Wayne Newton celebrates 60 years in Las Vegas with new show
By REGINA GARCIA CANO
Monday, January 28
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Wayne Newton dropped out of high school his junior year to perform with his brother at a Las Vegas hotel. It was 1959, and he was too young to spend his breaks at the casino and too broke to eat dinner there.
Six decades later — with more than 30,000 live shows on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip alone — Newton is kicking off a new series of shows in the gambling mecca.
“Mr. Las Vegas” will mark his 60th anniversary with a return to Caesars Palace casino-resort. His show starts Monday with dates scheduled through May.
“It’s hard for me to articulate, much less think about it,” Newton told The Associated Press, referring to the anniversary. “I was here when Caesars (Palace) was built. This hotel for me has always represented the flagship of the Strip.”
The “Danke Schoen” crooner will be backed by a live band during his “Wayne Newton: Up Close and Personal” shows. He will perform some of his favorite tunes and share personal career highlights through songs, film clips, anecdotes and questions from the audience.
Newton’s show was previously at a showroom at Bally’s casino-resort, but it ended in December as the venue shifted toward magic acts. The planned shows at Caesars will be at a showroom for 165 people, providing a more intimate setting.
Newton, 76, asked the casino operator to lift the venue’s age restriction to allow young people to attend.
“I promised myself when I left the lounges that I would never be in a room again that had those kinds of restrictions. There’s nothing in our show that would offend anyone, even the youngsters,” Newton said. “That doesn’t mean that the show is geared to particularly that group, but it is geared not to exclude that group demographically.”
Newton’s success in Las Vegas began when a two-week tryout at the Fremont Hotel and Casino turned into lounge act of six shows per night, six nights a week for nearly a year. Newton earned national fame after a 1962 television appearance on “The Jackie Gleason Show.”
He split with his brother, Jerry, in 1972 and continued to perform on his own. He soon became known as Las Vegas’ hottest entertainer, signing a contract to work 36 weeks a year for Howard Hughes’ Summa hotels and often working more than 40 weeks a year in the city, where he built a ranch home and raised prize Arabian horses.
Caesars Entertainment estimates Newton has performed for more than 40 million fans over the past six decades. Along the way, he saw Las Vegas’ transformation from a gambling oasis to a glitzy destination with corporate-owned mega casino-resorts that have world-class dining, shopping areas and entertainment venues that sign superstars for extended engagements known as residencies.
Newton’s multimillion-dollar agreement with the since-imploded Stardust casino-hotel in 1999 is considered among the first headliner residencies.
Newton said he misses old Las Vegas’s personal approach with the public. In his show, he makes sure that is not lost.
“Part of what I do, and I’ve always done, is I want to feel what they are feeling. I want to think what they are thinking,” Newton said.
“I don’t want to walk on here and say, ‘OK, ladies and gentlemen, I’m glad you’re here to hear the songs that are my favorite songs that I picked for you.’ I want to hear if they have a favorite song, they’ll let me know, and if I know it, we’ll do it,” he said. “For me, that keeps it personal and up close.”
Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO
The Old Man and the Play: Friend keeps word to Hemingway
By KRISTEN DE GROOT
Tuesday, January 29
WESTPORT, Conn. (AP) — When the 1958 film adaptation of “The Old Man and the Sea” hit theaters, Ernest Hemingway happened to be in New York City to watch the World Series and invited his close friend A.E. Hotchner to go see the movie with him.
“About 12 or 13 minutes after we sat down, he turns to me and says, ‘Ready to go?’” Hotchner said in a recent interview at his Connecticut home. The 101-year-old author and playwright recalls them walking out and taking off down the sidewalk, Hemingway ranting the whole time that the star Spencer Tracy was totally miscast, that he looked like a fat, rich actor trying to play a fisherman.
“He said, ‘You know, you write a book that you really like and then they do something like that to it, and it’s like pissing in your father’s beer’,” Hotchner said. (Hemingway reserved this particular turn of phrase for a handful of hated adaptations of his work, he said.)
Later that night, sitting at Toots Shor’s restaurant — a hangout frequented by Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Gleason and Marilyn Monroe — Hemingway urged Hotchner to do his own adaptation someday. Hotchner said he promised he would try.
More than 60 years later, Hotchner has kept his word. His stage adaptation of “The Old Man and the Sea” premieres at the newly renovated Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse on Feb. 1.
“It wasn’t until I became an old man myself that I really got to a version that could transport itself beyond the book,” he said.
Hotchner should be the perfect candidate to take the novel to the stage: he fished with Hemingway in Cuba, went to bullfights with him in Spain, hunted with him in Idaho and wrote the 1966 best-selling biography “Papa Hemingway.”
He also helped edit Hemingway’s bullfighting classic “The Dangerous Summer.” He often served as his agent and adapted several stories for television, including “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” ”The Killers” and “The Battler,” which led to his first meeting with Paul Newman. (The two became best friends and neighbors and started the “Newman’s Own” food company together. But that’s another story).
“Somehow that pledge to him haunted me, because he died not too long after that. For years I would think about “The Old Man and The Sea.” But I never could think in my head how you could take this very personal book, because the old man is really Hemingway himself, which is really a literary work,” he said. “How do you bring that to life on the stage?”
He tried maybe 10 times over the years to adapt it, starting drafts only to scrap them, until his latest effort.
To help reel the project in, he enlisted his son Tim Hotchner to collaborate on it and help transform his draft into what will run in Pittsburgh through Feb. 17.
“I’ve lived with Hemingway’s ghost for my whole life and there was something very profound about this story, even though it’s very simple,” said Tim Hotchner, 47, a documentary filmmaker and writer. “And to have a 101-year-old father who’s still going out for his marlin, and hopefully coming back with better results, there are a lot of themes that really resonate.”
Tim Hotchner also saw the project as a way to re-examine the work with a modern lens: to look at what it means to be a man in the world and to look at the environment.
To make “The Old Man and the Sea” accessible on stage, the Hotchners crafted a kaleidoscope of the tale, and mined the text for a new approach. The boy has a bigger role, and Hemingway himself is a character, as is a cellist who evokes the moods of the play throughout.
It stars Tony Award-winning actor Anthony Crivello as Santiago, the aging fisherman, David Cabot as Hemingway and Gabriel Florentino as the boy, Manolin. Cellist Simon Cummings will perform original music for the show.
Getting the draft to the stage happened unusually fast, due to a collaboration with New York City-based RWS Entertainment Group.
The Hotchners’ agent passed along the script to Joe Christopher, who heads up RWS’s theatrical division, who took it with him on vacation in June.
“I don’t know if it was because I literally read it while I was lying on the beach, but I could viscerally see the show working,” he said. He told RWS CEO Ryan Stana it would be the chance of a lifetime to work with someone who had been side-by-side with Hemingway.
The Pittsburgh Playhouse was looking for a new work to launch its first season in its renovated theater and Stana, an alumna of Point Park University, floated the idea to the school.
“In less than 24 hours, they were in,” he said.
The production is unique in that students at Point Park University are working on the show alongside professionals in all aspects from set design to ticket sales. It’s something Stana sees as a circular moment — youth helping bring to life the work of a centenarian playwright.
The entire show was put together in six months.
At 101, A.E. Hotchner is sharp, funny and surprisingly energetic. During a four-hour interview at his home, he needed only a 10-minute break to get a glass of water. Last year, his Depression-era detective novel “The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom” was published and he’s still writing daily. His routine: breakfast, write, lunch, write, nightly news, dinner, gin and tonic, and maybe a movie.
As for “The Old Man and the Sea,” he’s satisfied with having finally followed through on a half-century-old promise to his friend, and he’s pleased with how it turned out.
“This is going to be a version that Hemingway would never have walked out on,” he said.
3 ways that big data reveals what you really like to watch, read and listen to
January 29, 2019
Author: Anjana Susarla, Associate Professor of Information Systems, Michigan State University
Disclosure statement: Anjana Susarla does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Michigan State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Anyone who’s watched “Bridget Jones’s Diary” knows one of her New Year’s resolutions is “Not go out every night but stay in and read books and listen to classical music.”
The reality, however, is substantially different. What people actually do in their leisure time often doesn’t match with what they say they’ll do.
Economists have termed this phenomenon “hyperbolic discounting.” In a famous study titled “Paying Not to Go to the Gym,” a couple of economists found that, when people were offered the choice between a pay-per-visit contract and a monthly fee, they were more likely to choose the monthly fee and actually ended up paying more per visit. That’s because they overestimated their motivation to work out.
Hyperbolic discounting is just one challenge of operating in a creative industry. Tastes are highly subjective, and the elements of plot and narrative that make one movie a tremendous hit could easily make another a critical and commercial failure.
For decades, advertisers and marketers struggled to predict the consumption of leisure products such as movies and books. It’s equally challenging to decide the timing. Which weekend should a studio release a new movie? When a publisher releases a hard copy of a book, how do they decide when to release the e-book version?
Today, big data offers new visibility into how people experience entertainment. As a researcher who studies the impact of artificial intelligence and social media, there are three forces that stand out to me as especially powerful in predicting human behavior.
1. Economics of the long tail
The internet makes it possible to distribute entertainment products that are less popular than mainstream successes. Streaming shows can acquire a larger audience than what is economically feasible for distribution through prime-time television. This economic phenomenon is referred to as the long tail effect,
Since streaming media companies such as Netflix do not have to pay to distribute content in movie theaters, they can produce more shows that cater to niche audiences. Netflix used data from their individual customers’ viewing habits to decide to back “House of Cards,” which was rejected by television networks. Netflix data showed that there was a fan base for movies directed by Fincher and movies starring Spacey, and that a large number of customers had rented DVDs of the original BBC series.
2. Social influence in the era of artificial intelligence
With social media, people can share what they are watching with their friends, making otherwise independent entertainment experiences become more social.
By mining data from social sites like Twitter and Instagram, companies can track in real time what moviegoers think about a given movie, show or song. Movie studios can use a treasure trove of digital data to decide how to promote shows and release dates for movies. For instance, the volume of Google searches of a film’s trailer during the month before its premiere is a leading predictor of Oscar winners as well as box office revenue. Movie studios can combine historical data about movie release dates and box office performance with search trends to predict ideal release dates for new movies.
Mining social media data also helps companies to identify negative sentiment before it spirals into a crisis. A single tweet from an unhappy influential customer can go viral, shaping public opinion.
In a study I conducted with Yong Tan of the University of Washington and Cath Oh from Georgia State University, we showed how such social influence determines not only which YouTube videos become more popular, but also that videos shared by influential users become even more widely viewed.
One study shows that when studios pay attention to social media buzz before a movie’s release, the difference between the predicted revenue and the actual revenue, known as the forecast error, reduced by 31 percent.
3. Consumption analytics
Big data provides better visibility into what books and shows people actually spend their time enjoying.
The mathematician Jordan Ellenberg pioneered the use of the Hawking index, a measure of the average page number of the five most highlighted passages in a Kindle book as a proportion of that book’s total length. The Hawking index shows when people give up on a book. If a 250-page book’s average Kindle highlight appears on page 250, that would give it a Hawking index of 100 percent.
The theory gets its name from Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History in Time.” While this book still sells millions of copies a year, it is also seldom read, with a dismal Hawking index of 6.6 percent.
When a company such as Amazon decides which books to recommend to potential readers or which Prime shows to produce, they look at detailed digital traces of which plot points engaged audiences and which did not. This might help them to promote an upcoming release or to make better recommendations to individual users.
What’s more, new types of artificial intelligence can investigate what makes people engage with creative content. For instance, a company named Epagogix pioneered an approach using a neural network – an artificial intelligence tool that looks for patterns in very large amounts of data – on a set of screenplays rated by experts in the entertainment industry. The computer could then predict the financial success of a movie. According to some reports, such artificial intelligence can predict up to 75 percent of films’ actual opening grosses.
Given new big data insights like these, entertainment companies may soon know what exactly Bridget Jones would like to do with her leisure time better than Bridget herself does.
WILLIAM SHATNER LIVE ON STAGE FOR CONVERSATION AND Q&A AFTER A SCREENING OF STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN
COMING TO THE PALACE THEATRE MARCH 6
Set phasers to stun and beam yourself to the Palace Theatre on Wednesday, March 6, for an unforgettable night with the one and only William Shatner live on stage. Audiences will enjoy a screening of the classic film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on the big screen followed by a live conversation with the one and only “Captain James T. Kirk.”
CAPA presents William Shatner live on stage following a screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan at the Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.) on Wednesday, March 6, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $43.25-$73.25 and can be purchase in person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at www.capa.com, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. A limited number of VIP tickets will be available which include premium seating and a photo opportunity with Mr. Shatner.
William Shatner will be sharing fascinating and humorous stories from his portrayal of the original Captain Kirk in the “Star Trek” television series and movies, and his more than 50 years as an award-winning actor, producer, director, and writer. Fans will also have a chance to ask Mr. Shatner their question during an audience Q&A.
Produced by Mills Entertainment and The Backlot Project.
About William Shatner
William Shatner has cultivated a more than 50-year career as an award-winning actor, director, producer, writer, recording artist, and horseman. In 1966, he originated the role of “Captain James T. Kirk” in the television series “Star Trek,” a show that spawned a feature film franchise where Shatner returned as Captain Kirk in seven of the Star Trek movies, one of which he directed. He’s won Emmys and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of lawyer “Denny Crane” on both “The Practice” and “Boston Legal” amid four more Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Award nominations.
Shatner’s love of music inspired him to record the critically acclaimed album Has Been. His book, Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man, appeared on the NY Times Bestseller list, and his newest book, Spirit of the Horse: A Celebration in Fact and Fable, was released in May 2017. Shatner continues to act, write, produce, and direct while still making time to work with charities and further his passion in equestrian sports. Hem, his wife Elizabeth, and three married children live in Los Angeles.
CAPA presents WILLIAM SHATNER Live on Stage Following a Screening of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN
Wednesday, March 6, 7:30 pm
Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.)
Following a screening of the sci-fi classic Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, William Shatner, star of the film and one of Hollywood’s most recognizable figures, will take the stage to share fascinating and humorous behind-the-scenes stories from his more than 50-year career as an award-winning actor, producer, director, and writer, including his role as the original Captain James T. Kirk in the Star Trek TV series and movies. Fans will also have the chance to participate in a post-screening audience Q&A with Shatner. Tickets are $43.25-$73.25 and can be purchase in person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at www.capa.com, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. A limited number of VIP tickets will be available which include premium seating and a photo opportunity with Mr. Shatner. www.capa.com
About The Backlot Project
Created by Mills Entertainment, The Backlot Project brings the most beloved stars of television and film from the screen to an exciting and intimate live setting. Each Backlot Project is interactive and takes audiences behind the scenes as the brightest stars engage in a tell-all conversation with the talents that brought their favorite moments in entertainment to life.
About Mills Entertainment
Mills Entertainment collaborates with top networks, agencies, and licensors to create original, world-class live experiences. With full global distribution and partnerships worldwide, Mills Entertainment takes shows from concept to stage, serving as a complete solution in realizing the vision. In April 2015, Creative Artists Agency (CAA) made an equity investment in Mills Entertainment. Current projects include Theresa Caputo Live! The Experience, Mel Brooks: Back in the Saddle Again, Bring It! Live, #IMOMSOHARD, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live!
The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, education excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. CAPA also appreciates the generous support of the Barbara B. Coons and Robert Bartels Funds of The Columbus Foundation and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
Owner/operator of downtown Columbus’ magnificent historic theatres (Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre, Southern Theatre) and manager of the Riffe Center Theatre Complex, Lincoln Theatre, Drexel Theatre, Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts (New Albany, OH), and the Shubert Theater (New Haven, CT), CAPA is a non-profit, award-winning presenter of national and international performing arts and entertainment. For more information, visit www.capa.com.