Monday, September 27, 2010
Television has become so damn predictable. It has. Now I know that when it's fifty-five minutes into the hour drama, they're just about ready solve the case and wrap things up for the week, or, in the case of the always cool 'Justified,' TIMOTHY OLYPHANT will probably cap a few more bad guys and be done with it, but most shows, especially comedies, are just painting by the numbers. If it's JAKE T. AUSTIN getting the laughs, well, that's fine by me because that kid's an original and the most likeable thing on Disney but most people on television today are as surprising as WILLARD SCOTT'S birthdays. (We get it, Willard, those people are all really fucking old. They fart dust. Their social security numbers are in the single digits. They dated BETTY WHITE'S grandmother. Got it!)
Talk shows, once loaded with lively and sparkling conversation, have become a place for celebrities to come plug their latest thing. Talk show hosts stick to the notes and never ask about that one thing we really wanna know, ya know? But it used to be different.
The Tonight Show starring JOHNNY CARSON was something. Here was the King of Late Night, the TV star who had the country's pulse, a comic with a team of writers, bombing from time-to-time. And it was...GREAT!
JEFF SOTZING, the president of Carson Entertainment (and also Johnny's nephew), has just completed a huge project digitizing all of the Tonight Shows. What a great resource for our American culture. I was reviewing some show recently and was thrilled to watch as some of Johnny's jokes missed. It felt so...alive!
I see that on Wednesday, NICK THUNE will be appearing on JAY LENO's Tonight Show. Now Jay never bombs, or if he does, he's making way too much noise to tell. He paints with a pretty broad brush during his often sloppy monologues, sometimes reminding me of a Gallagher concert. But that's Jay, just too busy working hard to worry about being too funny.
Watching NICK THUNE is every bit as exciting as watching any great performer who is always ready to take a risk. He's like a jazz artist who leaves a familiar-and popular-melody to explore some related themes. Many of Thune's comedy pieces are pre-produced, and you can tell that the comic kept a hand in it all rather than just turning it over to some producer. I mean, the edits, the timing and especially the music are right- on, but every punch line isn't a knock-out because he's not playing the game that way. And he never plays to the back of the house. In fact, he brings his audience in to where he is, and where he is is beautiful, man.
I've seen NICK THUNE perform 'live' and also on television, in motion pictures and in short films made-for-video and I'll tell you, he is so funny that-and I swear this is true- I am laughing out loud as I type this, just thinking of things he's said, done. I once wrote to him about a video short he did where, at the end, he's singing to his beautiful girlfriend. My note was full of typos because as I was typing, I was laughing my ass off!
Years ago, a home run in baseball was a rare thing. It was. Most players didn't hit homers; the game was played unlike it is today. I suspect that if he really wanted to, NICK THUNE could hit most balls out of the park, but he's playing a different game and he's doing it in his own authentic way.
Let's tune-into The Tonight Show with JAY LENO on Wednesday and watch NICK THUNE do his thing. I know it's gonna be beautiful. Oh, they'll be some great shots hit hard and high and plenty others softer and subdued down front. And there's the chance that he'll miss a few here and there and- well, that's gonna be exciting.
"NICK THUNE is subdued, not some dude."
(You may quote me).
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
To the many celebrities who feel the burden of fame, I refer you to FRANK SINATRA's letter to GEORGE MICHAEL, printed here.
Now I don't really know PARIS HILTON, but I have been around her family. Her great- grandfather, grandfather and other fine family members have done more good than Paris ever thought about doing wrong but I think it's time she got with it. Clark County District Attorney DAVID ROGER gave PARIS HILTON a break today. I know our DA; he's a helluva guy- tough but fair. Now it's time for Ms. Hilton to straighten up and fly right. Oh, and cheer-up. Cheer the hell up!
STARS WHO SHINE
I was watching EVAN LOWENSTEIN play and sing the other day. One of his many fans requested a song while he was singing and he went right into it, smiling. Here's a singer with a Rock and Country repertoire in the hundreds and female fans in the millions. Evan went from a heartfelt original ballad into a thumping cover of 'Footloose,' smiling all the way.
I've worked with so many top performers, from musicians to magicians and some dangerous acts and serious actors along the way and you know what: I love people who love what they do.
One of the very best specialty acts in the business is a Russian-born performer named ANDREI SOUMIATIN. With his gorgeous wife and talented son. the Soumiatins are great performers and greatful people. They love what they do and audiences love them for it.
The young actor and close-up magician R.J. CANTU, in preparation for a new television project, was out at the LA clubs including Highlands Hollywood and Boulevard 3. R.J. found himself mobbed by friends and fans because people gravitate to those who dig what they do.
Here in Las Vegas, I get to visit with more than my share of beautiful and talented people. DEREK HOUGH, the tough but tender ABC dancer is always gracious and genuinely eager to pose with fans and followers, plus more than willing to send our regards to his sister JULIANNE HOUGH. The never desperate JOSH HENDERSON often causes hysteria with women who worship him from his days on Wisteria Lane. Now stop and think about that for a second. Stars like a highly competitive dancer and a hard working hunk come for a break from the TMZ yet are only too eager to visit with fans, pose for pictures and sign autographs. They love what they do, and it shows. I'd bet some of these overpaid athelets no longer like their sports but I'll happily lay odds that the talented people I mentioned love sharing their God given talents. When Country stars like JARON & THE LONG ROAD TO LOVE spend hours with their fans, those of us who like 'Pray For You,' can spend a buck and download it on iTunes. That's how we vote in America- we support the good people who do so much to enrich our lives.
I ran into an old- time comic the other day. Back in the 70's this headliner was the HIGHEST PAID comedian on the Las Vegas Strip. I grew-up hearing that there was nobody funnier than SHECKY GREENE and when he recognized me, he was sweet enough to come over- and do fifteen minutes so funny that I cried. I did. He shared GEORGE CARLIN and BOB DYLAN stories and, later, I told him I thought that show business today was in good hands. "Why?" Shecky asked. "NICK THUNE," I told him.
I have it made. I do. I get to work with people who love what they do. I'm writing a 'live' show for 'The Masked Magician,' my pal VALENTINO and featuring R.J. CANTU and we're looking at The Palladium on Sunset as a possible venue to stage it. "This is our history, our heritage," I said, so very excited to be creating with my talented friends, to do a thing at the historic Palladium.
When House of H2o features people in bold letters, we are not just name dropping. That'd be gross. The talented people written about are people who love what they do and we love them for it. I've been up night-after-night, writing a sexy story custom made for a guy like JOSH HENDERSON, an actor and singer who is beautiful because he digs what he does.
Thanks to the BOLD and beautiful people I write about, I do, too.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Do you believe in the power of the written word?
I have been befriended by some of the world's most talented and successful people because they'd read something I'd written and liked it, me.
A superstar singer, not used to being made fun of, was being treated rather unfairly in a series of mean and therefore unfunny Doonesbury strips. This singer heard my response and asked me to write it down and fax it over to his Palm Springs home. I did and for the next week or so, he used the line on stage in front of sold-out concerts all over America.
A longtime Las Vegas resident, a great comic and fine director and one- half the biggest act in show business in the 1950's, liked the way I wrote introductions so much that he ordered them put up on the telepromter without edit. I've heard lyrics I've co-written performed in clubs and of course quotes from my fiction recited to small groups but there's something pretty powerful about hearing your words read out to millions of television viewers during the annual Labor Day telethon.
We launched a show review website that featured my written opinions of 'live' concerts and productions in Las Vegas, Reno/Tahoe, Branson, Missouri and other top entertainment venues and it seemed that just about everyone had an opinion but a well written one can make you real enemies but also earn you some real friends IF you know what you're talking about and are honest about everything you write.
The day that I ran into MICHAEL JACKSON (well, actually, HE ran into ME) rocked my written world. You see, Mike was wheeling around a bookstore in his wheelchair and backed up over my foot . He had been living here in Las Vegas for some time and we both were regulars at a certain Barnes & Nobel and also a local Borders Books. He was embarrassed and apologized. No harm done but when I posted a picture and a note, my blog blew-up, getting tens of thousands of hits just because I wrote about the hitmaker running over my foot.
A while back I wrote a couple thousand words about the-then Number Two player in men's tennis, a young man whom I admire very much, a tough-as-nails competitor who is a monster on the court. Imagine my thrill when, at a Palm Springs event, that tennis star pulled me away from the hundreds screaming for autographs and pictures just to thank me, to say that he read-and liked-my words. I stood there, embarrassed that I didn't speak Spanish, wondering if what I'd written translated well and wishing that I could express my apprecaition, until I remembered that I'd said it all already, in writing.
Those who are successfully using Facebook know that the better you write, the better, right?
Well please know that reading my stuff is an intimate thing. Check with anyone who knows me, or, better yet, ask someone who read me prior to our meeting. I am here, living in these words. I believe in them. You and I both do, right?
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
7 Down: ____________ and Jaron ( identical-twins pop duo).
I'm crazy for this puzzle but let's face it, it must make someone feel great to see their own name in a clue. I used to see FRANK SINATRA doing the NY Times puzzle, in ink, no less, and smiled the day that every clue in the puzzle was Sinatra-related, knowing he dug that but also wondering if even Ol' Blue Eyes got them all right. ( I did).
You know, if you want an 'Evan' clue, you could go with "Jack Daniel's-like booze ________ Williams," or "Mexican-American Third-baseman Tampa Bay Rays' ________ Longoria," but, I think EVAN LOWENSTEIN is the way to go. I mean, this guy is a most creative musician, businessman and honest-to-God internet entrepreneur. I'm crazy for this guy.
So many musicians are wondering what in the hell is happening to the music business. Record companies are going the way of the buggy whip as new artists and established stars are doing their own thing online. That's where StageIt comes in.
I remember driving down to San Diego with my then-girlfriend to see JASON MRAZ, hearing MR. A-Z's songs on the radio and then being blown-away when Jason told us he didn't have a record deal yet. Of course, every label from the Pacific to the Atlantic wanted him but if Jason were starting out today, I'd bet he'd be label-less.
Too many performers are complaining about the state of the industry but the real creative people are doing something about it. Which brings us to EVAN LOWENSTEIN. Yup, THAT Evan, the identical twin of the pop duo Evan & Jaron, who brought us the hit 'Crazy For This Girl,' and several other fine songs including one of my favorites, 'What She Likes.' Brother Jaron and The Long Road to Love hit the charts hard with 'Pray For You,' breaking the Top- 20 the old fashioned way: with hard work. Early on, we picked 'Pray For You' and are proud of the success, brought, in part, by using new online platforms including Evan's STAGEIT. Now this is a helluva great tool for musicians of every level.
I PAY FOR YOU
Performers see StageIt as a way to broadcast their shows to paying customers, fans who are into their stuff and are glad pay to see up -close concerts and behind-the- scenes performances. Fans think of StageIt this way: a VIP ticket to some very cool music.
You have to hand it to EVAN LOWENSTEIN. He's acheived pop stardom as a singer-songwriter and USA Character and now is using his knowledge and talent to help others solve the crossword puzzle that is today's music scene.
Friday, September 3, 2010
RAFAEL NADAL is a monster on the tennis court, a never give up, always improving raging bull, a force of nature dead set on winning. Tune in and see for yourself. Tonight I watched him on TV, from the U.S. Open. Dressed in skintight black, he looked like something out of Marvel Comics, an unsmiling superhero or perhaps a likable villian.
Off the court, RAFAEL NADAL is just about the sweetest guy you'd ever hope to meet, a soft spoken gentleman sincerely interested in what you have to say.
I've been thinking about likability lately, about how important it is for popular people to be likable- not just charming or cute, but really likable.
Over the past twenty years, I've advised, managed, hired (and fired) plenty of performers here in Las Vegas, and I've seen just about every successful star we have and I'll tell you a secret: the best are the ones who allow you to like them. Let the reality "stars" do their thing; their lives-real or otherwise-are likely to be short-lived.
I was so impressed by comic-magician JUSTIN KREDIBLE (JUSTIN WILLMAN) that I co-wrote a TV sitcom around his likable talents. It is rare indeed to find a magician you want to go have a beer with, even after he vanished your wallet. How does he do it? He's got the likable thing down!
I was watching The Disney Channel one night, looking for Justin, who was appearing on The Suite Life on Deck. I left the channel on and really enjoyed The Wizards of Waverly Place. Here's why: JAKE T. AUSTIN
JAKE T. AUSTIN.
Yup, the kid is cool as hell. Now I knew DOM DELUISE and am proud of his son, David. Young SELENA GOMEZ is cute as can be but Jake is the most likable guy on the entire DIsney network for serious. You know, so many sitcom characters come on, do their line just knowing it's funny, and then are followed by more laugh lines and other crazy characters and bla bla bla. By the end of the show, you've forgotten the episode because everything was just so forgettable. TV shows have become disposable, interchangable and forgettable. But not JAKE T. AUSTIN. This guy looks like he's having a great time, like he's liking what he's doing. I know the public is. From the mostly female fans to others who just admire a talented guy cool enough not to act cool, JAKE T. AUSTIN is likable to the max.
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