Saturday, June 25, 2011
Many may associate me with the neon glare of the Las Vegas Strip, and that's cool, after all, I've spent my entire adult life here, writing and promoting Las Vegas shows.
For the past twenty years my nights have been artificially lit, from lounges' candlelight and main rooms' spotlights, by the Las Vegas Boulevard's neon glow and under Fremont Street's millions of blazing LEDs, but my brightest memories are not illuminated by manmade light. From the sun kissed days to moonlit nights, my shiniest moments are the naturally glossy ones.
You might be surprised to learn that as turned on as I am by the electric Crayola colored Strip, it's the things I've seen in the desert sky that have provided my real and lasting glimpses of awareness. I speak of the light above the lights, and that light within all of us.
There's a song that starts out, "I used to lay out in a field under the Milky Way." The first time I heard it I became flushed by the JACKSON BROWNE lyric, so deeply personal to me. How could he have turned a light on my life story, illuminating my doubts and fears, without having met me? That song, 'The Night Inside Me' has come to haunt my nights, in a good way, reminding me that the world is inside my head and not the other way around.
I mention this after a friend remarked via Skype last night how surprised he was to hear me talk about the Shiva Sutras, and that when I said that a certain idea lacked shakti, the feminine creative energy I look for in any new project, he said straight out, "I always thought of you as a casino type materialistic guy," adding, "but tonight, you're blowing me away." (He taped our Skype conference call and wants to use it as part of a discussion: "Getting in touch with your creative energy," making me beam.)
The young magician DARIN DIAMOND gets caught-up in mandalas, fashioning his entire show around the sacred circle in the novel, "The King of Diamonds: The Magical Life of Darin Diamond." I saw Darin as a "strange enchanted boy," you know, "a little shy, and sad of eye" type kid.
As the sun sets and the lights come on (and out), I'm starting to experience real doubts about how long I'm going to be shining around here but I am positively grateful for those who have inspired me, fanning my flame as I made my way through the sometimes dark night.*
As I look up at the night sky, I just know that at the right time, I'll merge into the starlight.
Last night I was asked how I wanted to me remembered and I quickly said, "In light." Sun or stars, but neon's cool, too.
*You guys know who you are.
Monday, June 20, 2011
We at H20 love specialty acts, those front-of-the-curtain entertainers who really put on the charm and show off their skills, often while behind them some major show scenery is being pre-set. If they're good at what they do (funny jokes, clever magic, decent juggling) the audience often doesn't notice the break in the show's action. If the performers are in the Gaucho act starring in Jubilee at Bally's, then they are the real meat and potatoes of that hearty show, and not mere filler. Jubilee has become a mixed spread, tossed full of classically costumed Las Vegas, dancers and showy singers but the sustenance that sticks to the bone and delivers the real bread and circuses comes from the added attraction Los Huincas Gauchos. The act, presented with military precision, pounding percussion and comedic preciseness, is produced by FERNANDO QUEVADO.
I first saw this act when uber- producer GREG THOMPSON brought his electric 'High Voltage' to the stage of the Dunes Hotel. The talented Mr. Thompson, who was on the road doing several shows, busily breaking Guiness World Records for many of his events along the way, had me keep an 8 and 11 o'clock eye on his show, which allowed me to be entertained twelve times a week by this fine speciality act. These exciting gauchos went on to Enter the Night and, once there, they took over the Las Vegas Strip, one neon-lit resort at a time. Back then, FERNANDO QUEVADO was a teenager; today the man runs Q Productions, presenting variety shows here in Las Vegas and custom productions throughout Europe and Asia. I happen to love the guy.
Fernando recently added a new passion to his creative endeavors: film. Que es correcto!! Our talented friend is producing and directing some compelling short films and interesting documentaries. The athletic performer has become one of the real technical experts regarding the new digital cameras on the market. If and when Red Digital's JIM JANNARD (a cool guy and great man) builds a proper soundstage here in Las Vegas, watch for Fernando to be right there with him because talent sticks together. Oh, although I happen to be shy, camera-wise, my gaucho friend recently talked me into walking on (and probably stinking up) a reality show pilot scene he was shooting. With apologies to real pros like MONTI ROCK III, I did my best James Dean. Or Paula, Paula Dean.
For many years now, I've wanted to work with FERNANDO QUEVADO and while I now see that dream growing dim, I will always be proud to have known this accomplished young man, a kid who left his Argentinean home at a mere two years of age, who now stands today near the top of the entertainment world.
De gaucho para el rey del mundo
Monday, May 30, 2011
I'm writing some promotional material to be used next month when Barnes & Noble at The Grove welcomes author BARBARA SINATRA and her love letter to her late husband, 'Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank.'
BARBARA SINATRA (the only Mrs. Sinatra I knew) accompanied Ol' Blue Eyes to Las Vegas on many occasions, always kind, ever classy. She once went out of her way to tell me, "Frank likes it when you talk music with him." Wow- that meant the world to me.
I've yet to receive my copy but am happily helping put together background information to assist in the promotion of her new book. Frank's daughter NANCY SINATRA, author of two fine books and producer of many great music and DVD packages, including the sensational 'Sinatra in Vegas,' always sees to it that we receive advance copies of her projects.
Here's hoping Barbara is treated with the respect show business royalty rightly deserves.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
There are certain performers who are so talented, so successful, so lucky that they can test your will, man.
JUSTIN (KREDIBLE) WILLMAN set out to take-over the country and, over the past few years, campus-by-campus (many times six per week!) he's done just that. A national TV commercial led to an appearance on the chipper chef RACHAEL RAY show where the buoyant boyish close-up comic conjurer really started cooking, leading to TV appearances on the regular. Now, he's the "First Call" guy for television producers who like his likable personality. Me? I love the guy. (Justin's gorgeous girlfriend is cool with that; we're all in love with her, her beautiful voice.)
I've been in Justin's corner for some time now, fondly remembering the 'Music, Magic & Makepeace Tour,' where the magician joined friends JASON MRAZ and THE MAKEPEACE BROTHERS in a shamanistic tour that rightly left the country starry eyed.
I see that Justin will be back at the World Famous Magic Castle June 13-19.
The artist who designs Justin's posters is nothing short of brilliant* but, it's worth noting that, now, the 'World Famous' tag line rightfully belongs prior to JUSTIN WILLMAN as well, man.
If you're near Hollywood and haven't been put off by the mental image of guys with birds in their pants (see: brainy, beautiful and, my new favorite writer LAURENNE SALA) well then you Must See JUSTIN WILLMAN. He's just incredible.
*JON MARRO is beautiful.
Friday, May 20, 2011
It just happened again, late last night. I was catching up on emails when this one caught my eye: "What is Sinatra's best record?"
I often think what qualifies as best is whatever I'm listening to at the moment, but when it comes to a recording career that started in 1939 and continued into the 90's, well, it is not that simple.
FRANK SINATRA was America's first teen idol, singing with Tommy Dorsey's band, and then later, on his own. By the late 40's, the big bands were over and, as good as young Sinatra was, he had yet to record great records.
IN 1953, after nearly fifteen years of singing, something happened, and it was magical. Joining Capitol Records surrounded the now- struggling singer with the best studio musicians in the world, and an arranger-conductor named NELSON RIDDLE. Sinatra was born again and with him, a confidant sound and smooth style punctuated by an all-new rhythm that, even today, sounds fresh. Sometimes I'd swear there's new versions playing but no, the tracks are the same, yet somehow still surprising. It is almost impossible to sing along.
Throughout the 60's, he'd turn out hit-after hit, including 'My Way,' a song everyone covered, all haunted by the sound of Sinatra. He'd sing a perfect duet with his daughter Nancy ("'Somethin' Stupid") after cutting the most beautiful Bossa Nova songs with Jobim.
There is little doubt that the most creative decade in the musical life of FRANK SINATRA came when Ol' Blue Eyes hired a young classically trained pianist, VINNIE FALCONE, and toured every corner of the the world, sparkling in deserts from the Springs to the Sphinx, in casinos from Las Vegas to Monte Carlo, in Rio: bravo, even dominante the Dominican Republic, their sound preserved on studio recordings like 'Trilogy,' featuring 'Theme from New York, New York,' an anthem that will live forever.
Okay, back to the best record thing. Here it is: 'Indian Summer.' Yup. The Duke Ellington Band made it into the studio to back Sinatra, playing BILLY MAY arrangements, sometimes poorly, once or twice, heavenly. 'Indian Summer' has it all: it is big band, jazz, pop all rolled into one song, and Sinatra sings simple and straight, soft and surreal, the sound of a brilliant actor letting his audience do all the thinking. 'Indian Summer' includes a saxophone solo that catches you off guard, pulling you way out into the deep water and then, gently, floating you back onto shore. MATT WALLACE and others tell me JOHNNY HODGES was a genius and NELSON RIDDLE, in an interview on my radio show, in the 80's, told me that this arrangement is the one he always wished he'd written. Man!
The seasons change, and so do popular tastes but, amazingly, this song, now over forty years old still shines. I'm told you can hear it on YouTube; I know you can buy it on iTunes.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
House of H2o has been keeping an eye on actor-magician R.J. CANTU and keeping you updated on this young performer's career. A few years back, prior to his successful, heart-warming debut at Hollywood's MAGIC CASTLE , we proudly pointed out that R.J. "has the goods," and now, his goods are getting great.
'Death Valley,' MTV's new supernatural series, premiering August 29th, right after the Video Music Awards, looks to be a good bet. A strong cast makes this seriously spooky yet lighthearted series perfect for the twenty-something crowd. R.J. is cast as a likable yet lecherous cad, getting young girls off on the taste of his vampiric saliva. When we described Cantu as "the badboy next door," a while back, we nailed it.
Now, there's another-darker-vampire script he's working on called 'Vampires in Vegas.' But not to worry, R.J. CANTU won't soon be typecast. You see, in addition to his acting career (and a recent string of national commercials), the guy is pursuing his magic career like no other young magician I have ever seen.
MAGIC SPACE EXTREME, a site dedicated to what's hip and happening in the world of magic has been web home to Cantu & Co. And talk about magic:
There have been sightings of this exciting magician performing impromptu shows- lit by lasers and backed by house music and high energy dancers-all around Los Angeles. H20 just got word of an upcoming show, in Santa Monica at the trendy V LOUNGE on Friday, May 27th. And, we hear loads of celebrities plan to hit the V on Fridays on the regular.
House of H2o has long been enchanted by magicians who are original and authentic. JUSTIN (KREDIBLE) WILLMAN owns college campuses all over the country and cable airwaves up and down the dial. JASON LATIMER is in an indescribable class by himself and JAMES GALEA is the best close-up magician to ever play Las Vegas. Ever!
R.J. CANTU is right up there, and in damn good company.
Keep an eye out for this monster of a magician, will ya?
I'm sitting outside a Coffee Bean on Sunset in West Hollywood, sipping an iced coffee and talking to a friend. He and I have some of the same addictions and, a common dealer. In fact, "our guy" does business down an alley just across from us.
So he's telling me a great story about a dancer we both knew when, for the third time in three minutes we're interrupted. This time, there wasn't even an apology, just giggling girls holding out a pen and paper. He politely signed and then said, "Hey, Will? You wanna see something? I mean, really something?"
When that's put to me, the answer is always "Yes," and so, we split, me following this talented guy to his house. We made it up there in less than four minutes but it took him ten to get the safe open, eventually remembering his birthday, (his real birthday).
I peeked-in, expecting, like in so many movies (some starring him, by the way) to see dope, bearer bonds,maybe photos of him with a dead girl (or a live boy) but no, besides a stack of cash that he called "mad money," there was just one file. He handed it to me, saying, "You'll wanna sit down," nodding to a leather chair next to a lamp that was now burning brightly.
I looked down and then right away up. "Are you fucking kidding me?
A familiar smile and then that famous laugh. "I warned you."
According to the so-called experts, the most valuable autograph is: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. Now I was told, years ago by a very nice lady who raises money for foundations that there were only six such signatures in existence, however, our friend (and dealer) HARVEY JASON at MYSTERY PIER BOOKS knows of more. In fact, here I am, holding one in my hot hands.
If you like your Nook, or Kindle or iPad or other such shit, good for you, and I mean that, I do.
If you like books-real books, first editions in mint condition or "slightly foxed" versions, then you're my kinda guy, doll.
Monday, May 9, 2011
I've been looking out at the glowing Las Vegas Strip with the moon shining up in the dark sky. From my poolside view, it's like a dream, an electric hallucination. My eyes grow heavy and I'm half-certain that I could flip a switch and turn the whole thing off. In my mind's eye, the neon sputters out as my bella luna dims and the whole scene fades to black.
I blink open and the light returns, slowly refracting into colors once again inside my mind. That's where it all occurs, you know- it exists inside of our heads. The 'Somewhere Out There' is really inside you, me.
I can almost hear 'Taps' play as I head inside to catch a half-dozen hours of sleep, knowing that the light will return, followed by the colors.
When your eyes take in the essays, or you hear my material read onstage or listen on the radio, please know that I'm trying hard to get into your noodle. I am.
I want to be that thing you wrap your head around.
Another William wrote it better than I ever will, although I Will keep trying:
I've been doing my best to give "an airy nothing, a local habitation and a name" to what I feel.
Breathe it in, sing it out.
Not to get all Peter Frampton on you, but 'I'm In You.' You're in me.
When you send a request, or reply, I am never more excited to let you in.
That's what really lights me up.
Monday, March 28, 2011
There's a guy, PAUL CRIK who has this website: www.paulcrik.com
When you have a few minutes, maybe go to www.paulcrik.com and look in on what he is doing because I'll tell ya, what he's doing is authentic and original, weird and interesting. And helpful. I don't want to forget helpful.
Paul and his team visited Las Vegas recently and I ended up sitting-down with Paul, Ben and Caroline for a discussion of the issues of the day. AFTER nearly two hours I discovered that they were taping the who thing, filming actually, and from several different angles. At first I felt like one of those Congressmen caught stuffing their pockets full of cash, but then I reminded myself: there was no cash, I hold no office.
(Note: There WAS a big bottle of Jack Daniel's that, at some point was opended and sipped from.)
Clips from that discussion may at some point show up online. I hope so because I'm pretty sure I was brilliant and by that I mean my hair looked good. Oh, and I also said nice stuff about Las Vegas.
I happen to like PAUL CRIK and I am inspired by the work he is doing. They call it Killin' It and he is, they are.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Spencer Smith!.......................................................Brendon Urie!
Las Vegas loves Panic! but felt a bit of trepidation ourselves upon learning that two of the guys left to do their own thing, leaving BRENDON URIE & SPENCER SMITH to attack Panic! themselves.
Well, attack they did. Where we slumped-along with them, supporting their sophomore 'Pretty. Odd.' we are now proudly standing tall (and riding high) with Panic!'s new CD, 'Vises and Virtues.' It is a GREAT RECORD.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
MAKEPEACE BROTHERS (click it)
The House of H20 is on the record in support of familial harmonies, of sounds that take us back to our roots, of music that dares us to grow, and lyrics that allow us reach for the stars.
Here they come: THE MAKEPEACE BROTHERS
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Monday, February 28, 2011
Dear William Liar:
You are a name dropping lying asshole. I notice that most of the famous people you supposedly know like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin are dead.
How convenient. -Andy, AZ
You are correct, not about the asshole thing, just the dead part. I can suggest you contact, say, DEANA MARTIN, a great entertainer (and Dean's daughter) and maybe the Sinatra Family via Siriusly Sinatra. My best friend in show business, VINNIE FALCONE,, was Sinatra's pianist, conductor and musical director for over a decade. He would disagree on the 'lying asshole' thing.
You write as if you are the official spokesman for Las Vegas.
Who in the hell died and made you king? -Ken
Greetings from Tianjin China:
My younger brother thinks that you are handsome man. My sister, too, likes you with your writing style. Do you ever come to China? -Dan
Dear Dan: I have never been to China but it sounds like we could have one fun family barbeque.
During a radio special heard in London in November, you were heard saying very insulting things about the United Kingdom. Not once but many times. I don't understand American humor and think you should be careful in future broadcasts. A big talker like you might need to have someone shut that mouth for you, William. -(Unsigned)
I am not well traveled but am well educated, strong willed and tend to express my opinions on popular culture (especially music) in harsh terms. 'Pontificating' is what my (now) ex-mate calls it.
As for my insulting you, unless you are Andrew Lloyd Webber (that talentless fuck) or are in some way related to him, or perhaps creepily ugly as we all can agree Sir Andrew is, well, I can't imagine how I was insulting to your stupid little island.
In fact, I suggested a boat be chartered, loaded with: Paul McCartney, Jamie Cullum, Elton John, Ricky Gervais, Sienna Miller, Kate Beckensale and NOT Rod Stewart. The rest of you can eat whatever the hell you eat over there (nice teeth, mate) and die, is what I said.
You just posted the best post ever, about www.beneaster.net
Thank you. Seeing his photos is like looking at the world through the eyes of God. -Rob, New Orleans
I love you.
Your blogs about young magicians are amazing. I never heard of RJ CANTU or JUSTIN KREDIBLE before you kept writing about them. Where did you learn about magic? -Jan, Los Angeles
I had a brother who was crazy about magic. Then, when I was a teen, I was standing backstage at Caesars Palace next to FRANK SINATRA when a huge man filled the doorway: ORSEN WELLS The big man showed me how to do a "back palm," a move I just now got good at. JASON MRAZ put JUSTIN KREDIBLE on the map and now JUSTIN (KREDIBLE) WILLMAN is a major TV star. I kept hearing about this "cute as hell" guy knocking them dead on college campuses and, as PAUL CRIK would say, he's Killin' It!
As for R. J. CANTU, well, he was cool enough to hire me to help write some material for his act. Now R.J. is starring in films and a new MTV show 'Death Valley,' but I'll bet he'll always keep the magic alive.
My oldest magician friend- VALENTINO had me write and produce him years ago in Las Vegas. We were barely old enough to get into the casinos but were filling the showrooms with late night magic. Today, Val is billed as 'The Masked Magician,' having earned 10 million dollars-plus on TV specials doing what he loves: Magic.
Why are you always pushing singer SERGIO VELLATTI? -Tom, Reno, NV
1. Sergio has a great voice.
2. Sergio is the love child of Willie Watters and Tom Cruise...wait, I mean Penelope Cruz!
3. Sergio is a talented, handsome and polite young singer.
4. I like to encourage young talent.
*I also write/produce/promote for MONEY. I am available and always interested in new submissions.
You are not a good writer. You state your opinions like fact with no support. I am sure you were probably a rotten lawyer too. You come off like a stupid... cu_ t. -Unsigned
I launched a show review website, writing and posting over 200 show reviews, opinions based on my 20 years in show business. I've written, booked and produced shows, managed talent, composed songs and even run a spotlight and dusted a piano or two along the way. While some of the show reviews were written without a name, I owned the website and was also the editor. My point is it is hard to take an unsigned note seriously. You, for example, strike me as a pussy. I may be wrong. If you'd share your name, I'd be happy to try to take you more seriously. I'm helpful that way. In fact, if you provide me an address, I might even give you some pointers in the bedroom. I could bang your wife or help find the leak in your inflatable date, mate.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Writers are often asked where their ideas come from, from where do we draw our inspiration. For a guy like me, the answer is, "Everywhere, really."
Let me cut, as they say in the movie business, to the chase: www.beneaster.net
You probably know BEN EASTER from his handsome roles in major motion pictures like 'I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer' and 'Husk.' You've seen him on network TV dramas including 'Boston Public' and Disney's 'Zenon,' but what you may not know is that young Ben is an up-and-coming director and one helluva fine photographer.
I'm part of a team re-writing a television project and, unlike some writers, I do play well with others, especially when told every morning how "inspired" I am.
My muse can be a tricky chick. She'll lay low inside Nelson Riddle arrangements, float by as I swim laps, peek out from Mraz lyrics, and, lately, tickle my fancy from the stunning and evocative photos of BEN EASTER.
Do yourself a solid: www.beneaster.net
When you are open to creativity, your life opens up. Open your eyes, your heart, to the photography of BEN EASTER. If you do, I'll always know what your summers will be like.
They'll be beautiful, man.
Monday, February 7, 2011
CHARLIE SHEEN uesd to come to Las Vegas quite often, back when he was single. He'd come, blow off some steam between shooting major movies, was always a great host and was just a lot of fun to be around. At the time we were kind-of friends and I remain proud to know such a talented actor. Unlike most everyone else, I don't reveal off the record stories, divulge secrets or publicize what people do in private. Remember the line about stuff staying in Las Vegas? Well, some of us happen to live by it.
Shame on Entertainment Tonight, Extra, TMZ and every other media outlet who just can't wait to air interviews with hookers, all shook-up but still all-too- willing to share their tales. (Share their tales. ha.)
Now I'll be blunt: I've known plenty of hookers. Great ones, too. Some escorts, call girls, boys, couples, whatevers have livened-up many parties over the years but they didn't rush out and sell their stories. No sir, part of what they were paid for was to keep their mouths shut, so to speak.
CHARLIE SHEEN is a huge star with a big personal problem. He has a wonderful family and a nice group of real friends who all wish him well. Here's sending love and good wishes from good people in Las Vegas who continue to admire this gifted actor.
The media loves a good story but quoting prostitutes makes them guilty of nepotism, no?
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Hollywood CA, February 2, 2014
2014 seems to be the year for likable young movie star JAKE T. AUSTIN. Taking on LEONARDO DICAPRIO'S role in Titanic seemed like a cocky move, leaving many Hollywood insiders to suggest the young wizard was getting in over his head. Any other actor would have drowned under the ocean of criticism but JAKE T. AUSTIN held his breath and came out swimmingly. "Titanic Two: How's My Hair?" has Vegas odds naming Jake the favorite to take home the Best Actor Oscar.
The Academy rarely honors comedies but this year's original flick, 'Thune It's Gonna Rain,' written by and starring comic genius NICK THUNE is getting great buzz for Best Picture.
Making Oscar history this year is JASON MRAZ, who has written all five of this year's nominated songs. MR. A-Z. is a sure thang.
In a contoversial move, JARON LOWENSTEIN's Country hit, 'I Can't Get Over You, So Answer the Phone Yourself,' was disqualified from competition at the last minute when his twin brother, Hollywood impresario EVAN LOWENSTEIN, was named Executive Producer of this year's Oscar telecast.
New this year is the 'Most Likable Actor Ever' Oscar which goes to Hollywood heavyweight NICK STABILE. From "Santa Jr." to "Sinatra Jr." the only people who don't like Mr. Stabile are the ones who love him.
JOSH HENDERSON is expected to win yet another Best Supporting Actor statute, plus a special award for just being cool and shit.
Host for the 2014 telecast, everybody's favorite JUSTIN WILLMAN, promises some special surprises, including a shamanistic opening number featuring his magicial pals JAMES GALEA, R.J. CANTU and JASON LATIMER. Here's hoping the handsome host will make a few hot cupcakes* appear as well.
This year's LIfetime Acheivment Award saluting JUSTIN BIEBER will be presented by Selena Gomez-Bieber.
Working the Red Carpet pre-show is TMZ's MAX HODGES along with the late JOAN RIVERS.
*chicks, not food
Sunday, January 30, 2011
I stuttered as a kid.
I was teased daily, tormented regularly and would freeze-up at the thought of having to speak in class. I'd sit there, sweating until my turn came and then, more often than not, I'd come-up with an excuse to avoid the t-t-t-terrible scene.
When I was five or so, my older sister worked with me in a brilliant way: she had me jump rope with her, skipping or just twirling as I said each word. The rhythm allowed my words to flow. Later, I found that I could sing without stuttering.
The kids in my school would roar with laughter whenever I tried to speak in class, making me feel stupid. Looking back at those little bastards I realize it wasn't their fault. I was different and different is funny... I guess.
After my sister died, I turned to writing. It wasn't easy, just easier.
When I was 10, I entered my school's talent show. The Glendale California school gym was packed and, to me, it was as if all the kids and parents turned out to laugh at me. I performed a song with a special lyric I'd written.
Comic-singer Allan Sherman had the hit 'Camp Granada' (Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah) and for some weird reason, I thought I had the lyric chops to re-write the novelty tune and then stand before a thousand people and sing it. It wasn't exactly Wembley Stadium, but to a young boy, it felt as if the entire world was sitting out there in the dark.
My mom had done a nice job ironing blue 'Camp Granada' letters onto my yellow sweatshirt. I even had a whistle around my neck and, I think, a cap.
I'll always remember my opening line: "Hello Faddah...Hello Muddah. I'm just hoping...I don't studda."
It got a huge laugh. I'll never forget the laughter punctuating the whole song. I'm still not sure if my lyrics were all that funny. Maybe they were just brave. I do know that I felt really good, even better after I threw-up backstage.
I grew- up and almost outgrew the impediment, going on to write and host a radio show heard in 55 cities for several seasons. I appeared on national television, twice a successful contestant on 'Name That Tune.' ($100,000 cash is nothing to stutter at, man). Today, I am often interviewed on radio; I rely on my wits-and smooth voice-to fool the listeners. It isn't easy, just easier.
I'm cheering for 'The King's Speech' to win the Academy Award. I really, really, really am.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
I am amazed at the speed in which we now share words, how we communicate and become an instant community. Facebook connects the world. MySpace launches bands, YouTube allows fans to follow their idols and StageIt lets artists perform 'live' and up -close.
Maybe I'm amazed at our new speed, but I'm really blown-away at the immediate power of the words we share. Now I'm a guy who is never at a loss for words and works hard every day to improve my writing skills but I still am taken back by the magical power words possess.
Think about it for a second. We arrange words, send them off and-poof-the reader is informed, moved, changed forever.
Yesterday I sent what could have come off as a rather random email to a talented actor, an impossibly handsome, incredibly talented guy who you know well. He's the soap opera hunk, that special guest on teen dramas, the scene stealer in many TV movies. Yup, you know the actor very well but I've never met the guy. His performance as a young American rockstar moves me to tears every time I see it and I've seen it a lot. I like him that much; he lets you in. This fine actor brings instant likability to every role, and that's a real gift.
Why did I email him? Well, I did it to say, "Thanks," for the pleasure he's given me. I know, weird, right? Maybe a little creepy? But what did I risk by sincerely putting my feelings into words? I mean, so maybe he doesn't get what I wrote, or never reads it, so what? I did my best to assemble some words that expressed what I was feeling, what he made me feel and after hitting 'Send' I felt good about it.
Now I really felt great when, in a flash, I received a reply. Turns out that this brilliant actor is a sensitive artist and a really great guy. He said that he was moved by my words. I thanked him and in return, he thanked me. Wow, right?
If you want to experience real magic in your life, you have the power to cast a spell, right now. You see that hot chick with the beautiful hair? Tell her. No, really, say the words. Pass her a note letting her know your feelings. Your life will change forever. That guy you see at the gym? The one who you thought was so cool for being nice the other day? Take out the ear buds, bud, and tell him. You may well make a friend forever.
I've worked with many of the top magicians working today and I've written many of the words they say on stage. Words are powerful and, if you are sincere, words can be magicial.
I can't possibly describe how much I apprecaited his email, how that accomplished young actor's reply made me feel but I do know that our exchange is an example of the magic contained in our words. Let's maybe think about what we say to one another, how we talk about politics, sports and everything else.
I use words for a living, I am aware of their power. I know that words can hurt but also can help heal. Words are magic. Yesterday my words cast a spell and then, in return, I fell under the spell of another. I am forever changed by the exchange.
There's a beautiful scene, late in the film 'The Beach Boys: An American Family,' where DENNIS WILSON sings, 'Forever.' The lyrics are suffused with love:
"If every word I said
Could make you laugh
I'd talk forever."
I find that the more I share my words, the more I receive in return.
Thanks for that.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I was new to Facebook and wasn't sure how it worked, who you friended and then what you did after accepting. It was two years ago that I sent my first Facebook message to one of my few "friends," ADAM ROBITEL.
I was thumbing my BlackBerry, killing time at McCarran, waiting for a plane that would take me to Los Angeles and a late night meeting with a young producer who wanted to help develop a treatment I'd written into a completed script. The guy liked my writing and believed in me enough to send for me. Me, on the other hand, I wasn't so sure.
Out of the blue I tapped-out some questions-basic stuff about the business, really, topped off with a "We've never met but have mutual friends" opener and sent the message via Facebook to ADAM ROBITEL. Now I'd spent several late nights on the road in hotels, often catching the same funny/weirdly sexy/totally likeable scenes from 2001 Maniacs. The guy in love with the goat is a hicked-up Adam. In real life, the talented actor is a fitness freak and technical geek. Watching Adam in action makes you want to take up Capoeira and his behind-the-camera skills are even more amazing. His company Robitel Media Works does it all, from pre-to-post, developing ideas, writing, producing, directing, hell, everything. His music videos, movie trailers and short films are all, like the man himself, sensational. ADAM ROBITEL is a good guy.
The wait at the airport continued. I ordered another, let's say tea, and by the time I took my second sip my ChuckBerry flashed a return message from Adam. He'd answered all my questions, offered real advice and sincere good wishes. Wow.
While I've never lacked confidence, I walked into my meeting really self-assured, thanks to the generousity of ADAM ROBITEL. Sure, we have mutual friends. One of my oldest friends is one of the best actors alive today, a Real Genius, you might say, and Adam is flying high with, among others, real Hollywood supermen, but on that night, Adam took time out for me, a guy he'd never met.
The deal was done, the initial check arrived-and cleared! I was in business. I sent Adam a note, hoping to thank him in person, buy him a whatever, whenever, but Adam was on location, busy making a new film.
I'm in LA all the time but-and this is true-there isn't a Hollywood trip where I don't stop and give thanks to people like ADAM ROBITEL for being helpful. That's the guy you want in your life, the kind of guy I am trying to be.
If we can't be helpful, then what in the hell are we doing here?
This commentary was sparked by a really great message I just received from the skillful SERGIO VELLATTI. You know Sergio from his ring-a-ding-dinging YouTube videos, the Sinatra-sound-alike postings from a sincere (and seriously talented) singer and soon-to-be nightclub performer. Sergio thanked me for helping him which reminded me of so many people who have helped me along the way.
How do you pay it back? By helping others. That's the only way, man. I think it says it in the Bible or maybe I saw it in a movie or heard it in a song. No matter, it's true. It works. Do it. I did. I do.
Monday, January 10, 2011
I love specialty acts. To see a performer present what they've dedicated their lives to perfecting is exciting and awe inspiring.
I was backstage visiting old friends at Jubilee the other night when the conversation turned to crossbow acts. I told them that I keep hearing great things about a guy down in Branson MO. "William, tell," they said, so I did:
Ben has a Facebook page, loads of young female fans (because he's straight as an arrow!) and is really something special.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
I love Opportunity Village. I love the work they do, the employment they provide, and the people who work there. With all of my heart, I love OV.
Opportunity Village is a not-for-profit organization that serves people in our community with intellectual disabilities, to enhance their lives and the lives of the families who love them. Opportunity Village is dedicated to helping people with severe intellectual and related disabilities become the very best they can be. Through vocational training, community employment, day services, advocacy, arts and social recreation, people with severe disabilities are able to find new friends, realize future career paths, seek independence and community integration and unleash creative passions.
I'm lucky. I am. I've had the honor of helping out the good people at Opportunity Village over the years, but no where near as much as I'd like. I have taken friends, talented celebrities and business associates over to the campus and I'll tell you straight up: I've never not choked-up and even the toughest of my friends leave with creepers running down their faces. Tears of heaven on Earth, really.
If you're interested in seeing some beautiful art, painted by some real beautiful people, visit their art studio. You'll never look at the world the same again, I promise.
The self-esteem and dignity that Opportunity Village provides some of our disabled friends and neighbors is awesome and amazing. There are a few parts of the facility that are tough to visit, but to see the generous and compasionate care provided to the severley disabled breaks and then heals your heart.
The one quality that makes us human is compassion. That's it. Compassion. When you feel compassion, you are connecting with the world.
Compassion. It means 'shared suffering.' Take a moment and look into Opportunity Village.
Please visit Opportunity Village. Please help them.
*If you're reading this on Facebook, please visit OV's FACEBOOK PAGE. Please.
Monday, January 3, 2011
It's not easy being original. It is simple, once you remember how, but really, with all of the distractions, all of the TV, radio and internet voices echoing in your head, it's tempting to just let your life play out on playback.
The House of H2o has been keeping an eye on pop culture, allowing people like me to write in the first person, to tell YOU what I really think, dropping names along the way. Looking back, I'm rather proud that most of my contributions have been positive and encouraging, sometimes gushing but always sincere.
A while back we pointed out a funny young close-up magician doing things in his own way. Some of the material was old but on the fresh faced JUSTIN KREDIBLE, it gleams. We LOVE what the incredible JUSTIN WILLMAN is doing, on the road, on campus and now, in the center of it all, hosting his own TV show on Hub World.
When we got word of a new website: StageIt.com using existing technology in a hip new way, we couldn't wait to sing the praises of the site's creator: EVAN LOWENSTEIN. Evan spent a decade on the road, thrilling fans of EVAN & JARON, the band he fronts with his twin brother, Jaron, before settling down in LA. But Evan didn't settle in. No sir. He came-up with a way to let musicians perform for a select number of their fans and now, StageIt members get a backstage seat for once-in-a-lifetime shows.
We bragged about 'The King of Diamonds: The Magicial Life of Darin Diamond,' not so much because it's a great book, but rather because it is the first of three Las Vegas-themed novels coming out at a time when the way we read is changing.
H20 rarely misses a chance to share highlights from the career of JASON MRAZ. He knows what we love about him and now, more people do too.
THE MAKEPEACE BROTHERS blend their authentic voices into a brand new sound and a happy message the world needs now, more than ever. These cool guys allowed their fans to contribute to the completion of their new CD, bringing a whole new meaning to the term sharing music. We were blown-away when we discovered that the cool as shit actor JOSH HENDERSON has plenty of swagger in the recording studio. His original pop tunes are hip and Hollywood yet the boy's kept his feet firmly planted in Oklahoma. Josh is real for reals. His songs are a CLICK away.
Young guys like KADEN and also DEREK JAMESON are finding their voices and we can't hardly wait to brag about each of them as the year rolls in.
During a long lunch with legendary Las Vegas headliner SHECKY GREENE, I heard great stories about LENNY BRUCE, GEORGE CARLIN and of course, my friend Shecky and when he asked me what I thought of the new guys I had one name: NICK THUNE. I call many funnymen my friends, great guys including TOM DREESEN, LOUIE ANDERSON, MAX ALEXANDER, PETE BARBUTTI, JOHNNY DARK, FIELDING WEST, DAVID BRENNER and so many more so when Shecky asked why I was so upbeat, I was able to laugh. You can't help but laugh, thanks to NICK THUNE. Thanks, Nick.
Among the sea of shiny shirts and furtive stares there are a few younger, original magicians who have risen to the top. JASON LATIMER is the very best at what he does, and what he does is amazing. Jason has the patent on high-tech likability and we love that. R.J. CANTU is carving-out a special spot for himself, turning up at hot Hollywood clubs and then really turning up the heat. R.J. is burned to the bone by the fire of his heated ambition.
Will. All it takes is Will. Above all, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE said in Act I Scene iii of Hamlet: "To thine own self be true."
I love that about you!
Let's make 2011 original.
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