Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014 | 10 p.m.
The Kats Report bureau at this writing is the Wynn Las Vegas sports book, also known as Avello’s Hovel. We speak, of course, of sports book overlord, noted film buff and dog-show handicapper Johnny Avello, who once seriously told me, “Kats, if you wanna dog with some value, bet on the Affenpinscher.”
The news at Wynn/Encore tonight is the new star of Eastside Lounge, Michael Monge. He arrives with great fanfare, at least for a lounge act, promising Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin flair, or some variation of that. He’s backed by a real three-piece band, and anytime a group of highly proficient musicians and singers are making money in VegasVille, we support. Monge was discovered by Steve Wynn at Bice Italian restaurant and lounge in Palm Beach, Fla., and set up a gig for him though September at Encore.
Many singers in Vegas would love to have had that stroke of good fortune, and one, Ronnie Rose, has already hit the stage for a couple of songs with Monge at the Eastside Lounge. Read about Mr. Rose later in the column.
The other news at this hotel centers on the upcoming musical at the Wynn/Encore set to begin rehearsals in October. One person informed about the show is saying it’s to be called “Show Stoppers,” and will roll out in a greatest-hits format. There are to be at least four singers in this production, two guys and two gals, auditioning for a gig with open-ended contracts.
• Oscar Goodman is getting worked up for his next monologue and (at times) stand-up appearance at the Plaza on Thursday night. This is the “Oscar’s Monologue” series, set for 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Oscar’s Steakhouse. The event is titled “Jay Sarno King of Goddesses.” The cost is $120, including dinner (New York strip, chicken, pork chops and salmon the entrée choices) with wine and/or martinis (tickets can be purchased at the restaurant or by calling the hotel at 702-386-7227).
The topic is a favorite of Goodman’s: Caesars Palace and Circus Circus founder Sarno. Goodman represented Sarno in a case where Sarno was accused of offering the largest bribe ever to a representative of the IRS (who in this case turned out to be an undercover agent).
When I asked Goodman if he was performing any sort of research for his appearance Thursday, he chuckled.
“Oh, no. No need. I remember Jay like it was yesterday,” he said of his longtime friend, who died at Caesars in 1984 while on a gambling trip. “He was a fascinating individual. He was a gourmand, a visionary, a man of great excess. He worked, socialized and lived his life in excess. He was really bigger than life, and in many ways the founder of Las Vegas.”
• Amid the expected flurry of social media posts in the wake of Beauty Bar co-owner Darin Feinstein’s defamation and disparagement lawsuit against Megan Trivette was a screen-grab of one of Trivette’s posts about three hours after her original post stating she had been harassed by Feinstein and members of his entourage. In a post time-stamped at 10:30 p.m. July 6, Trivette wrote, “As a disclaimer, this is not meant to be a slanderous statement towards the Beauty Bar establishment, more so this is a reflection of a personal experience. Anyone is free to feel how they will about this post or the establishment in general.”
That post certainly can be interpreted as a way to quell the controversy in its earliest stages. But Feinstein, who knew of the updated message at the time it was posted, reiterates that he takes issue with the claims in the post that anyone was required to kiss him for entrance to the club, and the fact that he threw a $20 bill at a patron. Those are the two areas (in a fairly targeted, 16-page complaint) that have led to his legal action.
• Saturday night marked Tommy Ward’s first genuine Las Vegas showcase, held at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The 19-year-old crooner who once opened for Frankie Moreno at the Stratosphere (and, at least once, for Louis Anderson at the Plaza) enjoyed a healthy turnout to perform an hourlong set backed by a dozen young musicians and singers. He paid tribute to Moreno by playing the Moreno song “She’s My Girl,” one of the highlights of his performance. Another memorable moment was his tossing of beach balls into the crowd, something that typically happens at Dodger games. One was batted back toward the stage by Cleveland Clinic Director Dr. Jeffrey Cummings.
Expected visits by Quincy Jones and Andre Agassi never materialized. Both were previously committed; Jones had a travel snag but did have reps Adam Fell and Michael Peha on hand, and Agassi was at Red Rock Resort cheering on a dance exhibition featuring his daughter, Jaz. But both superstars are supporters of Ward. Jones’ production company is in the process of signing the young singer, and a couple of reps from the organization were at the show. And Philip Agassi was on hand, too, impressed by Ward’s stage command and telegenic looks.
Longtime talent agent Jackie Baskow is also involved in booking Ward’s performances, and was also celebrating a birthday (hers). After Ward sang “Happy Birthday to You,” Baskow took the mic to tell the crowd, “This is going to be the biggest star ever to come out of Las Vegas.” No ambiguity there, sports fans.
• Clint Holmes’ final performances at the Smith Center until his December holiday show were customarily outstanding. He was joined for his latest “Duets” show by great singers Elisa Fiorillo (who dueted with Holmes on “Through Hell to Heaven” from the show “Comfortable Shoes”), Michelle Johnson (on “How High The Moon”) and the aforementioned Rose (on Rose’s “Clickety Clack”). Holmes has frequently shared his stage with the best of the best vocalists in VegasVille, and also such visiting greats at … Jane Monheit, for instance.
But the nonvocalist in the group also set the room soaring. Joel Ferguson hauled his pedal steel guitar onstage and performed “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “You Don’t Know Me” with Holmes. It’s not something you’d normally see, a singer trained in jazz and opera swapping vocals with a guy jamming on steel guitar, but man did it work. Holmes caught Ferguson’s performance at a recent Composers Showcase at Cabaret Jazz, and bookmarked the artist and the instrument. Nice touch. And now, Holmes is prepping for his “Georgia On My Mind” Ray Charles tribute show at the Venetian. He ended on a high note, and notes, before his break.