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August 22, 2017

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Funding goal nearly met to ‘Make Penn Bad’; Clint Holmes preps for holiday show at Smith Center


Christopher DeVargas

The home of Penn Jillette from Rio magician headliners Penn & Teller on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013.

The Home of Penn Jillette

The home of Penn Jillette from Rio magician headliners Penn & Teller on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. Launch slideshow »
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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.

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Penn & Teller's 20th-anniversary performance and celebration at The Rio on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013.

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Clint Holmes performs at Cabaret Jazz in the Boman Pavilion at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, May 4, 2012.

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Holly Madison arrives at the world premiere of “Runner, Runner” at Planet Hollywood on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013.

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Crystal McCahill (in helmet), Claire Sinclair, Ryan Kelsey and Kayla Collins in "Pin Up" at Stratosphere on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013.

The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is Flight lounge at Luxor. Up on the big screens, the Cardinals and Red Sox are in a Game 6 tussle, and I’m picking up free WiFi from my position at a high-top table just a few feet from the bar.

Whence am I receiving this WiFi? From Public House restaurant. If you learn nothing else from here forward, know that you can connect to free WiFi from Public House at Luxor if you are seated at Flight.

Otherwise, it is time for the rake:

• Penn Jillette has nearly reached his goal of $999,972 to fund his upcoming film “Director’s Cut.” Jillette is a shade above $900,000 in his online campaign with three days remaining. He has drawn donations from nearly 4,000 individuals and also has set up a Twitter account for the film. “Make Penn Bad” is the film’s catchphrase. One of the tandem donations has been from unlikely partners Glenn Beck and Lawrence O’Donnell, each of whom donated $2,450 to play police officers (in a good cop/bad cop capacity) in the upcoming film.

Jillette has offered several rewards for donations ranging from VIP access to the “Director’s Cut” website (where Jillette blogs and where you can view a PDF of the script) to the singular opportunity to cut the ponytails from Jillette and co-producer and writer Adam Rifkin. That opportunity, made available to a sole donor, has sadly been snapped up at a fee of $25,000.

Jillette is even making available his storied hot tub, which sits in the backyard of the Slammer, his home in Las Vegas. This is the water effect outfitted with Jill Jets, which are custom water jets angled in such a way as to provide pleasure for a female guest (or an uncommonly adventurous male guest). Jillette envisioned what he originally called the “hydro-therapeutic stimulator” after Blondie singer Debbie Harry complained of having to perform as a contortionist to enjoy the jets in a standard Jacuzzi. In 1999, Jillette was granted a patent on what was eventually called the Jill Jet (for a time he used a different name, which was clever but impossible to mass market).

For the purpose of paying for his new movie, Jillette is offering a spin with the Jill Jet in his Private Hot Tub Party Package, which is at once $3,350 and priceless. Five spots remain.

• On the topic of Penn & Teller, the theater creation of Teller and magician/carnival performer Todd Robbins, the play “Play Dead,” opens for previews Tuesday at Geffen Theater in Los Angeles. This frequently horrific show is, as its website promises, “a mesmerizing and terrorizing look at life, death and the horrific wonder between.” The show was originally performed at a showcase at Calypso Room in the Rio in September 2010 and also has run off-Broadway in Greenwich Village in New York in October and November of that year.

A documentary film about the project was screened at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal in July 2012. Directed by Teller and co/written by Robbins and him, the film also is boosted by creative consultation from “The Great Tomsoni,” Johnny Thompson, who also provides ideas and direction for P&T’s stage show and is an inspiration for countless magicians working around the world, especially in Las Vegas.

• A holiday special is set for Symphony Park at the Smith Center in early December, and it is likely to be BYOS (Bring Your Own Snow).

On Dec. 8, Clint Holmes will host an outdoor, early evening holiday show at Symphony Park just across from the Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall and Cabaret Jazz. The show will replace his usual Sunday matinee show, and the grounds will open at 4 p.m. Holmes is inviting fellow artists to join his band in a scene that he hopes will become a Las Vegas holiday tradition. Tickets are $20 for those who will throw a blanket across the lawn, $50 for those who seek VIP table seating. Holmes returns this weekend with his brilliant "Bacharach, The Beatles & Beyond" showcase Friday and Saturday nights at 8:30 and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Apart from Holmes' monthly performances, Smith Center President Myron Martin is all aflutter over the appearance of Zappos founder and downtown Las Vegas visionary Tony Hsieh, who is booked at Reynolds Hall on Tuesday night as part of the center’s Audi Speaker Series. Known as one of the more effective public speakers anywhere, Hsieh will talk of how to most effectively blend business and community investment. “He comes across as quite timid and shy, but he gives the perfect pep talk,” Martin says. “He’s really, really good.” Tickets are $24 to $79 and still available, we’re glad to Hsieh, at the Smith Center website.

• The date for Holly Madison’s appearance with “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s has been locked in: Dec. 4 is when she’ll sing “The Lady Loves Me” from “Viva Las Vegas.” That date was chosen for convenience, but also happens to be the 56th anniversary of the night Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins met and jammed at Sam Phillips’ Sun Studios, the event that serves as the inspiration for the musical.

• For Claire Sinclair of “Pin Up” at the Stratosphere, most nights are like Halloween, given all the costumes she graces during that show. But for the actual holiday, Sinclair is the grand marshal of the fourth Las Vegas Halloween Parade and later hosts a party and costume contest at Crazy Horse III Gentlemen’s Club. As for the production show, “Pin Up” has named Lisa Marie Smith as its primary singer. Smith is a product of Las Vegas Academy and a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music who has toured Europe in production shows, including an ABBA tribute production, and has sung in cover bands in Las Vegas. She joined the cast in September, with Savannah Smith (“Vegas! The Show” is her regular gig) as the swing.

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