Broadway To Vegas
SHOW REVIEWS CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS GOSSIP NEWS
Copyright: October 12, 1998
By: Laura Deni
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Nicole Kidman is about to not only make her Broadway debut, but do so minus her
The gorgeous star made her London stage debut September 23 in The Blue Room
starring opposite Iain Glenn. The two actors play five couples in complex sexual entanglements,
in a production loosely adapted by British playwright David Hare from La Ronde,
the classic play by Austrian Arthur Schnitzler. (See broadwaytovegas Sept. 7 Column)
Nicole, aka Mrs. Tom Cruise, wanted to do this play so badly she agreed to be paid the same as
scale - roughly $417.50 per week.
The play demands that she stretch - portraying a teenage hooker, a drug addicted model and a
saucy French maid. It's an arduous undertaking that requires her to appear nude in several
scenes. Her gamble paid off. She not only received rave reviews, the critics complimented her
acting as well as her body.
NO SEX MEANS
MILLION DOLLAR LAWSUIT
Jack Wrangler, entertainer Charles Pierce and Margaret Whiting
Ex-porn star Jack Wrangler, 51, husband of 73 year old singer Margaret Whiting, has filed a multi
million lawsuit against New York City, Consolidated Edison and City Wide Asphalt Paving, Co.
for loss of his wife's conjugal fellowship and championship - i.e. no sex.
Whiting, who has recorded more than 500 songs and was at the top of the record charts in the
40's and 50's filed court papers claiming that she suffered a broken knee April 24 in Manhattan
when a pothole caused her to fall into a crosswalk.
Whiting is asking $2 million in damages for her injuries, while Wrangler is seeking $1 million.
It's easier to win the negligence portion. While Loss of Consortium lawsuits have been around
since women were considered property, it's a tough win and an embarrassing burden of proof.
Legal buffs can take a gander at Roseberry v. Starkovich, Countryman v. Winnebago County and
Peeples v. Sargent. It isn't enough to complain - She says; Not tonight, honey. My knee hurts.
That won't cut it with the judge. The party has to provide extremely intimate details of all aspects
of the sexual activities they did but are no longer enjoying. Presumably with Wrangler's porn
background, embarrassment in providing graphic details won't be an issue.
Whiting and Wrangler met in 1977 at a Broadway eatery. At that time Wrangler was doing "a
tongue-in-cheek one-man show about the X-rated film industry," he said in an interview
discussing their meeting and romance. While he starred in both gay and straight films, Wrangler
emphasized, "I could do anything, but in my personal life I was almost asexual; a loner confused
about what my future was going to be."
Whiting had been "unhappily married and divorced three times to men with big careers and egos."
So there they were in this diner sitting in booths across from each other.
"In one booth across from me was a lady with all this blond hair, a robust laugh, and lots of fur. I
said - I gotta meet her, she looks like so much fun."
As for Whiting, she recalled that she was "physically attracted, and thought he was very funny.
When I went to see one of his adult films, it was - like a ballet."
The two have been together ever since.
Whiting is the daughter of the late Richard Whiting, author of, among others; My Ideal,
Japanese Sandman, Good Ship Lollypop, Ain't We Got Fun, Sleepy
Time Gal, and Too Marvelous For Words. She was virtually raised by her father's
collaborator, composer Johnny Mercer.
Her father died when Margaret was 11 and Mercer became "the man in the Whiting
family. He later became my grown-up friend, mentor and inspiration." Whiting owns the rights to
Mercer songs. She has headed up the Mercer Foundation, which aides up-and-coming
Whiting starred in her tribute to Mercer, Dream, which opened at the Royale Theater in
Since convincing Wrangler to give up the porn movie business, he has managed, directed and
written the scripts for Whiting's cabaret act.
A QUESTION OF
Edward R. Murrow
Legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow's career and turbulent relationship with CBS
Chairman William Paley is the subject of a new play, A Question of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall
of Edward R. Murrow.
The cast of characters includes Marilyn Monroe, Senator Joseph McCarthy, TV producer Fred
Friendly and other notables of the era.
The production, which begins performances Thursday, Oct. 15, at The Producers' Club, is written
and directed by Michael Hickey. Employed by Paramount Pictures, Hickey who has authored
several screenplays, is making his debut as a playwright.
The play stars Joseph Lustig as Murrow and features; Susan Brandner, John Canary, Don Creech,
Michele Fulves, Chris Gannon, Michael Barry Greer, Melinda Lane, Ronert Mason, John C.
Muntone, Kimberly "Q" Purnell and Victor Warren.
RAISING THE DEAD
George Segal star of the hit TV sitcom Just Shoot Me and the talented Rhea Perlman star
in Turner Network Television's new original film Houdini. Segal is cast as talent agent
Martin Beck while Perlman plays Houdini's wife, Bess. Portraying the magician is Johnathan
Supposedly Bess Houdini put the handcuff and leg iron keys into her mouth and gave her husband
a passionate, lingering kiss before he attempted each trick. That lip lock enabled her to pass the
keys from her mouth into his, permitting him to magically "escape."
Houdini always maintained that his tricks could be explained so that anyone of normal intelligence
could understand them. Claims by spiritualists that they, and he, had supernatural powers, made
Houdini spent much of his life trying to discredit spiritualists. In 1924 he published the results of
his investigations of their practices in A Magician Among the Spirits.
Houdini was born Ehrich Weiss, the son of a Budapest rabbi. He took his stage name from Jean
Robert Houdini (1805-1871), the great French magician, and later made Houdini his legal name.
He died of peritonitis - oddly enough on Halloween, the day when the veil between worlds of the
living and the deceased is thought to be the thinnest.
The legendary master of escape always vowed to "come back."
A movie preview will precede the 62nd annual Official Houdini Seance, which will begin when the
midnight hour strikes on Halloween. The location is the MGM-Grand hotel, Las Vegas. The
preview and seance are open to invited guests only.
Those with the magical invitation will participate in an attempt to communicate with Houdini.
Houdini's only living grandnephew, George Hardeen and daughter will be among the seance
participants, as well as Dorothy Young, the only living member of the Houdini show who toured
with him in 1925, and Anna Crankshow, the great-granddaughter of Margarie the famous 1920s
Producers of the event include; Geno Munari, owner of Houdini's Magic Shops; Sidney Radner,
owner of the largest Houdini collection in the world; Henry Muller, owner and president of
Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Canada and Tom Bolt of the Houdini Historical Society.
CARTOON ART AND
Four of America's leading cartoonists Jules Feiffer, Art Spiegelman, Mel Lazarus and Nicole
Hollander will reflect upon their own work and explore the cultural impact of their work
upon society in a special lecture series called Cartoon Art.
This unique series will take place October 28 through January 30th at the Skirball Cultural
Center in Los Angeles.
First up will be Pulitzer Prize winner Jules Feiffer on October 28th. He has been breaking
precedents and presidents since l956. From Eisenhower to Clinton, Feiffer has given us a political
interpersonal history of our time. His weekly strip Feiffer, which he terms "a comic
conversation with my readers," has created an audience of passionate fans and passionate
One of the few cartoonists to expand into theater and film, Feiffer's most celebrated works
include the plays Little Murders, Hold Me, and Knock Knock and the
films Carnal Knowledge, Popeye and most recently, I Want To Go Home,
winner of the Venice Film Festival's Best Screen writing award.
For information contact the Skirball Cultural Center at (310) 440-4500. The Cartoon Art series is
sponsored by The Comic Journal and Comic-Con International.
COLLECTED STORIES which stars
Uta Hagan, will stage a benefit performance and cocktail
reception Oct. 15 for The Authors Guild. Hosts includes: Roger Angell, Susan Cheever, E.L.
Doctorow, Dominick Dunne, Erica Jong and Lillian Ross.
BELLAGIO HOTEL -
The newest gem shinning on the Las Vegas Strip, the Bellagio Hotel, is catering to two forms of
customers - VIP's and super-duper VIP's. How VIP you are depends upon your credit rating
and/or celebrity status.
The Bellagio is reversing a recent trend that encourages families to use casinos as pseudo
babysitters. In many casinos, gaming areas have been transformed into obstacle courses, where
players have to be wary of their swinging arms slamming into a toddler's head.
The Bellagio has said - enough already. They are catering to affluent adults who, if they don't
have breeding, at least have manners.
Children under the age of 18 are discouraged. Baby strollers are not permitted in the casino.
There is a hidden tunnel which can deliver the really VIP customers to their own private
entrance, because hob nobbing with the ordinary VIP can be so declasse. The upper crusts of the
VIP world have their own elevator, registration area and private entrances into their high stakes
Your credit line determines where you are permitted to play.
To be admitted to the High Stakes Poker room you need a half million-dollar credit line. If that's
you, you'll find you're pampered while your money flows into the casino coffers. Nobody said
the odds of winning were better - just a more elegant way to lose.
There are three levels for Baccarat play. A $25,000 credit line gets you admitted to the Salon
Preve. The sports book is constructed like a race track starting gate. The back friendly
chairs are leather and each console contains it's own television set.
The casino even smells good. Air flowing through the ducts is infused with marvelous aromas.
The days I was there the air smelled of a jasmine type mixture.
As for hotel accommodations, there are rooms, deluxe rooms, suites and villas. If you're trying to
stay on a budget and make do in a regular room, you will have both a bath tub and a shower, but
the tub won't have a Jacuzzi.
Deluxe rooms have the Jacuzzi bathtub, a bidet, and will cost you $150 - $450 per night,
depending upon the day of the week and the season of the year. The carpet is Berber, the wall
paper, raw silk.
The suites have his and hers bathrooms, plus a guest bathroom. There is a living room and a
formal dining area.You'll ante up between $750 - $4500 per night.
The villas come with their own butler. Don't ask the price. If you aim to drop a million in the
casino, then you'll be comped the villa experience.
The 38 pool cabanas are air conditioned, have a wet bar, television, a personal attendant and a
private sun tan area "so they aren't exposed to the other people." Prices for the cabanas are still
being decided, but hotel officials speculate a rental fee of about $185.00 per day.
Elaine and Steve Wynn have constructed a place with an eye for the wealthy with manners.
People who think it's okay to use furniture as a napkin are encouraged to take their grubby
The floors are one of a kind - literally. It seems that Steve Wynn took a fancy to some marble
from India. So much so that he bought the entire quarry. Then he had the marble
shipped to Italy to be cut and polished. Named Colonial Dream, it can only be found in the
Bellagio. Interspersed with the marble is intricate mosaic tile which had to be laid one itty-bitty
piece at a time. The effect is exquisite.
On my first view of the massive chandelier in the hotel's registration area, I was nonplused.
( See Broadway To Vegas column of October 5, 1998 )
A second view resulted in a different opinion - possibly because
the modern carpet in shades of citron and apricot, coupled with the marble and tile provides
perfect harmony for the Dale Chihuly creation.
I counted 12 comfortable chairs covered in plush blue, enabling a guest to wait in comfort for
one's party. Modern paintings behind the two concierge stations, urns and plants, provide an
atmosphere of both warmth and dignity.
The million-dollar Chihuly chandelier is still a work in progress. More flowers are to be added.
Each flower is 3' in diameter and each costs $20,000. The particular type of flower,
fleur-de-Como, was picked because, when Elaine and Steve Wynn visited the tiny Italian town of
Bellagio, they fell in love with the native bloom.
Across from the registration area is a lounge where High Tea will be served. Adjacent to that is
a 16-century fountain which the Wynns spied in England and decided they couldn't live without.
They bought it and shipped it here. It's grandeur leads into the breathtaking, Botanical Gardens
with its wrought iron beams and glass ceiling, where I watched the Horn of Plenty, 20' in
being readied. It's a focal point of Harvest Theme - first of four annual decor changes.
Behind the Botanical Gardens is the climate controlled 2,000 sq. ft. art gallery. On October 6 the
Nevada Tax Commission voted 5-3 that Wynn could not charge admission to the Museum and
receive tax breaks. An irritated Wynn snapped back, "Why this turned into a populist - Don't let
the rich guy get away with something - is inexplicable to me."
Wynn indicated that when the Bellagio opens on October 17th he'll charge $10 admission to the
Art Museum. Wynn expects 1800 people a day to que up for a look-see at the masterpieces. If his
estimate is correct, the museum's admission will generate $6.5 million a year.
How classy is this dump?
Consider the uniform of warehouse personnel - monogrammed blazers covering long
sleeve, button down, blue and white pinstripe dress shirts.
THE ACCIDENTALS AT
DON'T TELL MAMA
The Accidentals, who in 1997 received both the MAC and Back Stage Bistro Awards as Best
Vocal Group, beginning October 21 will perform four Wednesday evenings at Don't Tell
Spooky songs and Halloween treats will highlight the Oct. 28 performance.
Their first CD won two contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards for Best Contemporary
Song, You Win and Best Humorous Song, Rudiana.
Formed in 1987 to sing in a benefit for a homeless shelter at The Bottom Line, this unique
mixed-voice octet sings an eclectic set of pop originals, ranging from the haunting You
Win to their outrageous take on Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer to The Sinister
Urge, a comic tribute to Hollywood's worst movie director, Ed Wood, Jr.
Members of The Accidentals are: Margaret Dorn, Emily Bindiger, Dennis Deal, Todd Johnson,
Bill Mitchell, Marcia Pelletiere, Rosie Vallese, and Jim Vincent.
AS DYSFUNCTIONAL AS
THE ROYAL FAMILY
Prince Charles and Princess Diana
It's tough enough to try to get a starring role. Most actors expect the audition and rehearsals to
be stressful. None of the stars of the off-Broadway musical Queen of Hearts expected to
be caught in the crossfire that erupted before this production finally opened last week at the
Grove Street Playhouse.
It's suppose to be a play about Princess Diana. See Broadway To Vegas column of September 7,
See Broadway To Vegas column of September 14,
It turned into a battle royal between the producers, author and director. Michael Riedel
of the New York Daily News devoted his entire September 16 column to the fracas,
"Queen of Hearts."
Kendra Munger as Princess Diana and James A. Walsh as Prince
Charles in Queen of Hearts Photo By: Carol Rosegg
Threats and lawsuits were thrown and filed. A new director was brought in and the show had
some recasting. From day-to-day nobody was sure if the show would follow the Broadway
tradition of "going on." This show floundered in such a dysfunctional fashion one would have
suspected they really were royal.
Keeping a stiff upper lip through it all was Kendra Munger, who stars as Princess Diana. I caught
up with the sensible actor who had enough pluck to weather the storm. She comes by her strong
spine naturally - both of her parents, Doris and Richard, have been known to make their own
"My mother is still a flight attendant for United," explained Kendra, whose unusual name means
The Knowing One. "She's been a flight attendant for 33 years. She was one of the people who
filed the lawsuit that made it possible for flight attendants to be married."
When airlines first started hauling passengers airline attendants, as they are now labeled, were
called hostesses. They were required to be female, single, good looking, and vivacious. They
spawned numerous jokes, books, movies and slogans such as; "Fly Delta. We Move Our Tail For
You." Then there was Coffee, Tea or Me?
If a hostess got married she was grounded.
Doris Munger broke down barriers. A vivacious blonde, Doris fell in love and married, Richard,
a handsome United pilot. He was permitted to remain in the cockpit. Doris got sacked.
Doris Munger and Kendra
"When she got married she was forced to retire," continued her daughter. "They weren't allowed
to have married flight attendants. She was one of the people who brought the lawsuit about not
being allowed to be married."
Winning that lawsuit forever changed the commercial aviation industry.
"When the lawsuit was won she was suppose to be reinstated, but there was some odd
technicality where they reinstated everyone whose paperwork was at the office. Hers was in
transit and everyone else went back to work, except her. She had to wait a bunch more months
before she was allowed to go back. Because her paperwork was in transfer," said Kendra
explaining the real life situation that sounds more like a bad movie script.
Finally the paperwork hit the desk and Doris took off.
Then along came Kendra and a year-and-a-half later, her brother Jeffrey, who is in law school.
"I know after I was born, she and my dad had to plan their schedules, on big trips, opposite each
other, so that somebody would be home to take care of the kid. My dad learned how to do
diapers and all of that long before men did all that."
Not surprising, considering Richard Munger has blazed his own frontiers.
Kendra with her father, Richard
"My mother flies a lot of New York to Los Angeles runs and New York to San Francisco. She
flies domestic. My father flies international. He's actually quite a bit older that her."
"He's 71, and now he flies as a flight engineer. He flew as Captain until he was 60," she said
referring to a rule that requires all Captains to give up the first seat - Captain - on their 60th
birthday. After the age of 60 they can fly as co-pilot and/or flight engineer as long as they have the
qualifications and can pass the semiannual medical exam.
Kendra's father is the oldest pilot/flight engineer currently on duty. "If he's not the oldest up in
the air, he's one of the oldest," Kendra proudly stated, adding, "He's very healthy."
Richard Munger also flies for Project Orbis. "That is a flying hospital and he's allowed to fly
Captain on that," continued Kendra. "He moves the airplane to different third world countries
where they teach doctors new methods."
"I was on his last flight as Captain for United and he made an announcement over the PA system
saying - Since I'm unqualified to fly as of tomorrow ..."
I asked Kendra if her father ever landed a plane in New York telling the passengers - We are
about to land at JFK and by the way, you can see my daughter performing at - "No," she laughed.
"But, that would be something he would do."
"The reason he's so supportive of me is that his dream, since he was a kid, was to be either a
pilot or a fireman. And, he's actually the Fire Commissioner of my town," Kendra proudly
related, referring to New Canan, Conn.
"So, he reached both of his goals and he wants me to reach mine."
Since Kendra was a child she's wanted to be an actor. Her role as Princess Diana in Queen of
Hearts required her to cut and have her hair colored the Diana shade of blonde. It also casts
the never married Kendra as the wife of a man who has another love. With the British Royal
family going through divorces and our own White House under sexual turmoil, I asked Kendra
what she'd do if she had a husband who cheated.
"I think that probably I have thought about it, but my conclusion would be that it would have to
be something that I'd have to work out in the situation. Because, you always say - Oh, I'd leave
him. - But, then you know, love does funny things. If you really want to work it out, maybe that's
the best thing."
"It would probably also depend upon whether you had kids or not. I would think that would be a
situation that I really wouldn't know what I'd do unless it happened. And, hopefully it never will."
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THIS AND THAT
ON SATURDAY THE DISNEY CHANNEL debuts an original movie starring Debbie Reynolds.
Halloweentown is where witches and warlocks, ghosts and goblins live the 365 days of the
year when it isn't Halloween. Debbie Reynolds stars as the magical Grandma Aggie.
NATHAN LANE Tony award
winner and Tony Awards' host, who currently stars on the sitcom Encore!
Encore! is set to emcee Theatre LA's annual Ovation Awards ceremony on Nov. 16 at the
BOB DYLAN AND JONI MITCHELL team up for a Nov. 1 engagement at Madison Square Garden.
Tickets priced from $37 to $77.
TOMMY TUNE set to move to
Las Vegas where he will replace David Cassidy, starring at the
MGM Hotel in EFX. That's the part that was originated by Michael Crawford. More on Tommy
Tune next week.
Next Column: October 19, 1998
Copyright: October 12, 1998.
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