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September 18, 2014

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Who would play Oscar Goodman in the musical? How about Clint Holmes?

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The show-closing shot of the performers who performed at the PowWow brunch at Reynolds Hall on Sunday morning.

Kats With the Dish

'Being Oscar'

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John Katsilometes and Tricia McCrone talk to former Mayor Oscar Goodman about his new book, "Being Oscar."

Kats With the Dish

'Being Oscar' Part 2

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The second part of John Katsilometes and Tricia McCrone's chat with former Mayor Oscar Goodman about his new book, "Being Oscar."

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Oscar Goodman's "Being Oscar" bash and book signing at The Mob Museum in Downtown Las Vegas on Saturday, May 25, 2013.

On Tuesday afternoon I visited Oscar Goodman at his Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority office. All I can say of this visit was that it was to make a delivery of documents in a large, padded, unmarked envelope.

OK, it was a stack of Las Vegas Weekly magazines with Goodman’s pixilated image on the cover. You got me! Stop this interrogation!

Because of that story, and my epic story on the LV Weekly cover about comedy in Vegas, I’ve not been writing the column (or creating blog content, if you will) as much as is customary. We are about finished with that stretch now, and the scene in VegasVille is strewn with tidbits. Strewn, I tell you!

Let’s rake:

• Goodman appeared on “CBS Saturday Morning” on … Saturday morning. The first question posed to him? “Where are the showgirls?” He’s reminded that he’s never apologized for representing reputed mobsters. “No. Why should I?” Goodman shot back. “What I did was, I protected citizens’ constitutional rights to make sure the government did its job correctly. That’s all I did.”

Goodman also showed his wristwatch, all 5s, to prove it’s always 5 o’clock — or Martini Time. Catch the clip here.

Goodman said on the show and again Tuesday that a Broadway producer is interested in turning Goodman’s just-released memoirs, “Being Oscar” into a musical. (Hint: This producer’s work includes a show starring someone whose name reminds of one of the city’s more famous retail centers). Goodman has also been asked by such notable Vegas comedians as Sammy Shore (more on the Sam Man later) to construct a stand-up act for the stage. But Goodman is more interested in a musical adaptation of the book. As to who would play him onstage, he said, “After seeing Clint Holmes on Sunday, I pointed up to him and said, ‘He could play me, anytime!’ ”

And, here’s why.

• Holmes drew the lone standing ovation — a partial standing-O, yes, but it was a ruled a standing ovation as by the official scorekeeper — at Sunday morning’s International PowWow (IPW) Press Brunch performance at Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall. About 500 tourism journalists from 70 countries are in town this week as their annual convention, which visits a different tourism destination each year. The most recent PowWow in Vegas was 2008, and this year’s has set records for attendance for the annual conference.

The program at Smith Center started with a walk-around food sampling on the grassy expanse of Symphony Park. Forty of the city’s top restaurants were showcased. It was a hot morning for sliders from STK, as temperatures crept toward 100 degrees, but as I explained to some of the visitors: This is how we spend many of our Sundays in Vegas.

The performance at Reynolds Hall, which drew a total audience of about 1,000, was one of the more ambitious I’ve seen. Ten performances were packed into an hourlong show, which had to be an hourlong to avoid costly union overruns. Featured were Matt Goss with “Jubilee” dancers; Clint Holmes with his backing band from his Cabaret Jazz performances; cast members from “Million Dollar Quartet” and “Rock of Ages;” Terry Fator and his wife, Taylor; Frankie Moreno with members of Nevada Ballet Theatre; and a show-closing medley from “Jersey Boys.”

This production moved, folks. Holmes performed a medley from “West Side Story” that drew chills from even the most hardened, jaded international journalist. Moreno performed a new take on an original, “Some Kind of Love,” worked out on the day of the performance.

Over the weekend, Holmes and Moreno actually talked of writing together, and Moreno took in Holmes’ performance at Smith Center for the first time on Saturday night. A rarity: As Holmes began “Eleanor Rigby” he pointed toward Moreno, who also performs a great version of the song. Holmes then kicked the lyrics — twice. He later explained that he wanted to acknowledge Moreno in the audience, and simply forgot the song’s opening lyric.

That hardly ever happens, but Holmes recovered to deliver a performance worthy of the standing O it received. If he and Moreno ever collaborate, I’d be eager to give a listen.

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Vinnie Favorito

• Shore’s Funny Bones doggy-rehabilitation show drew a crowd of about 700 to the Orleans Showroom on Sunday, and the total take was beyond anyone’s pre-show estimates: $60,000. The original total was about $30,000, but a donor in the audience pulled Shore aside after the performance and offered to match the total. When Shore told her it was $30,000, he was handed a check for that amount. This person wants to remain anonymous and had never met Shore prior to the event.

All money raised was delivered to the Nevada SPCA's advanced medical care fund, which is set up to save and rehabilitate animals in Southern Nevada. Pete Barbutti, Vinnie Favorito, “Shades of Sinatra,” Billy Gardell (of “Mike and Molly”), Chris Phillips and Lydia Ansel of Zowie Bowie, Geechy Guy, the Amazing Johnathan, Rich Little and Tony Orlando appeared. It was the most successful event in the five-year history of Funny Bones, which a year ago raised $20,000 in a ballroom at the Palms. Shore is speaking vaguely of a new project downtown, but for now he and Barbutti are carrying on like a couple of, oh, 50-year-olds at the Clarion. I feel a group activity is in order to see these guys in action.

• One of the highlights of the Funny Bones show (aside from Favorito approaching the front of the stage and tucking a dollar bill in the back of Phillips’ jeans) was the appearance by Amazing Johnathan and Psychic Tanya. AJ is essentially retired these days, after a quick spin through Windows at Bally's and a dalliance with the Plaza in which he talked of redesigning that hotel’s casino floor (a claim that caught hotel exes off-guard). Backstage, while in a lively conversation with Orlando, Johnathan said he plans to perform in Vegas at least once again — at the Plaza. He wants to do an hour of new material for a cable special.

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The Amazing Johnathan.

That conversation between Orlando and Johnathan was remarkable for two reasons. One was, seated nearby was the suddenly ever-present Gallagher, who is hanging out in Vegas while also entering semi-retirement. The other: Both Orlando and Johnathan have lost a lot of weight. Orlando especially is slimmed-down, having dropped about 40 pounds. He reminded that he’s been performing for 52 years (he is 69 now) and continues to play regular dates in Vegas at South Point. Orlando is half-Puerto Rican and half-Greek, and his given surname is Cassavitis. Somehow that resonates with me but I can’t figure out why.

• Names of notable comics that didn’t make the final cut in that comedy story include Rob Sherwood, Sean E. Cooper, James Bean and Nancy Ryan. Sherwood has long been one of the city’s funnier and busier comics, and as I reported the story I caught his act three times, including his semi-regular gig as opener for Carrot Top at Luxor. On the night I watched his act at Atrium Showroom, Sherwood performed his set, then worked the spotlight for Carrot Top and for the “Fantasy” performance that followed. The uber-talented Cooper performed a mostly improv set in the middle of “Fantasy,” mixed with his familiar impressions of James Brown and Michael Jackson.

Similar to Cooper, Ryan and Bean have signed on for the challenging assignment of leaping into the middle of an adult revue, where audience members are there for skin and spin before jokes. But they, too, fill their roles admirably. You just never know when you’re going to run into comedy in this city.

And for even more on that topic …

• Favorito, a star of the comedy story (this story remains in my brain) is the confirmed next host of “The Showbiz Roast,” set for July 23 at Stratosphere. It’s a great pick, and an obvious one, given Favorito’s skills in this format and the fact that he and Goodman are quite friendly. There has been an effort by the Plaza to convince “Roast” producer Andy Walmsley to move the show to that hotel’s showroom, given Goodman’s strong ties to the properties with steakhouse bearing his name and image. But Walmsley is happy with the setup and support from the Strat. And it is a bit late to change the venue now, but that Plaza showroom would be a pretty cool venue for some overarching show like the “Showbiz Roast.” Louie Anderson likes the place enough to sign on for a residency there.

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Daren Libonati preps for a concert by U2 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

• A random call last week to Daren Libonati of Justice Entertainment Group turned up the following: Libonati is no longer with Justice Entertainment Group. He’d signed on as chief operating officer with the then-fledgling production company in August 2010 after spending 10 years as the director of UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium, Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion. Libonati’s chief accomplishment in his 2 ½-year tenure with JEG was to assemble the many moving parts that led to the Real Madrid-Santos Laguna exhibition soccer match at Sam Boyd Stadium in August.

Libonati said he left his post at the end of April. There was no formal announcement of the split, and he said he’s now working on some projects in an entrepreneurial context. He’ll specify the next phase of his career soon enough. Libonati is a real Rebel, that much can be said, a former UNLV placekicker who has spent most of his professional life helping stage events at UNLV venues and also, for a time, MGM Grand.

But count me as surprised at his relatively brief tenure at JEG. Pretty clearly, it was just not a good fit.

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Opening night of "ICandy Burlesque: the Show" at Saxe Theater in Planet Hollywood on Friday, Aug. 24, 2012.

• The burlesque-esque (if there can be such a thing) production “iCandy The Show” at Saxe Theater at Miracle Mile Shops is no longer faltering. That’s because it closed last week, amid an unsettled cast and complaints from performers that they’d not been paid fully for their time with the show. The show was a co-production of Nannette Barbera and “Legends in Concert” founder John Stuart. There is talk that the show is being re-tooled and will return in some form. If so, it is a race back to the stage between “iCandy” and “Surf The Musical.”

And you’ve got to appreciate the unambiguous manner in which “iCandy’s” closing is posted on the V Theater box office website. It’s “iCandy The Show (DEAD).” Looks like the title of the show, actually.

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Rich Little impersonates Jack Nicholson during a fundraiser to benefit trombonist Mike Turnbull, who is recovering from stage-four thyroid cancer, at New Song Anthem Church Saturday, May 11, 2013.

• More shifts afield are in process at Shimmer Cabaret at LVH. Rich Little’s “Jimmy Stewart & Friends” closes its run as scheduled on July 1. “Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show” ended its once-a-week run this week and is now a touring production with no Vegas outpost. Classical guitarist Esteban and his violinist daughter, Teresa Joy, are out of the room this weekend. Trent Carlini-as-Elvis is still in place as a nightly, 6:30 production; and Comedy After Dark is the 10 p.m. show (the room is entirely dark on Tuesday).

Up next in the ever-morphing Shimmer is the production “The D* Word — A Musical,” which opens July 10. The musical about four divorced women hearkens to the vibe of “Menopause The Musical,” and that’s because the show was created by original “Menopause” writer Jeanie Linders. Now at Luxor, “Menopause” originally played at Shimmer, too.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow Kats With The Dish at twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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