Monday, May 11, 2009

Travels with Dom

Dom DeLuise was a halogen light in a 40 watt world.

The first time I met him was backstage at The David Frost Show, and little did I know that a short 7 years later, I'd be standing next to him waiting to go on stage at Sahara's Lake Tahoe Resort watching as he walked on stage to open for Pat and Debby ("You Light Up My Life") Boone.

But there is a lot more to the story.

I worked with Howard Rothberg. Dom was on his way to London for an appearance on The Muppet Show, and Howard had arranged a Trans-Atlantic crossing on Cunard for his entire family. He only had to do one 45 minute lecture for the pasengers and they gave him 3 suites and airfare for everyone. It was a sweet deal.

I showed up at his house on Corsica Drive in Pacific Palisades to escort the DeLuise family to the airport. After meeting his wife Carol and three sons, Peter Michael and David, we all piled into the family station wagon for the trip to LAX. They had to stop in NY first to pick up his mother, and then get to the ship for the crossing to London.

It was quite chaotic, and naturally Dom was besieged with fans. But instead of signing autographs, he had these little pre-signed printed cards, and he gave them out to people. They disappeared into the crowds at LAX and I drove the car back to his house.

To this day, I have no godly idea why we didn't get a limo.

Back to Lake Tahoe....

We arrive two days in advance, and the pressure is on. There is a lot riding on this engagement. Pat and Debby Boone are very popular, and this is a big deal. It marks a calculated strategy to not only increase his ability to make money, but to elevate him to headliner star status.

Dom's a natural comedian, but putting together an opening act is no small feat. He is going to bring back "Dominik The Great" a flawed magician he first made famous on The Gary Moore Show. There were costume changes, special effects and a whole slide show of pictures of his family and growing up in Brooklyn.

We were on stage rehearsing when the VP of Entertainment walked in. I don't remember his name, but I went up to introduce myself and he asked me who was on stage. I thought he was joking. It was hard to miss his name. There were posters at the airport and all town...not to mention this big marquee at the front of the Hotel with his name on it. I decided to go along with the joke.

I said," That's Dom DeLuise". His response floored me. "That's NOT Dom DeLuise", he shot back. "Dom DeLuise is on The Carol Burnett Show."

Oh my god. He thinks Dom is Tim Conway....and that's who he thought he booked. It was one of the few times in my career that I was speechless.

He was very confused, scratching his head for a few moments as Dom was rehearsing 'Dominck The Great' on stage. He was hilarious. The buyer started to laugh and I could see that all it took was a good joke to avoid a disaster.

Dom was a big hit. All went according to plan, and Dom appeared regularly in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Atlantic City. But I never told him about what happened.

Here's another great 'inside' true story...

Robin Williams became famous on TV as Mork. What you probably don't know is that Dom DeLuise was the first choice for the part.

Here's what happened. Jerry Paris and Dom were friends and one day during the kid's softball game in Pacific Palisades, Jerry asked Dom to do a small cameo in Happy Days. Dom, who always found it hard to say no to his friends, agreed and Jerry sent over the script and contract.

We told Jerry that Dom wasn't doing any television...especially the #1 rated show on ABC. We had just passed on resigning for the next season of Dean Martin Roasts, and there was no way we were going to piss off Dean Martin, Greg Garrison and NBC.

They would just have to find someone else to put on a red costume and play an alien named Mork.

And the next person they picked wasn't Robin Williams...but I'll save that story for another time.

No comments:

Post a Comment