Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coroner's office reports great interest in Danny Gans death mystery-- but not from the local Las Vegas news media

There is major interest-- and at least one offer of a bribe-- in finding out what caused the death of beloved Las Vegas Strip headliner Danny Gans-- though most all the interest and activity is from out-of-town journalists.

A charming and lovely spokeswoman for the Clark County Coroner told Tabloid Baby minutes ago that the toxicology report that's expected to reveal what caused the supposedly healthy Christian ex-athlete's heart to stop in his sleep at the age of 52, three months into a long-term contract at Steve Wynn's Wynn Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, "is still pending."

Then she added: "Are you the one who offered me money yesterday?"


"Are you sure?"

"Sure I'm sure," said TabloidBaby's reporter, phoning from Los Angeles. "Did someone offer you money for the report?"

"Somebody offered $500. I thought it was you because you said you were from Los Angeles and you spoke to me yesterday."

"Well, $500 is nothing. They should offer you more."

"That's illegal."

"Is there a lot of interest in this case?"

"Of course!" she replied.

"Well, people from Las Vegas tell us that no one cares."

"It's all from you guys. All you guys in Los Angeles. I don't know why."

"Well, Danny Gans is a very important and unique figure in entertainment."

"You guys must have more gossip to report."

The words of the coroner's delightful and helpful spokeswoman were a good reflection of the attitude among the Las Vegas media, which have ignored the story, or in at least one case, started up false rumours in an attempt to questions from being raised. In her moving tribute to her close platonic friend Danny Gans, beauty queen turned entertainment reporter Alicia Jacobs also hailed the restraint of the local-- national -- news media-- and for not pursuing any of the down-and-dirty details of the shocking death of the supposedly healthy and vital 52-year-old athletic Christian family man:

"With a few exceptions, I am very proud of the local & national media...they have given Danny’s family & friends some time to try & catch our collective breath. Soon enough, we will have the answers. Until that time, it seems almost tabloid-like to make assumptions & entertain rumors. (believe me, I think I’ve heard just about all of them.) It is my feeling that barring something completely bizarre, the story of Danny Gans has been told. His cause of death will be nothing more than a footnote on his Wikipedia page.

"The story of Danny Gans’ unlikely career & enormous success, against most odds, is far more interesting & inspiring than a coroner's report..."

While a reading of our reportage in the case would show we are not making assumptions nor entertaining rumours, we applaud Alicia Jacobs' grace in acknowledging that in the end it will be impossible to cover up the cause of this untimely death.

We do take issue with her pride in the failure of the Las Vegas news media. We don't expect much from the local news stations like the one she works for, but when it comes to newspapers in their own death throes, we would expect that they'd dedicate their resources to the most important and talked-about story in town.

The fact that they did not is made obvious on the Danny Gans "Hot Topics" page on the Las Vegas Review-Journal website, which shows just what the paper has not investigated or told its readers, and how it has deliberately stifled interest in story that holds far more national appeal than they'd admit. The page lists the stories it's printed about Danny Gans since his death:

May 01: Las Vegas entertainer, 52, dies at home;
foul play not suspected

May 01: Entertainers, celebrities offer memories of Gans
May 02: NORM: Gans' final act leaves mystery
May 03: NORM: Gans has final word in life story
May 04: NORM: Gans friends share feelings, memories
May 06: NORM: Mourners gather for Gans' funeral
May 08: NORM: Gans service to be invitation only
(contains retraction of May 02 story)

May 08: EDITORIAL: Danny Gans
May 10: NORM: Heart problems in Gans' family
May 14: NORM: Insurance issue
May 14: MIKE WEATHERFORD: Gans was 'down in the dumps'
before death

May 14: Coroner awaits facts to reveal cause of Gans' death

"Norm" is show biz gossip columnist Norm Clarke. Pointedly, the paper did not list the May 8th Norm report that the Review-Journal's publisher made a deal to publish Gans' autobiography. It also fails to mention, nor did editors assign a news reporter to investigate, Norm's explosive May 14 report (we added it) that "No one's willing to discuss it, but there's an insurance issue involving Danny Gans and his deal with Encore at Wynn Las Vegas that suggests Gans had concerns about his health."

The Hot Topic also links to a blog from the Review-Journal editor Thomas Mithcell, posted on May 2nd, the day after Gans' death. Mitchell praises his newsteam for its handling of the breaking Gans story:

"...On Friday, I felt like a kid peeping through a knothole in a fence watching a well-oiled construction team go about its job of building an excellent newspaper.
"By the time I got online that morning there was already a message from business reporter Howard Stutz saying he had heard Danny Gans had died. By the time I called the breaking news desk, reporters had already been dispatched, photographers alerted, entertainment writer Mike Weatherford was driving in, columnist Norm Clarke had been notified, people were pulling files of stories, old photos and video clips...
"...On Saturday morning, even I was amazed. Laid out on broadsheet newsprint — sometimes called emphera — was a story about the death of one man, but also a glimpse of the spirit of humanity.
"Both the main story and Norm’s column used a story technique I call bookending. Each picked up a small element that spoke volumes about the occasion. The lede the story by Mike and Doug told about the Gans crew gathering for its traditional pre-show prayer, but without the star. The story ended: 'And they prayed. And they mourned.'
"Norm wrote about Gans, 52, ending his last show... with Bobby Darin’s favorite closer "The Curtain Falls."
"Darin died of heart failure at the age of 37...
"...I defy you to read either the story or the column without getting a bit misty.
"The whole package was impressive..."
Unfortunately, Norm's story about The Curtain Falls was untrue. He retracted it a week later. And though the editor was proud of his news team, a cursory look shows that they may be good at color, but didn't cover the story at all.

As for the Las Vegas Sun, the paper who got a Pulitzer from Sig Gissler? Forget about it.

Meanwhile, the coroner's perky spokeswoman says the Gans report will be released without fanfare or news conference, and will not be held up by the invitation-only memorial service on Thursday.

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