Saturday, April 20, 2013 | 2:20 p.m.
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Kats and the Dish talk to Zowie Bowie's Chris Phillips, and Emmy Award-winning set designer Andy Walmsley, who talk of The Showbiz Roast at Stratosphere, which is focussing on Phillips.
A healthy raking of the scene during these pretty days and nights in VegasVille has picked up the following:
• A two-hour version of Saturday’s Keep Memory Alive "Power of Love" gala is scheduled for broadcast at 8 p.m. today on Cox Cable Channel 14 (Vegas TV). The event was held last Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena, with an audience of about 1,600 in the lavishly appointed venue. The auction, dinner and performance were loaded with superstars honoring Sir Michael Caine and Quincy Jones, celebrating their 80th birthdays as the evening’s guests of honor.
The two legends were joined and praised by such famous friends and well-wishers as Stevie Wonder, Whoopi Goldberg, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Chris Tucker, Amy Poehler, Snoop Lion (the onetime Snoop Dogg), Will.I.Am, James Ingram, Patti Austin, Arsenio Hall and Bebe Winans. Will Smith was among the guests who turned up unannounced and unscheduled.
The show originally aired live on AXS TV, the cable outfit owned by Ryan Seacrest and Mark Cuban, and rebroadcast Sunday, but AXS is not carried by Cox Communications. Interviews conducted by Larry King for his “Larry King Now” show on Hulu are scheduled to broadcast this week. And on Friday, The New York Times published and posted a lengthy story about the history of the gala and The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The befitting tag line (and a spoiler alert, of sorts) is, “Anything for Larry.”
• Marshall Sylver’s hypnosis show at PH Live has turned into one of the Strip’s grandest illusions. The hypnotist and financial guru had originally booked PH Live for a lavish production to launch March 19. Then he pushed backed that date to April 6, saying he was dealing with family concerns.
With April 6 having come and gone and with no ticket or schedule information listed on Planet Hollywood or Sylver’s website, I contacted Sylver on Tuesday via email and again by phone Friday to ask about the status of the show. He said BASE Entertainment, which books shows at PH Live and Peepshow Theater, was to issue a press release. He didn’t answer the question, “Is your show going to be performed at PH Live?” and referred to this yet-undelivered missive.
Until that release is distributed, we can report that on Friday, a spokeswoman for BASE said that “scheduling conflicts” have prompted a recalibration of Sylver’s show, which is moving to Peepshow Theater with a targeted opening date of May.
The scheduling conflict is an unexpected development, at least for Sylver, who in January (via email and not a press release) held up scheduling conflicts to offset rumors that Britney Spears was in talks to perform a residency at PH Live. The reasoning was, if Sylver has a signed lease agreement with BASE to use PH Live, Spears would be unable to use the theater for her own production. But as it turns out, it is Sylver’s show that is being moved out of PH Live for “scheduling conflicts.”
This latest development nullifies Sylver’s grandiose plans of staging a splashy spectacle in PH Live, which seats about 7,000 and would have been scaled to 5,000 for his production. Sylver had said his original schematic of performing a ticketed show and cross-promoting his get-rich seminars and merchandise would garner a windfall of $200 million to $400 million. The capacity of Peepshow Theater is about 1,500, still a lofty number to hit for hypnosis shows on the Strip, which are typically performed in rooms seating 200 to 500.
May is approaching quickly for Sylver, who will have to perform a swift sell job to put this act onstage and fill this room. That, friends, is no illusion.
• The Riviera is trumpeting its 58th anniversary with the culmination of its national comedian competition. The hotel opened April 20, 1955, with a performance by Liberace. Tonight at 10, four comics who have survived among a field of 226 submissions will perform and compete to become the next headliner at Riviera Comedy Club. The final four are Mike Merrill of Panorama City, Calif.; Matthew Broome of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Jared Smith of Washington, D.C.; and Maria Walsh from Long Island, N.Y.
From the original field, hotel execs pared the competition through a series of competitions, including a round of four semifinal performances. The winner is awarded a one-week stint at the Riv.
Judges for tonight are comic Greg Vacariello, a regular headliner at clubs in town (including the Riv) who performs a hysterical basketball-coach-in-slow-motion bit; hotel execs Mark Massimino and Tony Bender; and yours truly. My qualifications are that you must maintain a sense of humor when dealing with certain subjects and individuals in VegasVille (see previous note for evidence of that requirement).
• Spilling more of our walking-around knowledge about Caesars Entertainment’s live venues -- and there are 17, total, in the company -- there is no formal plan announced or verification of CeeLo Green’s return to Planet Hollywood. He ended his run at Peepshow Theater last weekend (how he would coexist in that theater with Sylver and “Peepshow” is sort of an interesting concept). It’s been previously reported by CeeLo’s camp that he’s not only returning this year but has been in talks to extend his stay through 2014. Bu,t so far, nothing official has been announced for his production that, let’s face it, requires some serious tweaking.
Also hanging out, unresolved, is Matt Goss’s future at Gossy Lounge at Caesars Palace. For the past four years, Goss has piloted one of the most satisfying shows in town, but his current contract expires in June, and no extension has been signed to keep him at Caesars. The best we can say is that he is said to be in negotiations to extend his stay at the refurbished Cleopatra’s Barge.
But Goss seems more excited about finishing his Ron Fair-produced album (which is two years in the making and employs a 16-piece backing band) and playing dates around the country than remaining at the center of the moat.
On Friday night, Goss’s stage shtick was particularly droll as he waded into his usual plug of Old Homestead Steakhouse, which sits just a couple of cartwheels from Gossy Lounge. Typically, Goss encourages his audience to dine at the restaurant for its great steaks and atmosphere. But Friday, he said of the restaurant, “You can get steak for $165, a side order for $95, a bottle of wine for $200 … It’s about a grand to eat there.” The audience got a good laugh out of that line, which is best left out of Goss's talks with the Caesars folks.
• Flamingo headliner George Wallace has been added to the list of roasters ready to flay Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie on Tuesday at 11 p.m. at Stratosphere. He joins scheduled roasters Gordie Brown, Ubiquitous Robin Leach, Dennis Bono, Frankie Scinta, Vinnie Favorito, Clint Holmes, Murray Sawchuck, Clint Holmes, Kelly Clinton-Holmes, the vocal group BBR, Recycled Percussion, Brian Thomas (“Lowercase g” at KISS by Monster Mini Golf), Lorena Peril of “Fantasy,” Dayna Roselli and yours truly.
During an appearance on “Kats With the Dish,” which aired Friday morning on KUNV, producer Andy Walmsley said demand for seats in the showroom was so high that extra chairs are being dragged into the room to accommodate the high volume of guests. It’s a free show and, judging by the number of roasters, might clock in at 12 hours.
• A show note gleaned from Wednesday night’s rollicking Composers Showcase at Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts: Philip Fortenberry, the great pianist and the hands and body of Liberace in the HBO biopic “Behind the Candelabra,” is performing at Cabaret Jazz on June 23. The show is aptly titled “The Man at the Piano” and is Fortenberry’s first solo showcase in quite a while. He is always worth a look-see.