Wednesday, 23 April 2014
A NEW DECADE. FEELING SEA SICK IN LAS VEGAS! CUDECA NEEDS MORE CASH
The New Year brings a new sponsor for my radio show. Ocean Estates, founded by Alistair and Alice MacDonald, were at the time one of Marbella’s most successful real estate agencies . Property sales during the turn of the decade were booming and the MacDonald's wanted use the radio to aggressively market their wide range of proprieties. Shortly after the deal was agreed Ocean Estates moved into state of the art offices in Puerto Banus. For the launch they brought golfing legend the late Seve Ballesteros as their star guest (see photo. I think I was checking my hair was in place!)
Travelling came very much part of my time with Ocean Estates especially to UK and Irish property exhibitions. Alistsir and Alice loved London's Dorchester Hotel, when they were not exhibiting in Olympia or Earls Court etc they would use the Dorchester as a London base to exhibit. I, of course, was delighted as I got to stay in what they effectually called the 'Dorch' when traveling with them to UK. One memorable show from the Dorchester was with Lord Jeffery Archer (Although I had already interviewed by phone I had never met him in the flesh as they say) Another guest that day was actress Maureen Lipman, again someone I had never met, in fact never interviewed until that day but I was a huge fan, still am. After the show Maureen and myself took ourselves off for coffee so we could plan her daughters and my son’s wedding. We were both delighted finding Jewish partners for our kids, the only problem was neither her daughter nor my son were in on this plan, in fact they had never met! Ah well things might happen in the future we both agreed, they didn’t and my son is happily married as I'm sure Maureen's daughter is..
Another UK property show was from Earls Court, this time my guests included The Hamilton’s that is the colorful Neil and Christine Hamilton. I always enjoyed having them on my show and was delighted to meet them ‘in the flesh’. After the show we took ourselves off to Pizza Express for lunch. I was amazed at how famous they were (or are) as people kept coming over asking for photos, completely ignoring me that is except the waiter when he brought me the bill!!!
I was watching the Des O’Conner TV Show, when my old mate Kenny Lynch was a guest. During the interview he mentioned he was off to Portugal to celebrate Jimmy Tarbucks 60th. All of a sudden I was interested as that sounded like a perfect opportunity for one of my outside broadcast shows. After a few phone calls I got hold of Jimmy’s PA and suggested that perhaps I could broadcast the show live from his Birthday celebrations. She said she needed to check it out with him and would come back to me. Within a couple of hours she called back and said that Jimmy said he would be delighted for me to come along and was looking forward to meeting me.
Jimmy Tarbuck used to spend a lot of time in Marbella, in fact he was the one responsible for the famous Italian singer Tony Dalli coming to Marbella to open his restaurant. For some reason 'Tarby' fell out of love with Marbella, it was said that he objected to the ludicrous prices that were, at the time, been charged for around of golf!! Tarby chose the Algarve instead and it was there that he established his annual Jimmy Tarbuck Golf Tournament which raises funds for the local children’s home Refúgio Aboim Ascensão.
The first thing I needed to check out was to make sure the hotel Don Filipa, where the birthday celebrations were to be held, had an ISDN line, this is a lesson, you might remember, that I learnt from my trip to Barbados that almost cost me my show (See chapter 21). The hotel informed me that they had no ISDN line nor would it have been possible, they said, to get one in the time required. I had the choice to either call off my trip to Portugal or record the show to be put out at a later date. I chose the latter.
I had brought the mini disc recorder with me, the same one as I recorded Paul Anka on in Las Vegas. I’m always nervous recording an interview without an engineer, so with that in mind I try to be doubly careful when recording. After about half hour we rapped up our chat he thanked me very much and said that he looked forward to seeing me at his party that evening. Over the years I’ve found that there are only two types of interviewees those that are difficult to chat to and those who are easy and Jimmy most certainly falls into the latter, he was both generous with his time and funny. I was delighted with the interview and played it back to make sure all my levels etc were okay. I pressed play and heard nothing! Don’t panic I thought must be the volume, I checked the volume. NOTHING!!! Oh shit, this is a disaster! I tried everything still NOTHING not a Dicky Bird!! I removed the minidisc from the recorder to check it and there it was, a tiny adhesive label that was part of the cellophane rapping paper had fallen off and lodged it’s self in the discs driving wheel, a chance off this happening is about 1 in a Billion! What to do? Certainly I had no intention of approaching Jimmy who was now back with his bunch of celebrity mates and admitting to him what has just happened. As Dell Boy would have said; 'What a Plonker!' and that's exactly how I felt, a RIGHT PLONKER!
If you’ve ever had an out of body experience that's what I was now experiencing. I found myself drifting slowly towards the celebrity table, the Good Voice in my head was saying; ‘Sit down doh’t do this’ the Bad Voice was saying; ‘Go on Go on make an idiot of yourself!’ When Jimmy saw me he jumped up put his arm around me saying: “Jess this guy’s brilliant, thanks Maurice loved it” Oh shit, I thought, then I heard myself saying in the lowest voice possible hopping on Jimmy could hear me: “It didn’t come out” A deadly silence swept over the table, it felt like an eternity until Jimmy said: “Okay lets do it again.” I couldn’t believe it, he guided me back to the table and did the half hour interview all over again. I’ll be always thankful to ‘Tarby’ for that. A great entertainer and a true gentleman.
Jimmy’s 60th turned out to be a great success and Jimmy even mentioned me in his speech as the ‘Faultless’ radio host, unfortunately that got a great laugh all round.
I headed back to Marbella the next day with a bunch of celebrity interviews recording after a shaky start it all turned out well in the end.
No sooner did I get back to Marbella than the call I was hoping for eventually came, it was from Debbie Munch the marketing executive from Caesars Palace Las Vegas confirming that she wanted me back for another show Live From Caesars. Of course I was delighted to accept and again she promised some top class celebrity guests etc.
It was so amazing having someone else for a change arrange my guests, five days a week I broadcast The Boland Show and five days a week I have to find and secure at least 4 guests per sho so having Debbie doing that in Las Vegas spoils me rotten (remember my worries I had about guests when arriving in Barbados? See chapter 21). Wendy was also delighted that she was coming back with me, if you remember she wasn’t over enthusiastic about her first trip to Vegas but after spending the ten days there she loved it, especially shopping in the malls!
The Cudeca Hospice under construction. Although the roof was almost finished more fund were urgently needed to complete the building work.
The second call I was half expecting was from Joan Hunt who didn’t beat about the bush saying she needed more funds to help complete the hospice. I had visited the construction sight a few times over the following month since Raise The Roof and was excited by the progress but as Joan said more funds were urgently needed to help complete the hospice. With Joan you really don't have any choices so I agreed yet again to help. The first thing I decided on for the next fund raising event was to hold on the anniversary of Raise The Roof which was mid December and this being only March giving me 8 months to plan ahead. I was sure the shear outpouring of support for last years hugely successful left most of us charity fatigued so I needed to come up with something very different but equally as successful. I knew it would be hard to equal the 30 million raised at last years gala but I knew I’d at least give it a damn good try. As always the drive to do so was the memory of my late fathers, Dr Stanley Boland, suffering from cancer and how I wished that palliative care was available for him as he approached the end of his life.
I now needed a new plan to Raise the Roof again. I began to think about the successes of the celebrity golf tournaments at La Manga for Varity Club and Jimmy Tarbuck’s Tournament for the Children’s home and thought maybe that’s the way to go. I also remembered meeting Terry Mancini ex international footballer who organises celebrity golf tournaments worldwide. I called him and thankfully he remembered me saying he would be delighted in organising a celebrity golf tournament for me in Marbella, I suggested we should have a celebrity to add a title to the tournament (there I go again me and my titles!) He asked me who I fancied as many of the well know celebrities already hosted their own tournaments. I remembered being introduced to John Lodge, guitarist with one of the world’s biggest rock bands The Moody Blues, at La Manga and asked Terry to see if he was interested.
(The photo below of John Lodge and myself was taken at La Manga when we first met)
Terry said he’s get to work on celebrity invites etc and that I would need to organise airline tickets for at least 20 celebrities and 5 star accommodation, meals and transport.
With a little Boland blarney I secured the 5 star Don Carlos Hotel and 20 celebrity rooms by assuring them that I would have the gala evening in there magnificent ballroom. I also was lucky enough to get a very reduced rate from THE Santa Maria Golf Club. Servatour again were fantastic and agreed to sponsor the 20 airline tickets and Harro rent-a-car agreed to supply 10 courtesy cars. Job done. Next stop Las Vegas!
Arriving in Las Vegas this is the huge neon sign that greeted us as we approached Caesars Palace! If you’ve never experienced your name up in lights it’s hard to explain how exciting it is and doubly so when it happens to you on the main boulevard in Ls Vegas along with the biggest names in the world of entertainment.
It was great to see Debbie Munch again, she is the Marketing Executive of Caesars Place and is the one responsible for inviting me back to Vegas. Debbie also organises most of my guests.
“Do you get sea sick?” smiled Debbie. Interesting question I thought seeing we were in the middle of the dessert. “No not really, why?”
“Well, this years Boland show will be coming live from a boat.” Has Debbie gone barmy?
“Well not exactly a boat, a barge!” Yep, she lost it, must be the pressure of work at Caesars.
“ This year we’ve planed to broadcast your show live from Cleopatra’s Barge” An a excited Debbie told me
This boat rocks! Cleopatra's Barge, the luxurious floating lounge at Caesars Palace, is an ornate replica of the sturdy but graceful craft that transported the royalty of Egypt on the Nile River in the time of Julius Caesar. So there you have it, that's where I’ll be broadcasting from, a barge in the middle of one of the worlds most famous hotels!
I was delighted to welcome Ben Vereen onto the show. Vereen is most famouse for his role as Chicken George in the TV adaptation of Alex Hayley book Roots. I met Bubba Knight, Gladys Knight's younger brother, last time I was in Vegas, he is one of the funnest men I have ever met he always has me in knots of laughter every time he tells me “I’m a PIP!” Yes Bubba was one of Gladys Knights backing group the Pips.
I had some memorable shows on this trip to Vegas, one that stands out for me was with Otis Williams and the Temptation. Otis is like a demi god in America, although he’s the only reaming member of the Temptations, the rest have been members of the group for years, the youngest having spent the last 25 years with them. Although it was early in the morning I persuaded the Temps to sing acapella; My Girl and all I can say is that the hairs were standing to attention on my arm, I have never heard anything like it. Robert Goulet wouldn’t travel into Caesars for his interview, so myself and Jeff were invited to do it at the stars home(See Photo of Goulet and myself in his garden)
Another wonderful story from my second trip to Vegas was told by Debbie herself; Most visitors to Vegas normal stay for a max of four days and allow themselves an average of $2,000 to gamble with, win or lose the golden rule is once its gone that's it, never draw more cash using your credit card to chase your losses! "This rule doesn’t always work for everyone" Debbie told me! This couple, we’ll call them Sylvie and Mike, had come to their final day and had lost their agreed gambling amount. They'd already checked out of their room and had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport. Mike suggest cashing $500 to see if their luck had changed. Sylvia wasn’t happy, an argument pursued with Mike coming out the winner, so they withdrew another $500, he kept $400 to try to win back the $2,000 he’d lost playing Black Jack and gave Sylvia $100 to play the slots. After 20 minutes and losing his $400, Mike found his wife standing by the slot machine called Big Bertha, he suggested that they should leave for the airport, but Sylvia said that she thinks she might of won something and was waiting for the slots cashier to confirm her win. Big Bertha is a giant slot machine that’s works linked to other Big Bertha slots throughout Las Vegas as an accumulator and she has just hit the jackpot $25 million!!!! You here about these stories all the time in Las Vegas but it never seems to happen to you!
I must have done an OK job judging Miss Hawiann Tropical last year with David Hassolhoff and Co because I was invited back again this year. This time the final was held at the Goldan Nugget Hotel and Casino. The photograph of me with the finalist and the CEO of Hawaiian Tropical Ron Rice.
It's always sad when the time to bid farewell arrives saying goodbye to Debbie, Jeff and all the crew at Caesars arrives, but again we promised to return soon. As we took off from Las Vegas's International airport, looking out of the window at the extraordinary color mixture from the thousands of illuminated neon signs flickering below us, I started to reflect about my outside broadcasts from Vegas, Barbados, Portugal, London and La Manga wondering where to next. One thing for sure although they were stressful shows I was loving the travel and meeting a huge cross section of guests. As we approached Malaga my mind turned to the Raise the Roof campaign and what lies ahead.
To be continued.......
Here is a small selection of photos from my trip to Vegas. From the left: Bubba Knight. Otis Williams (2nd Left) Ben 'Chicken George' Vereen. Backstage with Mr Las Vegas Wayne Newton. Playing Piano with Buddy Greco. Back stage with magician Lance Burton (He earns $5 million a year from his Vegas shows!) Jeff my ever suffering engineer in Vegas. The Las Vegas Sun announces the return of The Boland Show to Caesars Palace. Wendy getting into the limo for another shopping trip to the Mall!