Las Vegas Sun

November 14, 2018

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Columnist John Katsilometes: One hotel GM’s Vegas renaissance — thanks to ‘Idol’

Fabulous Las Vegas runs Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in t' e Las Vegas Sun. Reach John Katsilometes at 259-2327 or 812-9812, or by e-mail' at [email protected]

Renaissance Las Vegas General Manager Larry Brown jokes about taking the stage for 'American Idol,' but his age -- 57 -- interferes. So does his admitted lack of entertainment talent.

"I got up there and got booted off the stage," Brown said Wednesday during a break in 'Idol' auditions at the Renaissance Ballroom.

Brown did not actually attempt to perform.

"I've done no entertaining. I can't keep in tune and have two left feet. But I have produced many shows in the past," said Brown, whose previous job was as vice president of Opryland Hotel in Nashville for 10 years prior to moving to Las Vegas in May 2004 to open the Renaissance.

Encompassing 20,000 square feet, the Renaissance is the city's largest nongaming hotel. It also doesn't allow smoking in any public place (a real rarity here). The hotel's location -- on Paradise Road adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center, where the first rounds of auditions were held Monday and Tuesday -- helped make it an ideal spot to stage "Idol."

Wednesday's final round, which drew the 30 to 40 top vocalists from the first rounds (all of whom are between the ages of 16 and 28), were held on a temporary "Idol" set in the Renaissance Ballroom. Judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson were not in mingle mode; they were hustled on and off the property in limousines.

"I did not meet them, unfortunately," Brown said. "I can tell you that Simon needed his shirt pressed right away. So we can handle any task, large or small."


Signature performance: If you're like me, the first thought that hit you upon glancing at Gov. Kenny Guinn's signature on rebate checks sent over the weekend was to call handwriting analyst Grace DePass. DePass was name-checked in this column on Sunday after she analyzed the handwriting of Cindy Funkhouser and me during First Friday.

I sent a faxed copy of Guinn's signature to DePass, who happily marked up and jotted down comments on the signature that appears on the 1,881,399 checks issued over the weekend.

DePass detected that Guinn is a "no-nonsense" person who is his own man and likes to be challenged. The right-leaning letters show he looks to the future, and on the day the signature was written Guinn was "mad about something."

"He writes hard," DePass noted, "which means he is hard on himself and at times others." ...

The Buff Zone: Longtime friend (and spiritual adviser) "Buffalo" Jim Barrier has big news -- he is marketing fortune-telling boxes featuring his bearded image and growling voice. The faux Buffalo provides one of eight messages (one of which is probably, "Please remember that Buffalo Jim Barrier exists"). The wood-and-glass boxes are to be placed in amusement areas in Las Vegas; the prototype should be ready in six weeks.

Barrier is the former promoter of the Buffalo Wrestling Federation, and is also the owner of Buffalo Jim's Auto & Marine on Industrial Road next to Crazy Horse Too. His means of self-promotion have included a 13-foot-tall buffalo with smoke pouring from its nostrils ...

How do I get to Carnegie Hall? UNLV doctoral flute student Jennifer Kuk will perform a solo debut recital Friday at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York. The recital, the first solo at Carnegie Hall for a student in the UNLV Department of Music, is part of the "Music for Hope" concert ...

As Bruce Springsteen once said ... There's a darkness on the edge of town. That's the case on West Sahara Avenue and West Charleston Boulevard, where a growing number of motorists are roaring down the street at night with no headlights.