Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

November 25, 2007

Planet Hollywood / Robert Earl Update

Posted by Hunter

For those following the fun, here's a recap on all the excitement:

The original article by Steve Friess where I was quoted is here.

Then, the first followup was on Steve's blog here, where we had a little commentary.

The latest is the Friess article in the Las Vegas Weekly, which can be read here.

Anyway, lots of fun and I will of course update you as it (if it) unfolds further.

Update: More from Chuck at VegasTripping:


Read archived comments (19 so far)
November 26, 2007 5:29 AM Posted by detroit1051

Hunter, thanks for the chronology. Somehow, I missed it all. Robert Earl needs to realize that sometimes the truth hurts. Steve Friess' piece in Las Vegas Weekly is a great conclusion to this drama....or, will there be another chapter?

November 26, 2007 8:42 AM Posted by Kerry

So hilariously awesome. Nice to finally read all the materials associated with this story.

Is this a new super-power for you? Able to take down tall casinos with a single paragraph? I love how irritated the Earl is.

Good stuff. Keep up the honesty. Power to the people!

Or something.

November 26, 2007 12:02 PM Posted by Tom M

The main problem that I see is the personal attack on his friends by calling them washed up. I think that the original piece was about the party more than the hotel and that given the time constraints for writing the article, it was poor judgement by Steve to use that quote. He should have kept it to a fluff piece about the party and left out the derogatory stuff. My sense is that in Hollywood, the business side is very vicious, ego driven and backstabbing so I am not surprised by the reaction of Earl given that he is connected to that business and those personalities. And who in england other than maybe a couple of people know who the hell Hunter is? It does make a big difference to me who the source being hailed as the expert is and quoting a blogger is not, yet, a serious "source" in my opinion regardless of their expertise. They should not be quoted in major news outlets unless they are a person of some significance in the business. Sorry, Hunter, I love your blog but for me you don't qualify to be a source for a major newspaper yet. I hope that the result of all this for Hunter is that he gets another avid reader of his blog. Maybe Mr. Earl will even contribute something positive himself instead of running to lawyers.

By the way, I don't agree with your phoney assessment either. Or to better stay it, I think all of Vegas is based upon phoney. None of the resorts are real. So I don't see why Planet Ho should shy away from trying to get celebrities just like the Palms or the Hard Rock or any other major resort. I will say that I think the Planet Hollywood restaurants I have been(Vegas, NY and Toronto) to have had much worse food in comparison to other like restaurants like Hard Rock or TGI Fridays. So I don't have much expectation that the casino will be any better. In my walk thru of the casino in July this year I saw much improvement over the Aladdin but I was still not wowed by the resort layout or design. So it is not going to be a major draw in my opinion. And it will have to compete with City Center and Bellagio.

November 26, 2007 2:21 PM Posted by Hunter

Tom, Dave - thanks for the interesting comments.

Tom - I appreciate you being honest in your breakdown here (and I am not at all offended). I have a couple of comments/opinions based on points you brought up.

1. It wasn't my intention to insult his friends - I guess this is a fine point but I think at some point there's general consensus if a celebrity is A-list, B-list, etc... Many of the folks that hang in his crowd were HUGE but that was 10, 15, 20 years ago. That's what I meant by that part of the quote.

2. As far as using bloggers in mainstream media, I've been quoted in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal in the past so I guess I'm more inclined to let their writers and editors make that determination. Clearly the editors at the Telegraph were okay with the sourcing on the quote (and honestly, they probably loved the spin it put on the article for infotrainment purposes). Bloggers are being quoted more and more, from guys like Mike Arrington (TechCrunch), Robert Scoble (Scobelizer), Jason Fried (SvN) and more. I personally expect this to continue.

3. By 'phony', I was specifically speaking to how the resort has been marketed, not in relation to how its been designed. You're right that none of these places are 'real' in that sense... or at least that point could easily be argued. I guess at the bottom of my quote is the fact that you can't buy cool and those that do often end up looking pretty dumb. Apple is cool, Microsoft is not. No matter how Microsoft gussies up the Zune, it's no iPod and consumers see right through it.

I've actually recommended the P-Ho as a place that has reasonable rates in a great location many, many times on my main site here and I certainly have no problem with Earl specifically. If he was embarrassed by the article itself, I honestly think that's too bad. I realize my quote probably sounds snotty but of most everyone I've talked to about this, they agree with my sentiment on how the place is coming across in the marketing.

I could easily be wrong. Maybe the place will be full of celebrities every weekend and it takes the crown from The Palms and if so, I'll be happy to admit it publicly.

If he did go out and do something like try to sue me, I don't know what I would do. I can't see what grounds he would have as it was clearly me stating an opinion and it past muster for the author and publisher but hey, in this country you can sue anyone for anything.

November 26, 2007 5:11 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I've thought about this for a while, and think I can explain myself better.
1. I'm 49 and from Oklahoma City. For middle aged people from middle America, I can say that the people at the Pho event sound pretty cool. I don't actually care for Stallone or Swayze, but there are a lot of people who are older with disposable income who do, and they are willing to spend a lot of money to enjoy the good old days. Like their parents went to see Frank and Dean into the 1990's.
2. From the sound of your voice on your podcasts, and Steve Freiss' comments on The Strip podcast, I assume you are around 30, or less, and from California. Many people think the Socal hipster market has taken over Las Vegas. (Bottle service and Pure Group nightclubs). I think the Socal money is less that 15% of the market, and very transitory. I do, however, think the Casinos see it as easy money and are going to chase it as long as they can. I think your Pho comments may have been tainted by that thinking.
I am not a huge fan of Pho, and have never stayed there. I do think the casino is attractive, the new food places are good quality at a fair price by Las Vegas standards, and the room rates are a fair deal.
3. If I were quoted in the LA times as saying was inferior based on the sound quailty (And content) of your recent podcasts, wouldn't you be offended, and want to explain to your friends and anyone who would listen, that the podcast is just a part of the whole, and you are always trying to make the whole better?

November 26, 2007 7:36 PM Posted by Hunter

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the comment.

I'm not sure I totally understand #2 - I am indeed around 30 (28) and I am from California - how does that play into this? Personally, I really don't care for nightclubs, I'd much rather hang in the casino. I think that if you asked most people that know me, I'm not in the 'SoCal Hipster' category, though I can't tell if you were lumping me in there or not from your comment. I'm a guy that loves casinos, the gambling business, architecture and the complete insanity of a place where building a $2.7B hotel actually makes financial sense.

I would tend to agree that the nightclub thing's star will fade, just like poker has. The Strip casinos are notorious for killing successful ideas by over-doing them and that will happen here, if it hasn't happened already. Not all new nightclubs will be smashing successes, though nightlife will always be an important component, IMHO.

As far as P-Ho's food places being good and fairly priced, I agree. Same as the rooms. Great deal that I recommend to people all the time.

If you were quoted in the Times and said you hated my work I am sure that I would be offended, sure. I still wouldn't call you (or the writer) and cuss them out. I might try to find out more specifically what you didn't like and how I could make things better... But bottom line if I believed in what I was doing (and especially if it was successful in whatever metrics I set to conquer) your criticism probably wouldn't give me more than a few moments unhappiness - and that's what this is really about, at least for me.

Anyway, that's my $0.02 on it in a nutshell.

November 27, 2007 9:51 AM Posted by Tom M


I am glad you didn't take offense, those were honest comments not meant to be mean spirited. I am also in my 40's and have a different perspective on whats cool and old hollywood is still cool to me. In fact, I think there is a strong market amongst older people(us babyboomers) with money for a different stlye "hollywood" hangout with a little more class and less Paris Hilton. I don't know if Planet Hollywood will be successful in getting these guys to hang out there(or if that is even their goal) but there are lots of older hollywood types who might like a different vibe than is currently the rage in Vegas.

As far as major news outlets quoting bloggers, I am not surprised but I am still opposed to it in general. This has alot to do with how I feel about the media in general so I won't bore you with the details, but I will say that there is a general decline in accurate sourcing due to the 24 hour news cycle and the rush to get a story out(Not that it was ever great in the first place).

November 27, 2007 1:06 PM Posted by Hunter

To cap this off with something funny, I just got a mailing from Planet Hollywood's PR department inviting me to come experience the property at a low, low rate. Ironic.

November 27, 2007 11:15 PM Posted by Steve F

Wow. I've never been criticized before for a story having TOO MUCH balance. I should've left out Hunter's comments because the piece ought to be fluffier? Huh? That's just not how I roll.

It is now a common practice for reporters to quote bloggers. I pick and choose which ones I use very, very carefully, but I can't imagine anyone reading this very blog would possibly dispute that Hunter has earned his expertise.

Well, a fun topic all and all. It might not be over yet. Another journalist for a large west-coast paper wants to talk to me about the dispute. We'll see.

November 28, 2007 5:51 AM Posted by socalduck

About the only item I would disagree with you on Hunter is grouping Arnold Schwarzenegger amongst the other has-beens. As the governor of CA, I think he still qualifies for the A list, even if his movie career is over.

Otherwise, I agree that Earl's attempts to position the PHo off as the next Palms is laughable. While I think the changes he made to the Aladdin are largely positive (and I never really hated the "new" Aladdin to the same degree as some others), it still lacks that intangible "cool factor" that surrounds the Palms, and to a lesser extent the Hard Rock. The Palms brand did not spring up overnight, but has been developed over a number of years, with savvy moves such as the hosting of MTV's Real World, successful nightclubs like Rain and Ghost Bar, the Maloof/NBA connection, etc. If Earl really wants to be the successor to the Palms, it will take more than hosting a party with Sly Stallone. That said, it will be interesting to watch as yet another big ego joins the fray to be King of Vegas.

November 28, 2007 10:10 AM Posted by Hunter

Chuck at VegasTripping's take on this:

November 28, 2007 12:00 PM Posted by mike_ch

"How one man ruined the Planet Hollywood grand opening"

You ruined it! Because you said Stallone is on the verge of retirement! Party's over!

They'll just have to implode the place now. If you don't thank "Rocky Balboa" and "Resident Evil: Extinction" are cinematic masterpieces, then what's the point?

November 28, 2007 12:09 PM Posted by Tom M

Wow, I got quoted by Chuckmonster:) I wonder if that makes me an expert commentator on Journalism?? Nope, rank amatuer here. Let me try to explain to Steve why I think his quote did not lend balance without trying to offend anyone here.

1. The quote did not comment on the design quality of the hotel or its architecture, it was a comment on whether somebody in hollywood was an "A" lister and whether that marketing technique would succeed or not. Hunter said it felt phoney. To me Hunter is not a serious expert for whether Bruce Willis and friends are actually washed up nor does he have a lot of expertise on casino marketing. Old does not equal washed up. Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson et al are all older than Bruce but are still very significant people in the movie business. In fact, I would say that Bruce himself is still an A lister(that is a personal opinion, I am not an expert:)). If Steve had cited Hunter on his design opinions, on whether he liked the changes as compared to what was there before, then you can say he certainly has an informed opinion with some serious knowledge backing it up.

2. I suspect that Hunter is not a widely known person to the readers of a UK newspaper. Even those with a significant interest in Vegas have probably never heard of him. That makes him a poor source, again, in my opinion. The good news for Hunter is that many may have checked out his website as a result of the article. Any bump in UK hits???

2. Given the time constraints on the article, IN MY OPINION(and thats all it is, since I am not an expert) Steve did not have enough time to get credible sources to quote "for balance", therefore he should not have included "balance" in the article. I don't think every piece written in a newspaper has to reach some journalistic level to be legitemate. Lets face it, Steve is in the writing business to earn a living and he needed to meet deadline. If you want to maintain a journalistic sensibility and you don't have enough time then you should turn down the article if the paper won't give you the proper time(I know, easy to say when you are working hard to make a living). Obviously, Steve F disagrees with my assessment on Hunter as a source. But, that is my opinion and I am sticking to it. I don't want this to come across to Hunter or Steve F. as mean spirited, or angry nor do I want to let this thread dissolve into some sort of angry sternlike diatribe. Well intentioned people can disagree and still be friendly.

November 29, 2007 2:56 PM Posted by doc_al

Much ado about nothing. If nobody recognizes the name of the person Steve F quotes in an article (sorry Hunter!), at worst it's weak support for the point he's making, but I fail to see where it is inappropriate. You could just as well sally into a bar and quote the patrons' opinions -- it's been done before.

All part of "the establishment"s lack of comfort with the blog medium. "my god, you mean just anybody can publish their thoughts and ideas??!" Uh, yeah. Welcome to the 21st century and the latest growing pain of a free society.

Then again, big-money print/tv/radio media have legal departments to rebuff attempts to control "bad press" and defend their rights. Growing pains for bloggers as well, as they become well-known enough to also be leaned on.

November 29, 2007 6:23 PM Posted by mike_ch

Well, the thing is, this has certainly netted Steve, and Hunter, some attention. Maybe Hunter will be getting more requests for soundbytes in the future after this? Who knows?

Where is the line of credibility? Once upon a time, Roger Ebert was just some guy in Chicago with opinions about movies. He hadn't made any, he just saw a bunch and thought some were good and bad. Nowadays, he's considered respectable. When did that happen?

November 29, 2007 9:24 PM Posted by Hunter

For those curious, I did see a spike in traffic when this was all going down.

Specifically the UK also saw a surge which I can only assume is because of this.

November 30, 2007 7:52 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

What can we do to help you get more traffic? Keep working this, or go to another subject? How about the road that Steve Freiss mentioned on The Strip? It sounds like the continuation of Wynn Blvd. that Wynn spoke of last year. Going north and south from behind the Riveria through the Desert Inn golf course, and maybe farther south. This could theoretically create another Strip type area.

November 30, 2007 8:44 AM Posted by Hunter

Nice of you to ask.

Honestly, you guys are free to discuss whatever you'd like. Personally, I think this story is a bit dead at this point.

As far as helping with traffic, I guess for anyone interested, I would say that if you see an interesting story or conversation here, share the link and spread the word.

The other thing would be if you see something advertised here that interests you, patronizing them helps keep the lights on.

December 2, 2007 2:10 PM Posted by Tom M

Doc_al: it is inappropriate to quote someone who has no standing in my opinion. The vast majority of bloggers don't undertake a serious investigation and are just people venting an opinion. Obviously this is their right, but I believe they should not be used as sources unless they hold significant industry knowledge or credibility. Lets face it, this is not a serious article about serious issues, but the issue of sources does point to a much bigger problem in the media today about vetting stories and confirming sources that is problematic on serious issues. By the way this is not all on steve but also on the editor at the paper who clearly chose a headline to put emphasis on the negative to gain attention.

Mike_ch: if Hunter becomes as expert as Roger Ebert is about the movie industry, then I will welcome his use as an expert. If Steve wrote this story in 1967 and used Roger Ebert as a source, I would have the same opinion.

OK that is my last post on this thread. I think we have beaten this to death.