage Company. I guess the parallel would be the
Lincoln Center. So, I just give it to them and they do with it whatever they want, because they
own it. It has a home already. I just had to go do it," he said referring to writing the piece. "But,
other than that, it has a place to go to."
"A Canadian publisher publishes it and then eventually other people start to become involved."
Walker speaks modestly about the situation that would be any playwright's dream - being paid to
write whatever you wanted to write and knowing that the work would be published and
Walker acknowledged, "having a home for a play is a good thing."
Walker , who lives in Canada with his second wife and their daughters ages seven and 13, also has
a 31 year old daughter from a first marriage. "I started early," he laughed. "The oldest was born
when I was 19." He chuckled again when he admitted that his children "have given me a lot to
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SIEGFRIED AND ROY tonight,
1st, celebrate their 10th year at the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas and their 4,000th performance
premiering their new finale, followed by a press reception.
RED BUTTONS celebrates his
80th birthday Friday, February 5, by working. He's cast as Bruce Willis' father and Betty White's
husband in the Rob Reiner film The Story of Us. If that's not enough to keep him busy,
Buttons, who spent decades complaining that he never got a dinner- finally gets one. He'll be
fed and feted at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Among the many singing Happy Birthday; Candy and
Aaron Spelling, Betty and Gerald Ford, Anthony Quinn, and Larry King.
OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY
WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION plans to demolish the former Debbie Reynolds Hotel in Las Vegas and
build a 1,000 room wrestling themed resort in its place. The slam to the ground will begin late in
the first quarter or early in the second quarter pending approval by time share holders in the
Debbie Reynolds Hotel. The new resort will open about a year later.
HILTON HOTELS filed a $5
million lawsuit Friday, January 29, against North Carolina based Paramount Parks, Inc., the
company that helped build the Hilton's new Star Trek: The Experience attraction, claiming major
redesigns of the project delayed the opening and cost the Hilton resort money.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT
opening March 2 in Las Vegas transferring 150 of their top employees from other Four Seasons
properties to help staff the Las Vegas resort. The 424 room non gaming hotel will have private
entrances, restaurants and spas located on floors 35 to 39 of the Mandalay Bay Resort.
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN the
anticipated rewritten musical revival starring the multi-talented Bernadette Peters and Tom
Wopak begins previews tomorrow February 2 in NYC.
DEATH OF A SALESMAN
Brian Dennehy in previews at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre NYC for a February 10th opening - the 50th
anniversary of the first performance of this Arthur Miller classic.
THE BRIDE OF OLNEYVILLE SQUARE presented by The Montauk Project, is a new play by Edward Allan Baker,
directed by Robert Castle, which opened yesterday, January 31, at The Pantheon Theatre. Set in
Providence, Rhode Island, the play centers around Grace Burke, a woman who has learned to
survive being married to men.
MATTHEW BRODERICK has
returned to Broadway for the first time since his 1996 Tony Award-winning performance in
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. The husband of Sarah Jessica
Parker can be found at the Lyceum Theatre starring in the 1936 Emlyn Willliams thriller Night
Must Fall, in which he plays a charming psychopathic killer who carries round a hatbox
containing the head of one of his victims. The play has also had two film versions; one in 1937
with Robert Montgomery, the other in 1964 with Albert Finney. Broderick's stage version runs
through April 11.
JAMES NAUGHTON who was a
sensation in City of Angels opens his one-man show at the Promenade Theater on February 4.
One of the investors/producers is Mike Nichols. Naughton is a graduate of Brown University and
the Yale School of Drama. He made his New York debut in Arvin Brown's production of
Long Day's Journey Into Night His association with Nichols goes back to when Naughton
was appearing at the Long Warf regional theater in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf with
Nichols and his then comedy partner Elaine May. The multi-talented Naughton previously
performed his one man song fest at the Manhattan Theater Club.
PRESENT LAUGHTER the
frothy comedy by Noel Coward has a February 4-21 run at Theatre Charlotte in North Carolina.
THE RUSSIAN NATIONAL BALLET will perform Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty February 9 and 10 at the
Art Ham Hall, Las Vegas. The artistic director of the Russian National Ballet is Sergei
Radchenko, who was previously principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet. He also is the founder and
artistic director of the Moscow Festival Ballet.
NATALIE COLE for the first
time ever performs with her uncle, piano and singer Freddy Cole, at the Blue Note in NYC February
2,3 and February 5-8.
DAPHNE RUBIN-VEGAS the
original New York Mimi in Rent has joined the touring company. Rent is at the
Shubert in Los Angeles.
JEFFREY SOLIS takes over as
Managing Director of The Vineyard Theatre today, February 1, after four and a half years as
Producing Associate at the Producer Circle Co., which co-produced on Broadway the Tony
Award winning musical, The Life. Prior to Producer Circle, Solis was Managing Director
of the Atlantic Theater Company for three seasons. His extensive background includes
Dramaturg/Casting Director for the Paper Mill Playhouse, N.J., and four seasons as Assistant
General Manager at the historic Cape Playhouse on Cape Cod. Solis replaces Jon Nakagawa who
has been appointed Producer of Contemporary Programming at Lincoln Center.
BOB DYLAN performs a
midnight concert March 2 to kick off the new House of Blues in Las Vegas.
THIS AND THAT
WHOOPI GOLDBERG was given
the star treatment by Nev. Senator Harry Reid. He took a breather from the Clinton impeachment
hearings to host a juice and bagel reception in his Senate office for Goldberg and her steady -
actor Frank Langella. Seems the couple has been in Washington, D.C. watching the impeachment
circus. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. provided the couple with the
coveted impeachment tickets with Reid hosting the nosh.
THE MCGUIRE SISTERS
entertained at the Governor's Ball honoring newly elected Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn and his
When the Guinn's were married 42 years ago the McGuire Sisters were performing
at the Riverside Hotel in Reno. The honeymooners saw the show, which was the first time Dema
had ever seen the singing trio. The Guinn's have remained McGuire Sisters fans, and specifically
requested that the singing sisters perform at the inaugural ball.
The McGuire Sisters surprised the newly elected governor by singing Anniversary Waltz.
While none of the McGuire Sisters' marriages lasted 42 years, Phyllis has had some interesting
dating affiliations. She gained infamous stature with her long time relationship with Sam
Giancana. The blonde beauty also had a long romance with Dan Rowan of Rowan and Martin
HALLMARK CARDS is gearing
up to shoot a new commercial and needs to construct a family. Males and females, any age or
ethnicity to play family members reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting - comedic ability
preferred. In addition to a great resume' addition, you'll be paid. Shooting starts in late March in
Los Angeles. Send pictures and resume' to; Jean Cochrane, 3656 Sunswept Dr., Studio City, CA
ENTER OUR DRAWING
Remember to enter our free Valentine drawing for the piano telephone. When you dial, music
plays "Do, Re, Mi..." Can be used as a piano.
Hearing aid compatible. Just E-mail us your
name and post office mailing address. One entry per person per week. See Jan. 11th column for
complete rules and regulations.
Next Column: February 8, 1999
Copyright: February 1, 1999. All Rights Reserved. Reviews, Interviews, Commentary,
Photographs or Graphics from any Broadway To Vegas (TM) columns may not be published,
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