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December 22, 2014

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Year-end extras from Vegas stages, showrooms and the celebs who play them

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Steve Marcus

Liberace Foundation Chairman Brian “Paco” Alvarez is interviewed during an open house and book launch at the Liberace house Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. Liberace’s former residence was purchased by British businessman Martyn J. Ravenhill for $500,000 in August.

The Kats Report Photo Year-Ender

Roastmaster Marc Savard shares a moment with roastee Frank Marino during the Launch slideshow »

BOISE — At this writing, the Kats Report Bureau is the Waterwheel Drive Outpost in Boise.

Or as it better known: Mom’s kitchen nook.

As is the case each holiday season, it is cold in Idaho. It is somewhere in the mid-teens right now, but I like to measure the cold in more tangible ways. Like, when you leave a pack of Wet Ones in the car overnight and they freeze like little slabs of ice. You could actually use these frozen wipes as weapons, or as something to throw at a target in an event in the Winter Olympics.

Earlier, Mom asked me to put away some ginger ale she brought home from the store. “Where?” I asked, knowing that the two refrigerators in the house were full.

“In the garage,” she said.

The garage’s dual function — refrigerator. There are so many refrigerator items in the garage that there’s no room for vehicles, which is why the car is parked outside, allowing the Wet Ones to freeze. It’s a vicious, if not viscous, circle here in Boise.

Nonetheless, we offer the annual Kats Report year-in-review column. As we often ask, “What could possibly go wrong?”

By the end of ’14, we’ll (hopefully) see … The Liberace Foundation collection moved into the first level of Neonopolis. The foundation has finally received its business license to operate on the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street. Tentative name, still, is the LEE (Liberace Entertainment Experience).

Great idea that surfaced in a conversation with Brian “Paco” Alvarez, head of the Liberace Foundation: That Holly Madison would be an ideal spokeswoman for the new Liberace exhibit.

He wants to return “groovy” to the lexicon: “He” would be Rob Lyons, who plays Carl Perkins in “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s.

A horse is a horse, of course of course: After a legal squabble with Crazy Horse III, adult-club chief Mike Galam reopened the infamous Crazy Horse Too adult club under the name the Horse.

Sequel we’re glad not to have seen: “Sin City Rules II.”

Who said, “The NRA has completely held the U.S. Congress hostage for years by saying, ‘If you are for any type of reasonable, responsible gun control and getting these weapons off the street, I will come into your district, little congressman or congresswoman, and will defeat you’”? “America’s Most Wanted” host and anti-crime activist John Walsh, during an appearance in January at the Bellagio during the Canon USA gala dinner and auction benefiting the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

An injury that, honestly, could not have happened to a nicer guy: Donny Osmond tore a tendon in his gluteus maximus, which knocked him out of the Donny & Marie show at the Flamingo for several weeks. He performed briefly by using a rotating set of decorative canes, including one featuring a mirrored disco ball replicating his “Dancing With the Stars” championship trophy.

The year of Gallagher? Sightings of the famed stand-up were plentiful throughout the year, though his stage show at Laugh Factory at the Tropicana has timed out. But he has an idea for a "hot, sexy new show in Vegas," so we wait with great anticipation for that.

Still waiting … For hypnotist Marshall Sylver’s next show in Las Vegas to premiere. He originally planned to be in the PH Live theater at Planet Hollywood (talking of selling upwards of 5,000 tickets per show), then moved to the “Peepshow” theater, where he performed 13 shows in a month. He professed to be looking for a venue with the proper space for him to perform his high-flying production. It is what they call in the entertainment industry, or anywhere else where common sense prevails, “a difficult fit.”

Why is Billy Joel’s upcoming residency at Madison Square Garden of particular interest in Las Vegas? Steve Wynn spent nearly two years trying to persuade Joel to perform a Garth Brooks-type residency at Encore Theater.

Still holding out hope: That Wynn will bring the oft-discussed production show “Funhouse,” which he has written with Kenny Ortega and Bob Martin and would be filled with a cast of 20 artists, to the stage at Encore.

Album that was worth the wait: “Life You Imagine” by Caesars Palace Gossy Room host and headliner Matt Goss. Produced by Ron Fair (who has worked with Lady Gaga, U2, Black Eyed Peas, Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, among others) and engineered by the brilliant Pat Thrall at Studio at the Palms, the album was more than two years in the making. It’s a great one, highlighted by live favorites “Evil,” “When Will I Be Famous,” “The Day We Met” and the requisite ode-to-Vegas, “Lovely Las Vegas.”

What is to be called “On Your Feet”?: The Broadway-targeted musical adaptation of the lives and careers of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, the executive producer of which is Bernie Yuman. The script should be finished by February.

Who said, referring to his organization’s return to Atlantic City, "It was always my dream that this would return here. Sadly, this organization went west for a while. That sadness is over.” Miss America Organization CEO Art McMaster, whose pageant was held with fabulous fanfare in Las Vegas from 2006-13.

The official opening night of "CeeLo Green Is Loberace" at Planet Hollywood on Saturday, March 2, 2013.

The official opening night of "CeeLo Green Is Loberace" at Planet Hollywood on Saturday, March 2, 2013.

Disappointment of the Year: CeeLo Green’s “Loberace” was a late-night, dance-and-karaoke exercise at Planet Hollywood that fell far below the standards set by both Liberace and CeeLo. Evidently, he might return in more of a straightforward concert show, but that particular production (in which a robotic, tuxedoed gorilla played a keyboard and the show’s star did not) is gone forever.

Fell for this concept in a big, bad way: A tour of Krave Massive at Neonopolis — which professed to be the largest gay nightclub in the world — produced a lot of talk, concept and promises. But after a scaled-back opening June 15, the club closed in late August because of permit issues. Krave is now operating at the old Empire Ballroom/Boulevard Theater club on the Strip across from the Monte Carlo, about the same scope as its previous venues at Harmon Theater and the Rio.

The city’s greatest body double: Philip Fortenberry, discovered by Steven Soderbergh with a great assist from former “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular” director Jack Gaughan, performed all piano parts in HBO’s “Behind The Candelabra.”

What Fortenberry is doing now: Working on the Broadway musical “Rocky,” being produced by Sylvester Stallone and due for a March opening at Winter Garden Theater.

Roy Horn with a white tiger cub. October 3 marks the tenth anniversary of the incident where Roy was dragged offstage by white tiger Montecore during a performance of <em>Siegfried &amp; Roy</em> at the Mirage.

Roy Horn with a white tiger cub. October 3 marks the tenth anniversary of the incident where Roy was dragged offstage by white tiger Montecore during a performance of Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage.

An account that still sparks skepticism: Ten years after being dragged offstage and nearly killed by the white tiger Montecore, Roy Horn said he was not being attacked: “When a tiger attacks you, you are finished.”

Scenester of the Year: Mark Shunock of “Rock of Ages” who gleefully embraced Las Vegas and has launched a great monthly charity showcase, “Mondays Dark,” at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Body English.

‘Showbiz Roast’ of Chris Phillips

George Wallace calls out Clint Holmes during the first Launch slideshow »

Following through to great effect: After long talking of bringing back a Dean Martin-styled celebrity roast, Emmy Award-winning set designer and aspiring producer Andy Walmsley unleashed three such “Showbiz Roast” shows in 2013. The odd triumvirate of Zowie Bowie’s Chris Phillips, former Mayor Oscar Goodman and “Divas Las Vegas” star Frank Marino revived the spirit of those long-ago showcases.

One great “Showbiz Roast” moment: Clint Holmes singing, “Does anybody really know who Zowie Bowie is? Does anybody really care?” to Chicago’s “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

And another: “I’m still waiting for the roast to start!” Goodman, noting the kid-gloves treatment he was receiving from roasters during the show in July.

And yet another: Hypnotist Marc Savard, a terrific show host, spinning and kissing Marino to cap the third roast in October.

Something we learned about Goodman: During his days as a mob attorney, he and his wife, Carolyn, were so concerned about their conversations being recorded by federal and local law enforcement officials that they whispered to each other around the house. As he said, “For 35 years, my life was almost, like, cloistered. It was insular. I learned early on that the government would rather have a lawyer like me in custody than my client.”

Power Table of the Year: In April, a night after attending the Keep Memory Alive “Power of Love” gala at MGM Grand, Steve and Andrea Wynn had dinner with Sheldon and Miriam Adelson at Bartolotta at Wynn Las Vegas.

Elvis is good luck? Is this true? To Linda and Sam Thompson it is. Linda is Elvis’ ex-girlfriend, and Sam, Linda’s brother, used to work on the King’s security team. The night of the first round of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest on Fremont Street, which they helped judge, the Thompsons played a pair of Flaming 7s slots machines, side-by-side, at the D Las Vegas. They hit four jackpots within an hour at those machines, including two within a minute of each other. The total take was $4,000 — $1,500 more than the money awarded the contest winner, Chad Collins.

An unexpected baby-sitting assignment: A night before facing off with Trace Adkins in the season finale of “Celebrity Apprentice,” Penn and Emily Jillette baby-sat Adkins’ kids in New York when the country star performed in Atlantic City.

A show that does pack a punch: “Raiding the Rock Vault” keyboardist Michael Ross was late returning to the stage after a break, so guitarist Howard Leese — a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — punched him. This, onstage, during the opening segment of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer.” There is no longer a break in the show.

Shore, twice over: The 87-year-old Sammy Shore, famous as the man who helped co-found the Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip, as Elvis’ opening act at the International and Las Vegas Hilton, and as the father of Pauly Shore, ends 2013 co-headlining with Pauly at the Laugh Factory.

Swoosh, and a relationship is repaired: Andre Agassi flew to Portland to meet with Nike founder Phil Knight to talk out their fractured partnership. The result was Agassi’s return to Nike as an official spokesman after eight years with Adidas.

When did Carlos Santana say “No” to the Rolling Stones? When the Stones asked for permission to use footage of Santana from the ill-fated Altamont concert in the documentary that became “Gimme Shelter.” This overture surfaced anew when a letter from the Stones to Santana was put on display last summer at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. “Altamont, just the word, has a very negative vibration,” Santana said. “I said no (to being in the film) because it didn’t show anything in a good light. That’s the best way to put it. It didn’t show the Stones or ourselves or anyone in a good light.”

Who said, “The one thing that people maybe don’t realize is how hurt we are when something like (an injury to a performer) happens. It’s almost like a family member. We are protective of the artist, first and foremost, and keep focus on the artist.” Cirque du Soleil President Daniel Lamarre, on the red carpet of the “Michael Jackson One” opening at Mandalay Bay, hours before “Ka” artist Sarah Guillot-Guyard died after a fall during a performance at MGM Grand.

Two very cool performance venues: Art Square Theater in the Arts District and Baobob Stage at Town Square.

It’s just getting better and better: More than seven years after opening at the now-closed Suede Restaurant, Keith Thompson’s Composers Showcase is thriving at the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz.

Two shows we’re geared up to see at the Smith Center: “Book of Mormon” from June 10-July 11 and the Teller-Aaron Posner adaptation (in a co-production with the American Repertory Theatre) of “The Tempest” from April 5-13.

Weekly’s 15th Anniversary Party: Red Carpet Arrivals

Gavin McHale, Jaymes Vaughan, James Davis and Ryan Stuart of Chippendales at the Rio arrive for Las Vegas Weekly’s 15th anniversary party Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, at Tropicana. Launch slideshow »

Scene of the Year: The Stifler Pop Festival in the new Las Vegas Weekly “Unscripted” series at the Trop’s Havana Room. And to think, this all started a couple of years ago as an idea over pasta with Frankie Moreno.

Who explained, upon the closing of “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood, “Shows close.” Base Production co-CEO Scott Zeiger.

The elected official who attended both the Miss Asian Las Vegas pageant and a book-signing by new Liberace Mansion owner Martyn Ravenhill: State Sen. Ruben Kihuen, whose district covers the Strip and the neighborhood near UNLV where the mansion stands.

Lounge Flamethrower of the Year: Skye Dee Miles of the Tropicana.

He’s spending New Year’s Eve in Cabo with Matt Sorum’s band: Franky Perez.

Some great bandleaders: Jerry Lopez, Nina DiGregorio, Lon Bronson and David Perrico.

A pairing that really works: Bronson’s All-Star Band at Cabaret Jazz.

And another: Moreno writing music with Holmes.

And yet another: Moreno writing music with, well, anyone.

Guest appearance of the Year: Holly Madison joining “Million Dollar Quartet” for the Elvis and Ann-Margret duet, “The Lady Loves Me” from “Viva Las Vegas.”

Check her out, if you have not yet: “Fantasy” at Luxor vocalist Jaime Lynch.

Who turned heads as he walked into the Pantheon in Paris on Palm Sunday? Carrot Top.

Where can you find a shrine to Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme? At a booth at Bootlegger Bistro, where photos of the couple have been put up by proprietor Lorraine Hunt-Bono, a close friend of Eydie, who died in August.

How did Britney Spears refer to Las Vegas when addressing fans at her splashy introduction event at Planet Hollywood: “This is my city now.”

Which Las Vegas headliner will receive the largest TV audience in 2014? Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan headliner Bruno Mars, performing the halftime show at the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.

Why getting fired is not necessarily a career killer: Jimmy Kimmel was dismissed from KUNV at UNLV after making fun of his quasi-celebrity guests. “After six or seven shows,” he recalled, “they’d had enough of me.”

Great line from a great comic: “My doctor tells me I’m a kleptomaniac. … So I’ve been taking a lot for it.” — Geechy Guy

Two acts worth a look-see: The Scintas at the D and the Phat Pack at Windows at Bally’s.

How to improve upon a classic: With Frank Gatson Jr. calling the shots, “Jubilee” is undergoing an extensive makeover.

The best way to step back in time in VegasVille: Pia Zadora, backed by Vinnie Falcone, at Piero’s.

Sighting of the Year: Priscilla Presley at the Lounge at the Palms, checking out the Tenors of Rock, a vocal ensemble showcased in the city by “Jersey Boys” cast member Deven May.

Who said this year: “I am riding this as long as I can”? Rick Harrison of the cable sensation “Pawn Stars.”

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

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