Thursday, June 30, 2016 | 8:35 p.m.
Brad Garrett’s annual Maximum Hope Foundation poker tournament is set for Saturday at MGM Grand, in the open area adjacent to the “Ka” theater and at the entrance of Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill. The buy-in is $250, $100 for re-buys and add-ons, and the grand prize is $10,000. Registration begins at 9 a.m., cards in the air at noon and — get this — brunch is provided by the people at Puck.
Set to partake in some serious poker action are such notables as Willie Garson of "Sex and the City" and "White Collar," famed house guest and prosecution witness Kato Kaelin, Boston Rob Mariano of “Survivor” fame, Torrei Hart (ex-wife of comic actor Kevin Hart), UFC star Randy Couture, “The Human Calculator” Scott Flansburg, and “Midnight Express” author Billy Hayes.
The smart money is on Kaelin, right? He’s a pretty lucky individual. He guest-starred in “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” several years ago at Planet Hollywood, too. A fine actor.
Anyway, the Maximum Hope charity is named for Garrett’s kids, Max and Hope, and provides practical needs for families that are caring for children with all varieties of life-threatening illnesses. Know this about Garrett: He does a lot of charitable work, real life-changing stuff, that he never talks about. But this event is required to sustain the Maximum Hope Foundation, which provides simple daily necessities for families of children who are chronically ill.
Garrett is universally known as a great stand-up comedian and actor (often outside of the comic realm, as his recent appearances on “Fargo” and “Law & Order: SVU” reminded. Of the balance between his career and philanthropic work, he once told me: “There is the real person I am, and there is the stage persona. There are things that obviously I am passionate about, that I take seriously. Because of my humor, I have been able to get things done in arenas where I probably would be able to if I wasn’t in comedy.
“I’m grateful for it.”
He’s not alone.
• We’re absorbing some positive news, preliminarily so, regarding the return of Rock in Rio USA to Las Vegas Festival Grounds. MGM Resorts officials are expecting a proposal from Rock in Rio executives next week for how to move forward on staging the second festival in Las Vegas, most likely again in May. There are still many issues to rake through, but event organizers and promoters are trying to bring it back to Vegas.
• Howie Mandel has been added to an already stacked “Aces of Comedy” lineup at the Mirage. His first headlining gig in the series is Sept. 2 (tickets are $39.99, absent fees, and onsale now at the theater box office, any MGM Resorts box office, at www.mirage.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or at 800-963-9634 or 702-792-7777). Fittingly, Mandel, a judge on “America’s Got Talent,” is headlining at Terry Fator Theater, as Fator is among the more successful “AGT” champions.
Filling out the “Aces” lineup in July are Kathy Griffin on Friday, Jay Leno on Saturday, Griffin again on July 8, Wayne Brady on July 9, Ron White on July 15-16, Bill Maher on July 22-23, Leslie Jones on July 29 and Tim Allen on July 30. Show times are 10 p.m., aside from Brady’s 9 p.m. start on July 9.
• For the first time since Clint Holmes joined the fray in November 2014, “Million Dollar Quartet” is jamming with a Vegas headliner in its post-encore set at Harrah’s. Two headliners, actually, in the form of Bill Medley and Bucky Heard of The Righteous Brothers in that same theater. Their scheduled appearance is at the end of the show on July 7; the performance starts at 8 p.m.
The cast remains superb: Scott Moreau (Johnny Cash), Justin Shandor (Elvis Presley), Martin Kaye (Jerry Lee Lewis), the ever-groovy Rob Lyons (Carl Perkins), Marc D. Donovan (Sam Phillips) and Victoria Matlock (Dyanne) is the show’s current lineup.
• A scheduling change to note for Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns: The band is not performing Monday night at South Point Showroom, but is making its third appearance at Cabaret Jazz at 10:30 p.m. July 11. Tickets are $25-$25 (absent fees) and available at www.thesmithcenter.com, a mere pittance to see one of the great bands in the West, or any other location on the compass.
• Returning to the topic of Holmes, I found myself seated with him and legendary boxing announcer Al Bernstein during Kelly Clinton-Holmes’ Wednesday night showcase at Piazza Lounge at Tuscany Suites. Clinton-Holmes summoned one of us from the table to join her onstage — and it was not Clint.
Big Al, who can really deliver the standards, took the mic for a couple of tunes highlighted by a great take of “Georgia.” He told me he his developing a cabaret-style show of standards with venerable Vegas bandleader Joe Darro. Whenever Bernstein is ready to step into that ring, as it were, we’ll be there. It’ll be a whole thing.