Errata: from Norm's R-J column today...
THE SCENE AND HEARDThis is a tough situation for Ms. Johnson-Finn. Collaring this promoter cat Ventura may not help. In fact, it may be a net negative, 'cause he might try to finger her as a co-conspirator in the hoax, maybe try to bargain for leniency for his own ass on her back. A "He Said / She Said" problem.
Imprisoned Las Vegas celebrity impersonator Trina Johnson-Finn was denied release Tuesday and faces a May 26 trial on charges of impersonating Toni Braxton. Her attorney had filed an appeal to have her released Tuesday based on the arrest of the concert promoter Saturday, but the judge denied it. According to published reports, Angel Ventura was captured in a harbor bar in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname and location of Johnson-Finn's Feb. 28 concert. She has been incarcerated since March.
A YouTube video of her airport "interview" surfaced briefly, and is fairly damning on the surface (I saw it), as she alludes to Toni Braxton's pending arrival e.g., "my girl will be here tomorrow..." etc (the anti-Trina spin is that she was touting herself as Braxton's manager). Curiously, it disappeared from YouTube soon after being posted, but you can bet that the Surinamese authorities have it.
She may well be in fact totally innocent. It may not suffice. Bad stuff.
THURSDAY, MORE NORM
Opening soon: 'Pesci's Pizza'LOL! I can just hear the quips coming. Maybe we can get Lenny to riff on this Saturday night and Monday night.
Actor Joe Pesci may soon bring "Pesci's Pizza" to Las Vegas.
Actor Joe Pesci, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in the mob classic "Goodfellas," is going into business in Las Vegas with convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo.
They'll be slicing up the profit from a string of pizza joints called "Pesci's Pizza."...
MOULIN ROUGE R.I.P.
A bit of Vegas history is now gone for good. Big fire yesterday, the second time. News reports now say that they're gonna have to bulldoze the entire property. At least they'd dismantled the sign and moved it to the "boneyard" historical archive just recently.
TRINA JOHNSON-FINN UPDATE
May 8, 2009 1:40 p.m. ESTMaybe this will eventually suffice to get her out. Unless he claims that Trina was in on it.
Concert Promoter Admits To "Phony Toni" Braxton Show Scam
Anne Lu - Celebrity News Service News Writer
Paramaribo, Suriname (CNS) - The concert promoter for the fake Toni Braxton show in Suriname has admitted to cheating audience when he told them the real "Un-Break My Heart" singer is going to show up.
Fans were outrage when upon arriving at a show in Suriname in February fully expecting the Grammy Award winner to perform on stage, they quickly learned after two songs that an impersonator had taken her place. They booed Trina Johnson off stage, saying they were conned.
Johnson, dubbed "Phony Toni" by the angry fans, claimed she was also conned as her contract specifically said she was to do an "imitation act." She thought people were informed that an imitator would be there instead of the real deal.
She is currently in jail awaiting trial for fraud.
Promoter Angel Ventura admitted he was the mastermind of the scam, wherein almost 3,000 concertgoers paid $53 each to see Braxton perform on February 28.
Defense lawyer Lamure Latour has been quoted by Contact Music as saying, "He confessed in front of the investigating judge to the charges and said that he was aware of what he was doing."
But his admission doesn't mean Johnson is exonerated as a suspect. Her trial is scheduled later this month.
MSNBC has now picked up the "Phony Toni" story off an AP feed. Nothing really new or reassuring in it, but it's picked up a bit of MSM attention now.