Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oceans Two

Just back from one exciting night in Vegas. My writing partner David and I are developing a project for Jon Lovitz & Rita Rudner so we popped into town to see Rita’s show.

Flew Jet Blue out of Long Beach because it was HALF of what Southwest Airlines charged out of LAX. “You are now free to overpay for worse service and unassigned seats.”

Happy to say there were no riots in Vegas…even though the NBA Summer League is in full swing.

The big news is that Pamela Anderson is the magician’s assistant to Hans Klok. I guess when Borat stuffed her in a sack her true talent was discovered.

Stayed at Harrah’s – a hotel in search of a theme. They must've thought all the good themes were taken but they were wrong. Someday I shall open the Woodstock Hotel. I’ll put up a big stage, get Richie Havens and Country Joe & the Fish impersonators and charge people $120 a night to lay down a blanket and sleep in a field. VIP accommodations nearest the outhouse.

The Harrah’s slogan is “Oh Yeah!” Rejected slogans were “Uh huh, Baby!”, “Don’t Stop, Ooooh!”, “More like that!”, and “Harder like you mean it!”

Where else can you look out your window, see the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramid, dancing fountains, a tropical beach, King Arthur’s castle, the Statue of Liberty, a pirate ship, and the Gateway Arch of St. Louis? Oh wait. That’s just a partial view of McDonalds.

There is a street bazaar of some sort outside Harrah’s, recreating the great garage sales of Milwaukee.

Rita’s show was hilarious. A lot funnier than this. Almost an hour-and-a-half of great “I wish I had thought of that” material. We hung with her backstage, were led to the best table. It was like being Ray Liotta in GOODFELLAS without having to kill Joe Pesci.

Most cities celebrate history with museums. Vegas pays tribute to our nation’s past with the only remaining Playboy Club.

And there’s now a Hooters Hotel. Call them and ask to speak to John Smith. They’ll ring up 450 rooms.

All you have to do is watch the people who waddle through any Vegas casino, cup of quarters in one hand and a churro in the other to see why THE WIRE didn’t get any Emmy nominations.

Stopped by the Imperial Palace, which quite frankly is neither. If T-Bag from PRISON BREAK wanted to gamble in style on the strip this is where he would go. But they’re no longer owned by that guy who proudly had Hitler’s car on display. And they’re the only hotel with Dealertainers -- celebrity impersonators (Elvis, Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, etc.) who also deal blackjack. Where’s Stevie Wonder’s table?

There is now always a World Series of Poker going on.

An old style Vegas perennial, the Frontier Hotel just closed a few weeks ago. But that’s not to say Wayne Newton isn’t still headlining there.

And good news for old Jews! A Fountainbleau Hotel is coming soon. In no time you’ll be banging your spoons to Mitzi McCall, Rich Little, Abby Lane, and Elliott Yamin.

Swung by the Venetian for some high end Vegas class. First stop was Madame Tussaud’s wax museum where you can “grab hold” of your favorite stars. Play poker with Ben Affleck, marry George Clooney. As the brochure says, “kiss, hug or mug with your favorite entertainers and sports heroes and take all the pictures you want to show everyone you hung with the stars while you were in Las Vegas.” No wonder the Venetian prides itself on its elegance and sophistication.

One of their other great features is the Grand Canal shops. Fake cobblestone walkways, a painted sky (giving the place a sense of nuclear winter), building facades, piped in music, and oh yes, a concrete canal. I don’t know -- being in a gondola in an indoor mall with fat tourists snapping cellphone photos and toting bags from the M & M store doesn’t really set the stage for romance. But maybe that’s just me.

The Celine Dion “Cheese-a-palooza” continues to assault and stupefy audiences at Caesar’s. Imagine the Orange Bowl Halftime show, the Olympics Opening Ceremony, the West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade, and Mt. Vesuvius erupting all rolled into one. And that’s just during the “turn off your cellphones” announcement.

Carrot Top is a Vegas headliner. Somewhere in the great beyond Bugsy Siegal is saying “If this is what I ultimately created I deserved to be shot.”

It is a town unique to the world. Come for the glitz, stay for Rita Rudner, and hang around till Saturday when Gerry & the Pacemakers headline at Cannery Row. Las Vegas truly is Chuck E. Cheese for adults.


Anonymous said...

You will be having Lovitz punch out Andy Dick in the pilot episode, I presume (getting the audience to like the characters early on is a key to any show's long-term success).

Unknown said...

Excellent Las Vegas notes!

There IS a Stevie Wonder dealer-tainer at the IP(where I achieved VIP status at age 22, and never looked back).

So, someone at Stevie's table made a comment about him dealing even though he is blind. It probably happens two or three times an hour. But this time, the guy followed his shrewd observation by saying that he read on the internet that Stevie Wonder wasn't really blind...that it was a publicity stunt Barry Gordy came up with in order to help launch 13 year old Little Stevie Wonder's career.

Dealertainer Stevie takes the legacy of real Stevie very seriously, shouted him down, told him he shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet, and generally told him to shut his pie hole before he called security.

He also does a kickass version of "I Wish".

Glad you had fun...good luck with the project~

Anonymous said...

And there’s now a Hooters Hotel. Call them and ask to speak to John Smith. They’ll ring up 450 rooms.

And I'm next door right now at the America's Inns and Suites. The last full day for my family and I is tomorrow and I plan to spend the last night at Hooters, being dealt blackjack by a Hooters girl. No greater pleasure for me during this trip.

I haven't even left yet and I can't wait to get back. I love this city and with the activity that's been going on these past few days, with my father getting his Nevada teaching license and us exploring Henderson as possible living quarters, I know that Vegas will be different when I become a nearby resident (it'll most likely happen next year), but there's still the little pleasures I enjoy, such as:

Most mysterious wonder: The old sour-faced ladies at the slot machines at the casinos, casino cards in and playing all day. Where have they all come from and did they have some sort of career in their day that gave them all this cash? Barring that, what'd their dead husbands do?

Greatest pleasure of the flesh without having yet gone to the strip clubs here or calling up for a hooker (the latter isn't likely): Cocktail waitresses in short skirts. The ones at the Riviera tonight weren't so bad-looking.

And what you must do with your project is to invite Vegas regulars for guest-starring roles. Bring on The Amazing Johnathan from the Sahara (he'll make Lovitz unsure of whether to punch him, though regarding Dick, that was deserved), George Wallace from the Flamingo, Carrot Top from wherever the hell he is nowadays, if only to be punched by Lovitz too.

I doubt this factored into your conversation with Rudner, but did she dish on why she moved to Harrah's? Last time, and the first time I was in Vegas, last April, she was at New York, New York.

Anonymous said...

Very amusing comments on Vegas, and particularly interesting to me, since we're working on moving there from Dallas if we ever find a buyer for our house in this lousy real estate slump. My wife is a singer/comedian and Vegas has the venues; and since we write syndicated comedy material for radio, I can do that from anywhere, including a plastic replica of the Eiffel Tower. Especially from there, in fact.

Agree with you on Rita Rudner's excellent material. We also caught her show during the Vegas Comedy Festival in January and interviewed her afterward. A wonderful comedian and a very gracious lady, and also a major icon to my wife for the way she proved you can be soft-spoken, feminine and do clean, intelligent material and still succeed in comedy clubs. This seems to be a lesson lost on a lot of the female comics I've seen recently.

My big question about Vegas is, when are people finally going to get their fill of Cirque D'Soleil shows? Who knew that Middle Americans had a bottomless appetite for watching French-Canadian acrobats in clown makeup doing gymnastics in slow motion to New Age music? The "Riverdance" Irish step-dancing craze finally played out, then it was the "Stomp" fad where every show involved people banging on various objects, and now it's this creepy circus infestation. Bring back Corbett Monica and Sam Butera & The Witnesses!

P.S. - I swear to God, I'm really too young to have any reason to have just typed that, other than shockingly good taste.

Anonymous said...

For those who haven't heard Lovitzs' account of the beat down, you can listen to it here .

When I first read about the incident I kind of felt bad for Andy Dick (who makes Paula Abdul look like a rock of emotional stability), but after listening to Lovitz I can't say I would have handled it any better.

Good luck on the project. Whenever I see Lovitz it reminds of one of the funniest lines ever uttered on SNL...

"You couldn't sing if you had Billy Holiday stuck in your throat."

Eric said...

Don't you think your Woodstock hotel could get the real Richie Havens and Country Joe and the Fish? Aim High!

Although you'll probably have to make do with Sha Na Na impersonators.

Anonymous said...

A Rita Rudner and Jon Lovitz project?! Can't wait to hit "season PASS" on my tivo.

Anonymous said...

Ken, when I think of Vegas, only two words come to mind: Danny Gans.

Scott said...

Great blog, Ken. Saw Ms. Rudner myself when I was in Vegas last month. She is truly entertaining and beautiful.

But c'mon... don't make fun of the Hooter's Casino. Large breasted dealers wearing tiny orange shorts? That's class, baby! Oh, and Bobby Slayton in the Hooter's Night Owl Showroom is another fabulous comedy experience.

Anonymous said...

I stayed at Hooters just last week. Their slogan: "Hooters, sleep with someone you know" had me wanting for a gal in orange shorts to show up at the door…no such luck. Speaking of luck the casino wasn't very giving either. Fortunately the MGM side door is right across the street.

Sure I like spicy wings and cold beer but is it too much to ask for a cocktail while gambling?...service was real weak.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I was in Vegas last week and saw Rita's show. VERY funny and we got our pic with her at a pre-show "meet and greet." She did briefly mention the pilot project during the post-show Q&A.

And the Frontier looks like something out of Mad Max - like it's been deserted for decades. Only a few months ago? Sheesh.

And Harrah's sucks.

Rob said...

My wife and I went to Vegas for a conventions of insurance investigators (as exciting as it sounds) several years ago. I remember being very excited to go and then very depressed once I arrived.

We stayed at the MGM Grand, where the shortest distance between two points doesn't exist. I had an almost brush with celebrity as I stood in a conference room with my head against the partition that separated me from a group of used car dealers hearing Rich Little perform. I realized that if you can't see Rich, you have no idea who he is imitating.

For some reason, the main thing I remember is about 100,000 Hispanic people lining the streets at a spacing of about three feet. Each one had a four color booklet of escorts and phone sex lines that they would slap their hand with and then hold out to you. After the seventeeth person doing this in the space of 50 feet, it began to get old. Are they still there?

Pamela Anderson does have some experience with magic. She did make a ten foot python disappear on video several years back.

I love your idea for the Woodstock Hotel, although I have to agree that you could probably get Richie Havens and Country Joe & The Fish for $120 and free room and board. Maybe next door you could open the Altamont Hotel where Hells Angels could beat up your entertainment and then stab a guest to death nightly.

Or..... maybe you could combine the class of the Venetian with the Stevie Wonder impersonators from the Imperial Palace and open the....

Venetian Blind.

Thank you, I'm here all week, enjoy the veal. And now, put your hands together for the vocal stylings of Mr. Leo Sayer.

Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to say this for quite some time... you are very funny. Seriously. Any Leo Sayer reference is a mind not wasted. Keep it up!!

LouOCNY said...

Ken - you were staying at Harrah's, and didnt go see Mac King in the afternoon? He makes Harry Anderson look like a poser..

My first trip to LV last November during the pre-Thanksgiving slow period. My sister, who is a real Cheapo Vegas veteran, has it 'in' with the slots host at the IP...not exceedingly bad to stay at - just don't eat there, and do NOT get a Strip side room, as it directly over the Carnival Court the last night, I was screaming to the band that plays there, 'C'mon, play Freebird already for Chrissakes!'

Went to the Legends show there - and it was pretty good! 'Bobby Darin' was was the 'Garth Brooks and 'Britney' - both performers I would never ever PAY to comment about the 'Britney' was : "She's probably singing more live that the real Britney ever does!"

The 'Sting' (yes...Sting) was excellent as were 'The Temptations'..and so was 'Elvis'...

also saw a very good Second City group - one guy did a great song about 'Titties'!

One Vegas experience not to miss is the Monday Night Karaoke (yes, karaoke) at a joint down the very south end of LV Blvd by the airport call Bootlegger's Bistro. This karaoke is different because most of the 'contestants' are are professionals or semi-professionals..there was one guy there who has Sinatra down COLD - absolute spine chilling.

Cheapo fans should also try one of the last cheapo steak dinners in town at the Ellis Island Casino a couple of blocks east of Bally's. Steak, baked tater, green beans, & salad - all for $4.99 (off menu, you have to ask for it) at last report. And the steak is NOT a Tad's retread.

Anonymous said...

The hotel near Hooters was actually called America's Best Value Inn, I just found out.

Unfortunately, I'm back. I'm depressed over being away from such an incredible city and I want to go back right away. At this time, 12:24 a.m., I should be at Caesar's Palace in front of a slot machine. Damn.

lump516 said...

I've never been to the West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade (or any gay pride parade or ANY parade for that matter--I barely watch the Tournament of Roses anymore), but to compare an innocent event like that to the horror that is Celine Dion (and I speak only of her records--although my niece is still recovering from the emotional scars of seeing her last summer)is simply beyond reproach. By the way, now that Mr. Lovitz's pugilistic skills have been confirmed, shouldn't we draw up a list of other bad comedians for him to beat up?

Anonymous said...

Great post. Just got back from the San Diego Youknowhat and didn't realize how much I needed a laugh. Many thanks.