Las Vegas Sun

December 11, 2018

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Deana Martin Celebrity Roast honors actor Joe Mantegna at the South Point

Deana Martin

Deana Martin

Deana Martin is an acclaimed singer and entertainer who’s released five albums and played stages across the country for years. Now she’s following in famous father Dean Martin’s footsteps in another way.

The second Deana Martin Celebrity Roast at the South Point Showroom is set for April 15. Patterned after the recurring NBC TV special “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast” that ran from 1974 to 1984—and was filmed at the New York Friars’ Club featuring stars like Johnny Carson, Hugh Hefner, Rich Little, Redd Foxx, Kirk Douglas and Don Rickles—the upcoming Vegas event will honor actor Joe Mantegna, known from films like “The Godfather Part III” and “Searching for Bobby Fischer” and TV shows including “Criminal Minds” and “The Simpsons.”

“Everybody loves Joe. He’s just an amazing human being,” says Martin, who met Mantegna before the actor portrayed Dean Martin in the HBO film “The Rat Pack” in 1999. Mantegna grabbed a Golden Globes nomination for Best Supporting Actor for that role. “I was actually introduced to him by Dennis Farina and we all went to dinner, and over the years he’s come to a lot of my shows. Once I got him to get up and sing backup for me. I adore him.”

Martin doesn’t always adore the various stage and screen portrayals of her dad, an icon with a long-lasting Las Vegas legacy who passed away in 1995. “It all depends on who the actor is and how they’re doing it. Joe was respectful and is an excellent actor, but he just got him,” Martin says. “There’s an It factor and Joe got that. When I see impersonators sometimes it really upsets me because a lot of them play my dad drunk and if the audience doesn’t know a lot about Dean Martin, I don’t want them to have that in their mind, this slurring drunk falling down onstage. He was an amazing and important actor and singer, so funny and brilliant at what he did, and that legacy is important to me.”

Martin’s first roast in Las Vegas last year honored Dennis Bono, entertainer and host of his own syndicated talk show also produced at the South Point. “I’m happy to do it there because they really do it right. It looks just like the old Dean Martin Celebrity Roast with the dais and the podium,” Martin says. “My husband and I used to come home from touring and watch the old roasts when they came on and we always thought they were so funny, and then we thought, I should do that. Last year was hysterical and we had so many great guests—Rich Little, Robert Davi, Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton.”

This year’s roast roster is stacked with Mantegna’s friends and co-stars, including comedian Joe Piscopo, Lou Martini Jr. from “The Sopranos,” Clifton Collins from “Westworld,” Kirsten Vangsness and Matthew Gray Gubler from “Criminal Minds,” Gail O’Grady from “NYPD Blue” and comedians Mike Marino and Tom Dreesen.

Martin, who’s working on a follow-up album to 2016’s “Swing Street,” expects the roast to become an annual event at the South Point. While she lives in California and spends a lot of time on both coasts, she appreciates a little time in Las Vegas, especially when it connects her to her father’s legacy.

“The South Point wants to bring it back all the time but it’s tough to get all the right people together,” she says. “It’s an event that’s hard to plan ahead but the people in the entertainment biz understand that. We are going to do many roasts because there are so many people who want to be roasted. It’s a lot of work but it’s so much fun.”

The Deana Martin Celebrity Roast honoring Joe Mantegna will be presented at 6 p.m. April 15 at the South Point Showroom (9777 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-796-7111) and more information can be found at southpointcasino.com.