A couple of years ago when I was talking to Luxor President Felix Rappaport about what it is like to be the president of the Luxor, he continually praised his then-VP Tom McCartney, who was a “true visionary,” as Rappaport put it, in the resort industry. He lauded McCartney’s vision, his energy and a rapid-fire wit.
Looking back, it was as if Rappaport wanted me to bank for future reference what he’d said about McCartney, because McCartney, too might run a resort. And today, he is.
Announced this morning was McCartney’s move to Planet Hollywood, where he will work under resort co-Chairman Robert Earl as president and chief executive officer. Out is Michael Mecca, who has resigned to, as Earl put it, “pursue other opportunities.” Mecca is a polished performer, similar in style to an accomplished politician (John Ensign being the model who springs to mind), and helped carry the hotel through an oft-delayed transition from the Aladdin.
What McCartney brings, aside from his strong endorsement from Rappaport, is 25 years in the resort industry, including a dozen here in Vegas with MGM Mirage (at New York-New York with Rappaport prior to the Luxor) and, prior to that, at Caesars Palace in Atlantic City. He’ll need to keep his sense of humor in this tense economy. Earl pointed to McCartney’s strong background in Las Vegas and alluded to the “current overall economic climate and the particular challenges facing the Las Vegas market.” Good luck with the books, in other words.
Of course, the Aladdin/Planet Hollywood property has a colorful and uniquely Vegas-centric history– Elvis and Priscilla Presley were married there in 1967, and Wayne Newton was an investor and part-owner from 1980-’82. This is the rare resort that stands even being imploded, at least partially, in 2000, to clear the decks for the revamped Planet Hollywood. Today the hotel, under the direction of the celeb- and event-loving Earl, hosts BOTH major beauty pageants, Miss America (which hits town this week for the Jan. 24 show) and Miss USA. In a strange development befitting the quirky history of the property, the first two Miss America winners in shows held at the Theatre for the Performing Arts were Miss Oklahoma (Jennifer Berry and Lauren Nelson), and Mecca is an Oklahoma University grad. So every time I saw Mecca after Berry’s victory in 2006, I accused him of fixing the contest. He smiled, in a well-groomed sort of way.
Stepping in now is McCartney, a noted colorful character who will be teamed with the reliably bubbly Earl. I think it’s a great fit.