Editorial: The People vs Planet Hollywood's Robert Earl

How one man ruined the Planet Hollywood grand opening (in fifty words or less)

Posted by Chuckmonster

Editorial : The People vs. Robert Earl

Something interesting happened in our little network of independent Vegas websites last week that I'd like to take a few minutes to discuss. Journalist/podcaster Steve Friess, whose extensive list of credits and achievements are too numerous to mention here, was commissioned to write a piece for the London Telegraph about the grand re-opening of Planet Hollywood a few weeks ago. The article discussed Planet Hollywood boss Robert Earl's plans for the P-Ho and his calling upon his celebrity friends to come hype the event. The very same celebs who stood by with champagne in hand at the openings of Planet Hollywood's failed chain of burger joints back in the early 90's have come back to do it again... namely investors Sly Stallone and Bruce Willis.

Robin Leach said that the opening of the Planet Hollywood may be the "biggest showbiz weekend in Vegas history." Hunter Hillegas (RateVegas.com) had a different take on Earl's use of his connections to stir up interest in the event.

It feels very fake. [Robert Earl has] got a lot of celebrity friends, but it still feels totally phoney to me. The kind of people he's getting are on the way out, they're not up-and-comers. I have serious doubts of the prospects of Planet Hollywood on a long-term scale.

If Earl replaced yesterdays superstars Stallone and Willis with Clooney and Pitt would doubts about the viability of Planet Hollywood still exist, or is it the concept itself that is the problem? In era where Hiltons, Lohans, ex-Federlines and various spoiled twenty-somethings from Orange County (via MTV) are paid six figures for showing up at an overpriced bar, will wringing the formaldehyde from Sly and Bruce for a semi-annual visit provide ample horsepower in the race for the Vegas dollar? Some people, myself included, have no interest in rubbing elbows with talentless debutantes, others do. Other people, myself included, have no interest in rubbing elbows with wrinkly action stars, some do. Will the market for recent-classic Hollywood be as bankable as $500 bottle service in the glow of Britney Spears over the long term. When Mr. Earl phones in the same folks who tricked us into eating lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe impostor back in the 90s - this time to get us to blow a wad of cash in the Top Gun or Rocky slots - it sure does have a 'been there, done that' ring to it.

Shortly after the London Telegraph published the article, Mr. Earl phoned Steve to complain about the article's headline and to take issue with quoting the opinion of an unknown operator of an unknown website, who happened to call bullshit on Planet Hollywood. If Hunter had less critical observations about the launch of Planet Ho, would Earl have sent roses to RateVegas and a candygram to the Telegraph? Probably not. Anthony Curtis, the Las Vegas Advisor, is normally the go-to-guy for thoughtfully innocuous Vegas casino biz approved commentary, but to Steve's credit he opted to ask a truly independent party what their opinion was. Over the following days, thoughtful discussion peppered with occasional rounds of mortar fire broke out on Steve's The Strip Podcast Blog, and Hunter's Two Way Hard Three blog. Steve expanded on the hubub his column for the Las Vegas Weekly.

*THWAK* Will the case of The People vs. Robert Earl please come to order.

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Comments & Discussion

Hey, I got quoted! (I'm mike_ch on Hunter's blog and the Strip blog, I use another name here for a reason that's irrelevant now.)There is still a divide between a panelist on CNBC and joeschmoeinvestment-dot-blogspot-dot-com. The divide is certainly narrowing but there still is a credibility gap and perhaps always will be. Something in the Wall Street Journal has more editors to answer to, of course.One thing that does help bridge the divide and went almost unmentioned (which is crazy since it's so critical to the story) is that people in the traditional media are setting up blogs. In the Vegas universe, that includes Steve as well as someone at the LA Times whose blog I've seen linked a few times. This is important because I don't think Robert Earl even knew of the existence of those pages. If he knew that his comments would be blogged, podcasted, hosted, posted, and roasted; he might have been a bit more choice about his language.

well put, sir.And to add to your point, what do we trust more when we want to book a room in vegas? The description of the room provided by the hotel's marketing department? Or would we rather check the reader's reviews? Reviews from independent sources like VT, so-called amateur blogs, are where we trust to get the honest opinions.

Even with mainstream companies trying to be hip by having Myspace pages, Facebook pages, ad campaigns on YouTube (I do like Delta Air Lines' "Planeguage" series on YouTube though.), "official blogs and bloggers" from "employees" (now whether these blogs are accurately written or have been heavily edited or even ghost written by some hack in the P.R. department remains to be seen), etc., one cannot just become "hip" and "trendy" by acting that way. You know a trend is on a downward slide when the less trendy folks are into it.....Planet Hollywood dragging out the fossils for their "grand opening" just goes to show how out of touch they are with reality. They should have looked at who the Maloofs bring in to the big parties at The Palms, or who shows up at the Hard Rock, Mandalay Bay, and even Caesars to big events in order to get an idea on what is what and who's who these days. Sly and Bruce could probably draw a crowd if they opened up a Planet Hollywood Casino in Tunica or on the Gulf Coast, but in Vegas, no. 1995 called, they want their celebrities back. When was Planet Hollywood last even relevant? It almost makes you hope that the "Aladdin Curse" hits the Planet Ho as well (Heck, earlier in the decade, the chain was close to going under). In Mr. Earls' case, his reality check either bounced, or hasn't been written yet. Planet Hollywood will never become the "hip and trendy" casino property in Las Vegas. People do not associate Planet Hollywood with "hip and trendy". They associate it with overpriced mediocre food and crappy logo gear from one of the few surviving Hard Rock Cafe wannabes that cropped up in the 1990s. I'm sure the "Extra" branded lounge really helps bring in the punters (probably the hausfraus from Kansas who watch the show and are on their way to or from the Price Is Right show over at Bally's). They'll limp along for several years until CityCenter opens and makes the place even more irrelevant. I wouldn't be surprised if within five years, it is sold to one of the major casino companies and reverts back to the Aladdin name.

so let me get this straight - bloggers, and those who are more professional and who do tons of research and cull through thousands of customer opinions are irrelevant, yet the talking heads on Fox News can come out and refer to the 2004 election as "bush's reinstatement" or other such "fair

@nullzero - looks like your comment got truncated... care to try again?

cont' - Fox News can use the "fair

The restaurant failed. Whoopedy-doo. I can't stand the restaurants (ate once at the San Francisco one, walked around the Orlando one trying to find out if I could get a table but I wasn't trendy looking enough to get service) but I don't have a problem with the hotel. Their buffet is honestly my favorite, although I wouldn't recommend it to everyone (people who like foo-foo fare should head over to Paris.) I haven't heard any massive complaints about the rooms other than that some of the film "themes" are a bit tacky. People keep bringing up the restaurants in relation to the hotel but if you actually go into the hotel it's a lot more subdued and the branding is different. Even if it was tacky as hell, it's Vegas, what does it matter? Nobody thinks Vegas is classy other than Steve Wynn and he's just fooling himself.

Obviously there is more to this Planet Hollywood story than just a rich guy getting upset about a newspaper using a "blogger" to review his hotel. This makes a statement about how far bloggers have come in the mainstream media. But if the truth be told, Mr. Earl would have been upset about the review no matter who wrote it. Blogger or not, doesn't change the facts, does it? The P-Ho opening was lame.

Bloggers can't just be discounted or mistrusted just because they're not a "professional" news outlet, and, on the other hand, the big media conglomerates have become a joke and can rarely be trusted to deliver an honest take on anything.

What the popularity of bloggers has done is made big media look to blogging, and, in turn, has giving bloggers the interest to be more professional. This middle ground is a good thing for all of us who want better reporting.

Yes, blogging is easy to do and has created millions of pages of bullshit to wade through. But as chuckmonster states in the above article, we the readers have the freedom to choose who to believe based on a blogger's track record. Having an honest take on the news told by a blogger with nothing to gain is refreshing in today's Fox News environment. At the same time, a blogger shouldn't be trusted just because he's a blogger.

But if having reliable and honest reporting means we have to cut through all the millions of blogs to find a good ones, so be it. It's well worth it.

@nullzero - i presume you typed in an ampresand, which exploded the whole thing. i'm testing a fix right now. fair & balanced

One other thing that is particularly noteworthy is the incompetence of the Web Marketing and connection to the Miracle Mile. There are no fewer than 3 restaurants open for business that are neither listed on the MM site or PH site. I thought Trader Vics was a big deal, Hawaiian Tropic. I also agree with the comment about blogs. Blogs are completely independent and after reading them from Sue in MN to Jerry in NJ and they both say the same thing, well there's something behind it.

I generally stay at PH but started doing so when it was the Aladdin. I do still like the hotel but was amazed at the fact that the Miracle Mile was still redoing the floors, some of the stores listed in the room brochures werent even there any more (such as Hilo Hattie) and that they were still bugging people coming from their rooms for timeshares. I dont know if the place will ever be 'trendy' but they do seem to be trying to accompish their goal by saying it over and over again. As for him being angry with bloggers,; we tend to be more honest than most because we arent there for work but to stay and have fun. He should spend more time worrying about turning off the folks who stay there regularly instead of trying to draw people who at the surface couldnt care less about him.

If Harrah's was flush with the cash they were in 2006, they would probably use this as an opportunity to bring the Horseshoe brand to the strip. There had been some interest in that for a while. However, with the current climate, I think scrapping the current theme (only a couple of years after abandoning the Aladdin theme) is unlikely to happen.

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