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July 30, 2014

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Priscilla Presley tracks Tenors of Rock in Vegas; Penn Jillette’s ponytail finds a buyer

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Ira Kuzma

The Tenors of Rock with Priscilla Presley after the Tenors’ performance at Lounge at the Palms on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013.

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The Tenors of Rock appear in "Raiding the Rock Vault" at LVH on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013.

The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is the seating area outside Jean Philippe Patisserie at Bellagio. It’s so pretty in here, just a short trot from the fall display at Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.

The attraction’s overlord, Andres Garcia, never fails to disappoint. Laid out is a massive cornucopia spilling forth with pumpkins and squash and gourds and such. It’s a sanctuary and a greenhouse and a photo studio all stuffed in a … cornucopia, actually.

Later it’s the Vegas Magazine fall issue launch party at Hyde, which was once Fontana Bar, one of the great lounges for live music in this city. It was the final Las Vegas performance venue, among dozens, for the great Dian Diaz, who has relocated to Tampa, Fla., and these days is playing the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Miss. Hyde is now the nightspot overlooking the Bellagio Fountains, and there is still live music in that space, toggling with house music.

We’ll see whether there is a credible trombone solo to be found at Hyde. Regardless, we’ll grudgingly welcome the club’s evolution and maybe toast the old Fontana, Diaz and certainly the big garden out front.

Let’s rake it up:

• We’ve heard innumerable rumors about Priscilla Presley showing up at assorted lounge and showroom productions in Las Vegas, but almost always they are no more than rumors. But last Saturday night, Presley was in the audience at the Lounge at the Palms to check out the visiting Tenors of Rock. This was no random visit. Presley is at the very least a fan of the six vocalists from the U.K., who were toured around the city by “Jersey Boys” cast member Deven May last week in hopes of gaining interest in some sort of residency on or off the Strip.

As Presley said after Saturday’s show, “These boys are infectious,” and her interest in the act makes it evident she’s considering taking a more active role in presenting the group in Las Vegas.

Presley has previously worked with Kevin Wood, the production manager of the six-man a cappella outfit that was lured to Las Vegas through the relationship of May and Tenors co-founder Gareth Richards (the two were cast together in “Bat Boy” on Broadway a decade ago). Richards was joined by fellow vocalists Dai Richards (his brother), Jonathan Williams, Hugh Maynard, Gareth Chart and Jaymz Denning for a quick sweep of the city. They started Saturday at the Palms, appeared Tuesday with “Raiding the Rock Vault” to sing “Hotel California” and, extending their stay by a couple of days, opened Frankie Moreno’s show at the Stratosphere on Wednesday.

Playing the role of rainmaker in this process, May is eager to find a home for these guys, who were blown away by the talent staged here. To find the right fit will be a challenge, but attaching the Presley name to the act in any form would be a huge endorsement.

• On the topic of Moreno, tonight (Saturday night, if you are not reading this Saturday) is his second anniversary at the Stratosphere. Afterward, his show, and all shows at the hotel (Pop Evolution and “Pin Up,” expressly) are going dark through end of the month. Historically, the second half of November is one of the slow periods at the Strat, and the shows are all breaking to coincide with that time of soft business.

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This image comes from the preview video of Penn Jillette's "Director's Cut." Fans who think of the magician as a "good guy" are in for a surprise with his horror movie.

• The performance of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. at Cabaret Jazz in the Smith Center was a sellout for about two weeks before the two took the stage Thursday night. The swift selling of the show, a benefit for Aid for AIDS of Nevada, has reps of the couple interested in a return to Cab Jazz. Seated in the audience was 5th Dimension co-founder Lamonte McLemore, who is a Henderson resident these days.

Also in the room was Penn Jillette (McCoo-Davis associate Glenn Alai has worked with Penn & Teller for 25 years), who has surpassed his nearly $1 million goal for his self-funded film “Director’s Cut.” Jillette raised the money on FundAnything.com and is at about $1.1 million, with video endorsements recorded by such entertainment newsmakers as Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin, Ben Stiller, Gilbert Gottfried, Neil Patrick Harris and David Copperfield. One of the more enticing donation bids was $25,000 to lop Jillette’s ponytail, which was snapped up (or snipped up) by Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford, whose company produces the video game series “Borderlands.”

Pitchford has said he might not actually cut the ponytail but would “own” the ponytail to be used for unspecified reasons. (Signage, perhaps?) PItchford also is listed as an executive producer for the film, and Jillette says he hopes to raise enough money to film the movie in Las Vegas, as the additional funding will offset the tax breaks he would receive in other states that offer appealing financial subsidies for filmmakers of all ilk. As it is, the script of “Director’s Cut” has no specified city of origin.

• Update on Stifler. Dec. 18 is the date. For details, ask around.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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