Jay Leno at Parx with advice for know-it-all celebs; Chefs Flay, Fieri at Harrah’s AC; Dance-pop at Hard Rock

The former ‘Tonight Show’ host doesn’t care what the rich-and-famous think about the state of the world.
Jay Leno brings the jokes to Parx Oct. 14.
Jay Leno brings the jokes to Parx Oct. 14.Ticketmaster

Jay Leno has some advice for celebrities who insist on publicly sharing their views about, well, everything:

Shut your pie holes!

During a phone call, the former Tonight Show host, who on Oct. 14 performs at Parx casino in Bensalem, Pa., sounded both bemused and annoyed by the seemingly endless parade of performers who believe their talents endow them with a license to bloviate on any and all subjects that strike their fancies.

The 72-year-old joke jockey spoke derisively about “this self-importance that everybody in show business gives themselves: ‘Well, I’m on a sitcom, so I should be speaking about what’s happening [in Ukraine] or something,’” he sniped.

“I’m just not one who believes celebrities are more important than anybody else,” he continued.  “That’s why I don’t have a Twitter account. I don’t get on there and say, ‘Well, here’s what I believe.’ I mean, it just seems so preposterous to me. Why should you comment on everything?

“It’s nice to have an opinion and I do have opinions, but I just feel a lot of show business types [think] they’re more important than the story. It just seems rather narcissistic to me to think that.”

Leno, who despite his jaundiced views on the subject, is universally known as being one of show biz’s nice guys, is likewise unimpressed with the current generation of late-night TV talk-show hosts whose political leanings are unambiguous (e.g. uniformly liberal and anti-Donald Trump and the GOP).

“When I did The Tonight Show, the idea back then was to make fun of both sides. When I got angry letters from Democrats and Republicans, I knew I was doing my job. Now, if you have a late-night show, you have to give your opinion on what you think on every issue, and you always wind up losing half the audience.”

As was the case with virtually every other touring entertainer, the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted Leno’s career: He is legendary in the industry for his decades of incessant touring; he estimated that even during the 22 years he hosted “The Tonight Show,” he performed more than 200 times a year. But, he admitted, the worldwide plague opened his eyes to a different way of life.

He explained he was always hesitant to turn down any job, even after he achieved television stardom. But, he offered, “When this sort of forced-vacation thing started, it was like, oh, okay, I have no choice but to stay home, so I might as well enjoy myself.

“I mean, I’m fortunate that it happened at this end of my career, not the beginning. People say to me, ‘How rough is it?’ I go, ‘It’s not rough because I made my money.’”

It’s not that Leno is spending his days puttering around the garden and napping. His Jay Leno’s Garage YouTube channel, which every Sunday debuts a new video about cars, has more than 3 million subscribers. And he and his ‘Tonight Show’ sidekick, guitarist Kevin Eubanks, have embarked on the second season of their You Bet Your Life reboot for Fox-owned TV stations (it’s the latest iteration of the beloved comedy/quiz show that was famously hosted by Groucho Marx from the late-1940s through the early ’60s). As far as Leno is concerned, it’s a gig for which he is perfectly suited as it allows him to interact and trade off-the-cuff quips with non-celebrities.

“I generally like to talk to people,” he said. “It’s what I like to do and it’s fun. I find it the easiest thing in the world.”

He added he’s especially proud of the geographical and demographic diversity of the contestants he’s welcomed, noting that his guests hail from around the world, as opposed to those on most Hollywood-based game shows, who tend to live in Southern California.

“We’ve had contestants from Somalia, Nigeria, Poland, the Louisiana Bayou, Maine, North Carolina,” he bragged.

“We had this lady, about 4-11, maybe five feet, about 60, 65 years old. And [she was teamed] with a huge African-American guy, who was about 6-5, 6-6 and weighed like 275. So they come out and they look funny standing together and every time they got a question right, the guy put his arm around her and lifted her up like a rag doll and waved her around.

“It was the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. And you think, ‘Where would these two people ever interact like this?’ I’m sure they probably have completely different [lives]…but they got along and they had fun on the show. And that’s kinda the idea behind it.”

TV stars cooking at Harrah’s

Two of television’s most popular celibri-chefs are now doing business at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City.

Bobby Flay, who last year shuttered his high-end Bobby Flay Steak at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, has moved next door to open Bobby’s Burgers. Despite Flay’s reputation as a culinary adventurer, the fast-foodery emphasizes the basics: hamburgers, French fries and milkshakes.

Also dishing out the dishes at Harrah’s is Guy Fieri, whose latest Atlantic City venture is Chicken Guy!

The casual-dining outpost features a bill of fare anchored by chicken tenders served with a choice of 22 sauces. Sides including Fieri’s popular Mac Daddy Mac ‘n Cheese and fried pickles are offered, as is a dessert selection featuring such calorie bombs as the Cinnamon Apple, a cup of vanilla soft-serve ice cream topped with Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Apple Jacks breakfast cereals.

Chicken Guy! is the latest addition to Fieri’s ongoing AyCee partnership with Caesars Entertainment. He also has Guy’s Sammich Joint at Harrah’s and Guy’s bar-b-que joint at Caesars Atlantic City. In addition, his Guy Fieri’s Chop House is located inside Bally’s Atlantic City.

‘Freestylin’ at Hard Rock

The first generation of electronic dance-pop—that is from the late-1980s and early-‘90s—will be celebrated Oct. 15 as Hard Rock Hotel Casino Atlantic City hosts Freestyle For All in its Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena.

Topping the bill is dance-club queen Taylor Dayne (“Tell It to My Heart,” “Love Will Lead You Back,” “With Every Beat of My Heart”). The 14-act bill also includes Stevie B (“Spring Love,” “I Wanna Be the One”), Lisa Lisa (“Can You Feel the Heat,” “Head to Toe” Rob Base (“It Takes Two” with DJ E-Z Rock) and dance-poppers Pretty Poison (“Catch Me I’m Falling”).

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