Jaki
Baskow



JAKI BASKOW is the daughter of Martin W. Baskow, Camden bar-owner who was murdered in his place of business, the Nine Thirty Nine Bar at 939 Market Street on July 10, 1967. 

After trying to break into movies, Jami Baskow moved to Las Vegas,  Nevada where she opened up a talent and event planning agency. Her firm, Baskow & Associates, is one of the largest of its kind today, a full service company with divisions that include total event, meeting and destination management, a speaker's bureau and a talent agency that provides world-class entertainment and movie casting. Jaki Baskow has cast extras for hundreds of productions, including the movie  Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,  television shows, commercials, and other projects. 

Well known not only in Las Vegas but in the entertainment industry world-wide, Jaki Baskow has also devoted much energy to raising money for the Arthritis Foundation. She was the subject of a 2004 documentary shown on the Discovery and Travel  cable television channels titled 'Queen of Las Vegas', and has received several awards for her business and community service activities.


Las Vegas Style - March 2004

 
by Bobbie Katz

Just call her the Susan Lucci of the Las Vegas business community. 

After being nominated 14 times in a row for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce's "Woman of Achievement" award, premiere entertainment/event planner Jaki Baskow finally walked away last August with the coveted honor ... not exactly the one she set out to get but an equally impressive one just the same.

For Baskow, who unexpectedly received the "Las Vegas SBA (Small Business Administration) Woman of the Year 2003" award, the unique turn of events simply mir­rored the fact that her life often falls some­where between a soap opera and a sitcom.

A la Lucci, famed star of the ABC-TV soap opera "All My Children," who had got­ten no less than a dozen nominations for Best Actress before finally receiving her Emmy, Baskow had honed her craft in true TV style. The SBA award was a reflection of the fact that her success was achieved through a series of steps: getting 

 with and staying with the program, fine-tuning her operation, constantly adding new affiliates, being able to switch channels at any given moment, and networking, networking, net­working.

"I was shocked," Baskow admits about receiving the award. "The SBA sent me a letter that just said 'Congratulations,' requesting my presence at its awards lun­cheon. I thought I was just being nominated for an award again. I was very surprised and honored when I found out I had won. It's an honor to be recognized for my hard work and my passion for Las Vegas. After 27 years of doing what I do, I still love going to work every day, and I very much love this city."

Vegas has been good to Baskow, too.

She went from being a one-woman show called the Baskow Agency in 1976 to having the largest destination management/enter­tainment agency in the state of Nevada today, now called Baskow and Associates. Along with it, her company now boasts 28 employees and 14 divisions. The honors have come, too - along with being named one of the Top 10 Starbrokers in the world and recently being nominated for "Entrepreneur of the Year" by Ernst and Young, Baskow was featured this past year on the Discovery Channel and the Travel Channel.

"They did a documentary on me," Baskow smiles. "They dubbed me the ‘Queen of Las Vegas' because of the major stars I have booked and also because I have helped to make a lot of people's careers."

The scepter stops here. In reality, Baskow oversees everything from event/meeting planning; to providing everything for a client from hotel accommoda­tions to show, golf and restaurant reserva­tions and ground transportation; to casting a movie or TV show; to creating from beginning to end a casino high roller party; to hiring one of the top stars in the world to perform at a convention or attend the Italian Oscars; to coming up with the idea for Suzanne Somers' pajama line for the Home Shopping Network, to booking a model, entertainer or speaker for a special event; to opening up a music division of her company in Los Angeles with Savina Ciaramella (formerly of Disney) to represent music for motion pictures ... and more. And that's just all in a day's work.

OK, but can the titular head of the only company in Nevada with so many divisions under one umbrella continue to cast her fortunes in Las Vegas while striving for yet another station in life, and still live happily ever after?


They dubbed Baskow the ‘Queen of Las Vegas' 
because of the major stars I have booked 
and also because I have helped to make 
a lot of people's careers.

The short answer is that when that station could possibly NBC, ABC or CBS, yes. Baskow could end up being the "Queen of Las Vegas," with her crowning achievement being a real-life TV sitcom about herself.

"One of the producers of the TV show 'Just Shoot Me,' Gina Rugolo, was in Las Vegas looking to book a stage show here and stepped into the crazy world of Baskow," Baskow laughs. "Jill Schneider, who worked in my office, brought in Alexander Bern, who owns the rights to a movie. Bern referred Gina to me because they wanted to do a stage show together based on the movie. So Gina came into my crazy office."

"In a two-day period, she saw Wayne Newton interviewing with the producers of the new 'Las Vegas' TV show; David Copperfield in jeans and a T-shirt eating 

lunch with my staff; 50 dwarfs with sombreros on their heads on their way to work a convention; costumed showgirls, and a Jay Leno look-alike," she continues. "Gina said to me, 'What is this place? What do you do here? This is like an episode of a TV show.' I answered that we did everything from meetings to movies and had clients from HBO to IBM. That's when Rigberg/Rugolo Entertainment decided to write a TV series about me."

Baskow and Rugolo created the idea for the series and then Baskow was brought out to Los Angeles to meet with two writers, Jon Tollins and Seth Bass, who have written movies for Jim Carrey and other stars. The two then wrote a pilot around Baskow called "Jami Barrow, Queen of Las Vegas."

"It's about a girl who does event party planning for conventions, has a talent agency and a speaker's bureau and books major talent, but she still has problems because she's always looking for the right boyfriend," Baskow explains. "It's 'I Love Lucy' meets 'The Nanny' with a mild touch of 'Sex and the City.' Gina and I wanted Jennifer Coolidge, who played the manicurist in 'Legally Blonde,' or Fran Drescher from 'The Nanny' to play me. But NBC was already developing a project for Coolidge."


"We're an international company, having been a Global Event Partner for the last five years," she adds. "We network with companies like ours all over the world. My team and I travel all over the globe. We've brought a lot of international publicity to this town and

have tried to re-educate corporations that never looked at Las Vegas as a destination before. These companies now come here and won't go anywhere else for their conventions or meetings."

So, then, what does a day in the life of this high-powered entrepreneur really entail?

"I'm working on a major state-of-the-art DVD advertising deal with the man who invented this format, Steve Greenberg of Salco Enterprises, and movie industry mogul Nadia Bronson," Baskow states. ''I'm also involved with producing some TV shows for Wealth TV with Maryse Nicole. The other day I booked former President Bush to speak at a meeting in Boston through my speakers' bureau; I put an offer in on Jay Leno to perform at an October 2004 convention in Washington, D.C. and I put offers in for Tricia Yearwood and Jeff Foxworthy for two different clients. Then I set up talent for two national commercials and, after that, spent the evening dining with a client here for a convention. In the midst of all this, I'm re-branding my company, doing new brochures and other collateral and my website."

While it sounds like she qualifies for an episode of "Mission Impossible," Baskow credits her team for the roles they play on a daily basis, saying each person is unique and each has the personality that's the right fit for individual clients. She notes that her senior vice president, Jennifer Patino, is the greatest asset to her company, calling her style "corporate America" in contrast to Baskow's own "flash and dazzle." Her other vice president and asset, Scott Washburn, was a meeting planner she worked with for five years who was on the verge of retire­ment when Baskow and Patino talked him into coming to work for her company.

Baskow is particularly proud of the fact that she has been able to mesh her entertain­ment world with her corporate world to cre­ate a perfect match. Through doing so, she has been able to do her favorite thing in life: make someone's dream come true. Even for corporate meetings and conventions, she has been able to turn people from CEOs to employees into stars for a day.

For example, for a recent insurance company meeting, Baskow dressed the CEO in a Cirque du Soleil-type outfit and Cirque-style mask and cape. She then brought in Flying by Foy, which taught the executive how to "fly." Two rehearsals later, he was flying over the heads of the attendees at the meet­ing, after which bona fide circus acts hired to perform there lowered the man onto the stage. The shocked crowd went wild when the man took off his mask and they discov­ered it was their fearless leader.

"It's been a great and exciting ride," Baskow exclaims. "And I still have the same drive I had when I started this business 27 years ago. To be successful, you have to be enthusiastic and excited about what you do. I've had my success and now I'm trying to groom young people who want to learn the business. I've been hiring interns from the University of Las Vegas to work in my office."

Baskow says she lives by the "pay it forward" principle. That was evident last November when she "adopted" a soldier, Joshua Menard, she saw on the "Today" show. Menard, who had lost part of his hand in the Iraqi war, said on the show that, more than anything else, he wanted to spend his 21st birthday in Las Vegas. Upon watching the interview, Baskow went into action. She contacted NBC, found out how to reach Menard, and flew him and his entire family to Las Vegas for four days. She also set up his hotel rooms and entire itinerary.

"I contacted Wayne Newton, who brought out a huge birthday cake for Joshua while 900 people in the audience sang 'Happy Birthday' to him," Baskow recalls. "Mayor Oscar Goodman gave him a procla­mation, Siegfried & Roy invited him to their show and put him in their booth, and Steve Cutler, the creator of the Casino Legends Hall of Fame at the Tropicana, threw a birthday party for him at the museum. Joshua was thrilled. I still keep in touch wit him."

"My motto is that you have to be a good person in this life," she sums up. "As long as God gives us the success we have, we have to pass it on to other."

It's evident that Jaki Baskow will continue to write her own life script. Stay tuned for the next installment. 

 

 

Las Vegas Review-Journal * August 29, 2004

NEVADAN AT WORK: JAKI BASKOW -- President and Chief Executive Officer, Baskow & Associates

Talent agent makes it pay to cast away

By JOHN G. EDWARDS
REVIEW-JOURNAL


Baskow & Associates President and Chief Executive Officer Jaki Baskow, seen Tuesday in her office, recruits extras for movies, produces events and parties, and serves as a literary agent.
Photo by ISAAC BREKKEN/REVIEW-JOURNAL

 

 

Jaki Baskow, president and chief executive officer of the event and meeting planning company that bears her name, missed her chance to work on the movie "Batman" in La Vegas in 1976.

The movie production was canceled and the script was late sold. But despite that, Baskow said she has gone on to build a business with the help of celebrity supporters and talented employees.

She recruits extras for movies and produces events and parties. She hires celebrities ranging from Goldie Hawn and "The Tonight show" host Jay Leno to retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf and former President George H.W. Bush. Baskow & Associates also serves as a literary agent.

"Mission Not Impossible" is her motto. "We never tell a client we can't do it," she said.

Question: What exactly do you do?

Answer: I have a good time for a living. I have a total event and meeting management company. My senior vice president, Jennifer Patino, runs that division. I have two great vice presidents, Jennifer and Scott Washburn. We have 28 employees.

Question: How did you get into this line of business?

Answer: When I lived in New Jersey, I used to take a bus to New York four times a week to try to be an actress. I was a terrible actress.

I think they paid me $25 to work on a movie called "The Pink Panther Strikes Again." Do you remember that? We had to run up and down in front of the United Nations building, up and down the hill for 11 hours.

We got paid 25 bucks, and I think it cost me $50 to get to New York. And I worked on a movie, "Lenny," with Dustin Hoffman and Bob Fosse in Florida.

Question: What brought you to Las Vegas?

Answer: A friend of mine and I met Bob Kane, the creator of the movie script for "Batman," and he said he was building a movie studio in Las Vegas. We came out here in 1976, and it didn't materialize. Bob moved to Los Angeles and later sold his project to Guber-Peters Productions.

There were three of us -- Donna, Ann (Manara) and I. Donna (Ostroff) is the assistant to the director Sidney Pollock in Los Angeles. Ann moved back to New Jersey and got married.

Question: But you stayed in Las Vegas and started a talent agency.

Answer: I stayed here and did three jobs a week to keep my company open.

Telly Savalas talked me into opening my agency here. There was one agency in town, and I broke a monopoly here. A lot of threats and trying to run me out of town, and I'm still here.

Question: How did you get started?

Answer: I used to put my hair in a pony tail and collect bingo at night at the Silverbird Hotel and put glasses on so no one would know who I was.

During the day, I ran my talent agency and I worked part-time on "Kojak" when it came in for three weeks. "Sixty Miles to Hell" was the episode. I became friends with Telly Savalas, Gus Savalas (Telly's brother) and Nicholas Savalas (Gus's son). They hired me as a part-time production secretary. They talked me into opening a talent agency, because there was one talent agency here that they didn't want to use.

Question: What was he looking for you to do?

Answer: To cast movie extras. I will recruit people, "Hey, want to be in the movies, John, and, if you do, let me know." We've done over 500 movies, TV shows, commercials. The most recent we did was "The Mexican" with Julia Roberts. We did "Will & Grace" here at Caesars Palace. The AFLAC duck commercial shot in Las Vegas with Wayne Newton.

Question: Was it tough getting started?

Answer: I borrowed $300 from a lady named Ellie Jansen, who was the wife of David Jansen. Remember "The Fugitive"? I broke the monopoly. It's a real wild west story.

Eleanor Grosso and the Bobby Morris Agency helped me. I would answer his phone, "Bobby Morris Agency," and there would be another phone, I would answer "Baskow Agency." He had the biggest talent agency for booking bands in casinos.

Question: And?

Answer: I would say that my first success came from Jerry Gordon, who worked at Caesars. Caesars Palace used to use me for their golf tournaments. I became the party and event planner for Caesars from 1980 to 1990. Jerry Gordon introduced me to some people from Italy.

I ended up producing 13 TV shows for the Italians, and they loved me so much I started bringing movie stars over there. The man I worked for was named Silvio Berlusconi. He is now the prime minister of Italy. I brought Sylvester Stallone over for the Italian Oscars, the Telegatto, and (Berlusconi) had us over for dinner and ended up paying Sylvester Stallone millions of dollars over the spaghetti dinner to make movies. They say I can make and break people's careers, and I said, "Oh, my God!"

We just became one of the preferred vendors at Caesars Palace to do their parties and events and destination management services.

In October, I'm having the pleasure of bringing Mr. Kevin Costner over to Italy for a TV show, and I'm going to plan the second part of his honeymoon in Italy.

Question: What are some of the fun things that have happened in your career?

Answer: I do a lot of entertainment for opening meetings. Transforming the CEO of a company into a (performer) and flying him overhead the audience, like he's a Las Vegas performer. Then, taking the mask off and he's the CEO of the company.

They taught him to do a quick little tumble so that when he gets over the front of the stage, it's like wow, it's your CEO. People only remember the last thing that you've done for them.

We were just featured on the Discovery channel.

Question: What are some of the movies that you've worked with?

Answer: I loved working with "Rat Race" because I love Jerry Zucker, the director, and I love Whoopi Goldberg. We did "Austin Powers." "Will & Grace" was a lot of fun. I enjoyed working on the "Vega$" TV series.

Question: What is your next project?

Answer: Someone talked to me about doing a sitcom. We've been to the networks. The project is about a crazy talent agent and event planner in Las Vegas.

Question: This is going to be fiction?

Answer: It's real but I wouldn't play myself. It would be the true stories but not the true people. There was one network in particular that wants us to come back with different writers.

We also had someone talking to me about doing a reality show on looking for the next Las Vegas entertainer. Finding the next Las Vegas idol.


Jaki Baskow

Story by Bobbie Katz
Photography by Sean Thompson

Good Morning, Miss Baskow, Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to totally plan and manage a meeting, event or party for national or international corporation; provide one of the largest stars in the world for a convention or TV appearance; cast a movie or TV show; create and implement a casino high roller party; found the Las Vegas Speakers

Bureau, take care of your client's needs from hotel accommodations to golf, shows, and ground transportation and much more. And that's just for today."

Jaki Baskow's professional life may sound like something out of Mission Impossible, but Baskow hasn't self-destructed yet. In fact, she went from coming to Las Vegas and breaking a 25-year monopoly with her one-woman talent agency in 1976 to growing into an award-winning, total event, talent and meeting man­agement company with 28 full-time employees and 14 divisions, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Featured on the Discovery Channel in Casino Diaries 2, Baskow was tagged one of the top 10 star brokers in the world. Now there are even talks between producer Gina Gugolo (Just Shoot Me) and networks about doing a TV sitcom about her.

"Every day is a passionate day for me," says Baskow. "I love making a difference in the world. I love the entertainment part of the business and the event planning. I'm proud of the fact that I've been able to mesh the entertainment world with corporate world and create a perfect match. I get to watch people, for a couple of hours, forget about their problems and have a good time."

It hasn't always been like this. Baskow sustained everything from threats on her life to bullet holes in her car and having her house ransacked when she first started. But always one to go after what she wanted, she has lived staunchly by the motto on a plaque in her office: Never, never never give up.


Las Vegas Sun - February 27, 2006

Woman of the hour: Baskow honored for charity work

By Jerry Fink
Las Vegas Sun

One of the most well known of the unknown, behind-the-scenes executives in Las Vegas entertainment will receive public recognition on March 5 for her charitable work.

The Nevada chapter of the National Arthritis Foundation is honoring Jaki Baskow, chief executive of Baskow and Associates, at the Bellagio during its annual gala, a black-tie-optional fundraiser.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences licenses charities in 46 cities to host "Oscar Night" events - glamorous affairs in which funds are raised for the charities as guests watch the 78th Academy Awards ceremony on ABC.

This is the 13th year of Oscar Nights nationwide, and the 11th year that the Arthritis Foundation in Nevada has hosted the local event.

The event begins at 4 p.m. in the Bellagio's Tower Ballroom with a cocktail reception and silent auction followed by dinner, the Academy Awards ceremony and special entertainment.

Richard Burgi, of the hit ABC series "Desperate Housewives," will be among the special guests at the event.

Music will be provided by saxophonist Sam Arlen and vocalist George Bugatti.

Arlen is son of the legendary Harold Arlen, who wrote the Academy Award-winning "Over the Rainbow," in addition to such standards as "Stormy Weather" and "I've Got the World on a String."

For ticket information, call 367-1626.

"Because of her prominence in the business community, both locally and nationwide, Jaki has forged a new forum for businesswomen," foundation spokeswoman Nita Stern said. "Because of her philanthropic endeavors and fundraising that she has done in the past, her being honored at our event is an honor for us as well."

Baskow, 54, founded her company in 1976. It is a diversified organization that provides a variety of services in both the entertainment and business fields, such as a talent agency, event planning and speaker's bureau.

"I'm passionate about arthritis," Baskow said. "Many years ago I thought I had lupus, but I didn't. It was a major scare - I started researching, and learning about the disease.

"So many people have a hard time just getting up in the morning because of arthritis."

Lupus is an auto-immune disorder that causes chronic inflammation in various parts of the body.

Baskow has become one of Las Vegas' most prominent figures involved in entertainment since arriving 30 years ago from New Jersey to work with the late Bob Kane, creator of the comic book character "Batman."

At the time she was an aspiring actress.

She said Kane was going to try to get the film produced in Las Vegas, but three months after arriving Kane moved to Los Angeles and sold the rights to Peter Guber and Jon Peters.

To support herself she held down several jobs, including answering the phone for the Bobby Morris talent agency.

At the same time she started her own agency.

"I would answer a call for Bobby Morris on one phone, and answer a call for my own agency on another," she said.

She opened her own agency at the suggestion of the late Telly Savalas, who starred in the TV series "Kojak."

"They were filming an episode in Las Vegas and I was hired as a production secretary for the show," she said. "It was Telly who suggested that I start my own agency."

She said Ellie Janssen, the wife of the late actor David Janssen ("The Fugitive"), loaned her $300 to get a business license.

Also helping her was Jilly Rizzo, a close friend of Frank Sinatra.

Rizzo hired her to cast the TV special "Cinderella at the Palace," which starred Sinatra and newcomer Marlene Ricci.

"I became Marlene's agent in Vegas," Baskow said.

Her one-woman office has grown to 28 employees.

Negotiations are now under way to create a TV series based upon Baskow's life.

"I'm so happy that the Arthritis Foundation is honoring me," Baskow said. "I'm honored that I'm being honored by an organization that does so much to help people."

According to statistics provided by the foundation, 70 million people in the United States have arthritis and/or chronic joint symptoms. It is the leading cause of disability among Americans over age 15.


Martin Baskow

Jaki Baskow's father, bar owner Marty Baskow, was brutally murdered in his place of business, the Nine-Thirty-Nine Bar at 939 Market Street, Camden NJ, on the morning of July 10, 1967. If you have any information concerning this crime, please e-mail me. Your identity will be kept confidential and there is a reward for information leading to an arrest.

Phil Cohen
June 26, 2006
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