Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 | 7:54 p.m.
The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is Sid’s Cafe at Westgate Las Vegas. This is a three-egg, slice-o-ham, column-writing spectacular.
Everyone on the property — especially those who operate and are employed by the property — are in the blush of the official announcement that Westgate is opening a Las Vegas outpost of Elvis Presley’s Graceland. The new attraction is “Graceland Presents Elvis: The Exhibition, The Show, The Experience.”
The permanent exhibit opens April 23 (hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; cost is $22; and tickets are available by calling (800) 732-7117 or going to WestgateVegas.com). The exhibit overtakes 28,000 feet of hotel space formerly occupied by “Star Trek: The Experience.”
But instead of costumed Ferengi characters lurching through Quarks restaurant, we’ll see exhibit space showcasing artifacts such as Elvis’ high school yearbooks, motorcycles and vehicles and the first suit worn onstage in his 1969 debut at the International (and that was not a jumpsuit).
Elvis was a cultural and box office force in Las Vegas, of course, performing 837 consecutive sold-out shows at the International and Las Vegas Hilton from 1969-1976. Westgate officials, beginning with company founder David Siegel, are diving into the deep end with the Presley affiliation.
The former Presley showroom is being renamed the Elvis Presley International Showroom and is due for a renovation that will return booth and table seating to the front of the venue (the move to theater seating, enacted as “Starlight Express” moved into the showroom, has long rankled fans who saw Elvis perform at the hotel).
A series of ticketed shows under the title “The Elvis Experience,” starring Martin Fontaine with 24 musicians and an eight-person choir, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. This will be the first of a rotating series of Graceland-produced live shows to play the showroom.
Officials are making it clear that these will not be productions fronted by Elvis Tribute Artists, but rather fully evolved productions celebrating Presley and his music. It sounds sort of like “Viva Elvis,” minus all Cirque-itry. It’s a noble effort even if it doesn’t have room for the guy in the rhinestone-encrusted jumpsuit over at the Elvis statue smiling and posing for photos.
Love him tender, Elvis fans.
Let’s rock elsewhere:
• Fresh off a remarkably vigorous spree of performances tied to the Destination Dragons promotion with Southwest Airlines, Imagine Dragons is prepping for its upcoming tour beginning April 12 in Santiago, Chile, and running through the end of the year. There is a U.S. leg of the tour on the books — catch the band in Boise on Aug. 1 — but no Las Vegas date announced. The band will play Las Vegas, though, as frontman Dan Reynolds and bassist Ben McKee have said a Las Vegas date will be scheduled before year’s end.
“We’re saving the best for last,” Reynolds said during the band’s performance Monday night at Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel. The band has been the focus of inquiries from every outdoor festival in the city (and you probably know what those are by now), and certainly arenas and midrange venues — such as the one next to Vinyl — would fit the band’s arena-fashioned schedule.
But when asked if the venue would or would not have a roof overhead, McKee said only, “I can’t say, but nice try.”
• Roseanne Barr is returning to Las Vegas this weekend for her latest run in the Lipshtick series at Sands Showroom in the Venetian. Her set is 9:30 p.m. Saturday (tickets are $49.50, $69.50 and $118.50 and available at (702) 414-9000 or by drilling into Venetian.com).
Barr has played Las Vegas off and on for 30 years since she debuted on the Strip at Mitzi Shore’s Comedy Store at the Dunes. Barr has developed a “universal” act that can play anywhere. But this is not an act she developed during her shows in Las Vegas.
“After you’ve worked out the bugs, after you have the act that is extremely universal, then you go to Las Vegas,” she says. “Las Vegas is a place where you have to work a little harder to win over an audience, and for a comic that’s good. It is not the place where you go to test new material. People are not all from the same place, so you have to be at a point where you’ve built your act to the point where you can stand in front of an audience and deliver.”
This polished approach works for entertainers who don’t happen to be funny for a living. “If you’re Bette Midler, you don’t go to La Vegas to sing a song you’ve never sang before,” Barr says. “You have your show, you’ve worked on it, and you don’t go out there and fly by the seat of your pants.”
A former headliner at Laugh Factory in Tropicana who has a sister who lives in Las Vegas, Barr would entertain a similar gig if the circumstances were right. “I think about that a lot, and, you know, I am trying to get my mom to move to Las Vegas. I love it there, and I would consider another run there if it all worked out, sure.”
• The classic cars of the late Jim Rogers’ auto collection are being auctioned off this weekend by Mecum Auctions, and this is a major development for collectors across the country. The sale runs Friday and Saturday at Rogers Classic Car Museum at 1480 Gragson Ave. in Las Vegas. Proceeds go to the Rogers Foundation, the charitable organization founded by Jim and his wife, Beverly. The museum is open to preview the vehicles 9 a.m.-6 pm Friday, and the auction starts 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Admission is $20 per person, per day.
More than 230 cars, most of them American-made and favorites of Rogers, are being sold at no reserve (for details on the Rogers’ Classic Car Museum auction, individual consignments and to register as a bidder, go to Mecum.com or call (262) 275-5050).
A former chancellor of the State Board of Regents, founder of Sun Belt Communications and owner of Channel 3 in Las Vegas, Rogers was famously fond of classic vehicles. He was always scouring for new/old cars and grew his collection from a modest 20 or so to 300 at its peak.
He partnered with vintage-vehicle wizard Mike Pratt in growing the collection and favored American-made cars from his youth (though he did pick up a few European exotic cars), and the vast majority of his cars were convertibles.
Rogers never had the time to drive these vehicles, but they were more like works of art. As Rogers once told me, “They made them beautiful.” Included in the collection: A 1915 Ford Model T, a pair of 2012 Fisker Karma Sedans, a 1953 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible, a 1962 Rolls-Royce Mulliner Drophead Coupe, a 1956 Dual-Ghia Convertible and a 1939 Cadillac Series 90 V-16 Imperial Touring Sedan.
You also might see a 1953 Mercury “Woodie” station wagon that was once the property of my cousin Tom in Pocatello, Idaho. Long story, but the Rogers and Kats families were connected by the love of these old cars.
Rogers passed away last June at age 75 but left behind a legacy of philanthropy nearly unmatched anywhere. His donations to such colleges as UNLV, University of Arizona, Idaho State University in Pocatello and Carroll College in Helena, Mont., reached $275 million, and he once said that he would have been a billionaire if not for all of the money he donated over the yeas.
He was quite a man, and if you have a car owned by Rogers, you are riding in style, my friend.
In the spirit of Venice, The Venetian is a little piece of romantic Italy right here in Las Vegas. The Venetian is an "all-suite" hotel, with rooms accented with plush linens and Italian marble. The 4,027 suites are divided into two towers: The 36-story Venetian Tower that offers guests a taste of luxurious Las Vegas and the Venezia suites, which guarantee 12 floors of high-end elegance. The top five floors are the hotel's highest level of luxury with its private access, concierge lounge, upgraded features and even a dedicated staff.
The flagship of Venetian nightlife is TAO, an ultra-hip nightclub located inside of TAO Asian Bistro. V Bar is The Venetian's super smooth ultra lounge, made by the owners of New York City's club Lotus and Los Angeles' super swank Sunset Room.
The Venetian features 19 restaurants including Thomas Keller's award-winning French restaurant Bouchon, Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante, Aquaknox for fresh seafood and the 42,000 square foot TAO Asian Bistro. There's also the food court inside the Canal Shoppes for those looking for a quick bite.
Guests can float along The Grand Canal Shops in an authentic Italian gondola ride and pass stores like Burberry and Kenneth Cole along the way. And if you haven't caught a real celeb, on the street in Vegas, you can head over to Madame Tussauds to check out a wax version.