Tuesday, June 29, 2010 | 4:29 p.m.
Pop culture with Rick and the Pawn Stars
It was not a matter of if, but whom.
And the "whom" is a man who lords over gleaming, vintage Coke machines.
We're speaking of the first spin-off from "Pawn Stars," the four-headed monster of a reality show that's created a torrent of publicity for the once nondescript pawn shop on Las Vegas Boulevard, just a skateboard sashay north of Charleston Boulevard.
Whoa. Some sentence there.
Anyway, the show is filled with interesting "expert" guest-stars, seasoned pros who help the Harrison boys and the ever-affable Chumlee price and restore the odd array of items toted through the store's front doors. Among those experts:
• Sean Rich of Tortuga Trading Inc. a master antique gunsmith.
• Dana Linett, president of Early American History Auctions Inc., an expert in early American history.
• Wally Korhone, owner of Rusty Nuts Rods and Custom, adept at vehicle and motorcycle customization.
But the man who has leapt from cameos to a full-fledged series of his own is Rick Dale of Rick's Restorations Inc. No weather-beaten gas pump or moribund jukebox is too battered to be restored by Dale, who says he has been "restoring memories for over 28 years!"
At least, his website says that. The last time I talked to him he was still eagerly awaiting a signed contract from History Channel, which also is home to "Pawn Stars."
That contract was signed Friday, and a crew from Leftfield Productions (the company that also produces "Pawn Stars") is in town for three weeks of filming. The title of the show is not finalized, though employing the word "Restoration," or a variation thereof, would seem a natural. So would the name, "Rick."
The show's schedule or launch date has not been announced, either, but one episode will feature Monte Carlo illusionist Lance Burton, who suffered a uniquely Las Vegas home-décor dilemma.
The swirling plot:
Burton's home sits on a high bluff near BLM land south of Henderson. The house was hit particularly hard by April's wind storms, which reached gusts of 60 mph. Leading up the driveway into the entrance are a pair of tall, old-English style lamps from the Monte Carlo. Burton inherited these effects during the hotel's build-out of Diablo's Cantina, which made those lamps disposable.
But one night, as he returned home from a show at Monte Carlo, Burton noticed something strange at his home — darkness.
"I looked up the driveway and the lamps had been blown over," Burton said during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "They were shattered. The next morning I was trying to figure out what to do and (Burton's publicist) Wayne Bernath told me about this guy on 'Pawn Stars' who restores things. I got a hold of him and he said, 'Yeah, I can do this.'"
But not right away — Burton has been holding the pieces until an episode of "Generic Vegas Restoration Reality Show" can be built around the rebuilding.
"He'll have to weld all these cast aluminum parts together, "Burton said. "But if he can fix this, I will be impressed."
B.G.'s comedy inferno
Comic Brad Garrett threw them open Monday night.
The doors to his new club at Tropicana, I mean.
A full house warmly greeted the former "Everybody Loves Raymond" co-star, who has summoned longtime Las Vegas pianist George Bugatti to join him onstage at the space once occupied by the Comedy Stop. It's a lot different today, cloaked in the type of plush burgundy effects favored by old steakhouses. The walls are lined with art of such famed comedians as Steve Martin, George Carlin and Richard Pryor.
Rob Sherwood, who has been a popular comic in Vegas for several years, opened the show. Bugatti was given generous time to sing whatever he liked, including Billy Joel's "Pressure," between acts. I first met Bugatti during his run at Fontana Lounge at Bellagio. Today he's gigging regularly at Casa di Amore Italian Restaurant on East Trop. Garrett is seeking old Vegas-style haunts; Casa di Amore certainly is one.
Garrett also is a surprisingly good impressionist, which is not an easy feat when you stand 6-feet-8 inches and you're not impersonating Larry Bird.
Garrett channels Sammy Davis Jr., Rodney Dangerfield and even Herman Munster, as his TV buddy Ray Romano once told Garrett he looked like the illegitimate child of Herman Munster and Greg Brady. Garrett tells some great yarns of opening for Frank Sinatra, who used to bring him back to the stage by calling for "Greg Barrett, ladies and gentlemen!"
"So, like a schmuck I'm taking a bow for someone else's name!" Garrett bemoaned. "Some nights Frank knew me, and some nights, he didn't. But you never argued with Frank."
Those stories, more than the look of the room, give Garrett some genuine Vegas credibility. He can talk of performing at such famed and imploded hotels as the Desert Inn. He's a likeable, funny man, on and off the stage.
Lance: The Return
Burton offered no new news as to his professional residence after he closes at Monte Carlo after Labor Day weekend. He's still enjoying TiVo, a previously underutilized entertainment gizmo. But his girlfriend, Gabriela Versace, does have a new stage — at Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Cantina at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood on the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Versace is the new host of "Rock Star Karaoke" at Cabo Wabo. Versace was once the host of "Erocktica" at the Rio. What this means, in part, is that you'll occasionally see Lance Burton walking the Miracle Mile Shops on Sundays. And now you know why.
Fourths of June
What do "Phantom — Las Vegas Spectacular," "Love" and CityCenter all have in common? All were launched in June 2006. "Phantom" and "Love" are celebrating their fourth anniversaries a little more than a week apart, with "Phantom" celebrating by placing masks on 1,800 fans at the anniversary show and "Love" by sending the cast to Niagara Falls to meet with Ringo Starr. CityCenter's groundbreaking cement pour marking start of construction was June 26, 2006. Don't know what all this means, other than there was a lot of big stuff going on in June 2006.
From the deplorable supervillain Gru, addressing his minions in the upcoming animated heist film "Despicable Me.": "We will have stolen the Statue of Liberty!" Minions cheer. "The small one, from Las Vegas!" Minions groan. Gru should have lifted Hoover Dam instead.
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.