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June 19, 2021

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J.Lo talk es en fuego at Caesars; Steve Wynn seized advice in naming ‘Showstoppers’

42nd Annual American Music Awards

Matt Sayles / Invision / AP

Jennifer Lopez is embraced by Pitbull at the end of her performance during the 42nd Annual American Music Awards at Nokia Theater L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Los Angeles.

The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is a terrace overlooking First Friday in Downtown VegasVille, which is looking to be an event dripping with holiday cheer if those incoming clouds are any indication.

The neighborhood is busy tonight, with that monthly event and the return of Clint Holmes to Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz for his holiday show. Holmes performed at the end of “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s on Thursday night as that show’s latest guest star. He knocked out “All Shook Up,” the Elvis classic, and hugged it out with longtime Harrah’s Showroom manager Domenic Strano.

Holmes offered Strano tickets to one of Holmes’ upcoming shows at Cab Jazz, and when Strano does make it to the Smith Center, it will be a switcheroo occasion where Holmes can arrange seating for Strano, who has been at Harrah’s for 20 years and ran the room throughout Holmes’ run at the hotel from 1999-2006. Before that, Strano was at Bob Stupak’s Vegas World, and if you think Strano has some tales of that notorious resort — where Stupak was known to hang at the bar, kick his shoes off and reveal his toes sticking out of his socks — you would be right.

Great performance, as always, from Holmes, appearing onstage at Harrah’s for the first time since he closed his run in October 2006. His three shows this weekend (including 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday matinee) close his year at the Smith Center. It's been a terrifically busy 2014 for Holmes, who appeared at the Hollywood Bowl; is finishing a jazz album recorded at Capitol Records and featuring such greats as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jane Monheit and the Count Basie Orchestra; christening the Royal Caribbean cruise liner the Quantum; and closing the “Nevada Sesquicentennial All-Star Concert” at Reynolds Hall. At age 68, Holmes could well be at his creative peak. Incredible.

More from the scene-a-rama:

• Jennifer Lopez is hot — hot, I tell you! — as a topic of discussion around Caesars Entertainment venues. She’s still in play as a possible headliner at Axis at Planet Hollywood or, less likely, the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The next headliner at the Colosseum is highly unlikely to be a country act (at least, a country act as defined by a person or band who plays country-western music), as the Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn residency announcement this week is all but verified.

The new booking won’t likely be a band, nor will it likely be a person of male persuasion. Katy Perry is said to be out, if you’re wondering about her, as she’s spending next year focused on writing and recording. During Wednesday’s announcement at the Colosseum, AEG Live chief John Meglen said that picking a single-name artist (and he just picked up three such artists) would be a good litmus test for what would work at the Colosseum. He was smiling as he said it, so there’s no guarantee of a one-name female hopping onboard, either.

This is not the first sit-down stretch in Las Vegas for either Reba or Brooks & Dunn. She performed a series of shows at the Las Vegas Hilton in 2006, a run cut short in August of that year so she could return to taping her eponymous TV show on the WB. Brooks & Dunn arrived at the Hilton later that year and played during the National Finals Rodeo, again in March and July, and finally once more during the NFR. In both instances, these were hit-driven, concert-style shows that would seem the spine for something more inventive at the Colosseum. Expect hits and way more stage dynamism from these folks when they kick off in June.

• Where did “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers” get its name, exactly? Wynn liked the idea of “Showstoppers,” and all of the numbers to be used in the show — and that deck is being shuffled at the moment — are his own selections. “Showstoppers” are those “11 o’clock numbers” that bring a piece of musical theater to a rousing close.

But it was not Wynn’s idea to use his name in the very title of “Showstoppers.” That suggestion was conveyed by his marketing director, Michael Weaver, as a way to emphasize Wynn’s acute and obvious passion for the project.

“It was Michael’s idea for my name to be on the show, to put my name on it, and I agreed,” Wynn said in an interview on Halloween during the show’s rehearsal period. “I agreed simply because what you’re going to see is my idea.”

It is not the first time Wynn has been persuaded to stamp his name on something significant.

During the early development of what is now Wynn Las Vegas, the hotel was to be called Le Reve. Wynn struggled with the feel of that name for a billion-dollar resort, so he made three calls: One to media mogul Barry Diller, one to Steven Spielberg and a third to fellow resort mogul Donald Trump. All of them persuaded Wynn to sign off on the building, for real, by using his (Wynn’s) last name. “Le Reve,” the title of one of Wynn’s favorite art pieces, thus became the name of his aquatic show.

• During Wednesday night’s Composers Showcase at Cabaret Jazz, “Jersey Boys” cast member Buck Hujabre took the mic and said, “I can’t believe I am about to sing this song in front of Olivia Newton-John.”

Then he sang a composition about what it feels like to be a penis.

The song was composed by Angela Chan (a notably nutty artist who has performed for myriad Las Vegas shows, including “Jersey Boys” and “Ka”), and indeed Newton-John was in the room, laughing it up with her husband, John Easterling. It was a late night but a great night, as Newton-John introduced her band from Flamingo Las Vegas led by music director Dane Bryant and backing singers Steve Real and Marlen Landin. It was the second superstar visit of the year at Composers Showcase, following that of Priscilla Presley in January. There was a time when the Composers Showcase was a fully underground affair. But as Newton-John said from the stage, “This is great! I feel like I am in New York!”

• The year is closing with some impressive work by Las Vegas entertainers on the philanthropic stage.

Imagine Dragons’ Tyler Robinson Foundation gala at the Hard Rock Hotel last month netted approximately $230,000. It’s a particularly astonishing figure considering TRF is a new foundation celebrating its first formal fundraising event. TRF, named for a young fan of I.D. who lived in Utah who died of complications from a rare form of cancer, helps families of those suffering from the disease pay for basic household necessities such as making rent and mortgage payments and keeping up with bills and groceries. Given the passion and power of Imagine Dragons, this foundation has enormous potential.

At the Rio a couple of weekends ago, juggling star (words very rarely paired) Jeff Civillico pulled in more than $80,000 for his Win-Win Entertainment “Headliners’ Bash” at the Penn & Teller Theater. That’s double what the event drew in its first year. The foundation founded by Civillico helps pair entertainers with charity events and pick up production cost for such events. Holmes, Frankie Moreno, Human Nature, Melody Sweets, the cast of “Menopause the Musical,” Mac King, Skye Dee Miles, Eric Jordan Young, Matt Kazam (“40 Is Not the New 20” at the Riv) and the ventriloquial stylings of D Las Vegas headliner Patrick Murray were showcased.

And on the topic of Penn & Teller …

• The great Vanishing African Spotted Pygmy Elephant Act, five years in the making and costing somewhere from $450,000 and $500,000, is finally in the Penn & Teller show. We’ll see it — or not! — at the earliest opportunity.

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

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