The old time celebrities who were foolish enough to think of themselves as invincible, are now like faded fools, in our new found world of social media, and those who are on the ‘tweets’, ‘instas’ and referred to constantly – they are in our faces by proxy, and no longer do we see them up close and personal. It is a sad thing that has overturned the proper order of society – for now, those former celebs are awash in scandals and they were overly developed and exploited via the social media. Are old fools nobody’s fools? This thought, too, is moot.”
One of my very best friends passed away. He was my mentor and mentor for many, very high profile, highly respected and regarded magicians. Also, one of the fi nest personalities, all while still being a real person and up front friend. Johnny Thompson, passed away at the age of 85 while he was at the Rio Theater with Penn and Teller, doing a rehearsal. What an ironic twist of fate! He always lived for the stage and helping others perfect and fine tune their acts, and befittingly, he passed while actually on stage.
On a personal note, he had one of the greatest genuine sense of humor that I have ever encountered! He would call me weekly and say, “Montella, Montella, what’s happening? Who did you hate this week?” I would respond, chuckling, hearing my dear friend’s voice, “Everyone, darling, everyone!!!” On the other end of the line, he would break up into a true laughter that was part of our never-ending friendship. Johnny, if you can hear me, may you Rest In Peace and keep creating illusions for all in heaven. Sa “hi” to Harry Houdini!
This month, there were scandals, scandals, fraud, and finally, the Michael Jackson backlash, ten years after he passed away. The story has been told, retold, been in courts, been on the tongues of fans and those who were ready to spill the beans or pretend nothing ever happened.
Well, time tells..So now, they are pulling all the Michael Jackson impersonators off their gigs and they have to find a new visage or get a day job! Anita Mann, whom I personally adore and is a lifelong friend, pulled the Michael Jackson tribute from Fantasy when Leaving Neverland was released. The Jackson Family is suing HBO for 4100 million for producing and airing the documentary.
On a side note, LaToya Jackson is now able to have a gig diss-ing her brother, Michael. Onto another segue, LaToya’s late husband, Jack Gordon, managed me for a minute. Jack was my agent and convinced me to become the Hedda Hopper of Las Vegas. He did not steer me wrong. This columnist has been at it for 20 years.
On a dreadful note, Jussie Smollett is now indicted on 16 counts in Cook County, Chicago, Illinois, for allegedly engineering a hate crime (homophobic) against himself by allegedly hiring two friends to carry out his scheme. The noose was a horrendous reminder of how lynchings took place 150 years ago in our country! Jussie – the Empire has collapsed. In fact, I feel that Empire has seen its last days. I am tired of seeing a lot of these hold over series, continually being broadcast for home viewing when there are so many new works to be put on the TV. If people want Empire, et al, then they can have it streamed to them on their computers. The public want new shows.
How many musicals do we need to change the formula? Case in point, Britney Spears The musical, which is headed to the Broadway boards in October. With all of her songs and her producing, the story line will still be the true Disney princess formula. I remember, do you?. When Miss Britney was a little girl (was she ever?), she was on the remake of the Mickey Mouse Club, along with Justin Timberlake. Two super stars, both whom came out of the Disney closet – just an April Fool’s pun!
Years back, Annette Funicello (may she RIP), and others, all got their start from the divine world of Disney.
In the world of the disillusioned illusionists, we have many stars and some whose acts made them disappear. The top of form is, of course, David Copperfield. He used to be on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show (do you remember?) sitting next to me on the guest couch as Johnny or any of the other night time talk hosts, would interview us and I would provide comic relief and some fine singing.
Then came the greatest new Goth-inspired talent of Criss Angel, who has taken magic to newer realms with the use of TV to promote his Mind Freak show. It’s currently playing to packed houses at Planet Hollywood. Criss is a hunk, and a superb magician, to boot! Please, get your tickets for this formidable good guy of magic and have your mind freaked out.
Penn and Teller, of course, they were also on SRO Broadway venues, and for all these years, playing the Rio as the twosome with the coolest magic of all. Now, how do you find a disappearing act? Well, does anyone recall Darren Romeo, the prodigy of Siegfried and Roy at The Mirage? That was in the early 2000’s? Billed as a singer/magician, he was produced by Kenny Ortega and then, magically, disappeared. Rumor has it, no, just joking, April fool’s, he has been working in Branson, MO and now appears six days-a-week at the Smoky Mountain Opry Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
We must note the passing of three great divas. The great Morgana King, great jazz singer of the 60’s; Kaye Ballard, a member of the LGBTQ community and resident of Palm Desert, CA best known for The Mothers-In-laws on television (produced by Desi Arnaz from I Love Lucy). The irony is that Desi gave her his home in Palm Desert and that is where she passed away. The inimitable Carol Channing. Hello! Carol, Dolly! May you and the rest all be singing the strains of Gabriel’s harp in heaven!
So, if you are all looking to pull a bunny rabbit (yes, Easter’s coming – good/bad pun!) out of your April Fool’s hats (complete with bells on the tips), think of all the fun and magic you had today just by reading this column.
From the Merry Prankster Himself:
Monti Rock III with respect and sincerity – love all my readers and friends – and even those who are a pain the neck –
Your devoted columnist, Monti Rock III and ZoZo the Wonder Dog and Canine Celebrity