By: Norm Clarke
“Conversations with Norm” celebrated a milestone on July 1 by passing the $100,000 mark in donations raised for The Smith Center’s education and outreach programs.
In case you haven’t caught this ongoing series yet at The Smith Center, “Conversations with Norm” gives local audiences the chance for a fly-on-the-wall experience of watching me conduct up-close-and-personal interviews with a wide range of celebrities and high-profile individuals, all of whom have incredible stories to tell.
These interviews take place in Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, with donations from our cash sponsors directly benefiting Smith Center programs. These programs provide arts education experiences, at no cost to participants, for students and teachers across Southern Nevada.
The idea for this came out of the blue in late 2013 when I, still the longtime man-about-town columnist at the Review-Journal then, was driving past The Smith Center.
I mentioned to my assistant, Joanne Downey, that every time I passed the building I had such great memories of getting married in the courtyard in 2013 and having the reception in Cabaret Jazz.
I added that I wished there was a way to give back to the community through philanthropic efforts that would benefit The Smith Center.
Downey responded: “Why don’t we try to do something like the Q and A you did with Tony Curtis? We could come up with sponsors and present it to Myron (Martin, President and CEO of the Smith Center).”
Martin welcomed the idea of patterning it after James Lipton’s “Inside the Actors Studio.”
I’ve encountered more than a few surprises in my interviews so far.
The first guest, Mirage headliner Terry Fator, set the tone by opening up about his past, with a riveting account of growing up in a one-man religious cult under his maniacal father.
The numerous guests to follow have had many more intriguing anecdotes to share.
Marie Osmond, for instance, had a delightful confession: that she came away from her early trips to Las Vegas – around age 6 – wanting to be a showgirl. Maybe that’s why her mother read the Bible to the nine kids in their Gulfstream on a Las Vegas parking lot.
Carrot Top also revealed fascinating details of his backstory, including that his father was a rocket scientist who worked with NASA. He also has a degree in marketing, which came in handy when he was starting to launch his comedy career.
These are just a few of many talented and inspiring individuals to sit down with me. Other guests have included: Shecky Greene, Rich Little, Wayne Newton, Rita Rudner, Frank Marino, Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, Bob Anderson, Pia Zadora and Vincent Falcone for a Sinatra 100th birthday remembrance, Rick Harrison, Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton, and Greg Maddux with Jack Sheehan.
None of this would have been possible without our sponsors and supporters, including: Southern Wines and Spirits, now Southern Glazers Wines & Spirits, Hugo’s Cellar/Binion’s Steakhouse, Italian American Club, Lee’s Discount Liquor, Findlay Cadillac, Cadillac of Las Vegas, Nevada Coin Mart, David McReynolds and Columbine Health, Elite Media, KTNV Channel 13, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jerry Metellus Photography, the Downtown Container Park, Tal Studios, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza, SPI Entertainment, Zappos and Art Encounter.
I hope to see you at the next “Conversations with Norm!”
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