Editorial: The People vs Planet Hollywood's Robert Earl
How one man ruined the Planet Hollywood grand opening (in fifty words or less)
Something interesting happened in our little network of independent Vegas websites last week that I'd like to take a few minutes to discuss. Journalist/podcaster Steve Friess, whose extensive list of credits and achievements are too numerous to mention here, was commissioned to write a piece for the London Telegraph about the grand re-opening of Planet Hollywood a few weeks ago. The article discussed Planet Hollywood boss Robert Earl's plans for the P-Ho and his calling upon his celebrity friends to come hype the event. The very same celebs who stood by with champagne in hand at the openings of Planet Hollywood's failed chain of burger joints back in the early 90's have come back to do it again... namely investors Sly Stallone and Bruce Willis.
Robin Leach said that the opening of the Planet Hollywood may be the "biggest showbiz weekend in Vegas history." Hunter Hillegas (RateVegas.com) had a different take on Earl's use of his connections to stir up interest in the event.
It feels very fake. [Robert Earl has] got a lot of celebrity friends, but it still feels totally phoney to me. The kind of people he's getting are on the way out, they're not up-and-comers. I have serious doubts of the prospects of Planet Hollywood on a long-term scale.
If Earl replaced yesterdays superstars Stallone and Willis with Clooney and Pitt would doubts about the viability of Planet Hollywood still exist, or is it the concept itself that is the problem? In era where Hiltons, Lohans, ex-Federlines and various spoiled twenty-somethings from Orange County (via MTV) are paid six figures for showing up at an overpriced bar, will wringing the formaldehyde from Sly and Bruce for a semi-annual visit provide ample horsepower in the race for the Vegas dollar? Some people, myself included, have no interest in rubbing elbows with talentless debutantes, others do. Other people, myself included, have no interest in rubbing elbows with wrinkly action stars, some do. Will the market for recent-classic Hollywood be as bankable as $500 bottle service in the glow of Britney Spears over the long term. When Mr. Earl phones in the same folks who tricked us into eating lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe impostor back in the 90s - this time to get us to blow a wad of cash in the Top Gun or Rocky slots - it sure does have a 'been there, done that' ring to it.
Shortly after the London Telegraph published the article, Mr. Earl phoned Steve to complain about the article's headline and to take issue with quoting the opinion of an unknown operator of an unknown website, who happened to call bullshit on Planet Hollywood. If Hunter had less critical observations about the launch of Planet Ho, would Earl have sent roses to RateVegas and a candygram to the Telegraph? Probably not. Anthony Curtis, the Las Vegas Advisor, is normally the go-to-guy for thoughtfully innocuous Vegas casino biz approved commentary, but to Steve's credit he opted to ask a truly independent party what their opinion was. Over the following days, thoughtful discussion peppered with occasional rounds of mortar fire broke out on Steve's The Strip Podcast Blog, and Hunter's Two Way Hard Three blog. Steve expanded on the hubub his column for the Las Vegas Weekly.
*THWAK* Will the case of The People vs. Robert Earl please come to order.