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August 23, 2014

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Play to pay: Brad Garrett poker tourney, NF concert to benefit charitable groups

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Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau

Brad Garrett’s annual Maximum Hope Foundation Charity Poker Tournament at MGM Grand on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. Elizabeth Perkins, Willie Garson, Cheryl Hines, Ray Romano, Garrett and Mimi Rogers are pictured here.

Brad Garrett's 2012 Charity Poker Tournament

Brad Garrett's annual Maximum Hope Foundation Charity Poker Tournament at MGM Grand on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. Launch slideshow »

We have but a few moments for a quick rake of the scene from the Kats Report Auxiliary Bureau (the bar at the kitchen in the home office) before heading off for some “Last Vegas” movie premiere event happenings and to other VegasVille Areas of Interest.

Here we go:

• Brad Garrett is hosting his annual “Raising Hope” celebrity poker tournament at 1 p.m. Saturday at MGM Grand, benefiting his Maximum Hope Foundation charity organization. Named for Garrett’s kids, Max and Hope, the organization provides practical needs for families caring for children with life-limiting illnesses.

Confirmed celebs include Ray Romano, Cheryl Hines (from “Suburgatory”), Willie Garson (from “Sex and the City”), Sara Rue (from “Less Than Perfect”) and poker pro Dennis Phillips. Registration begins at 9 a.m., with a $250 entry fee, plus, multiple re-buys at $100. The winner is awarded $10,000. For the second year, Garrett is awarding the Kimberley Evans Humanitarian Award for Compassionate Service (named for his longtime assistant, confidant and Maximum Hope director). This year’s recipient is Nathan Adelson Hospice Chief Executive Officer Carole Fisher.

Apart from the charity tournament, Garrett has been buoyed by news that he has closed a deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television for a pilot script based on his upcoming book, “When the Balls Drop,” due out next year. He is to star in the pilot, and if the series does not take off, the studio is contractually required to cast Garrett in an alternate pilot. Also, Garrett’s portrayal as Robin Williams’ ad agency partner in the CBS series “The Crazy Ones” has been expanded from an occasional role this season to the possibility of a return to the show next season (depending on how his pilot for ABC works out). He appears on episodes airing Nov. 7 and 14.

Garrett has been drawing strong reviews for his, um, towering performance alongside Williams.

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"Jersey Boys" cast members Rob Marnell, Deven May, Travis Cloer and Jeff Leibow at the Paris.

• “Jersey Boys” cast member Jeff Leibow has built what could be his strongest lineup yet for his “NF Hope Concert.” The third charity performance to benefit the NF Network, which aids families and those suffering from neurofibromatosis (commonly known as NF) is set for 1 p.m. Sunday in Sands Showroom at the Venetian. Leibow and his fellow “Jersey Boys” castmates are hosting, and scheduled to join the fray are Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees and Men of the Strip, Human Nature, LVH vocal ensemble Mo5aic, Mark Shunock of “Rock of Ages,” the cast of “Million Dollar Quartet,” Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton-Holmes, Melody Sweets of “Absinthe,” Zowie Bowie’s Chris Phillips and Lydia Ansel, and Laugh Factory at Tropicana magician Murray Sawchuck.

“Jersey Boys” music director Keith Thompson stepped in at very late notice — like, this week — to work as the music director for the performance.

Tickets are $45 and $60 and available at the door, at any Venetian/Palazzo box office, by calling (702) 414-9000 and at Venetian.com.

Leibow has long been working tirelessly to gain financial support and raise awareness for NF, the disease from which his 4-year-old daughter, Emma, suffers. The condition is largely a mystery to those who suffer from NF and members of the health care community. Simply put, NF is a genetic disorder that attacks the central nervous system and disables the body’s tumor suppressor gene. Without warning, tumors can surface and grow on any nerve in the body. There is not yet a cure or even an effective treatment for NF.

“That’s what makes this such a challenging disease to fight because any support you receive is difficult to chart because we are still looking for both a treatment and a cure,” Leibow said during a phone interview this week. “But we’re going to continue to go to Washington and make our case.”

He is referring to his next appearance before a Congressional budget committee to ask for federal funding to help fight NF. That, not his great portrayal of Nick Massi, is his greatest role.

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

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