Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gans memorial will go on with no answers about what caused his untimely death at 52; Vegas journos waste column inches questioning public invites

The memorial tribute to Danny Gans will go on at the Encore Theatre later this afternoon without most people having any idea of what caused the gifted musical impressionist to die suddenly at age 52. A spokeswoman for the Clark County Coroner's Office told TabloidBaby.com minutes ago that the results of toxicology reports on the late superstar are "still pending," and suggested that they won't be known until early next week, "after the holiday" at the earliest.

As a footnote we'd like to point out that our team members have spoken to several spokeswoman for the coroner in the past week or so, and to a person they have been more than professional: courteous, helpful and charming. This is not a fawning note-- they really do stand out.

What also stands out is the attitude of more than one Las Vegas columnist when it comes to the free tickets to today's Gans memorial that were handed out to members of the public. We were astounded yesterday when comp queen and Vegas writer Steve Friess (left) called the idea "strange," and referred to the ordinary folk who'd attend the tribute as "seatfillers" as if they were paid stand-ins who fill in empty seats at award shows to make the room look full. We saw it as smart and generous way to allow the common man to pay tribute to the Everyman superstar (limited seating, great demand, makes sense)-- especially after the panic over the public storming the gates at the event or his secret funeral.

Yet today, two Las Vegas print columnists also mock the idea. Richard Abowitz, who writes the Vegas blog for the Los Angeles Times and has maintained a noticeable hands-off policy with the Gans story ("I have tried to write as little as possible about Gans' passing. Right now the death investigation is awaiting a toxicology report and then we will know better if we are discussing a John Ritter or a Heath Ledger death or something else. Whatever the cause, the facts are that the father of three is dead and the show is closed. Those are the two facts that matter most in Vegas, and no future information will alter them.") posts today:

"I assume trying to cajole volunteers to come to the memorial at Encore is being done to create a full house for the cameras and media covering this tribute to Gans. 'Free Comp tickets are currently available for Danny Gans Memorial Thursday afternoon at Wynn,' the e-mails read. Has anyone ever heard of being comped to a memorial service before?"

Even Mike Weatherford of the Las Vegas Review-Journal took time to question the gesture:

"...It was quite a surprise to see one of the daily blasts offering a complimentary ticket to the Danny Gans memorial service today at Encore.

"Well, it's not a surprise in one sense. ShowTickets4Locals is co-owned by the late impressionist's manager, Chip Lightman. But it did raise questions of why they needed to 'paper' a service that had been characterized as an invitation-only gathering of family and friends?

"'It was not an effort to fill the house,' says Gans' publicist, Laura Herlovich. Rather, 'Danny was very active in a lot of community things,' and this was part of the outreach to include some 'regular' fans and locals in the memorial. Tickets also were given to firefighters and police officers, she said..."

These Vegas journos think differently than the rest of us beyond the desert. Of all the things to write about in the case of Danny Gans, this gets them to their word processors.

The Las Vegas Sun? John Katsilometes, who's backed way off from the Gans story since his Day One questions, jots off a quick column saying that today's memorial has got him listening to Paul McCartney and attending a family reunion.

Go figure.


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