Wednesday, June 5, 2013 | 5:33 p.m.
There is so much to collect on the VegasVille scene right now, a rake might not be enough. Pass the leaf blower:
• During the recent unveiling of Mumm Napa Winery sparking wine at Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay, I asked Carlos Santana about the letter The Rolling Stones wrote to Santana asking for permission to use footage from the ill-fated Altamont free concert in the documentary “Gimme Shelter.” The movie captured footage of violence between fans at the concert, which drew 300,000 people, and the Hells Angels. The stabbing death of 18-year-old, pistol-brandishing fan Meredith Hunter near the stage is captured in the film.
In the months after the tour, the Stones signed a letter asking Santana for permission to use the footage of the band’s set that opened the concert in the upcoming documentary, at the time under the working title “Love in Vain.” Santana was asked about the letter, dated June 10, 1970, and now on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
“We said no, right?” Santana asked with a chuckle, by way of verification. Correct. He said no. But why?
“Altamont, just the word, has a very negative vibration,” he said. “It was like they called it the end of the hippies. It was the opposite of Woodstock, and that’s because people were not properly monitoring security. Because of (legendary promoter) Bill Graham and The Rolling Stones, we opened a lot for the Stones, and they were gracious enough to ask us to open for them at Altamont, and we were very grateful to them to invite us. But I said no (to being in the film) because it didn’t show anything in a good light. That’s the best way to put it. It didn’t show the Stones or ourselves or anyone in a good light.
“The Hells Angels, who were out of their minds, just took over. It came out very negatively.”
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The second part of John Katsilometes and Tricia McCrone's chat with former Mayor Oscar Goodman about his new book, "Being Oscar."
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John Katsilometes and Tricia McCrone talk to former Mayor Oscar Goodman about his new book, "Being Oscar."
• Oscar Goodman’s appearance at the next "Showbiz Roast" is locked in for July 23. The pre-party/mingling session begins at 9:30 p.m., and the roast is at 10:45. Producer Andy Walmsley, the Emmy Award-winning set designer and VegasVille’s favorite bald Brit, says his way of guaranteeing the show will run 90 minutes is “fool proof.” Hey, absent fools, there will be no roasters (ba-zing!).
• Goodman is the subject of this week’s Las Vegas Weekly cover story, coincidentally written by moi. One segment that is not in that story, but is about to be told here, recounts the night Goodman hosted a fundraiser for then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.
“After I got elected, Willie (Brown) calls me and asks if I would give him a fundraiser. I said, ‘Sure, come on down, I’ll have some folks over to my house,’ ” Goodman recalled during an interview at the ornately restored Kefauver courtroom at The Mob Museum. “He came down with one of his blondes — he always traveled with a blonde. I always have my showgirls, and he always had a blonde with him. … The day after the party took place, there were two guys knocking on my door wanting to know how much money he raised, why would I give him a party, and I told them to go (mouths a profanity) themselves and get the (mouths the same profanity) out of my doorway. This happened at my home.”
Goodman never learned the identities of those men.
“I didn’t know whether it was IRS or people from San Francisco,” he said. “I didn’t even give them time to identify themselves.” When it was suggested those men might have been friends of Brown’s female companion, Goodman laughed and said, “For all I knew, they could have been friends of the blonde.”
• In his recent trip to the Cannes Film Festival, in which he attended a screening of his new film “Max Rose” and was paid homage by festival organizers, Jerry Lewis answered a question about female comics. His answer caused a stir, as Lewis repeated his previously publicized harsh opinion of women performing comedy.
“I can’t see women doing that. It bothers me,” he said during a news conference at Cannes. “I cannot sit and watch a lady diminish her qualities to the lowest common denominator. I just can’t do that.”
But Lewis has not always been uniformly critical of female comics. Two spring to mind: The late Phyllis Diller and Totie Fields.
On the day Diller died in August, Lewis told me, “The world is less terrific without her. I have always been a fan.” Diller and Lewis had been the subjects of the documentaries “Goodnight, I Love You” (about Diller) and “The Method and Madness of Jerry Lewis” (about Lewis) directed by Gregg Barson. The two entertainment legends were friends for many years.
Lewis also paid tribute to Fields, for decades a Vegas favorite, in his one-man show at South Point Showroom in May. He summoned a clip of Fields attempting, and failing, to climb upon a bar stool for her segment on an old “Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.” Lewis has shown some appreciation, on occasion, for the women in the industry.
• Wayne Green was once the associate music director of "Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular," and before that the music director of “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” two of the great productions to have opened and closed in VegasVille over the last decade. A favorite column from the night "Spamalot" closed was to hang out in the orchestra pit as the final performance played out. It was a toasty evening for all hoisting champagne. That was a great show powered by a terrific group of players, including the fine trumpet player Gary Cordell, who played a searing rendition of "Call to the Post" on the custom-designed “Spamahorn” each night, only to have his unseen character plugged with a pistol by Green.
Green also has been a frequent performer at Composers Showcase, most notably in the days at The Liberace Museum, but we hadn’t seen him around for a time. Why would that be? He’s been touring with “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” for several months and returns to Las Vegas with the show at The Venetian, the very theater where "Phantom" once played. "Priscilla" is setting up and sitting down for a nine-week stay beginning June 18 and ending Aug. 18.
It was something of an unexpected treat to meet up with Green backstage after the show at Pantages Theater in Hollywood last Thursday, and the music in this show is one of the production’s many highlights. Maybe we will see Green back at Composers Showcase at Cabaret Jazz on July 17. That would be a really cool thing, indeed.
• On the topic of Cab Jazz, upcoming shows to note are the return of Clint Holmes’ monthly performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (“Beatles Bacharach & Beyond” is the theme); Jim Caruso’s “Cast Party With Billy Stritch” on June 19; and “Philip Fortenberry: The Man at the Piano” on June 23.
It is the first effort by Holmes to merge those three unlike genres, but music director Jeff Neiman and he will make it sing, with special guest vocalist Kristen Hertzenberg joining the musicians. Caruso’s “Cast Party” most recently played at Alexis Park, a great showcase of Vegas entertainers (Donny Osmond and Reva Rice were among those to turn up) in a hopelessly ill-fitting convention room. And Fortenberry is one of the city’s great artists, a soaring pianist who has not performed his show ever at The Smith Center.
• During my appearance last month on the Internet radio show “On the Air With Robert & C.C.,” I made the astute observation that the San Antonio Spurs had no chance to win the NBA Finals. At the time, the Spurs were struggling against the Warriors in the Western Conference semis.
Turns out the Spurs do have a chance, as they face the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals beginning Thursday.
I appeared on the show with comic Alonzo Bodden. A great segment with Bodden is the rapid-fire segment titled “Adult Film Star or Athlete.” We also talked of some of the best shows and venues in Vegas, my favorite interviews and those on my wish list. It’s great fun with Robert & C.C., very loose and obviously lacking a script or even a point. Listen to it here.