July 22, 2004

Michael Moore on back-up vocals at the Aladdin?

According to the OED, the term publicity stunt, meaning an apparently newsworthy event staged to create free advertising, dates from the 1920s:

1926 ‘SAPPER’ Final Count vii. 195 It was just an advertisement -- an elaborate publicity stunt.

Looking this up, I was surprised to find that hype, in the sense of "Deception, cheating; a confidence trick, a racket, a swindle, a publicity stunt", is not attested in print before 1962:

1962 J. BALDWIN Another Country (1963) II. iv. 336 Life is a bitch, baby. It's the biggest hype going.

Anyhow, it seems that future dictionary editions might want to illustrate these entries with pictures of Linda Ronstadt and the management of the Aladdin Theater in Las Vegas, linking to news stories about how on July 17

Aladdin President Bill Timmins ordered security guards to escort pop diva Linda Ronstadt off the property following a concert Saturday night during which she expressed support for controversial documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.

Timmins, who was among the almost 5,000 fans in the audience at the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts, had Ronstadt escorted to her tour bus and her belongings from her hotel room sent to her. Timmins also sent word to Ronstadt that she was no longer welcome at the property for future performances, according Aladdin spokeswoman Tyri Squyres.

Liz Ditz at I Speak of Dreams suspects that "this whole flap was a publicity stunt by the president of Aladdin to get free publicity for his dive, and to cover up the marketing fiasco that meant the concert lost money". Liz cites pretty good evidence for her suspicions, including a later newspaper story with quotes like this:

Some concertgoers took issue with the Aladdin's accounts of angry patrons tearing down posters and throwing drink cups.

"I was so stunned to read in the newspaper that anyone had a negative reaction," said KLAS-TV, Channel 8, news anchor Paula Francis. "Everyone who was leaving when I was leaving was just thrilled. They thought it was a good concert."

At the end of an hour's worth of singing, "she got a standing ovation, then she came out and did the (`Desperado') encore," Francis said. "There were loud boos and there was quite a bit of applause. But everyone calmed down right away and seemed to enjoy the rest of the encore."

And according to yesterday's Billboard:

Thanks to negotiations today (July 21) between the Recording Artists Coalition (RAC) and the prospective new owners of Las Vegas's Alladin Theater, expect to see RAC member Linda Ronstadt back at the venue this fall -- with filmmaker Michael Moore on backup vocals.

Of course, a guerilla band from the Onion may have taken over Billboard's web site.

By the way, Billboard's "Alladin" for Aladdin does not show the usual preservation of gemination pattern:


perhaps because "aladin" brings up lots of non-English sites, project names, etc.


Posted by Mark Liberman at July 22, 2004 09:59 AM