Thursday, May 14, 2009

Did we force their hand? Las Vegas Review-Journal goes with two Danny Gans items

Hours after we reported exclusively that The Las Vegas Review-Journal is holding back from publishing what its reporters and editors know about the mysterious death of Strip headliner Danny Gans, the paper has run items in two columns addressing at least some of the speculation:

Columnist Mike Weatherford writes that "Gans was 'down in the dumps' before his death";


Columnist Norm Clarke writes: "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."

At least one observer finds it intriguing that paper, which has done no reporting on the Gans story, would publish one column, and add a newsy item in another column, two weeks after Gans' death. The observer? Us.

Weatherford's column, which appears to have been sitting in some editor's "in" basket waiting to be plugged into an edition, takes direct aim at the speculation that Gans' death may have been connected in some way to his boss Steve Wynn's decision to book new acts into Gans' theatre only three months into a long term contract.

In fact, it seems to be trying to refute the notion-- in print for the first time-- that Gans committed suicide:

"...David Graham, a personal pastor and golf buddy to the late impressionist, said his friend was 'unusually low in spirits' when they golfed on the day he died.

"But Graham said 'heavens no' to the idea that it had anything to do with the coincidental on-sale announcement for Beyoncé doing four shows at Encore in late July.

"'Gans liked Steve (Wynn) a lot' and Wynn was 'very happy with him,' Graham said.

"Besides, Gans had plenty of time to get used to the notion of big names crowding in. The impressionist's move from The Mirage to Encore was announced on April 17 of last year, and the story in the next day's Review-Journal included this quote from the Wynn Resorts chairman:

"'I'm going to have another four shows at least in that theater,' Wynn said. 'It will take me a while to get up to speed booking them, but that's the goal.'

"Graham, a former golf pro who founded Christian City Church on Las Vegas Boulevard, said he 'doesn't have a clue' about why his friend was so 'down in the dumps.'

But he dismissed published reports of Gans having premonitions about his death, saying the two parted with the usual reminder of their next tee time and that Gans asked his friend to pray for guidance'"about what he wanted to do in the future' beyond the live show...

"'Hotel spokeswoman Jennifer Dunne said... Gans manager Chip Lightman might continue to be involved with the theater..."

Clarke, the main outlet for the Gans camp as it has spun and controlled the story since the the Las Vegas superstar was fond dead in his bed at the age of 52, slipped his item toward the end of this morning's column.

We reported exclusively yesterday that editors and reporters at the Review-Journal believe painkillers may have been involved in Gans' untimely passing, but have held back on reporting or investigating the story.

The autopsy was "inconclusive" and the Las Vegas news media has been content to wait patiently for the weeksit takes for the official toxicology report from the Clark County Coroner.

Until now.


Norm Clarke with his girlfriend Cara Roberts, public relations director for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

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