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July 23, 2014

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Frankie Moreno working with Joshua Bell on PBS special; Carrot Top in line for Jay Leno’s sendoff

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Carrot Top arrives at the red carpet for Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson One” at Mandalay Bay on Saturday, June 29, 2013.

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Stratosphere headliner Frankie Moreno performs on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012.

At this writing, The Kats Report Bureau is an undisclosed location in the Las Vegas Valley. It’s a house, and a few feet away, Joshua Bell is making his Stradivarius sing as Stratosphere headliner Frankie Moreno and he perform a soaring version of “Eleanor Rigby” for an upcoming episode of the PBS series “ArtScene.”

The music that is wafting out of these two artists is surreal. Unbelievable, actually. There are times when it is permissible to rush the stage. This is not one of those times.

Instead, we will rake:

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Carrot Top channels Paris Hilton at Michael Boychuck's salon Color in Caesars Palace.

• On Saturday night, Toby Keith walked into Carrot Top’s show with a group of about a half-dozen folks. He wore a ball cap low over his face, and hardly anyone realized that he was in the room until the Topper began his customary distribution of Crown Royal shots.

“We’ve got Toby Keith in here tonight!” C.T. called out. “I spent an entire night in his armpit!” That was a reference to Topper’s appearance with Keith at the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena. In that memorable performance, Keith was accompanied by the Topper and Wayne Newton (who became entangled in fans and could not be seen on the broadcast) and put the redheaded prop-tologist under his arm and practically carried him to the stage.

When offered Crown Royal, Keith grabbed the white cup and vigorously gulped back the shot. Then he seized the entire bottle and swigged on that for a bit. The crowd loved that, and for a time the audience was craning to see Keith until Carrot Top called out, “Hey! The shows up here! Eyes here!”

Long a favorite of Jay Leno, Carrot Top is scheduled to make an appearance Wednesday on Leno’s second-to-last night of hosting “The Tonight Show” before Leno vacates his hosting role in favor of Jimmy Fallon. Carrot Top’s most memorable appearance was likely his guest spot alongside former Vice President Dick Cheney, where he rolled through his props while saying, “It’s hard to concentrate with him sitting there!”

Leno wanted to find a person who would be opposite Cheney, in appearance and temperament and just about every other conceivable manner. He found that person in Carrot Top.

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Anne Martinez, left, and Savannah Smith of BBR perform during the showcase for BBR at T Spot at Tuscany Suites Thursday, Nov. 26, 2013.

• "Pin Up" at the Stratosphere music director David Perrico continues to work swift apace in his various music projects, including a live recording tonight at Stratosphere with his Pop Evolution show band. The tracks from the show are to be sent to EMI/Blue Note for a live CD release. Pop Evo has been scaled back to monthly performances. After tonight, the next dates are scheduled for March 4, April 1 and May 6.

Meantime, Perrico has been writing the arrangements for the latest performance of BBR, set for 10 p.m. Feb. 11 at Tuscany’s T Spot Lounge. Titled “Alice, A Steampunk Fantasy in Wonderland,” the show stars vocalists Anne Martinez (founder of the project) and Savannah Smith. They are backed by four dancers and a nine-piece band playing such classics as “Fever,” “Thirteen Men” and even “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” The show is stacked with talent and performers with ample stage experience, and at least one resort operation is said to be sending officials to Tuscany to scout it out.

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Bruce Ewing, Randal Keith and Ted Keegan of the Phat Pack.

• On the topic of topnotch talent, The Phat Pack, the robust vocal triumvirate of Bruce Ewing, Randal Keith and Ted Keegan, has been silenced (at least for the moment) at Windows at Bally’s. The trio, all of whom are alumni of “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular” among their other respective Broadway credits, couldn’t gain a following at the Plaza.

A rift between the production and the show’s producers has apparently developed, with Ewing saying in a news release, “Our collaboration with EMI Entertainment did not work out as we had hoped, and it is our understanding that EMI is no longer part of the Windows Showroom at Bally’s. We are currently in discussions with the other producers who are working in that room to bring The Phat Pack back within the next few months.” If not, the guys are looking for a new venue for weekly performances. They refuse to be discouraged! Refuse, I tell you!

• There is a plan to return the Final Battle scene to “Ka” by the end of the year. This is the act in which Sarah Guillot-Guyard fell to her death on June 29. Gradually, the act is being re-introduced, with a video depiction of the number that is projected on the vertical stage. This is an effort to ease the scene back into the show, and Cirque du Soleil spokeswoman Renee-Claude Menard said in an email last week that the plan is for the act to return by year’s end, but not likely before the summer.

• The ever-rocking Franky Perez is performing with Las Vegas-rooted The Crystal Method tonight on NBC’s “Last Call With Carson Daly.” Perez is singing a song he co-wrote with The Crystal Method co-founders Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, titled “The Difference,” in a segment recorded Jan. 13 at El Rey Theater in Hollywood.

Reached today by text, Perez said, “Woo hoo!!”

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Matt Donnelly performs in the Executive Monkeys improv show at The Lounge at the Palms.

• Billed as Vegas’ newest improv comedy show, largely because it is Vegas’ newest improv comedy show, The Improv Aces are set to perform at 9 p.m. Saturday at the new Inspire Theater at Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street (it’s the old 7-Eleven on that corner, for the uninitiated). The show is fronted by Matt Donnelly and Paul Mattingly, who are experienced in the craft of comedy and the art of improv.

Donnelly has worked with Wayne Brady and also co-hosts “Penn’s Sunday School,” the weekly podcast that emanates from Penn Jillette’s home studio. Mattingly is a Second City main-stage performer who hosts the “Ugly Couch Show” podcast and is a regular performer in comedy venues throughout VegasVille.

The show is modeled for “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” The audience’s suggested topics spark the onstage dialogue, guaranteeing that no two shows are alike. Tickets are $12 in advance (go to the ShowTix4u website); $15 on the day of the show.

To paraphrase Donnelly, “This should be really funny.”

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Lijana Wallenda-Hernandez

• Will the next great stunt on the Strip involve a Wallenda?

Am I asking a question for which I have inside knowledge?

Yes. Maybe, anyway. Lijana Wallenda, a member of the famed Flying Wallendas circus family and a highly trained high-wire artist, is eyeing the Strip with mischievous intent. Her goal is to walk across Las Vegas Boulevard, at its center, on a high wire, similar to how her brother Nik Wallenda and she walked 150 feet across Charlotte Motor Speedway before the NASCAR Bank of America 500 NASCAR race in October.

Wallenda has performed in Vegas before, on many occasions in “Absinthe.” She filled in for her husband, the vanquished Tony “Tightropes” Hernandez, in the show for several weeks as part of the show-closing, high-wire act (this month, The Frat Pack was assembled and is now that show’s high-wire act).

Wallenda also has checked out the High Roller at Linq as a possible high-wire attraction. At the moment, she is just musing about this, and if any officials at Caesars Entertainment (a company that relishes any type of sizzling publicity event) is interested, this Wallenda is at the ready.

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

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