Friday, December 31, 2004


Newton hard at work

WAYNE Newton, one of Sin City's star attractions, plays the Hilton Hawaiian Village tonight, as the man who once prided himself on a 24/7 work ethic -- working two shows a night, seven nights a week, for years -- shows no signs of slowing down after more than 50 years in show biz.

Wayne Newton

Where: Coral Ballroom, Hilton Hawaiian Village

When: 10 p.m. today

Admission: $85 general admission, $95 to $110 reserved

Call: 947-7877

If all the local folks who've enjoyed seeing him all these years in Vegas turned out to support him, he'd need to do the show in the Blaisdell Arena -- or maybe even Aloha Stadium! His last performance here was with the Honolulu Symphony at the Waikiki Shell in April 2000.

Guests tonight are probably hoping to hear his biggest hits, including "Danke Schoen," which established him as a hitmaker in 1963; "Red Roses for a Blue Lady," which put him back on the charts two years later; and "Years," which peaked at 35 on the singles chart in 1980. And then there's "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast," a three-hankie tearjerker about a crumbling family redeemed by a small child's plea, which reached No. 4 and was certified gold with sales of more than a million copies in 1972.

Newton has also had 20 entries on the Billboard Pop Albums chart and enjoyed success as a movie actor (sometimes playing a caricature of himself) in films such as "License to Kill," "The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine" and "Best of the Best II," in which he played the emcee of martial arts death matches in a (fictional) arena beneath Las Vegas.

(He's also in good company appearing in a current T-Mobile Sidekick television ad campaign, messaging Snoop Dogg about the best time to add fabric softener to his wash.)

HIS MOST RECENT interview for the Star-Bulletin took place in September, when a contributing writer visited him in Las Vegas.

Newton said at that time that he feels fortunate that he has made a career for himself despite having been "a total anachronism" when he got into the business in the late 1950s. Newton loved big-band music at a time when American pop music was being eclipsed by rock.

One of his former bosses was Howard Hughes, for whom he worked two shows a night every night for 36 weeks.

Having watched the "American Idol" competition, he told the writer, "I'd shudder to think if I had to start over again, at the same age that I started, what would be open to me."

He expressed concern that "the people who are critiquing these young talents are not doing a credible job for them," he said. "All it seems that these people are doing is they're not giving these talents a) the benefit of the doubt for having talent, and b) they're not saying to them, 'Look, if tonight is Motown night, there are some singers that Motown material just does not fit.' So I think in some ways these people are not doing right by them. ... They're not just killing a talent, they're killing a dream."

Writing on his Web site, Newton, who made his stage debut at the age of 6 during World War II, makes no apologies for his outspoken American patriotism or his choice of material.

"I'm still doing the kind of shows I've always done, and I can tell you one thing: People may leave one of my shows disliking Wayne Newton, but they've never walked out saying, 'He didn't work hard for us' or 'He didn't give us our money's worth.' I know what it means to save your money to go see someone perform, and I'll work as hard as I have to, to try and make sure they enjoy it."

E-mail to Features Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com