Publicist knew how to stay quiet


Frank Lieberman took pride in being an old-school entertainment publicist.

Even after he left the business about seven years ago, it didn't matter if you were a friend in good standing, you had to ask specific questions; he didn't volunteer extra details.

An example: After Michael Jackson's death in June 2009, Lieberman could have been the go-to-guy for tabloid TV because of the many times Jackson attended Siegfried & Roy's show.

More than two weeks after Jackson's death, I asked Lieberman whether Jackson wore disguises to the show.

Yes, he did, Lieberman said.

How many times?

On at least four occasions, he said, Jackson dressed like a Saudi sheik so he could watch the show without being recognized. The show would be held up and the room darkened while Jackson went to his seat, he said.

A lot of Frank's secrets will stay that way. The longtime Hollywood and Las Vegas publicist died Saturday at Summerlin Hospital after enduring the last 2½ years on dialysis for failing kidneys and a dying heart.

But I will remember him for something far more personal than the times he helped me on a story or for the times he worked free for friends in recent years.

In the summer of 2002, my health was in serious jeopardy. Complications from cancer surgery months earlier had mysteriously left me unable to walk.

My strength was fading, and my voice was down to a scratchy whisper. On most days I needed my wheelchair pushed.

On one of the many days Frank called to check in, he was alarmed at what he heard.

"Are you OK? You should be better by now."

I joked that I felt better than I sounded, but I was putting on a brave front.

"I'm calling my doctor right now," he said, in the sternest of tones, "and you're going to see him today."

Many medical procedures later, Dr. Steven Miller and those he enlisted saved my life because of Frank's call.

What do you say to people who saved your life, other than telling them just that?

Well, last spring I called Frank and told him to meet me at Serendipity 3, the ice cream parlor in front of Caesars Palace.

We broke all of our dietetic rules that day: Damn the boatload of calories, it was full spoons ahead. We put away the whopper of banana splits and a Frrrozen Hot Chocolate.

Sorry, Frank, for spilling that little secret. You were always better at keeping them.

Rest in peace, my friend, and thanks again.

FATOR LIFTS SPIRITS

Winning "America's Got Talent" was big, and opening night at The Mirage was another moment for headliner Terry Fator.

But the response he got from a packed house of 3,500 military personnel, their families and wounded warriors on Friday night at Fort Hood in Texas was in a class of its own.

In the crowd were hundreds of personnel who are deploying in a week.

"To see laughter and joy on their faces was an incredible honor," said Fator, who was flown to the event on an MGM Resorts jet and given the weekend off to accept the invitation from the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

The Texas native was invited to the Army base to help the healing after the November 2009 shooting, which left 13 dead, one of whom was pregnant, and more than 30 wounded.

sightings

British physicist Stephen Hawking took in "O" at the Bellagio, dined at Tacos & Tequila at the Luxor and was spotted tanning poolside in a business suit at Bellagio over the weekend. ... Steve Schirripa of "The Sopranos," at Rao's bar in Caesars Palace on Saturday, chatting with host "Bubbles" Ubriaco, who turned 65 Sunday.

THE PUNCH LINE

"Barbra Streisand was also at the White House dinner (for Chinese President Hu Jintao). Apparently, Hu wanted to meet a Focker." -- David Letterman

Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

 

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