Justin Timberlake at Indiana Live?

March 13, 2009
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UPDATE: Still working to confirm that Timberlake and company were actually there. Anyone with information, please e-mail lharry@ibj.com.

Justin Timberlake is on the guest list for the opening of the Indian Live casino tonight. But so far, the new gambling palace hasn't announced actual live entertainment beyond strolling violinist Colin G. Matthews and lounge acts including Blonde Sonja and Soulshine.

Meanwhile, rival Hoosier Park in Anderson has a concert lineup for the next two month or so featuring acts that will actually be performing. March 21 brings Tony Orlando. The Wright Brothers Band peforms on the 27th and 28th, 38 Special comes in on April 18 and Eddie Money plays on May 23.

Now, there's a chance that any of the relatively anonymous Indiana Live acts are as good if not better musicians than the names at Hoosier Park. But they certainly aren't draws.

The question: Does a casino need showroom-status entertainment? Would you be more likely to visit Indiana Live if a familiar act was doing a show?

And what would you pay if Timberlake were actually performing there tonight?

Your thoughts?
  • Doesn't Mr. Timberlake make expensive rustic furniture?
  • I don't know that I have ever visited a casino for the sole purpose of seeing anyone perform. I mean, I have decided after the fact to attend a show here and there, but my reason for going in the first place was to gamble. Makes no difference to me... (but a strolling violinist? really? in a casino?)

    Sidenote: I visited the casino's website and have to say, judging by photos only, of course, that they have done an excellent job of recreating a Vegas style atmosphere. Those clubs look straight out of Vegas and are surely more hip than anything Indiana has ever seen before... if only they were downtown, sigh.... Could you imagine the draw this entire project would have been if located right smack dab in the middle of downtown? The area where SoDo has been proposed would have been perfect!

    Sidenote II: I also checked out the Angels on the website. I am assuming these are the ladies who will be scantily dressed and making their ways around the casino entertaining folks. My questions is this: Couldn't they have found better looking women in ALL of Indiana? No offense, but c'mon, some of these girls looked like they were picked off the stage at a local seedy strip joint... OK, I suppose that WOULD offend, but seriously... was this really the best of the bunch? Could they not have at least had these girls glammed up for their photo shoots?
  • Blonde Sonya ... seriously? lounge acts is a high rating. She's very talented .... but to draw people to a casino opening? I'd be there in a heartbeat for Timberlake!!
  • Definitely more apt to visit a casino due to its entertainment, especially if it's a known act that doesn't pass through regularly (ie. Justin Timberlake)

    I would pay approximately $35 to see Justin Timberlake perform. All other casino entertainment should more or less be comp'd if you ask me.

    I've actually driven to Casino Aztar in Evansville and the former Caesar's Indiana near Louisville to see acts. Aztar had Sheena Easton and I can't remember why I went to Caesar's.

    Soulshine... great name for a lounge act.
  • I usually don't go to casinos for their entertainment. I would never go unless it is free and I would be going anyway. I usually also stay away from grand openings because the casino is too crowded and there is way to much smoke on normal un-crowded nights. There is no way, I want to go and fight more smoke, and rubbing-elbows crowds and NOT be able to get to my favorite games because of all of the people. Maybe if the casinos had less headliners, they would be profitable enough to NOT need special tax breaks. I don't think any of the casinos is unprofitable, they just aren't AS profitable as the owners want them to be. Casino owners are a bunch of whiny little girls (as Burn Notice calls spies, so maybe the casino owners are former spies). I remember too well, when the Shelbyville race track was trying to get approval from the general assembly, their story was that there was enough horse racing enthusiasm to support two race tracks. Then before they were even done with their building, it was whining about sharing casino support money because they were hurting for dough. Then it was crying about needing to have Racinos because horse racing couldn't support itself. Do we really believe that the various legislators have such short memories that they don't remember as well as I do. Just dig through the Star (or maybe even the IBJ) archives to read the progression of race track owners (or want to be owners) stories as it unfolded over the years. That will be the day when either media outlet puts together the story progression for all to read and remember. But, I really don't have any strong feelings about the topic.
  • Well, some of the people posting on here must have never lived outside Indy. People will go to a casino to see an act perform, even if they aren't a gambler and even if there is a ticket price associated with it. You wouldn't expect to see Justin Timberlake (or other big performers) anywhere else would you? And a few of those people who come to see the act perform, and who don't normally come to a casino, will more than likely stop and play some games while at the casino before and/or after the performance. I'm not saying all of them will, but enough of them will.

    So, to answer Lou's question... I think casinos that aren't in Las Vegas (Las Vegas can be the exception to what I said above) do need performing acts. Otherwise, they're only going to pull the die-hard gamblers and the occasional gamblers... and the occasional gamblers don't come often enough and/or spend enough to make them profitable alone. When I lived in South Florida... this was the case for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. I saw a few concerts there (that you had to buy a ticket for) and a couple comedians. I'm sure that some of the people that came to these shows and others, didn't normally come to the casino and came only for the performances... but they probably stopped and played some games either before or after the performances... again, not all of them, but some of them.

    And the other questions, yeah, I would visit Indiana Live for a big-name act... even if I have to buy a ticket. But it would depend on the performer and prices whether I go or not, just as with any other performance... as for Justin Timberlake, I wouldn't pay anything to see him! Pop music isn't my cup of tea.
  • Actually, Andrew, I have lived in Los Angeles for the past 5 years and visit Las Vegas frequently. I didn't say that NO ONE goes to casinos just to see performers, only that I don't. You're argument makes sense, but i doubt that ANY of the performers I see listed on the LIVE! website are going to be THAT big a draw to make a difference. If I want to go see a concert, I will go to a venue where that is the focus - not a casino.
  • Maybe the performers they have listed now won't draw in big crowds... but say if they drew in Nickelback, or even Timberlake to perform and not just (I wouldn't go see him, but I know a lot of people would), any big name performer, etc... people would come for these big name acts even if it is a casino. People will drive to see their favorit performer... local example currently being Verizon Wireless Music Center, not exactly in the center of the city. What's your favorite artist/performer? Would you go see them at a casino if that's the only place they'll be playing in your region? I'm sure artist/performers come through LA constantly, so it may not be an issue... not so much in Indy, so people will drive an hour to see their favorite (or one of their favorit) artists.
  • Justin Timberlake....Justin Timberlake...didn't he use to be that Britney person's boyfriend? Or was that another Justin? Wait, I'll go Google him...

    Good heavens! He has won six Grammy awards! Where have I been?

    (pardon me while I get distracted reading juicy gossip about him...)

    Okay, I'm back. Well, I wouldn't pay any money to see/hear him, but I would go along to satisfy my curiousity if someone invited me and if I didn't already have a live theatre show to go to that night.

    I agree with Andrew and Pres that people are willing to drive to see their favorite performers, whether the performance is in a casino or a more traditional venue.

    But does a casino need showroom-status entertainment? Hmm. Not sure. I don't know enough about that industry or its customers. 'Sorry.

    By the way, I wonder if there have been any books set in any of Indiana's casinos. I enjoyed reading PROP, by Pete Hautman (Simon & Schuster 2006) a few years ago. It was fun - and a little scary - to imagine what it would be like to make my living as a freelance poker player helping the casinos fill out the poker tables as needed. But that novel was set in Arizona.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • No sign of any of the announced celebrities at the ribbon cutting. Makes one wonder.
  • Lou, are you going to try to contact Biel and/or Timberlake's publicists to see if they were even aware of this? Given the way the casino handled the Obama ad, I wouldn't be surprised if Biel and Timberlake were unaware that their names were being used to gain publicity for the casino. It also seems likely to generate a lot of ill will amongst local folks who only went to have the chance to see some megastars in their town. Since they were supposedly going to attend the ribbon-cutting, I imagine there were probably a lot of moms and dads who took the time to take their minor children there to see the stars since they wouldn't need to go into the casino for that.
  • John,
    Absolutely. Anyone with any information, please forward it to me.
  • What?! Justin Timberlake wasn't even there?!!

    I am laughing out loud in amazement. Did the casino owners think no one would notice or mind?

    But wait...Lou, your post says JT was on the guest list, not that he had been hired to perform. I misunderstood that yesterday. Being on the guest list just means they invited him, not that he had accepted, right?

    But I agree that it is pretty deceptive to imply in the advertising that he would be there.

    I guess we were all supposed to, well, GAMBLE that Justin would be there?

    (laughing out loud again) Oh, man, this does NOT make me want to go to a casino. I'll take the risk of live theatre or even a movie on DVD any day.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • Where did you get the info about Timberlake performing there? In what you posted in your other forum, what I read was that he and his girlfriend were going to be at the grand opening. Was he supposed to perform in addition to appearing at the place? That is the first I hard about that. And after going out there and seeing the place Saturday (lost $30) where was he going to or supossed to perform? I did not see anyplace like a big stage unless it was in that white dome thing away from the casino. Was that the place?
  • Matt,
    Didn't mean to imply that he was performing. A press release claimed that the two were going to participate in the ribbon cutting.
    The final question was just a hypothetical with no basis in reality. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

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