A voice from the past was on the telephone, offering a hot entertainment tip.
It was two years ago this week and a former colleague I hadn’t had contact with in 20-some years was raving about a talented teenage girl who had just stunned the crowd at the Bootlegger Bistro’s karaoke night.
“She was so good I had goose bumps.”
On the telephone was Linda Deutsch, the Associated Press’ premier court reporter.
Over dinner at Lotus of Siam the other night, we reminisced about her Bootlegger discovery, when Deutsch put me on the trail of young Sarah Todora, the Louisiana transplant. Within months Todora wound up as a headliner in the Sahara’s legendary Casbah Lounge and living rent-free in a $1 million luxury condo, thanks to the generosity of a retired businessman.
Deutsch wanted an update on “the girl” and was saddened to hear about the teen sensation’s struggles, which included a meth addiction a year ago that at least temporarily derailed a promising career.
Deutsch is in Las Vegas to cover O.J. Simpson‘s trial on charges of armed robbery and kidnapping.
Simpson has kept in touch with her in the past. Not this time. There have been no calls.
“I think he’s scared,” she said, referring to the possibility that a conviction could put Simpson behind bars for many years.
Her career as a high-profile court reporter was something of an accident.
She was working in the Los Angeles AP bureau in 1967 in hopes of becoming an entertainment reporter. It was in her blood. At age 12 she was the president of one of the first Elvis Presley fan clubs.
“I was the backup reporter on the Sirhan Sirhan trial,” she said. By the time the Charles Manson trial started a couple years later, she was the lead reporter.
Name a major celebrity trial and Deutsch has covered it.
Her reputation was built on fairness. Michael Jackson called her after he was exonerated in 2005 on all charges in the sexual molestation trial in Santa Maria, Calif., near his Neverland Ranch.
Occasionally, there’s lighter moments. One of them came during Jackson’s 2005 sex abuse trial in Santa Maria, Calif., after some loopy testimony by the accuser’s mother, Janet Arvizo.
During a break, Deutsch was approached by Fox News entertainment columnist Roger Friedman, who offered, “I’ll bet you didn’t think you’d be covering extraterrestials.”
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Dominick Dunne update: I hear the best-selling novelist and Vanity Fair celebrity columnist is planning to arrive for opening statements in Simpson’s trial. …
Actress Fran Drescher is doing a reading from her book, “Cancer Schmancer” today at the Nevada Cancer Institute, revisiting her struggles with uterine cancer. Information: (702) 822-5217. …
Spirited bidding broke out Monday over spirits during a live auction at the Associated Press Managing Editors annual conference. Up for bid was a bottle of appropriately named Old Editor’s Reserve bourbon. The winner, with a bid of $300, was Kathy Best, managing editor for the Seattle Times’ online department. Auctioneer Christian Kolberg, former marketing director of the Review-Journal, has seen a long list of unique items up for auction. At the Super Bowl last year, Kolberg auctioned off a tour of Jay Leno‘s garage, which featured his classic car collection. Best said she plans to share the high-octane hooch with friends as Christmas cheer.
Donny and Marie Osmond, putting on a show Monday in the Flamingo showroom for 750 Flamingo and Harrah’s employees. At one point, Donny asked whether the housekeeper who was in charge of his room was in the audience. Osmond said he wanted to apologize for the mess. The two siblings opened their six-month engagement on Tuesday. … Beyonce‘s sister Solange Knowles, celebrating the release of her new album, “Sol-Angel and The Hadley Street Dreams,” at Prive Las Vegas (Planet Hollywood Resort) on Monday evening. Earlier she dined at Sushi Roku with friend Lupe Fiasco. … Las Vegas entertainment legends Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, dining Tuesday at the Coachman Restaurant at Eastern and Desert Inn. … Steve and Elaine Wynn, ordering Monday while checking out LAVO, the Tao Group’s new restaurant at The Palazzo.
THE PUNCH LINE
“(O.J. Simpson) is in Las Vegas on trial for armed robbery this time. He’s saying he just wanted to get his stuff back … his autographed jersey . . . his autographed football … his autographed knife …” — David Letterman
Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.