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Book reveals Gans’ grudge

In a recent issue of Wired magazine, author Nicholas Thompson writes of the “Dead Hand.” It’s a Russian weapons system — still operational, he claims — that could fire back on the United States even after the Soviets had been hit with a nuclear strike.

I thought of the phrase after reading Chapter 34 of Danny Gans’ posthumous autobiography, “The Voices in My Head” (published by Las Vegas Review-Journal sibling company Stephens Press).

Though I’m not named, co-author R.G. Ryan confirms the chapter is devoted to me. “He didn’t want to call you out by name. Danny, if he was anything, he was a very sensitive guy.”

You can read the actual book excerpts and detailed rebuttal in the Vegas Voice blog today. But in a nutshell:

• Gans claims that upon our first meeting I told him, “First of all, I’m not your friend (former entertainment writer) Michael (Paskevich) … and second of all, I’m not a fan of what you do.”

• He says I suggested he needed topless dancers in his show.

• And he says I promised him straight up I wouldn’t review his opening-night gala at The Mirage. Then he opened up the paper a few days later and “there it was … the first time in my career that someone had outright lied to me.”

The first mostly wasn’t true. The second I can only figure was a joke. So much for my comedy career.

The third issue is fuzzier. I don’t remember what was said about reviewing the gala. Gans certainly knew I was there and, as his former publicist Laura Herlovich now agrees, “Your point in being there would have been to review it.”

It’s the fallout from the subsequent review that isn’t in the book, but would be in mine if I ever get around to writing one. It’s when Gans’ manager, Chip Lightman, called to raise hell about the letter grade, which was an A-. Apparently that minus sign bothered them. “The No. 1 show in town should be an A plus-plus-plus, you should like everything about it,” Gans later told the Los Angeles Times.

Ryan says the larger point of the chapter is that criticism is “not like water off a duck’s back. … It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, let’s do a chapter where we can just kick Weatherford to the curb.’ “

Gans and I were always cordial in our occasional interviews and chance meetings. It’s his manager, Lightman, who got told, “I’m not your friend Paskevich” during the A- episode.

Sometimes Lightman and I are on speaking terms and sometimes we aren’t. That’s fine. We both do our jobs. Mine is calling ’em as I see ’em, and his was buffering his client while making his displeasure known.

But if Gans remembered everything this way, I feel bad about it. Wish we had talked about it when he was still around, instead of doing it like this.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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