Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Did his involvement in Vegas Jacko tribute get Steve Friess' producing partner fired from Jersey Boys?

Las Vegas Sun
Erich Bergen, who was the frontman and star of the Las Vegas Michael Jackson birthday tribute he produced along with Las Vegas blogger, New York Times stringer, Gay Vegas author and comp queen Steve Friess, has been fired from the Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys-- and in the words of one Vegas columnnist, caused a media "kerfuffle" in the process.

Bergen, who portrayed Four Season Bob Gaudio in the show at the Palazzo Hotel & Casino on the Strip, has turned himself into a Vegas personality, performing at the Liberace Museum (his version of Britney Spears' "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman" is a YouTube staple), and then going national with his flogging of the “Michael Jackson’s Untimely Death Was The Best Thing That Could Ever Have Happened to Michael Jackson’s Music Show” while his partner Friess stayed in the shadows.

His surprise axeing was reported in the Las Vegas Sun and in an angry Twitter from Friess' BFF, beauty queen-turned-TV entertainment reporter Alicia Jacobs:

When respected Las Vegas writer Richard Abovitz Los Angeles Times blog item expressed wonderment over such a fuss over a common cast change in an ensemble Vegas show, a supporting player at that, Freiss responded with a tantrum on his own Vegas blog.

Oddly, Friess, who claimed loudly that the mysterious overdose death of Vegas headliner Danny Gans was not a story worthy of investigating or reporting, claims that the departure of a supporting castmember of an ensemble show is actually big news:

"... it's odd to me that Abowitz overlooks the fact that Erich's name has been in the papers for most of the time he's been in Vegas, an unusual feat for even the stars of shows with more singular performers. He's been pivotal in turning the Liberace Museum's showroom into a hip place for young Strip talent to jam, he raised $103,000+ less than a month ago for Las Vegas schoolkids in a show that drew massive amounts of international news coverage and he was the mouthpiece for 'Jersey Boys' only a fortnight ago on one of the most-watched TV shows of the summer.

"When someone makes a name for themselves, we call them celebrities. And when celebrities are summarily dismissed from the jobs that made them celebrities, the public is understandably curious. Fame + Controversy = Newsworthiness. Is it really that baffling?"

The pompous use of the word "fortnight" notwithstanding, Friess neglects to address the elephant in the room: whether Bergen got the axe because of his association with Friess and his involvement in the controversial exploitation of Michael Jackson's death.

We've emailed Friess. He has yet to respond.

(Fame + Controversy = Newsworthiness? Unless it's Danny Gans, we suppose...)


Hey Boo Boo! said...

It's worth noting that the moron who writes this site and is now holding up Richard Abowitz as "respected" bitched a few months ago on this very blog: "Abowitz, the hipster Penn Jillette fan who publicly called us insane for asking questions about the Gans case before the officials hand over the answers, has taken an elite public stand against deigning to touch the Gans story..."

So Abowitz is "respected" and yet he, too, thinks you're insane, objected to the offensive manner in which you approached the DG story and has no respect for your bizarre obsession with Danny Gans OR Steve Friess! That feeling must SUCK!

ReasonedResponse said...

Can I just say that for a guy who spends all his time obsessing over Steve Friess, you're a fine one to ask, "Who?" regarding local coverage of locally well-known performers. You think Abowitz is right that the press shouldn't cover Bergen's departure? Then why on EARTH do you devote so much of your space to covering another small-time blogger?

You think he's compromised? If you're such a terrific guardian of good journalism, why not also spend your efforts attacking Norm Clarke and Robin Leach, both of whom everyone in Vegas knows take far more handouts that color their coverage? They both have far, far broader reach than Friess, but it seems to me you lie about your motivation. You've got a vendetta. You should admit that, apologize and move on.

rakeback said...

I saw Jersey Boys in Chicago recently, and although its quite pricey I enjoyed it thoroughly. I really hope they get these issues straightened out, its a shame when personal pride gets in the way of business.