Barbra’s Grand stand gives rise to tour talk

GOOD MORNING: No question about it, Barbra Streisand made a triumphant return to the live arena with her two-niter at the billion-$ MGM Grand. Will she continue with live performances? Will she tape her show for TViewing? She answered both questions for me at the New Year’s Eve party in her suite at the hotel following her first night’s outing.

First of all, she admitted, “I said to myself on the plane coming up here, ‘What have I done? What am I doing?’ ” She was admittedly scared. But as the show went on and the cheers and shrieks from fans in the 13,000

Grand Garden increased, her fright faded and her enjoyment started. So, when I asked her, “Will you tour?” she answered, “A few cities.” What about taping the show? “I might do it in New York,” she answered. Radio City Music Hall — Madison Square Garden? — to be seen. Meanwhile, there was no question she was even happier the second night (Saturday). “I think I even enjoyed myself,” she said. At the close of Friday night’s show she exclaimed, “I did it! I did it!” The first night was like New Haven — out of town — and the second was … Broadway … Although she canceled the proposed pay-per-view/or HBO taping Thursday at 1:30 p.m., the same number (10) of cameras chronicled her every move and note — by producers Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion — on both nights. Further , Barbra, looking great (minus eight pounds in preparing the show!), has her own crew taping backstage — her rehearsal, everything involved with readying her Las Vegas return after 22 years. (I saw the last one at the Hilton here — and whatta difference 22 years makes!) … Incidentally, Smith and Hemion agreed with Streisand in her decision to cancel the mechanics needed for the kind of TV’er she’d approved. The cranes, the lighting, the cameras moving about would have distracted her — and the audience. “She knows what she wants — no compromise,” said Smith, “and she was right.” But he, too, had “a hunch” she would continue to tour the show. “She had a great time,” he added. The jettisoning of the “official” taping cost Streisand about a million-$ — she paid for the entire company of 350 to tape it, anyway. They all returned by chartered plane Sunday morning, by the way. What’s on the immediate agenda for Streisand? Developing the two scripts she wants to put before the cameras soon; “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” which she’ll direct and star in at TriStar, and “The Normal Heart,” which she will direct at Columbia.

BOTH BARBRA’S AND MARTY ERLICHMAN’S suites on the 29th floor of Kirk Kerkorian’s Vegas extravaganza were filled with friends, both on New Year’s Eve after the first concert and on Saturday night after the second. Streisand spent much time talking with her mother and President Clinton’s mom, Virginia Clinton Kelley. Also son Jason, former husband Elliott Gould, sister Rosalind Kind, Christine and Jon Peters and Caliegh Peters, Barbra’s goddaughter, who was inspiration for a segment of the show. Also there: Andre Agassi, Peter Weller, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Jay Leno, Diandra and Michael Douglas, the Gregory Pecks, Barney Rosenzweig and wife Sharon Gless (he’s a longtime Streisandfan — he drove up), Lorraine and David Gerber, CAA’s Michael Ovitz and Fred Specktor, Sydney Pollack, Michael Feinstein, Peter Bogdanovich, Kenny Solms , Gareth Wigan and Pat Newcomb. Also Bella Abzug, Stanley Sheinbaum and Coretta Scott King. The Aaron Spellings and the Frank Mancusos were in similar penthouse suites. Alan and Marilyn Bergman, who wrote the show, ditto conductor Marvin Hamlisch and his wife. And Quincy Jones and Nastassja Kinski, the David Fosters, Barbara Bach, Barbara Lazaroff and Wolfgang Puck, who have a restaurant in the Grand, were on hand for the second show, as was Berry Gordy. And “SNL’s” Mike Myers, with his wife — he said it was “awesome to be on stage with Streisand!”

BARBRA STREISAND DID NOT make mention to the audience that Michael Jackson was among them. Everyone knew it. However, when I asked Barbra THE NIGHT BEFORE whether Michael was coming to her show, she answered, “Michael who?” I knew he was in town and was rumored to be attending with Michael Milken, Steve Wynn and Paul Anka, but Streisand didn’t get the word until Saturday afternoon. She blamed the rumor on “the press — the press!” Jackson will be playing the same Grand arena on Feb. 19 in the “Jackson Family Honors,” NBC TV’er also to be produced by Gary Smith, directed by Walter C. Miller. Michael had a good chance to see the possibilities for the family event via the Streisand concert. No, she will not be part of the Jackson show, which honors Elizabeth Taylor and Berry Gordy. Gary Smith told me, “We are getting tremendous support from the showbiz community (for the Jackson show)” since Michael’s Santa Barbara satellite message/plea for privacy. Michael visited backstage with Streisand … Paul Anka admitted he had been house-hunting in Vegas — he sold his former house there to Kerkorian. The Anka home had been on the site that has become the MGM Grand’s driveway. He said he also had an offer from Taco Bell and Burger King!

FRANK SINATRA, STARRING in the MGM Grand’s 1,700-seat Grand Theater, celebrated New Year’s Eve in his suite, similar in size to Streisand’s, but in another wing of the luxurious 29th floor. Friends here included Veronique and Gregory Peck, daughter Cecilia Peck and son Tony Peck with wife Cheryl Tiegs. Also there, Bob Wagner and Jill St. John, Steve and Eydie and, of course, Barbara Sinatra. Frank finished his stand in the hotel Saturday night and headed for Palm Springs, where his golf tourney Feb. 4-5 features a gala closing night with Tony Bennett headlining along with Sinatra. Sinatra was in excellent voice at his Vegas stand. The room will boast Liza Minnelli Feb. 17-20, said Richard Sturm, Grand entertainment VP. And this fall, a $ 30 million interactive special effects-type show goes into the room. Landmark Entertainment is producing it. I met Larry Woolf, chair, president and CEO of MGM Grand Hotel Inc., who, like visitors Michael Eisner of Disney and Gerald Levin of Time Warner, was interested in the enormous business being done by the company store — the first MGM Grand Co. — which, like the Disney and WB stores, sells every item imaginable connected with MGM history.

LAS VEGAS IS NOW BEING SOLD as a family vacation site, and the MGM Grand is heavy-selling that sideline to the obvious non-family gambling adventure … And while the casino and the lobby were packed with people pushing strollers, toting toddlers and dragging small fry, I found MGM’s delightful 33-acre Grand Adventures Theme Park fairly empty. The park’s themed a la Disneyland, Universal Studios, etc., with rides, live shows, lotsa eats and souvenir shops. I took a ride on the Backlot River Tour, f’rinstance, a takeoff of the Jungle Boat ride at Disneyland — except it’s set on a studio backlot. Inside the hotel, the Oz Midway and Emerald City were packed with young and older … It all sounds and looks good, but the shortcomings of the hotel in its opening weeks left many frustrated, angered and/or disappointed. The phone system was a disaster. Room service can hardly be described in its inefficiency. Its need was compounded since all restaurants and food centers were unable to cope with the hordes. Computer glitches in reservations had guests waiting for hours to get rooms unscrambled and/or cleared. Don Rickles, who opened for Sinatra, noted, “This is my dream — working in a hotel that is not finished.” The hotel wasn’t happy with remarks by Don or Barbra about the hotel. But hopefully, all will soon be even Grand’er.

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