With Shania's Sears Die Hard demands, it was Def Leppard by default.
With Shania's Sears Die Hard demands, it was Def Leppard by default.
Timothy White

RodeoHouston: Some 'Splainin to Do

When RodeoHouston released its entertainment lineup last week, the locals were dumbfounded by several of the acts scheduled to perform at the self-proclaimed "world's largest rodeo." There's only one polite way to describe artists like Barry Manilow, Duran Duran and Def Leppard: washed up. The Houston Press was able to secure classified correspondence that may help Houstonians understand these confounding decisions.

Confidential Memo

To: P. Michael Wells, president of RodeoHouston

From: Dan Gattis, general manager of RodeoHouston

Re: Entertainment Lineup

Mike, I wanted to update you on our progress in regard to signing the priority acts for RodeoHouston 2001. I regret to inform you that we have not been able to secure some of our No. 1 choices. The reasons are many and complicated. I will attempt to explain.

1. For the Saturday, March 3, matinee performance, we had entered formal negotiations with President-elect George W. Bush, who had tentatively agreed to stuff an egg-salad sandwich in his mouth and sing "The Yellow Rose of Texas," "The Star-Spangled Banner" and other patriotic tunes. Over lunch at Otto's Barbecue on Memorial, we had hammered out the details of the agreement to all in attendance, which included former president George Herbert Walker Bush, Barbara Bush, Dick Cheney, a speech therapist, a brain-stem researcher, two secret service agents, a ventriloquist, two puppeteers and a registered nurse who repeatedly wiped the president-elect's mouth. We thought everyone had agreed to the contract details; we only needed President-elect Bush to sign off on the deal, but we could not get a clear answer. With his mouth full of smoked sausage, the president-elect kept saying, "Mmm daee aahkes auuhhos eesst." At first we thought he was rehearsing his show; then former president Bush informed us, as only a proud father could, that his son was actually saying, "My daddy likes Otto's best." We were assured he would stop this "performance" soon, but that time never came. We had to go to Plan B: Barry Manilow.

2. For the Thursday, March 1, performance, we were on the verge of signing Shania Twain, the "hottest" female singer in country music. We had agreed to all of the specifics of her contract, including the mysterious Sears Die Hard clause, and were about to sign on the dotted line. But then we received a call from Darryl "Black Snot" Carter, a bull rider who was competing in a greater Los Angeles rodeo. He informed us that Ms. Twain, who was scheduled to perform at the event, had pulled a No Show Jones. When Black Snot inquired into the matter, he was told -- and we later confirmed with organizers -- that Ms. Twain could not perform because of the rolling blackouts in the area. It appears our worst fears have been realized: Shania Twain is an automaton controlled by her "husband," Robert John "Mutt" Lange, the producer of "heavy metal" records of the rock and roll genre. Ms. Twain's animatronic midriff apparently does not wiggle properly without 10,000 volts coursing through her "body." When we confronted Mutt, he was unapologetic. He promised that "Shania" would be back at peak performance levels once she recharged her batteries. As an organization that prides itself on safe and honest entertainment -- and a good cattle prod when that fails -- we cannot condone this kind of deception. We decided to withdraw from negotiations. Undaunted, Mutt suggested we hire a band that he used to produce, a "100 percent flesh-and-blood" British group named Def Leppard. Despite our fears that PETA would protest this exploitation of handicapped wildlife, we agreed to the deal. Def Leppard will replace Shania on the bill.

3. Finally, it is with great sadness that I report we could not sign the Jackson 5 to the Friday, February 16, slot. As you know, the brothers plan to reunite for an album and tour this year. We had hoped to provide the "springboard" to launch their reunion. We met with the Jacksons at Michael's Neverland Ranch in California -- Michael, completely encased in high-density polyethylene to prevent the transfer of infectious diseases, graciously met us at the door -- but we could not get past one major sticking point in the negotiations: Jermaine, a.k.a. "the quiet one," would not agree to set foot on our revolving stage until every "cowpie" had been evacuated from the rodeo area. We immediately balked at the cost and time of such a cleanup. That's when Tito started singing, "Never can say good-bye... except to cowpie." The mere mention of the word "cowpie" sent Michael scurrying to another room. Thirty minutes later he returned, covered in lead two inches thick, mumbling something about methane gas poisonings. It was at that point we realized the Jackson 5 was not suited for RodeoHouston. When we returned to Houston, a savvy board member suggested we check into Diana Ross's availability. Ms. Ross, after all, "presented" the Jackson 5 to the world, and Michael has been known to dress like the famous singer (or is it vice versa?). Ms. Ross has graciously agreed to perform that evening. She has, however, balked at suggestions that all surviving members of the Supremes dress up as Tito, Jackie, Jermaine and Marlon. And Ms. Ross's cowpie rider is still being negotiated.

Mike, as you can tell, we are handling these setbacks with a great deal of ingenuity and grace. We are still hopeful to sign some of today's best-selling country acts -- Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, the Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks, George Strait -- but if not, we have some excellent fallback options, including Duran Duran (we're told that they're England's top country band), Alabama (you can never get too much of that "Mountain Music") and Lyle Lovett (who's been known to attract hundreds of fans to his shows). I will keep you updated, Mike, as we get closer to announcing this year's lineup. But right now I must take this call from Juice Newton's manager.


cc: Neural Stem Cell Research Center
Sears Automotive Center
Madame Tussaud's House of Wax


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