Tag Archives: Broadway shows

Liza Minnelli to Film Tony Award-Winning Special in Las Vegas on September 30

“Liza’s at the Palace” will be filmed in the Hollywood Theatre at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1, 2009. All of the material performed during her New York engagement will be included in the filming. The program will capture many of her greatest hits and also be an affectionate tribute to her godmother, the late Kay Thompson, who was a groundbreaking singer-dancer, songwriter, vocal arranger and musical director/vocal coach at MGM Studios. LizaMinnelli

As reported by BroadwayWorld.com and now confirmed by PBS, celebrating the one year anniversary of Liza Minnelli’s Tony Award-winning performance “Liza’s at the Palace,” American Public Television (ATP) will distribute the long-awaited special in December, 2009 and it will also be released on DVD in early 2010 by MPI Home Video. 

Minnelli’s unanimously acclaimed Broadway performances were sold out for five weeks in December last year and fans around the world have been eagerly anticipating news of this  broadcast. 

The television event will be directed by Matthew Diamond and executive produced by JoAnn Young, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.  In addition to the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event, Minnelli received a 2009 Drama Desk Award for her performances at the Palace. 

Now in her fifth decade as an internationally celebrated entertainer, she has won every major show business honor including an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and four Tony Awards, making her part of a select group of performers who have won the entertainment industry’s top four achievement awards. 

She will be joined in the Las Vegas filming by her Broadway co-star and musical director, the legendary pianist, singer and composer Billy Stritch. Her quartet of dynamic singer/dancers, Cortes Alexander, Jim Caruso, Johnny Rodgers and Tiger Martina will recreate their roles as the Williams Brothers, which included the young Andy Williams and his talented siblings. 

The show will again be directed by Ron Lewis, the award-winning choreographer and director. Musical conductor/drummer is Michael Berkowitz, a well-known conductor of pop orchestras all over the world. 

JoAnn Young has written and/or produced more than 50 television specials including documentaries and musical performances. 

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are the executive producers.  Together their film and television projects have won six Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, 11 Primetime Emmy Awards, and two Peabody Awards. For television, their movies have amassed 69 Emmy nominations. 

Tickets are now available at any MGM Grand box office and all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations. Tickets also are available for purchase online at www.mgmgrand.com and www.ticketmaster.com.

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Mob, Celebrities are Supreme Toppings for Las Vegas Pizza Biz

joe-pesciActor Joe Pesci, right, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in the 1990 mob classic “Goodfellas,” is apparently going into refined cahoots with Las Vegas convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo, left, planning to rick-rizzoloslice up the payola coming from opening up several pizza joints called “Pesci’s Pizza Parlors” in Las Vegas, with several others in a foreign country.

Tough-guy actor Pesci is keeping the business dealings close to the cuff, though, disavowing any connection with Rizzolo, simply saying his longtime friend and personal assistant Tommy DeVito – and story source – “was confused.”

Pesci quickly switched gears,  saying  he is partnering with Las Vegas businessmen Sig Rogich, Sig Rogicha prominent public relations that advised the presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and Elias Ghanem II,  who works for Wynn Resorts in the executive training program.  Ghanem’s dad, Dr. Elias Ghanem, was known as the “physican to the stars,” serving celebrities including Elvis Presley, Liberace, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Ann-Margret, and Wayne Newton.

Currently finalizing the new business paperwork, they plan to be in business in four or five months, according to longtime Pesci associate Tommy DeVito, who has lived in Las Vegas since 1970. 

DeVito, 80, and Pesci, 66, have been guitar-playing pals since they were 11-years-old and living in New Jersery.  DeVito, center, went on to form the Frankie Valli-led Four Seasons and was the group’s leading guitarist until a falling out with the group over his mounting gambling debts. tommy-devito

Pesci is a producer of the “Jersey Boys,” a musical based on the lives of the Four Seasons.  A spinoff of the Broadway hit has been playing in Las Vegas for a year at The Palazzo. 

Pesci and DeVito are such close friends that Pesci called DeVito a couple of months before the filming began on Martin Scorcese’s “Casino” to say he was taking the name Tom DeVito for his character, a mob thug based on Las Vegas hit man Anthony “The Ant” Spilotro. 

Rick Rizzolo, 50, received notoriety during the Las Vegas “G-Sting” federal trial, causing former Justice Department Organized Strike Force prosecutor Stan Hunteroton to exclaim to the court:  “Not since the reign of Anthony Spilotro and his associates has there been a more infamous hoodlum than Rick Rizzolo.” 

Rizzolo was among 17 defendants, including Las Vegas city officials, later found guilty on a related charge.  He served 11 months of a sentence of one year and one day before his release last year.   Rizzolo was also ordered to sell the Las Vegas topless cabaret Crazy Horse Too business and placed under three years of supervised release and fined $250,000. 

‘Dying’ to taste their pizza?   Maybe they could open up a pizza parlor in the planned Las Vegas Mob Museum?

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Liberace Show, Museum & Foundation Sparkles in Las Vegas

As the promotion of Las Vegas culture continues to be challenged, with many museums closing or facing severe budget cuts, the Liberace Museum continues to weather the economic storm.  In fact, it’s just celebrated its 30th anniversary. liberace1

Liberace’s fan popularity continues to soar.  A new show titled Liberace: The Man, The Music & The Memories has been announced for Broadway this fall. The musical will recreate the experience of a Liberace concert in a Las Vegas show room. The musician and comedian Wayland Pickard has been cast in the leading role. 

Liberace opened his museum in 1979, three years after establishing his Liberace Foundation for helping students of the arts.  All proceeds from the museum still support the foundation’s mission.  So far, 2,500 scholars have received $5.2 million in awards. 

Over the years, the museum hasn’t changed much.  And though his fans are aging, still about 50,000 people tour the Liberace Museum daily, says museum director Tanya Combs.  Featuring his cars, pianos, clothes, and jewels, the people who come through the doors watched Liberace on television, saw him in concert, or just heard the museum in a fun attraction, she adds. 

Then there are those people who know Liberace, with his bejeweled costumes, larger-than-life jewelry and penchant for flashy shows- the kin of Las Vegas kitsch. 

Liberace performed in Las Vegas for the first time in 1944, playing the piano at the Las Frontier Hotel.  He dubbed himself Mr. Showmanship in 1956 during an engagement at the Riviera, and make Las Vegas his official residence.  

Liberace represented a style of entertainment that became the very essence and embodiment of the City of Entertainment.

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