$1 mil ‘Deal’ being made at Indian tribes’ casinos

GOOD MORNING: Vegas, Atlantic City? Forget it — the place for performers is showrooms of Indian tribes’ casinos. Here’s a sample of the hefty wampum being dealt: For his “Let’s Make a Deal” shows at Foxwoods in Connecticut, May 23, 25 and 26, Monty Hall will be giving away $1 million per show to a winner. The casinos “love to have winners,” Hall said. The show is exactly as Hall has done it on TV since it went on the air on NBC in 1963. After 4,700 shows, he retired in 1991. That’s what he thought! Classic segs of the show air on GSN. And the faithful fans, old and young, still don those wacky costumes to try to be contestants. Now the venue is the showrooms — some holding 2,100 — in Indian casinos all across the country. Hall said he got a call “out of the blue” two years ago from agent Mike Gold to put together the show — “live.” It hit the jackpot again for Hall, 82, who still bounds up and down the theater steps cajoling the contestants into choosing hidden prizes. Now it’s not a refrigerator, TV set — or even a car — but cash! “And the casinos are happy to do it!” Hall told me. “When a sign goes up in the lobby that theshow is coming, they start getting their costumes ready and it’s always SRO.” By the way, contestants sometimes get tickets to the show by piling up points playing in the casino … There’s little production expense and Hall handles the show with minimal assistants. He prepares for the show on the preceding night, having phoned requirements to the casino in advance … Agent Mike Gold, who dealt Monty Hall his new winning hand in showbiz, told me he booked 60-75 performers a month into casino venues. They range from nightclub performers to soap opera stars who do “meet and greet” autograph appearances for hefty sums. Regis Philbin is one of the most popular with his show. Richard Rosenberg, executive vice president, who heads personal appearances at the William Morris Agency, said they have booked acts in 75 Indian casinos in the past year. The names include Johnny Mathis, Neil Sedaka, Tom Jones, Robert Klein, etc. Stars like Bill Cosby and Don Rickles segue from stands in Vegas and Atlantic City to the Indian casinos. Salaries at each venue are about equal. They range from $15,000 to $250,000 — per performer, per show! “They buy talent in a broad genre of entertainment,” Rosenberg noted. “Some for example focus on country, others contemporary — and then there’s always comedy” … There was one reminder from Rosenberg: The deals are made under legal jurisdiction of the Indians’ land, and when one performer was “stiffed, we couldn’t do anything about it.”

LAST WEEK, it was honors from the Israeli Film Festival at the Academy theater in BevHills; tonight, it’s “Jesus as Celebrity,” a seminar at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. That’s the agenda for Norman Jewison. Peter Jennings moderates the panel with Jewison (“Jesus Christ Superstar”), Barbara De Fina (“The Last Temptation of Christ”), Richard Fox, author of “Jesus in America,” and Marvin Mayer of Chapman College. Jewison, who hadn’t seen Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” quickly took it in yesterday before heading for the Tribeca panel discussion. And Monday, Jewison attends the memorial service for Carl Anderson (Judas in “Superstar”) at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in N.Y. Jewison and John Patrick Shanley, who teamed on “Moonstruck,” reunite on “Bread & Tulips” for UA Classics … Jack Nicholson is busy viewing the Lakers — on TV last night from San Antonio — and live when they’re back in L.A. at the Staples Center. Jack continues happily taking time off — “I’ve worked almost every day for three and a half years.” And no, he has absolutely no plans to start any project, and isn’t even reading any scripts, explaining, “If you read — you’re working. And I never have any trouble not working.” He’s enjoying spending time with his children and reminded me of Richard Burton’s definition of not working: “It’s when you’re off-off.”

SHERYL CROW, Alanis Morissette, Robbie Williams, Natalie Cole, Mario Frangoulis and Lara Fabian perform a Cole Porter concert at the Palais following the screening of “De-Lovely,” closing night, May 22, of the Cannes fest. Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd, who play Cole and Linda Porter, will be on hand. The pic opens in limited release from MGM June 25 and preems at the Acad’s Samuel Goldwyn theater June 11 … “It’s a millennium leap,” said Joan Van Ark from D.C., where she winds her stand at the Kennedy Center Sunday in a program of five one-act plays by Tennessee Williams. She then wings back to L.A. to resume her role in “The Young & the Restless.” She bowed onstage at 15 in Williams’ “Summer & Smoke.” Her return to the stage (she was a Tony nominee for “The School for Wives”) — and her rave reviews — have convinced her “I have to go back to N.Y.” (B’way, of course) … Also in D.C., Macaulay Culkin, 23, on the p.a. trail for MGM’s “Saved,” in which he plays a paraplegic, said, “I want to only do different things.” He’s awaiting word on his NBC pilot “Foster Hall,” in which Busy Philips (“Freaks and Geeks”) plays his twin sister. He tossed hefty praise on Philips and on his young “Saved” co-star Eva Amurri, Susan Sarandon’s daughter, who plays “my Jewish girlfriend, the only Jewish girl in a Christian town!” … Shelley Long hosts today’s tribute at the BevHills Hotel to the late Camela Ostern Markman at the annual Mother’s Day Lunch of the Westside Children’s Center, where Markman was a tireless champion. The luncheon is chaired by Cami’s mother, Ava Ostern Fries, and $275,000 is raised for the center via this tribute. Lezlie Johnson founded the Center … Chickie (Hortensia) Kleiner, 81, widow of columnist Dick Kleiner, died Wednesday at home. She had been a showbiz press agent and once worked for the N.Y. Journal-American … Rick Yorn of the Firm and model Christina Harvey will wed May 29 in Malibu. He was bachelor-partied last weekend at the Bellagio in Vegas … KTTV’s “Good Day Live” broadcasts its entire show May 14 from Hollywood Boulevard site when Steve Edwards receives his star … Meg Ryan intros Robert Kennedy Jr. at tonight’s NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) gala at the Wadsworth Theater in West L.A. Performers include Jack Black, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Larry David, Will Ferrell, Leonardo DiCaprio; Tom Hanks hosts the show raising funds to safeguard the earth’s natural resources.