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CNN Larry King Live
Dolly Parton Speaks Out; Variety Entertainer Danny Gans Does Impressions and Talks About Comedy
Aired March 07, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: The one, the only Dolly Parton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURT REYNOLDS, ACTOR: You ready?
DOLLY PARTON, SINGER/ACTRESS: I'm always ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: She knows all about surviving tough economic times and scandal. and she believes America needs to back Obama. She's also got a message for tabloids, leave Jessica Simpson alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANNY GANS, IMPRESSIONIST: (SINGING).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Plus, the man of many voices, the incredible entertainer, Danny Gans. The Vegas headliner brings his show to you. The curtain goes up right now.
KING: What a great pleasure to welcome Dolly Parton to LARRY KING LIVE. The entertainment legend, she has sold over 100 million records. She's the winner of seven Grammys, 11 CMAs, a Kennedy Center Honor and two Oscar, five Golden Globes and an Emmy nomination.
Her new show, "9 to 5 The Musical," is about to hit Broadway. She's in Washington on to New York. What are you doing in Washington?
DOLLY PARTON, ON OBAMA, JESSICA SIMPSON, TABLOIDS AND MORE: Well, I'm here all day doing press because I'm going to be the international ambassador for the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park this coming year, and so I'm out just talking about that, trying to get people to come down to the Smokies.
We've done a lot of wonderful work today, getting people aware of that, and just got lot of fun stuff going. I've actually done a CD. I've written a musical for the Dollywood opening about the people in the Smokies and how it was when they were being moved out of the mountains to build the park.
And so, anyhow, it's just a fun thing. We've got all the Cherokee Indians and everybody in East Tennessee involved in it.
KING: It's a great place, the Smokies. I've been there. Never had a better time than at the Smokies, and they couldn't choose a better ambassador than you. You're a businesswoman. Have you been hurt in these times?
PARTON: Well, I think everybody's a little scared right now. With Dollywood, our theme park, we were down some last year. We did a lot better than most, but of course, we're very concerned about it. and we've put a few little things on hold until see we what the economy is going to do.
But we still got our big plans, our big dreams. And we're trying to get people to come down, and certainly at the Smoky Mountains it's all free. So you can come and have a good time there. Then if you've got a little money left over, you can come see me at Dollywood and all of my places of business.
KING: You -- everyone knows how poor you were growing up. Life right now is kind of a "Hard Candy Christmas," your great record, for a lot of people. Do you have advice for people down on their luck?
PARTON: Well, I know that people are very scared and I know it's hard to be poor. I have been poor, as you mentioned, so I know what it's like to be without it. And I know what it's like to have. And a lot of people who were poor to begin with, you know, they're having an even harder time.
So I'm just hoping that things work out good. I think we have to keep our faith and not be so scared and have to lean on our faith a little bit. And pray a little bit, and hope a little bit. And hopefully, things are going to be OK.
KING: One thing good in times like this, I guess, families spend more times together.
PARTON: Well, I think that's true because I think these kind of things do draw you together if nothing else, just out fear and concern. And we take so many things for granted. And when times like these happen, I think it does draw us closer to our family and to our faith, and kind of, you know, make us go inside a little more.
So it's natural, I think, for people to react and to be scared, and justly so. I mean if they don't know what's going on in Washington, D.C., well, you know, people like us, we really don't know what to think.
KING: What do you think of President Obama?
PARTON: Well, I'm very excited about the fact that we've got someone new in the White House. I think Obama's going to be a great president. And like I said today, at different times when they asked me, I think we all need to get behind him, pray for him, support him, and hope for the best. This is great country. We've been through hard times many times, and we've come out ahead.
So I'm hoping that things are good. and I really hope that he knows what he's doing. He seems to. And we all need to -- you know, to have faith in this whole new change that we're going through.
KING: Would you serve in Washington if asked?
PARTON: Me, no. I'm not a politician. And I don't want to be. I make jokes about it all the time. In fact, I think they're showing some clips I did today where I was talking about me not running for president because I asked me if I would. I told them I think we've had enough boobs in White House so...
And they don't need mine.
KING: Do you ever worry about being poor again?
PARTON: Well, I don't say that I don't sit around worry about it, but I give it some thoughts. I do remember how it was to be poor. I do remember that in my early years, we had to grow and raise all of our food, even our animals. And I remember in my early life, we didn't even have electricity. So it was very, very hard times then.
So I still remember how to do those things. If I had to go back, I think I would. I would hate to have to give up my nails to clawing the dirt, but I think I would know how to do it if I had to. I think I would have, you know, a little bit of a head's start over some people who's never grown up that way.
But Lord knows, you know, it's like, I don't want to have to do that again. But I've written many songs about that. That, in the good old day, when times were bad, like no amount of money could buy for me the memories that I had of then. But no amount of money can pay to go back and live through it again. I would only do it if I had to do, but I would if I have to.
KING: Quincy Jones wants the president to create a new cabinet level position, secretary of arts and the culture. What do you think of that?
PARTON: Well, that sounds like a good idea. I think -- I think, first, we better get our food on our table. Don't you?
KING: Yes, I guess. How many songs have you written?
PARTON: Well, you know, I don't count them, Larry. But I've been writing since I was a little bitty girl. I was probably 7 years old when I started playing the guitar and writing some serious songs. So, I know that I have at least 3,000 songs that I have written. I've got songs in boxes, drawers, stuff I carried from home when I left, that I still haven't gotten through. And I write something almost every day, least an idea down. But that's not to say they're all good, but that's what I do and it's what I love to do.
KING: Have you had to lay off people at Dollywood?
PARTON: Right now we're doing pretty good at Dollywood. We're going our best to not have to lose a bunch of people. And we're, like everybody else in business, we're shuffling around, trying to figure out exactly how to do it, putting some things on hold so we don't have to start, you know, running people off, and making them lose their jobs. So we're trying very hard to be considerate in all that because we're very proud of all of our people.
And as you know, it's not easy having that many people dependent on you.
PARTON: And you certainly don't want to, you know, have people lose their jobs.
KING: Dolly Parton has got a special blog you'll see only on our Web site. So go to CNN.com/LarryKing and you'll read what Dolly has written exclusively for you.
Next, Dolly knows what it's like when your looks grab all the attention. Her advice for Jessica Simpson? We'll ask her after this.
KING: Welcome back. Dolly's been busy blogging for us. Check it out only our web site, CNN.com/LarryKing. One thing you can always count on, Dolly is never dull. We'll take a look at some great Dolly moments from over the years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARTON: I have a special surprise for you tonight.
PARTON: Oh I'm always ready.
PARTON: Sam is still confused. You don't whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt.
I'm going to get that gun of mine and I'm going to change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot.
There are two kinds of people in this world, and you ain't one of them.
PARTON: Now, we're that one to disappoint my little honey.
PARTON: You hold your horses.
(INAUDIBLE) things away. And besides I want to do it.
Sometimes you just got to honk your own honk because if you don't nobody's going to know you're coming.
Go get them, animals. Go get them.
I'm envisioning a one-legged man and a butt-kicking competition. Howdy, boys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Classic Dolly. Still to come, "9 to 5 The Musical". Hey, don't go anywhere or you'll miss it.
BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARTON: Judge not lest you be judged. I always say that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You always say that.
PARTON: Well, when I'm trying to get (INAUDIBLE) out of trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Dolly Parton.
You are Jessica Simpson's idol. And Jessica's gotten a ton of attention about her figure lately, front cover of "People" magazine. What do you say to her?
PARTON: Well, I say people always treat her bad. They always talk bad about her. I just recorded a song with her a few months ago. And I've never had -- I've never been around a person any sweeter in my life. And she's great singer. And I've been fat and I've been skinny. And I'm not about to say something about anybody else's weight because I know how hard it is when you gain, you know, five or six pounds, and certainly 10 or 12.
I don't know how overweight she is. I have not seen her. But I know that Jessica is a good girl. She's beautiful to me. And I'm sure that she's going to get some weight off just because people won't leave her alone. She'll have to get skinny just to get people to shut the hell up.
KING: What do you say to people calling her fat?
PARTON: Well, I say that that is not a nice thing to say.
KING: On the heels of the weight controversy, though, things got worse for her, and I know you like her so much. She had a bad performance in Michigan, forgot lyrics, mumbled through songs, and fought back tears. That ever happened to you? You ever had a night where everything goes wrong?
PARTON: Yes. I think every entertainer's had nights when things go wrong. I mean you can't remember everything all the time, and especially if you're having hard times personally, things going on that you -- you know, and then people make it worse. And that makes you feel worse.
And like I said, I think she's very sensitive because she's been treated bad. I've been treated nicer in my career. But yes, I've made a mistake here and there. In fact, last week we did just a charity show. I sang with Kellie Pickler. And we couldn't hear the sound on stage and the band was in one -- they were playing in one tempo and Kellie and I were singing in another.
But we were singing with each other and we were singing to an echo in the house. So everybody was doing something different, and that came out and made it sound like we couldn't sing. And we didn't sound like we could that night, but we sounded good. We thought we were together, and then we though back, and we thought oh my lord, what happened? We didn't realize we'd got out of time with the band.
KING: At the Kennedy Center Honors when they honored you in 2007, Jessica sang a song and it was cut from the show. Do you know why?
PARTON: Yes, that song was "9 to 5." They had asked her to come sing because she was a fan of mine. She sang the song. She got nervous. She said she looked up in the balcony and saw me and then she got intimidated and she lost the words. But I should have my own butt kicked for writing so many words in the song. I told her that that song's even hard for me.
So she just got -- she just, you know, kind of lost track a little bit and couldn't get all of the words in. So she had asked to go back and sing it again after the show. And I have to tell you, several people went back and re-sang their songs. They didn't talk about that. They just talked about Jessica and how bad that was.
And, you know, it's not -- I don't know Jessica all that well, and I wouldn't say that we're friends or big buddies. I just go help her out when I can. She asked me to sing with her, and when they've asked me things, you know, I say it. But I just think it's cruel to just hammer somebody to death.
KING: She gets hit a lot with the paparazzi. Have you been -- had trouble with them?
PARTON: No. I've never had that much trouble with the paparazzi, but I don't run the same circles that a lot of these people that do get hounded by the paparazzi. If I go out, and certainly they take pictures, and after a while, if you're weary and tired, it gets on you their nerves a little bit. But they don't run after me like that. I don't think I'm all that popular in that way.
KING: You make the tabloids a lot, though?
PARTON: Yes, I do. They're always saying something about me. I always try to read them so I can see what I'm up to now.
KING: You -- some people don't read them. Some entertainers don't want to read them. You read them?
PARTON: I do, because I believe everything about everybody but me.
PARTON: I want to see who's doing what.
KING: You -- you're unusual in many respects. You're a great entertainer. And I mean, the Kennedy Center Honors don't happen to many. You also have a lot of gay fans. You've even dealt with gay rumors yourself. What is your appeal, do you think, to the gay community?
PARTON: Well, I think the gay people have always liked me because I have always been myself. I'm not intimidated by how people perceive me. I don't judge nor criticize people. I think that's another reason that they at least know that I'm sympathetic. I think all people have a right to be who they are. We're all God's children and God should be the one to judge, not other people.
So I have a lot of gay friends, lesbian friends. I work with a lot of people. I am not gat. I have been accused of that. But I have been happily married for 42 years to the same man. And he's not the least bit threatened, you know, by the fact that I may be gay. And he knows I have a lot of friends. But I love everybody. It doesn't matter to me.
KING: But your husband doesn't seek the limelight at all, does he?
PARTON: No, my husband would never in a million years dream of talking to you. But he'll watch you.
KING: What does he do for a living?
PARTON: Well, he used to be in asphalt paving for many, many years, he and his father. And he's retired now. He mostly just takes care of our farm, the things on the farm, and takes care of some of our business. He likes to do a little banking and all that sort of thing. But he really just does what he wants to. He doesn't have to do that much, but I like to work all the time. KING: Is this the slimmest you've ever been?
PARTON: The slimmest?
PARTON: No. I -- actually a couple of years back, a year and a half, two years ago, I got smaller because I had a little bit of a problem. But I'm OK now, I just have a little bit of, you know, stomach ache here and there, now and then. I wasn't holding my food down as good as I should. But now I've got my weight in a good spot. I'm very tiny. I'm always 5 feet tall. And so 105, 110 is plenty of weight for me.
KING: You've had great plastic surgery, by the way.
PARTON: Well, thank you. You have, too, ain't you?
KING: No, I...
KING: Are you kidding?
PARTON: You haven't had plastic surgery?
KING: I'm too scared.
PARTON: Well, you know what, I'm the kind of person if I need something, I just go get it done. I always make jokes and say if I see something sagging, dragging and bagging, I'll get it nipped, tucked and sucked.
KING: We'll be back in 60 seconds with the wonderful Dollar Parton who never disappoints. Stick around.
KING: We're back with Dolly Parton who is the ambassador for the Great Smoky Mountains. They couldn't have picked a better one. She has a CD out called Sha-Kon-O-Hey! And its proceeds benefit the Great Smoky Mountains Park. It's available at Dollywood.com or FriendsoftheSmokys.org.
Now can you sing a few bars of this?
PARTON: The Sha-Kon-O-Hey, actually, Sha-Kon-O-Hey is a Cherokee word and it means land of blue smoke, which is the Great Smoky Mountains. So it's about the Cherokee Indian there and Indians in the Smoky Mountains and it's this kind of like, (SINGING).
KING: It's OK. It's good enough to get me interested. PARTON: Anyway, it's such a fun thing. But anyhow, it's -- there's a lot of songs, that's the only Indian one, but there's a lot of songs about the Great Smoky Mountains, "My Mountains, My Home," and "My Tennessee Mountain Home," similar songs to that, and "My Heart Lives in the Heart of the Smokies." So there's eight songs in the musical and in the CD and all the money, as we mentioned, goes to benefit the park.
KING: Yes. Everyone, by the way, loves "9:00 to 5:00," one of the classic comedies every made. Let's take a look at a bit of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARTON: Look, I got a gun out there in my purse and up to now I've been forgiving and forgetting because of the way I was brought up. But I'll tell you one thing, if you ever say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I'm going to get that gun of mine and I'm going to change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot. Don't think I can't do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Why did you -- why did you never follow up that movie with "9:00 to 5:00 II"?
PARTON: I wondered about that myself. We talked about doing a sequel right after than. You know, we did that in the '80s. And now after all this time, they're doing the musical, which I've been fortunate enough to have gotten to write all the music for, the words and the music.
And it's to open on the 30th of April on Broadway. So we're going into rehearsals on the 7th of April. And - then hopefully everything's going to...
PARTON: ... work out good.
KING: Nervous time to open on Broadway, Dolly, with the economy.
PARTON: But it is. I think there's a lot of concern about it. I know a lot of the people that I'm working with are concerned because a lot of shows have closed on Broadway. Some of them were leaving anyway. But it is a tricky time, but what are you going to do? You've got to keep on. We're going to go right -- you know, we're going to go on with it as far as I know, unless something changes that I'm not aware of. But...
KING: Has the whole -- has the whole original cast seen the musical?
PARTON: Yes, Jane and Lilly and Dabney all came to Los Angeles, at the Omnison. When we did the workshop out there, we were out there for about six weeks. They came to the opening night there and it was wonderful to see all the new people and then Dabney, Lilly, Jane and I were sitting out in the audience, watching everybody. They've got a big kick out of it.
The musical, I think, is going to be good. I have a new single out called "Backwoods Barbie," which is one of the songs that's in the musical. And I have a video coming out on that, too, and that's going to be released in March to -- you know, just right after the show opens.
KING: Is the musical the story line of the film?
PARTON: Well, I actually tried to write -- actually the show is basically what it was in the movie. We just added some great music that -- well, I like to think it's great, I mean we added music, and that was a great element to the story. And so it -- the characters are true to what they were in the movie and the people that we have, we have a wonderful, wonderful cast. And I'm just very proud to be part of it. And I would really hate for it not to get its just due, so let's hope for the best.
KING: Last season you mentored the contestants on "American Idol." What do you think about that show?
PARTON: Well, I think it's a great show. People love that show. I can't believe the viewers that they have. I was very honored to get to be part of "American Idol." And they were all very nice to me and so I've had a lot of comments that I was on the show and maybe I'll get a chance to do it again.
KING: Are the judges too hard on the contestants?
PARTON: Well, that's what they do. They're there to judge. They've asked me at different times, different places, different shows to judge people and their talent. It's just hard for me to do because I know how sincere they all are. I know that the ones that are great don't work any harder than the ones that are not so great. And I know the ones that are not so great are just as sincere, so it just breaks my heart to tell somebody they suck.
KING: Among the many, many things Dolly does, she also writes books. She has a new children's book available in June. It's called "I Am a Rainbow."
What's the story?
PARTON: Yes. Well, actually, this is catered to little children. We have the Imagination Library, you know, where I give a book a month to every child from the time it's born until it starts kindergarten through my Imagination Library at the Dollywood -- through the Dollywood Foundation at Dollywood.
So this little book is called "I Am a Rainbow" and it is about all the different moods of children. And it's very simple and very sweet and kind of done in rhyme and it's just talking about, you know, the colors and the moods of children.
KING: Dolly, you are ageless. You are a delight. You are an amazing, amazing performer. And I thank you for being with us. PARTON: Well, always appreciate getting to talk to you. You've always treated me nice. And thank you for letting me come on and tell everybody that I'm the ambassador for the 75th anniversary.
KING: That you are.
PARTON: Come on down to the Smoky Mountains and Dollywood, and get my record, and do all that. I'm a walking commercial.
KING: Thanks, Dolly.
Have something to say about this show or any other? Go to CNN.com/LarryKing. Click on to our blog. You'll love -- we love hearing from you. Keep the comments coming.
KING: It's a great pleasure to welcome to "LARRY KING LIVE" long-time comedian, one of the great, great entertainers in this country, maybe the best, Danny Gans, the vocal impressionist, the man of many voices, consecutively named Las Vegas' best all-around entertainer, year in, year out.
His new show, by the way, opened recently at Steve Wynn's Encore in Vegas.
Why did you leave where you were?
DANNY GANS, COMEDIAN: Contract was up. And I got to go back to be with Steve Wynn.
KING: He hired you in the first place?
GANS: Yes. He brought me from the Rio to the Mirage, and then he sold the Mirage, and then I was there eight years and then my contact came up. And he said, "You want to come over, across the street? I'm building a new place called Encore." That's all I had to do.
KING: Is it good or bad to be firmly based in one town?
GANS: Well, it's great...
KING: Because you're known as Mr. Vegas. But does that hurt you about maybe doing a booking for a week in Detroit?
GANS: I'm a family guy, you know, and I like to be home. So instead of going out to Detroit or another great city, I get to stay home and go to the greatest entertainment capital in the world. Las Vegas is home now.
KING: You were an up-and-coming baseball player, right?
GANS: Yes, I played minor league ball in the Northwest League. And I was leading the minor league in home runs and on my way to the show.
GANS: I had an Achilles tendon injury and it ended my career in one day. I was in a hospital and sharing a room with a gentleman who had cancer. And I told him my life story when I was in the hospital. And he said, "You know what, I'm going to be OK. I'm here for you. I'm your messenger and I've got a message for you that God has something better for you than baseball." I didn't know what that was at the time, because up until then, I was just a fun guy to have on a bus ride because I could sing a little, do some impressions and tell jokes. But I had no idea what that was. A couple months later, I was at the Comedy Store and doing some jokes and that led to one thing to another, and here it's been 25 years.
KING: And that guy, did he live?
GANS: Yeah, he did. We exchange Christmas cards every year.
KING: If you had it all to do over, would you have rather have been a major league baseball player?
GANS: I would have liked to have tried to see if I could hit major league pitching.
KING: You never know the curveball, right?
GANS: I was a good hitter. I really was.
KING: And your son is a player?
GANS: Yes, my son, Andrew, is a great player. He's going to make it.
KING: He playing college or pro?
GANS: No, he's playing college ball right now.
KING: How many voices do you have in your head? Did you always do voices when you were a kid? Did you imitate the teacher?
GANS: You know what? I used to do voices for my dad. My dad was a tough laugh, meaning it was -- if you could get him to laugh, that was great. And we used to watch the Ed Sullivan show when I was a kid. So after the show was over -- I'm like 8 years old. I'd stand up, now on our show for that Sid Gans youngster right out here, we have Betty Bijou (ph), Betty and her bird, and Larry King. Come on out, bring him out. And that's how it started for me, just making my dad laugh.
Then in school it was like -- I'd answer the teachers back as different celebrities, whether -- hey, old, look, it's me, Rocky, you know what I'm saying? I don't really agree with that, you know what I'm saying? Come on, let me show you how it's done.
KING: His voice is rolling around in your head? GANS: Yeah, in my head. And before the games, I would -- it was a way to relieve stress for me. I'd get a hit. I'd be on first base. You know, yesterday, I stole second base. Felt so guilty, I took it back.
KING: All right. So you developed this thing. You had to turn it into an act. What generally people don't know is how funny you are. You could be a comedian, right? You could do stand-up.
GANS: Well, the show is really a lot of elements. That's why I consider myself a variety entertainer. I sing, I dance, I do impressions and play instruments. But the tapestry of the show is impressions and a lot is musical.
KING: Who's been the most difficult?
GANS: Well, there's a difficult in two ways, if it's difficult on my voice or is it just difficult to learn? Difficult on my voice would be somebody like Bruce Springsteen. It's a great voice and I do it in the show every night, but it's tough. I can't do it very long, you know. Every night for maybe a minute and a half, that's about it.
But tough voices to learn -- when Al Pacino came out with "Scent of a Woman" it was like, there it is, there's the definitive Al Pacino impression, because he was blind and he had that attitude. So I really studied that movie and it was a long time before I put that in the show. But now I do scenes from favorite Academy Award-winning movies. And I do Al Pacino. and that blind man, Colonel Frank Slade on "LARRY KING LIVE." Hoo-ya!
KING: You even look like him when you do that. That's really good. You do Regis Philbin.
GANS: I do Regis. I'm here with the great Larry King. Come on, why am I yelling? I've got the gig. There's no one here.
KING: No one does Regis. Now, do -- how about, like, Obama?
GANS: I'm working on Obama. That's a tough one.
KING: Very tough, because he's nondescript, isn't he? There's no up and down there. There's no -- what...
GANS: There's a cadence. And he holds on to words. and Larry King and -- see, I don't have it yet, but I will soon.
KING: And when -- now, you will put it in the act as soon as you think you have it? How does it work?
GANS: Yeah. Well, my wife is a good judge. So I'll bounce these impressions off her. And then once it's -- you know, I get the voice, then it's what do you do with it, now. It's not just doing a voice on stage. Is there a bit? Is this a political forum? Am I doing questions and answers? What's going to happen? KING: Danny Gans, the great, Danny Gans, Get Ready, this CD is coming out soon, Danny Gans, Get Ready.
And of course, Danny Gans is now at the Encore Hotel, the brand new Encore in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas entertainer every year, year in, year out.
More laughs, more impressions with Danny Gans ahead. Does he every imitate me? Find out after the break.
KING: We're with the brilliant Danny Gans. He is now, as you know, at the Encore, the brand new hotel in Las Vegas, and he's packing it in.
You recently started a new chapter of your Las Vegas career, the rebranding and redecorating a 1500-seat theater. What is that all about?
GANS: Well, the Encore is 1500 seats.
KING: Is it the Encore Theater?
GANS: The Encore Theater.
KING: That's the new chapter.
GANS: That's the new chapter, yeah. It's just a bigger production.
KING: I also happen to know you also own the Flamingo Hotel or own the room where Donnie and Marie are playing?
GANS: We produce -- my manager, Chip Lightman, and I produce the Donnie and Marie show, which happens to be at the Flamingo. But I don't own the Flamingo or the room.
KING: You don't own the room?
KING: So you produce the show. Do you -- I mean...
GANS: Well, we put the show together with the Flamingo.
KING: Like partners?
KING: Is this something -- are you like an entrepreneur?
GANS: I am. That's a good word, entrepreneur. Hoo-ah!
KING: So there's another side of you. Obviously, you're interested in business, too?
GANS: I am, sure.
KING: You do De Niro?
GANS: I don't do De Niro.
KING: He's hard to do.
GANS: It's just I -- Pacino. Why do De Niro?
KING: I do one, why do the other. What about an old standby, George Burns?
GANS: George Burns is a favorite of mine. Got a great George Burns story. I was the opening act for George Burns. And George Burns was introduced and came out, got a standing ovation for five minutes. People finally sat down. He said, you know, most entertainers receive a standing ovation at the end of their performance, but I guess you felt I might not make it till the end of my performance.
KING: Jerry lewis, you do Jerry?
GANS: Jerry is a very fun voice because he's loud and he can do anything, because he's loud.
KING: What's it like to be back with Steve Wynn from the top of that building where he's sitting?
GANS: Steve is such a great guy. He gets me, you know. He understands what I do. And he basically opened the theater to me and says, do your thing. You know. It's a great relationship. The hotel is impeccable. He's just a brilliant guy.
KING: Are you the only entertainer in the hotel?
GANS: In Encore, yes.
KING: In Encore. There's no other room with an entertainer? You're it?
GANS: I'm it. And 200 voices.
KING: Do you ever get a little nervous?
GANS: Oh, I get nervous every show. I think if you lose that nervousness, it means you don't care anymore. So, yeah, I'm very nervous right before the show. It's the greatest feeling in the world when they say, ladies and gentlemen, Danny Gans. And I get to run out there to 1500 people and spend two hours on stage and give them everything I've got and be exhausted at the end of the night and go home and write more material and think of what other voices I can do, write new jokes, sing new songs. It's the greatest. KING: I would recommend if you haven't seen Danny Gans, you go to Vegas.
As I said when I left, and I saw you, you're the best act I've ever seen. Bar none, you are the best act I've ever seen.
KING: And about being nervous, Frank Sinatra told me that every time before he went on backstage, they're introducing him, he'd get that little -- is it going to be there? Am I going to be all right?
GANS: To me, it means so much for me to please the audience. I know, especially now in this economy, what it costs people to come see that show. And I feel obligated to give them the greatest night that they've ever seen. And I know what moved me 20 years ago when I saw Sammy Davis Jr. live for the first time, and he sang and danced and made me cry. That's what I try to do.
KING: He did imitations.
GANS: Yes, he did, great ones, too.
KING: Do you do him?
GANS: I do Sam. and I do him seriously, though. I don't kid.
KING: Is it -- I'm intrigued by what you do. Is it the voice or is it the attitude? How much of it is the formula? How much is just the voice?
GANS: It depends on who it is. Like when I said earlier, I mentioned Jason Maraz. People don't know Jason Maraz enough to know his personality yet. They just know the voice. But you take somebody like -- you know who Larry the Cable Guy is? Well, heck, come on, Larry. You know, got Larry and Larry the Cable Guy. You know what I'm saying? Now, there's a whole attitude with that.
KING: That's right. That's an attitude.
GANS: That's an attitude and a voice. Get her done.
KING: Ever do me?
GANS: I'VE tried to do you. I can't get that. There's something there. The laugh's pretty good.
KING: If somebody just tuned in, they would think I bombed.
We'll hear Danny imitate Sinatra, Elvis, Michael Jackson, all ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GANS: And now at 100, I'm going to try rap. Can't touch this. Can't use it. Joe Cocker came in to the bathroom protected by a silver spoon. Blood, Sweat and Tears! What goes up must come down. Spinning wheels got to go round. My, my, my Delilah. Why, why, why Delilah. This is Garth Brooks
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: OK, we're back with Danny Gans. He's now at the Encore in Las Vegas, a brand new hotel in a brand new room, with a venerable star.
GANS: What do you want me to do?
KING: Whatever you want. You want to sing?
KING: Go ahead and sing.
GANS: When somebody loves you, it's no good unless he loves you all the way. Marvelous.
KING: Marvelous, that's his favorite word.
GANS: It was.
KING: Michael Jackson. You do Michael Jackson?
GANS: Thank you. Hee, hee, hee. I'm blushing, can you tell?
GANS: I do Elvis, man. I just want to thank you all very much. And when you get a chance, if I can get a couple jelly doughnuts.
KING: When I said you're also funny, do you work a lot on the humor?
GANS: Oh, yeah.
KING: The gags in the show?
GANS: Right, every night. What's been great, Johnny Carson for some reason, when he passed away, became more popular than ever. And I just did a passing Johnny Carson line one night, and the people went crazy. And I added to it, added to it. Now when we moved over to Encore, I do a tribute now to "The Tonight Show" and I do Johnny Carson. I do his monologue. I bring on guests that he had and we do the whole Karnack thing and it's just great. It's like, OK, I'll do Johnny and you can do Ed McMahon. All righty? You may kiss the bride.
KING: You may kiss the bride.
GANS: And the five most expensive words in the English language. OK.
KING: Tony Bennett and Dean Martin are here right after the break.
KING: We're back with Danny Gans, now at the Encore in Las Vegas.
You do Marge Simpson?
GANS: I do Marge Simpson. That's another one that's kind of hard on my voice. But then I can go into Homer, Doh!
KING: Do you ever have -- this is probably silly to ask you -- bad nights? When it doesn't...
GANS: You know, I have not had a bad night, no. I do so many things that I can fall back on. If the comedy isn't going well, I'll sing. Or if I think it's a funny crowd, I'll stick with more of the comedy. So I've got a lot of things to fall back on.
KING: You have a lot of choices?
GANS: Yeah, I do.
KING: Good band?
GANS: Good band. Best band in Vegas. And they're my best friends. Some of these guys have been with me for 18 years. We're just a family.
KING: Is the Vegas crowd a tough crowd?
GANS: No, they're not. They're the best crowd in the world.
KING: Even though they may have just lost $10,000 at the tables?
GANS: Well, it's my job to make them forget that, you know. And Vegas is basically everybody from the world. It's people from Chicago and Phoenix and L.A. and New York. It's everybody. So when I yell out there and I say do we have any New Yorkers, out there? Yo, Danny, how are you doing, baby? Over here. You know, sitting next to the person that's from Columbus, Ohio.
KING: Dean Martin. I wish I could have seen Dean.
GANS: Dean is a favorite of mine. Everybody loves somebody some times. You know, Lar, I tell you, I feel sorry for people who don't drink.
GANS: Because when they get up in the morning, that's just about as good as they're going feel all day.
KING: Him, you have perfectly down pat, attitude and voice. And you can also sing, right?
KING: To do what you do, you have to sing well. You could be a singer. You do sing at the end of the show?
GANS: I sing at the end of the show, yes, I do.
KING: In your voice?
GANS: In my voice. And, yeah, I could have pursued that. But, you know, when I saw Sammy Davis Jr. 20 years ago...
KING: That really did it?
GANS: That really did it. I was at a crossroads. My dad took me to the show. Because you was in a group. I was singing, doing my own thing. I was pursuing my acting career. I did a couple of films. I had a small part in a movie "Bull Durham" and did...
KING: You were in "Bull Durham"? Players?
GANS: Yeah, I was a ball player.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN COSTNER, ACTOR: You know, you never handle your luggage in this show. Somebody else carries your bags. It's great. You hit white balls for batting practice. Ballparks are like cathedrals. The hotels all have room service. Women all have long legs and brains.
Gans: They're really hot, huh?
COSTNER: Yeah, and so are the pitchers. They throw ungodly breaking stuff in the show, exploding sliders. You could be one of those guys. And you could be one of those guys but you don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I'm sick and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) tired of you calling me a geek. You want to step outside?
COSTER: Yeah, I'll step outside.
GANS: Hey, hey!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GANS: I used to kid and say, yeah, Kevin Costner was in one of my movies. And I was doing stand-up. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I knew if I wanted to be an actor, and a serious one, I really had to study and stay in town and just do that. Or if I wanted to pursue a singing career, I needed to write songs and pursue that. But when I saw Sammy, he did everything. And my dad said, that's your gift, because you're a variety performer. So I pursued that instead of the recording career.
Like you mentioned, I have a new CD coming out now, which I had time to do. I had three months off between the Mirage and opening at Encore. So I had time to do a CD. But working 48 weeks a year and doing 90 minutes on stage nonstop, that's a lot on my voice.
KING: Would you ever want to do Broadway? Would you ever want to -- or is this going to be it, your life? Encore is your life?
GANS: Well, I did Broadway. I did a one-man show on Broadway right before I moved to Vegas. And I was there, and my daughter drew me a picture, and she called the picture the Gans family. And in this picture, you saw, standing on a hill, my wife and our three kids and our dog, Sadie. And I said to my daughter, honey, where's daddy? And she pointed to the top of the picture and an airplane with a face looking through the window. And that's how she saw me, as the guy in the airplane flying all over the place.
So we left Broadway to come back to L.A., which was our home, not knowing what the next job was, but knowing that I needed to be with my family. So my wife and I sat down and we prayed a prayer that, God, I want to be with my family but I want to still be on stage, whether that's on a Broadway stage or as a singer or as an actor, but help me to make a decision. And Vegas came along.
KING: Time for one more quick one before you leave us, Tony Bennett.
GANS: Beautiful. I'm Tony Bennett on Larry King. Fly me to the moon. Let me play among the stars. Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars. In other words, please be true. In other words, Larry, I love you.
KING: You're my man, Danny.
Danny Gans at the Encore. It's the best show you'll ever see.