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October 21, 2014

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LEE is the new Liberace Museum name; Frankie Moreno, Lacey Schwimmer absent from ‘Pin Up’ opener; Travis Cloer gives voice to vocal recovery

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Steve Marcus

An HBO crew secures cars, once owned by Liberace, onto a car carrier at the Liberace Museum parking lot, Wednesday July 11, 2012. The cars, a 1972 custom Bradley GT and a 1957 London taxi, are on loan to HBO for a project titled “Behind the Candelabra,” an official said.

Joshi sings!

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Rohit Joshi, checking out the scene outside Neonopolis.

It’s been a wild weekend in VegasVille. Better break out the long rake for this scene:

• As CeeLo Green opened his “CeeLo Green Is Loberace” at Planet Hollywood this week, the formal name of the new Liberace Museum being planned for Neonopolis is being specified: It is to be called the Liberace Entertainment Experience, or LEE for short.

Lee is how friends of Liberace referred to the legendary Las Vegas showman. Rohit Joshi, who heads up the investment group that owns Neonopolis, talked of that name Wednesday during a walk-through of the construction happening at Neonopolis.

The attraction is to replace the closed Liberace Museum, which has been locked and dark since October 2010, and is likely be open by January if the plan is approved by the bankruptcy court reviewing a lawsuit filed against the Liberace Foundation by U.S. Bank.

The financial institution is seeking more than $1 million in missed loan payments on the Liberace Plaza at East Tropicana and Spencer. The Liberace Foundation filed for bankruptcy to fend off that suit, and its restructuring plan -- including the development of LEE -- must be approved by the courts before the new project can proceed.

LEE will take over the space once occupied by Jillian’s on the first level. As plans develop, the remaining unoccupied spaces will be leased by food vendors adopting a speed and racing theme. As always with Neonopolis, we’ll see whether what is built matches the renderings.

Meanwhile, enjoy the video of Joshi singing a song he wrote for his wife, Loraine Kusuhara. He busted out the acoustic guitar and started singing this song, which has no name but captivating lyrics, with no prompting.

'Pin Up' Sneak Peek

Claire Sinclair, Playboy's 2011 Playmate of the Year, performs in an October-themed sequence during a media preview of Launch slideshow »
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Claire Sinclair, Playboy's 2011 Playmate of the Year, performs in an October-themed sequence during a media preview of "Pin Up," a new show at the Stratosphere, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. The show is scheduled to open March 2.

• A widening rift has formed between the two shows at Stratosphere: “Pin Up,” which opened Saturday, and the brimming-with-originals production starring Frankie Moreno. Moreno was not formally invited to opening night of “Pin Up” and said he was informed in a mass email message Saturday night that there would be no seats held for him. This was about an hour before “Pin Up” was to take the stage (and an account of the quality of this show on opening night will have to wait a bit, but do stay tuned here for that). Moreno was told his opening-night request for a table of eight was denied because the show was sold out, marking the rare instance in the world of entertainment when a person listed as a producer wasn't seated to opening night of the show he helped conceive and design.

Choreographer Lacey Schwimmer was not in the audience on opening night, either. She cut loose on Twitter late Saturday night by saying: “Really wish I was invited to something I worked on. Good luck regardless #pinup.”

That message had been deleted by this morning. But in a text message Saturday night, Schwimmer said, “I do not approve of the show. I am happy with the few numbers I did, and I am pleased with the dancers as a whole. Other than that, this was not a fun experience. But I wish them the best.”

For all practical purposes, it seems the choreographer best known for her appearances on "Dancing With the Stars" (though she is not on next season's cast) is finished with "Pin Up."

Schwimmer didn’t care to take questions about “Pin Up” after Monday afternoon’s presentation of three scenes staged for the media. It’s just as well; she had not seen those scenes until Monday afternoon. And this afternoon, she said in a text message, "I'm hurt."

No official explanation -- other than the show’s status as a sell-out -- has been offered for the omission of Moreno, in particular, on opening night. Vice President of Entertainment Matt Mascali's contention is that the two entertainers are always invited to any show at the hotel and are considered part of the Stratosphere family. He added that he had no explanation for Schwimmer's Twitter post, either.

But Moreno did hope to have tickets set aside and has been promoting the show for months, and his bassist brother Tony and he mentioned “Pin Up” from the stage Saturday night. It has been long reported, and never disputed, that the show’s throwback theme was Moreno’s idea. But in his remarks from the stage while introducing the show, director Drew DiCostanza told the audience that he was the one who presented the “Pin Up” idea, with Claire Sinclair as the star, to Mascali.

In DiCostanza’s version, the hotel bought his idea -- literally, in monetary terms, by bankrolling the show.

However, as Sinclair has been reinforcing in interviews leading up to the show, Moreno was the first Stratosphere rep to say anything to her about playing the star role in the in-progress show that would become “Pin Up.” After Saturday’s show, Strat General Manager Paul Hobson crossed this informational divide by saying that both Moreno and DiCostanza arrived at the concept of a vintage, calendar-flipping, pinup production independently and simultaneously. Today, Mascali also said that's how the concept was forged, a fusion of two similar ideas provided at about the same moment.

What a wild coincidence it is, then, that the show both of these guys conceived at the exact same time has now opened at the hotel. Regrettably, only one of them was around to see it.

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Travis Cloer celebrates Jersey Boys' second anniversary on The Strip with a platinum record commemoration at the Palazzo on April 24, 2010.

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  • Jersey Boys Travis Cloer and Graham Fenton; KISS By Monster Mini Golf founder Christina Vitagliano
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• Travis Cloer of “Jersey Boys” is back onstage in his “Setting the Standard” side project at The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz on Monday night. The show is at 7 p.m., and tickets are $25 and $35. Cloer moved the performance scheduled for last month because he was sick, but this was not nearly as serious a malady as the injury he suffered a little more than a year ago that sidelined him in “Jersey Boys” for several performances.

As he recounted on “Kats With the Dish” a couple of weeks ago, Cloer suffered a tear in his vocal cords during a performance of “Jersey Boys” in early 2012.

“That was a little over a year ago in the middle of the show,” Cloer said. “I wasn’t feeling great for a while, and I just tried to muscle through it, you know, and be the trooper instead of being a responsible guy and take some time off and just let my body do what it needed to do. And I hemorrhaged a vocal cord and was out of the show for almost a month.”

Cloer explained the injury, which is an unpleasant description whether or not you are a professional singer.

“To get technical, you’re basically cutting your vocal cord,” he said. “The way that they work is that they just slam together over and over and over thousands of times … and they have a thin membrane over them, and underneath that (membrane) a blood vessel popped.” Remarkably, Cloer finished the show.

“Let’s just say I chose a few alternate notes that evening,” he said, chuckling. “But I’m doing great now.”

• A release date has been set for the Oscar Goodman memoir “Being Oscar.” It’s out May 21. The cover photo is of Goodman posing with a pair of showgirls at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, with the title spread across the surface of the famed visage. Goodman is planning to embark on a nationwide promotional tour for the book, which of course is all about Oscar. It’s supposed to be a “three-hour read,” and we’ll set the timer.

Update: On Monday morning, Stratosphere General Manager Paul Hobson has issued the following statement in addressing the venue seating for the soft opening of "Pin Up": "We were very pleased to have the Stratosphere Theater full of friends, family and fans to support the opening of Pin Up and Claire Sinclair's debut on the Las Vegas Strip. We did not issue invitations for the show and nobody was excluded from attending. We value the relationships forged with all of our creative partners and are fully behind both of our original shows at Stratosphere."

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

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