I reached director Taylor Hackford on his cell phone — quite accidentally — not knowing he was, at that moment,   going through security at LAX earier this week. He was en route to Budapest for a visit with wife Helen Mirren  She is in the midst of non-stop filming. This one is  “The Debt”. And just as her costarrer “State of Play” is opening this weekend. And as Taylor and she await final funds for the release of  “Love Ranch” in which she and Joe Pesci costar., Hackford directing.  Hackford  was also taking  time off directing ” Louis and Keely, Live at the Sahara” at the Geffen’s Skirball  theater.where it has been extended to May 24 — and who knows if longer. Hackford  continues to love working on it with its stars  Vanessa Claire Smith and Jake Broder.And says he may segue to a larger theater before even attempting Broadway.

I reached Keely once again at her home  in Palm Springs. While the Geffen has been telling about her life in Vegas, she just completed a two-week stand in the Rrazz Room of San Fran’s Hotel Nikko. She says she loved the room — even more so than the first time she played it. I asked her when she’d come to L.A to see “Louis and Keely Live at the Sahara”?  “I don’t intend to,” she said firmly — while again noting her friendship with Hackford whom she’s met — as well as Mirren during the latter’s desert visit.

While Keely Smith has no intention of revisiting her Sahara days via the Geffen, Vegas alumni Don Rickles and Bob Newhart caught the legiter and told me they loved it. Rickles played the Sahara’s 2 ayem show following  Keely and Louis’ midnighter. He was a standard in the lounge as well for years — until the one night he subbed a main room gig for ailing Johnny Carson at the Sands. Rickles’ lounge days were over as he moved up  Rickles, who will be 83, May 8, tells me still does 80 shows a year. He said he and Newhart only worked together one time. “But seeing the show at the Geffen was like looking  like a piece of your own life.,” said Rickles, “They were red hot,” he recalls “It was a wonderful era.. Newhart will l be 80, Spet.5 and says “I’ll c continue working until I drop!”  In Februrary. I’ll celebrate 50 years as a standup. When I started I was called ‘The Kid’.” I told Bob, “Keep going, Kid.” 

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