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July 31, 2014

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Linda Thompson still awaiting first visit to ‘Viva Elvis’; Stirling Club stages a wild talent show

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Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabikphoto.com

Linda Thompson, Elvis’ former girlfriend, on the velvet bedspread she picked out for Graceland in 1974 on display at King’s Ransom Museum’s Elvis Presley exhibit at the Imperial Palace.

Viva Elvis Media Tour

The Viva Elvis media tour at CityCenter's Aria on Feb. 19, 2010. Launch slideshow »
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David Atwell and Christina Ventre cut a rug at Stirling Club on Friday, June 18, 2010.

Notes on a string, while keeping an eye on the World Cup, which apparently employs Major League-quality officials:

• Cirque du Soleil's "Viva Elvis" opened in February at Aria, but one of those closest to Elvis hasn't yet seen the show. Linda Thompson, who was Elvis' live-in girlfriend from 1972-1976, has not made the trip from her home in Malibu, Calif., to Vegas to catch the show.

"Not yet," she said Thursday from her "Malibu nest" while getting ready for the Lakers-Celtics Game 7 NBA Finals game at Staples Center. "I've heard so-so things about it, which is why I haven't made a beeline to see it. But I do want to see it, and I love visiting Las Vegas. I'll reserve judgment until I have a chance to see it myself."

There is no depiction of Thompson in the show, which shouldn't be a surprise given that Priscilla Presley has been so active in the production's artistic direction and staging. Thompson's brother, Sam, ran Presley's security team in the months leading to Elvis' death and today lives in Las Vegas as of the Nevada Public Utilities Commission. The famed "Memphis Mafia" is not specifically referenced in the production, either. Such insiders as Sonny and Red West spent decades in Elvis' inner circle before running afoul of the King, a story arc that didn't find its way to the stage.

"They were such a big part of his life, for years," said Thompson, who married Olympic decathlon gold medalist and reality show star Bruce Jenner, and, later, renowned music producer David Foster. She is also the quite-proud mother of Brody Jenner. "I'm not a big fan of rewriting history to accommodate a storyline."

• The Stirling Club at Turnberry Place held its annual "America's Got Talent"-style talent show Thursday night. Unlike its namesake, substantial talent was on display at this show, especially from winning vocalist Christina Ventre, who belted out a ringing rendition of "Caruso." A total of nine acts, all of them featuring Stirling Club members, brazenly took the stage before a capacity audience at the club's ballroom. The judging panel was venerable comic Sammy Shore, longtime Vegas radio and TV personality Lark Williams, ace entertainer (and ace tennis player) Clint Holmes and ... me.

Kelly Clinton hosted, and words cannot do justice to her impression of Wayne Newton. This routine was not part of this show but was good enough to win any talent contest, including the dopey primetime show on NBC. Wearing a pressed tux and a black wig the size of a Goldfield tumbleweed, Clinton ended her act with a passionate rendition of "MacArthur Park." As she crooned about the cake in the rain, and how it took so long to bake it, and how the recipe would be tragically lost forever, a stagehand sprayed her with water from a pair of squirt bottles.

Longtime Las Vegas resort broker David Atwell finished a close second, who uncorked a radical change-afield medley of "You Were Always on My Mind" and "Mustang Sally," which catapulted to conclusion with a conga line of friends and family snaking through the club. Dane Maralason's original ballad, with references to the Wheel of Fortune slot machine and three bars lined up as a jackpot as a metaphor for being in love, placed third.

Sharing a judging panel with Shore is a unique experience. After each act the judges made comments to the crowd. Following the performance by the shapely Ventre, Shore noted, "You have a great voice, and we really like your butt!"

Such a physical characteristic was not on the official list of judging criteria.

For years Elvis' opening act at the International and LV Hilton, Shore still is the featured performer at his own Sammy Shore's Barking Mad Comedy Jam at Eastside Cannery. Admission to see special guests Dennis Blair and Dean Napolitano on June 25-26 is free.

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Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian and Kim Kardashian at MGM's Wet Republic on April 24, 2010.

• Before there was Gossy Vegas, there was glossy Vegas, which leads us adroitly to the announcement that our sister publication Vegas Magazine celebrates its seventh anniversary Saturday night with a party at the new Surrender Nightclub at Encore. The city's favorite sibling triumvirate of Kourtney, Kim and Khloe Kardashian will attend this party, which is appropriate as they are featured on the magazine's anniversary cover.

A sample of their comments in the cover story, in which they talk of their sisterly relationship:

"There is just this closeness that we have," Kourtney says. "I would rather hang out with Kim or Khloe than any friends."

"Having a big family makes everything in life a little bit easier," Kim says.

"The show is fun and I love doing it because it's with my family," Khloé says.

Congrats to my longtime friend, one of my favorite people in all of VegasVille, Vegas Magazine Editor-in-Chief Kate Bennett, on marking this milestone.

• Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay and the "Tournament of Kings" dinner show at Excalibur are celebrating anniversaries this month. It's No. 10 for Shark Reef, No. 20 for "Tournament of Kings." I have a feeling this will be the final major milestone celebrated for the "Tournament." Just a hunch. Twenty years seems a good enough run for the King Arthur-themed JoustFeast, which occupies a vast space that could be home to any sort of fresh entertainment.

• "Pawn Stars" star Rick "The Spotter" Harrison did make his Thursday morning appearance on "The Early Show," but was later bumped for time from "The Late Show with David Letterman." The plan is for Harrison to return to the Letterman set sometime in July.

On the Vegas reality-show front, it would be hilarious to stage an episodic convergence between the crew from "Pawn Stars" and "Holly's World" — an encounter between Angel Porrino and Austin "Chumlee" Russell would be groundbreaking TV, for sure. But it can't happen. Different cable channels, with "Pawn Stars" airing on the History Channel and "Holly's World" on E! Entertainment. Bummer.

• To answer questions about my conversation with Siegfried Fischbacher on Sunday: Yes, I did see him and talked to him prior to Golden Rainbow "Ribbon of Life" show at the Las Vegas Hilton on Sunday afternoon. This was the real Siegfried, too. This was not any sort of "Legends" tribute performer. He was there with protege and former Mirage illusionist Darren Romeo. We were all in the same line walking into the benefit performance at Hilton Theater.

This is noteworthy, because this week in the R-J there was a reported sighting of Siegfried celebrating his 71st birthday Sunday at Hofbrauhaus during the Germany-Australia World Cup match. Expecting that I might be truly crazy, I called Hofbrauhaus and asked how it was that Siegfried pulled his greatest illusion ever and appeared in two places at once. But it was confirmed to me by the PR team that represents the giant German-styled brew pub that Siegfried was not at the Hofbrauhaus on Sunday afternoon.

As they say in soccer, play on ...

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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