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December 20, 2014

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Post-98 Degrees reunion, Jeff Timmons in talks with Steck; Ellie Smith teens up — er, tunes up — for another anthem

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Erik Kabik/Retna/ErikKabik.com

Jeff Timmons at the Nikki Beach and Club Nikki White Party Grand Opening at the Tropicana on May 26, 2011.

Jeff Timmons at Ovation Lounge

Jeff Timmons rehearses for his new show Launch slideshow »
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Jeff Timmons rehearses for his new show "Wired" with singer Tymara Walker at Ovation Lounge inside Green Valley Ranch Casino in Henderson on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. Timmons was a founding member of the pop group 98 Degrees.

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Jeff Timmons rehearses for his new show "Wired" with his band at Ovation Lounge inside Green Valley Ranch Casino in Henderson on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. Timmons was a founding member of the pop group 98 Degrees.

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SPI Entertainment CEO Adam Steck

When you have a 98 Degrees tattoo on your right biceps — as does Jeff Timmons — you are sort of beholden to the brand.

So it made sense that Timmons has been eager to reunite the 1990 boy band — or rather, former boy band — for an appearance on the “Today” show last Friday and a spot on the bill at last weekend’s “MixTape Festival” in Hershey, Pa. It was the first live performance by the 98 Degrees in 11 years, and their set closed the two-day festival at Hersheypark Stadium.

Others on the nostalgia-tinged bill were Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, the Dan Band and LL Cool J. Kelly Clarkson, the Fray, the Wanted, DJ Pauly D, Carly Rae Jepson and Steel Panther (presumably to instill a sense of stability to the two-day event) also performed.

But the long-awaited reunion of 98 Degrees, in the works for more than two years, was the most-anticipated performance.

“We had the opportunity to do this really big festival, and also the ‘Today’ show, the biggest show on morning TV, so we agreed to do it. Aside from the iHeart Music Festival, who knows if there is going to be another megashow like this for us to perform?”

Timmons has returned to game-plan his career in Las Vegas. He has moved his family to Summerlin, and is coming off a summer-long club show at Ovation at Green Valley Ranch. The interactive, put-your-hands-in-the-air production “Wired” forged an atmosphere of fun, but Timmons is seeking a stronger show somewhere on the Strip.

“We tried it at GVR and saw that the show could work, but it was off the Strip and it’s a different kind of casino, for locals,” Timmons said. “My demographic skews younger.”

Timmons has been in talks with someone who can help make that happen, Las Vegas producer Adam Steck of SPI Entertainment. This year, Steck teamed with Mike Tyson to take Tyson’s “Undisputed Truth” autobiographical one-man show from MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theatre to Broadway.

“Adam is somebody I’m really talking with, a lot,” Timmons said last week, before heading off to appear on “Today” in New York. “He’s great. We’ve talked about doing everything from a male revue brand to revamping a variety show, maybe bringing the show I just did at GVR to the Strip.”

Timmons’ connection to male revues stems from his appearance in “Chippendales” at the Rio in the spring and summer of 2011. On Saturday, he’s performing two songs during the AFAN Black & White Party at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Nirvana Pool.

An adept marketer who is at once chatty and smart in public appearances, Timmons had a successful run with the Chipps and has gained a grip on what it feels like to live in Vegas, where it isn’t always 98 degrees.

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2012 Miss Nevada's Outstanding Teen Ellie Smith.

• Miss Nevada Outstanding Teen 2012 Ellie Smith is singing the national anthem Wednesday night at the Colorado Rockies-New York Mets game at CitiField in New York. The 15-year-old pageant queen finished in the top 16 in a field of 54 contestants at the Miss America Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Fla., over the weekend.

Smith has been a busy anthem singer since age 12, and has performed the anthem at pro sporting events for such teams as the L.A. Lakers, L.A. Dodgers, Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bears.

• Gilbert Gottfried is headlining at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand through Sunday night. During an appearance on Fox 5’s “More” show this morning, anchor Rachel Smith asked him about being pulled from the Aflac insurance commercials. Gottfried was yanked from the spots after tweeting jokes about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.

Gottfried, whose stage act is a boundless exercise in offending every culture and lifestyle, said, “I’m sure that it had nothing to do with money. I’m sure that getting rid of me gave us the closure we needed to get past that tragedy.”

• Those who still link white tigers to Strip entertainment will be interested to know that two of the city’s most famous entertainers to use the big cats are not working steadily in Vegas. Both Dirk Arthur and Rick Thomas have had their shows close over the past several months (Arthur at the now-closed O’Shea’s and Thomas at V Theater). That means, at the moment, there is no major production featuring white tigers in Las Vegas (and no, we are not counting puppet shows).

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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