George Knapp remembers former RJ columnist Ned Day

KLAS-TV Channel 8 investigative reporter George Knapp made his annual visit to the grave of Ned Day on Monday.

Knapp couldn’t make it on Easter, on what would have been Day’s 70th birthday.

“I think he would have cut me some slack for showing up a day late, especially since I brought booze,” said Knapp, who worked with Day at KLAS.

Knapp has placed a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey and a can of 7UP — Day’s preferred libation — on his grave marker on Day’s birthday since 1988.

Day died Sept. 3, 1987, while snorkeling in Hanauma Bay near Honolulu. His death was ruled a heart attack by the Honolulu coroner.

During his 11 years in Las Vegas, where he worked for the short-lived Valley Times, KLAS as an anchor and the Review-Journal as a columnist, he gained a reputation for taking on the mob.

His car was fire-bombed in 1986 near his home, while he was a columnist for the Review-Journal.

“There were other incidents involving threats or attempts to cause him harm, some never made public,” Knapp said.

A year later, during his trip to Hawaii with girlfriend Mary Ottman, he sent what would be his last column to the R-J.

To the end, he had a flair for the dramatic.

In a note, he humorously suggested the paper keep the column “as a potential historical record in the event that I … sleep with the fishes tonight.”

He was 42.

ARENA NAMING RIGHTS

The MGM-AEG arena, currently known as the Las Vegas Arena, will indeed have a naming rights sponsor.

It was misstated here in Friday’s column that the arena wouldn’t have a naming rights sponsor.

What it won’t have is the MGM brand in the name, said Jenn Michaels, senior vice president of public relations.

“We are working toward a naming rights sponsor and hope to announce that in the months to come.”

It was announced last week that Toshiba and Coca-Cola would be among eight to 10 founding sponsorship partners of the venue.

CRIVELLO’S HOT ROLE

Anthony Crivello has landed a hot role after his long run as the lead in “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular” at The Venetian.

Crivello plays Louie Prima in “Louis and Keely ‘Live’ at the Sahara,” which is getting raves from Chicago critics.

Prima and his wife, Keely Smith, were a scorching duo when they ruled the Las Vegas lounge scene in the 1950s.

Crivello and Vanessa Claire Stewart are teaming up in the Royal George Theatre. The show opened last week.

They have “crawled so far inside her that the temptation is to proclaim: What happened in Vegas not only didn’t stay there, but has come roaring back to life, decades later, in Chicago,” wrote Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Las Vegas producer, director and acting coach Gerald Gordon has added another a big feather to his cap. He’s been nominated for a Tony Award for teaching acting. “I’ve always considered myself a producer/director and teaching acting was to fill in between producing or directing jobs.” Since moving to Las Vegas in 1997, he’s interviewed approximately 5,400 prospective students and taught 864 of them. Among them: Adrien Brody, who won an Oscar in 2002 for “The Pianist.” …

It takes a lot to wow UFC President Dana White. After presiding over the UFC’s meteoric rise, he’s familiar with the big numbers the UFC is putting up around the world. He’s in awe of the revenue projections for the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight. “Word is that the gate with be 77 million and the fight will do close to a half a billion in revenue,” he said. “That’s 16,000 (seats) for a $77 million gate. That’s nuts. We did 56,000 and did a $12 million gate. I’d love to see what’s possible with the right fight.” …

Remembering the Riv: “One of the things that I hold most proud is that I can say I’ve seen Frank Sinatra live north of 75 times,” said Garren J. Sepede, a Riviera busboy during the 1970s and 80s. “It was my college job.” Sepede said he had to work hard to manage the nightlife and “keep my grades up.” The Riv closes May 4.

SIGHTINGS

Jennifer Lopez and Casper Smart, with friends at Hakkasan Restaurant and Nightclub (MGM Grand) on Friday. … Sammy Hagar and NFL free agent Michael Sam, posing for a photo at Azure Luxury Pool (Palazzo) on Saturday. … Actor Channing Tatum, meeting “Absinthe” cast members after Friday’s show. Also in the audience: Willie Garson of “Sex and The City,” Camryn Manheim of “Person of Interest,” Kevin McHale of “Glee” and Melissa Peterman of “Reba.” They were in town for the Poker for Hope charity tournament at Planet Hollywood. … Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez, with a large party at STK (Cosmopolitan) on Friday. Also at STK: David Spade and Kevin Farley. … Crooner Tony Bennett, Shecky Greene, Marty Allen and Nelson Sardelli, in the audience and later backstage to meet Bob Anderson after seeing “Frank: The Man, The Music” at The Palazzo on Thursday. … Jeff Ross, roastmaster of Justin Bieber, sipping Vueve Clicquot while taking in Diplo’s show at Surrender (Encore at Wynn) on Friday. … Actor/comedian Billy Gardell of the CBS hit show “Mike &Molly,” surprising the audience with an impromptu set during Andrew Dice Clay’s show Thursday at Vinyl inside the Hard Rock Hotel. … NHRA driver J.R. Todd, taking the 108-story plunge on the Stratosphere’s SkyJump on Thursday. He was celebrating his one-year anniversary with Kalitta Motorsports. … Former Sheriff Ralph Lamb, celebrating his 88th birthday at North Beach Italian Bistro, the former Los Rancheros, once owned by his brother, former City Councilman Darwin Lamb. Among his birthday salutations was a text message from Dennis Quaid, who played Lamb in the CBS series “Vegas.” Quaid’s text read: “Happy birthday buckaroo.” They share the same birthday. Quaid turned 61.

THE PUNCH LINE

“In a recent interview, Michelle Obama said that the Secret Service taught Malia how to drive. In exchange, Malia taught the Secret Service how to throw a party when her parents are away.” — 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 norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter: @Norm_Clarke

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