Tough-guy actor Michael Madsen owes his only Frank Sinatra moment to a casino photographer.
Madsen, who is in town shooting a film titled “Silver” in which he plays Ted Binion’s character, was at The Sands with some cast and crew members who got comped to Sinatra’s show.
This was 1988, and they were shooting “Kill Me Again” with Val Kilmer.
“I actually met him coming out after the concert,” Madsen said during a break on Saturday.
“You know how they shot those Polaroids back then? Well, my eyes were closed in the photo, and I’m telling this girl I need a new photo.
“I hear this voice from behind me, and it’s Sinatra, and he says, ‘Don’t worry, kid, things are going to get better.’ ”
As Madsen’s jaw drops, Sinatra enters an elevator.
“And he was right,” Madsen said. “Things got better.”
Three years later, he caught the eye of Quentin Tarantino, who cast Madsen in the blood-spattered cult film “Reservoir Dogs.”
The role paid off big for Madsen, who landed hot roles in “Donnie Brasco” and both “Kill Bill” films.
Madsen has plans to stay around Las Vegas this time.
“I’ve been looking at a couple houses,” he said. He had “a good meeting” with Mayor Carolyn Goodman and accepted her offer to join the Mayor’s Film Coalition Board.
Madsen was shooting horse scenes over three days and literally shooting at the Clark County Shooting Complex.
The horse scenes, shot at the Stewart Ranch at Jones Boulevard and the Las Vegas Beltway, involved him giving co-star Shayla Beesley a horse as a gift. Beesley, the Sandy Murphy character, goes by Kim in the film. Rick Tabish’s character is played by John Palladino, who plays Matt.
Murphy and Tabish were convicted of murdering Binion, the son of Benny Binion, the legendary owner of the Horseshoe. Murphy, Binion’s girlfriend, and Tabish, a handyman who helped build Binion’s silver vault in the desert, later were acquitted of Binion’s 1998 death but convicted of lesser charges in a retrial after the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the murder conviction because of improper jury instructions.
Madsen said he’s checked out the Binion death home “out of curiosity. Everyone has a different version of what happens. I have to be ambivalent about it.”
“What’s really ironic about it is the last time I was in Vegas, I stayed at the South Point and they have a huge statue of Benny Binion in the lobby. I had my little son with me. He’s 8 now. Four or five years later I’m making a movie about Benny Binion’s son.”
JOHNATHAN POPS QUESTION
Comedian-illusionist Amazing Johnathan, a Las Vegas headliner for 13 years, popped the big question Friday at a comedy club near Detroit, his hometown. The proposal to Anastasia Synn took place at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle with a number of longtime friends in the audience.
Amazing Johnathan, whose real name is John Szeles, announced it on Facebook.
“Yes, I asked Anastasia to be my wife tonight on stage. We have been together three years now and can’t be apart without being miserable so it’s time.
“I don’t want to lose her to Canada so I’m making my move. Now she can stay with me until the end or forever, which ever comes first. I’m thinking a Vegas Wedding in June.”
That bachelor party will be the hottest ticket in town.
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Mirage headliner Terry Fator will be my first guest on “Conversations with Norm,” a new quarterly interview series with celebrities and newsmakers that launches March 30 at Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Net proceeds will go to the Smith Center’s Education Fund. Guests and hosts donate their time. Shawn Tempesta of KTNV-TV, Channel 13’s “Morning Blend” will take questions from the audience after the Q-and-A. …
Small world: Sports broadcasting legend Brent Musburger, who grew up in Montana, had a Bobby Hauck story for “Gridlock” (KWWN, 1100 AM) on Friday. He told Mitch Moss and Seat Williams that when Hauck was a kid, he painted a fence for Musberger’s father, Cecil, in Big Timber, Mont. Musburger didn’t sidestep the question of why he mentions point spreads during broadcasts. He said it adds an interesting storyline to the games, adding ESPN brought it up to him years ago.
“Saturday Night Live” legend Eddie Murphy, at Friday’s opening of The Jackson brothers’ (Randy, Tito, Marlon and Jackie) “Rocktellz & Cocktails” (Planet Hollywood) on Friday. Also there, Michael Jackson’s sons Prince Michael, 17, and Prince Michael II, who turned 12 on Friday, and their grandparents Joe and Katherine. Audience members teared up at the sight of Prince Michael comforting his grandmother during the tribute to the King of Pop. Paris, 15, did not attend. She is reportedly attending boarding school in Utah. … Boxing legends “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Roy Jones Jr., at Light nightclub (Mandalay Bay) on Friday… Kelly Osbourne, Lauren Conrad and Joey Fatone at “Beacher’s Madhouse” (MGM Grand) on Friday. Osbourne and Jeff Beacher were spotted earlier having dinner at Crush (MGM Grand).
THE PUNCH LINE
“Russia won the gold medal in women’s figure skating. The Russian skater said she was inspired by her family, her coaches, and what happened to the losing, and now missing, Russian men’s hockey team.” — Conan O’Brien
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.