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Future of Siegfried & Roy Act Is in Doubt

With illusionist fighting to survive a tiger attack, the famed show is canceled indefinitely. The ripple effects could stretch past Las Vegas.

October 06, 2003|Paul Brownfield and Christine Hanley | Times Staff Writers

LAS VEGAS — With Siegfried & Roy illusionist Roy Horn still in critical condition Sunday after being mauled onstage by a tiger, the future of the duo's long-running show was in doubt.

Horn, who has undergone multiple surgeries since the Friday night attack, including one to relieve swelling on his brain, is under heavy sedation and breathing through a ventilator.

"He's cognizant; he understands exactly where we are," said Bernie Yuman, longtime manager for Horn and partner Siegfried Fischbacher.

Yuman and officials for MGM/Mirage Resort said they remain cautiously optimistic that the 59-year-old entertainer's condition will improve.

A vigil for Horn was held Sunday night outside Las Vegas' University Medical Center. MGM/Mirage Resort Chief Executive Bobby Baldwin told those gathered that Horn's condition had improved. The doctors told Baldwin that Horn was able to move his hands and feet and also gave a thumbs-up sign.

Alan Feldman, vice president of entertainment at the Mirage hotel and casino -- home to Siegfried & Roy since 1990 -- announced an indefinite cancellation of the famed show, putting 260 people out of work. Ticket-holders were advised to call the resort for refunds.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday September 04, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 58 words Type of Material: Correction
Siegfried & Roy -- Articles in various sections of The Times have been in conflict about the weight of the tiger that mauled illusionist Roy Horn on Oct. 3. Times reports have given its weight as 300, 550 and 600 pounds. Siegfried & Roy's publicist and Las Vegas animal control officials said the tiger weighed about 380 pounds.

Horn was attacked by a 550-pound royal white Siberian tiger named Montecore 45 minutes into Siegfried & Roy's 7:30 p.m. performance Friday. In his oft-performed routine, Horn told the audience that it was Montecore's first time onstage. But when he instructed the tiger to lie down, the animal balked. Horn then tapped the tiger on the nose with his microphone, at which point Montecore grabbed Horn's arm and lunged at his neck, dragging him offstage.

Feldman said he has been interviewed by officials from the state Department of Wildlife, which is in charge of investigating the attack. Like all performances, the show was videotaped. But as of Sunday, the hotel had not been asked to turn the tape over, Feldman said.

Yuman said that since the 1960s, the duo had entertained 10.5 million people around the world and given 30,000 performances. At the Mirage, where they have been part of the entertainment landscape for 13 years, they gave 5,750 performances.

The Mirage continues to run in-room video promoting the show and has not removed any of the billboards, photos, merchandise and myriad reminders of the duo that dominate the casino.

Told the show had been closed indefinitely, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said: "It's an important piece of our fabric as the ultimate entertainment destination of the world that will be missing."

Kenneth Feld, the longtime producer of the Vegas act, released a statement Sunday saying, "There wasn't a person who saw this show who wasn't affected by it."

The decision to put the show on hold could have ripple effects outside Las Vegas.

The future of a computer-generated cartoon take on Siegfried & Roy's show -- from the perspective of the white tigers -- also was in doubt.

John Goodman and Carl Reiner had signed on to be the voices of the two tigers in the DreamWorks Television project "Father of the Pride," slated for NBC's fall 2004 prime-time schedule.

The show's producers, including DreamWorks' founding partner Jeffrey Katzenberg, who visited Horn on Sunday, wanted to create a cheeky, edgy cartoon that employed the same type of satirical humor that was such a hit in DreamWorks SKG's blockbuster movie "Shrek."

While Yuman said Sunday that the project would move forward, NBC executives said no decision had been made.

"We're just praying for Roy and hoping for a full recovery for him. We have not even thought about the show," NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker said through a spokeswoman.

Times staff writer Meg James contributed to this report.

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