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October 18, 2017

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Terry Fator sets the record straight about ex-wife, new wife, ex-advisers


Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

Terry Fator and Winston the Impersonating Turtle at the Pioneer of the Year dinner during CinemaCon on March 30, 2011.

Terry Fator's Tribute to the Troops at The Mirage

Terry Fator's Tribute to the Troops at The Mirage on Nov. 14, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Terry Fator at USO Lounge

Terry Fator's check presentation to the USO Lounge at McCarran Airport on Jan. 5, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Terry Fator's First Anniversary at The Mirage

Terry Fator's first-anniversary show at The Mirage on March 13, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Mirage headline entertainer and America’s Got Talent Season 2 $1 million winner Terry Fator simply wanted to set the record straight, but his candid comments on the podcast of Las Vegas Weekly journalist and colleague Steve Friess are likely to set off fireworks.

Steve told me: “It’s stunning stuff. Terry goes on a rampage against both his former handlers and his former wife. Listen to and/or read it for yourself!

Here are a couple of the controversial points:

Steve Friess: I realize that nobody can say what goes on in a marriage. It’s always going to be personal and private, but was the demand on you as a public figure a factor in what happened to your first marriage (to Melinda)?

Terry Fator: Not at all. What really happened, the issues that were happening in my first marriage were happening for years before. I mistakenly thought success would fix those issues, and they made them even worse. Really, what happened was my ex-wife didn’t get along at all with my family and refused to allow them to enjoy the success that I had achieved. I just really had to make a choice between my family and my mom, my brother and my sister and their families and my ex-wife.

I don’t regret that decision, haven’t regretted it one day because to sit and watch my mom who was not able to take part in any of the America’s Got Talent stuff because of my ex-wife, who was not able to take part in my first show in Las Vegas because of my ex-wife, to have my mom come to town and look at her face and see how proud she is sitting out there in the crowd.

I did not have an affair on [Melinda]. She’s kinda gone out and made the claims that I did. What happened was that once we were separated, then it was several weeks afterward, my sister told me that [onstage assistant] Taylor [Makakoa] was interested in me. I couldn’t believe it because I’m an older guy, and I’m not that great looking. Turned out, she was looking for a guy who would love her and not cheat on her, and I’m that guy.

It was when I started bucking everyone, my ex-wife included, and saying, “Wait a second, this is my life, this is my show, this is not your show, this is not your life, is when things really started changing for me.” I put that show together, I wrote that show with the help of some other writers, but they were my ideas, and I was the end result of every decision that was made in that show.

I’m more proud of that show than anything I’ve ever done in my entire life. My life has become what I always truly dreamed of. I don’t have to exaggerate anymore. I don’t have to pretend anymore. I think that the success is probably what began to give me that confidence in myself and in my own ability to make decisions.

Throughout our entire marriage, she never wanted children. But when I got to be about 30, I began to get those feelings of oh my gosh, I wonder what that feels like to have a child, to have children. That was another big issue. I’m here at the Mirage here, I have a stable life, I don’t have to travel every day, I can have children. And now the prospect of having a house full of kids and dogs and having a family is the sweetest prospect of all.

Steve interviewed Melinda Fator for the podcast, and you can hear her responses. She denies that the conversation about children ever happened, and she denies rewriting Terry’s book to make herself seem better.

Terry added: “From the very moment America’s Got Talent happened, I had advisers swoop in and take charge and take complete control of my career and life. I had my ex-wife who was at home telling me everything to do. I was the henpecked husband who never, ever argued and never ever gave my opinion, and then these advisers swooped in, and I was the henpecked entertainer who never ever made a decision. It was all done by other people.

It was wonderful because on the one hand, I was achieving everything I ever wanted, but on the other hand, I wasn’t able to fulfill my creative potential as an entertainer. I would come up with an idea, and I’d be immediately shut down by these advisers, and then I would go, “Uh, OK,” the way I did at home when I wanted something at home.

“They told me I had to be edgy. Their attitude was, ‘Well, you don’t know Vegas.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t care if I don’t know Vegas. Good entertainment is good entertainment, I’m a good entertainer.’ ”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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