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October 24, 2014

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After the fall, George Wallace to close standup show — and hints at TV project

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Comedian George Wallace appears in court for his lawsuit against Bellagio Friday, March 21, 2014. Wallace is seeking $9 million for a leg injury he received when he fell over stage wiring during a private performance for a corporate group in 2007.

Updated Wednesday, April 9, 2014 | 1:16 p.m.

George Wallace 10th Anniversary at Flamingo

George Wallace, left, with Jerry Seinfeld and Terry Fator, celebrates his 10th anniversary at the Flamingo on Friday, March 21, 2014, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »
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George Wallace, left, with Jerry Seinfeld and Terry Fator, celebrates his 10th anniversary at the Flamingo on Friday, March 21, 2014, in Las Vegas.

George Wallace has reconciled both the fall at Bellagio and standup at the Flamingo.

On Tuesday afternoon, the longtime comic was awarded $1.3 million in damages for his 2007 tumble at Bellagio after his leg was caught in wiring onstage during a corporate show for HSBC Card Services Inc. Wallace had sought at least $7.1 million but was still beaming afterward and joked that he was going to eat at Bellagio that night, telling Fox 5, “I’m going to eat at Bellagio tonight. It’s a beautiful place.” He also said he would perform there again.

Wallace also took advantage of the spotlight of the jury verdict to specify when he is closing his show at Flamingo. He had previously announced his intentions to step down from standup during his show on March 21, but nothing formal was released subsequently (and kudos to our friends at Vital Vegas for making note of Wallace’s comments from the stage that night). Originally, he said the closing date would be “in three weeks” from that March 21 date, or this Friday, but on Tuesday he recalibrated and said the closing date at Flamingo would be April 26.

Wallace just celebrated his 10th anniversary as headliner at the Flamingo and the pilot of his own production in what is now the Donny & Marie Showroom. He was among the first (or maybe the very first) entertainers to master the four-wall operation. Wallace stepped in 10 years ago with a largely untested showroom strategy of renting the room and handling his own production expenses, advertising, publicity, ticket sales and pretty much every cost outlay related to putting on a show on the Strip. Many of his fellow performers, especially comics, thought him crazy, but he made it work.

The how and why is simple: Wallace has been among the hardest-working entertainers in the city over that span, constantly negotiating deals with ticket brokers and time-share companies to offer discount or 2-for-1 tickets to his show. He often set up free ticket offers for active military personnel, all while continually upgrading his act to fit with the news of the day. One line that proved his diligence: Wallace always joked that a segment of the Sunday newspaper arrived in his driveway on Saturday. “How do they know the news that’s gonna happen on Sunday on Saturday? I always make sure to read the obituaries, to make sure I’m not in there.”

Early this afternoon, Wallace said that he was offered a different venue at Caesars Entertainment, “But I didn’t want to wind up with another deal at Harrah’s or someplace else” and had grown weary of hitting the pavement to talk to concierges and ticket brokers across the city. “I’m not as young as I used to be,” said the 61-year-old comic.

Wallace’s frustration with trying to maintain a profit at the Flamingo spilled over in an interview last fall when he complained about the hotel’s decision to allow fellow comedian Vinnie Favorito to perform at Bugsy’s Cabaret just across the casino floor from the Flamingo Showroom (now the Donny & Marie Showroom).

“They’ve brought another comedian right across the hall from me, and when you want to go to a comedy show, you’ve split the audience,” Wallace said at the time. “I’m so pissed off about this. Why would you do that? It’s like having Cher and Bette Midler working right across the hall from each other.”

Wallace sounds not so irritated now. He’s announced the end of the stage show but is teasing about a TV project he says is “so good I don’t want to say anything about it, or someone might steal it.” The show will be set in Las Vegas and be a celebration of the city — and at the center will be a longtime, hard-working comedian ready for a career rejuvenation.

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

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