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The perfect Broadway musical for yours truly to star in is
heading to Las Vegas, albeit, the usual cut down version. “Hairspray,”
adapted from the 1988 John Waters movie about race, sex (my kind, too), and
competitive teenage dancing in 1962 Baltimore, will debut at the Luxor later
this year. On Broadway, “Hairspray runs two and half hours with an
intermission; our casino-controlled version will be 90 minutes with no
intermission. Broadway offers eight performances, we will have 10.

Marc Routh, a producer of the Broadway show, told the New
York Times
that “the Las Vegas engagement would allow more than 15,000
people (assuming each performance is a sell-out) a week to see ”˜Hairspray’.
We think it extends the brand and it just makes the show that much more famous.
And the more people that know about the show, the more people will want to see

“Hairspray” opened on Broadway in August 2002 and
won eight Tony Awards. The national tour version will also continue. The show’s
stars were announced and I just can’t wait for the rodeo folks to see what’s
new in Las Vegas!

With the future of the Tropicana in doubt, after an
“awesome” eight-year run, magician Rick Thomas is departing the hotel
for the Stardust. The tall, good-looking illusionist will star in his own
afternoon show beginning March 25 with performances at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the
resort’s 900-seat theater. The Stardust press release did not call the venue
the Wayne New Theatre. “We’re excited about adding Rick to our family of
superstars,” said Anthony Taeubel, Stardust vice president and general
manager in a prepared statement. “He’s established himself as one of the
most popular daytime stars in Las Vegas history.” Thomas’ trademark
illusions include white and orange Bengal tigers.

Sixty premium seats per performances at $225 each have been
added to Barry Manilow’s nightly Hilton shows. “These seats will offer an
unforgettable up-close-and-personal experience to fans of Barry Manilow,”
said the Hilton’s VP of communications Ira David Sternberg. And, there are
some surprises planned for the area where these seats are located. Sitting at
the piano with him is not anticipated though wiping his brow is possible. I
remember the days in the New York baths”¦well, that’s another story.

Congratulations to the talented cast of “Forbidden
Vegas” on the great reviews. Now, the producers have to get you into a
showroom that locals and visitors know. Unlike New York where Off-Broadway is
in, off-the-Strip in Las Vegas is out!

My favorite hypnotist Justin Tranz is back in business. He’s
doing a 10 p.m. show at the Sahara for $39.95 that includes a pre-show buffet
that can be enjoyed anytime between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Beware as Tranz’ show
is adult oriented and I adore what he does to me when I join him on stage.

Quick note to local entertainment bookers. Carol Channing is
performing her one-woman show, “The First Eighty Years Are The
Hardest,” in Honolulu. Why can’t Channing, who turned 84 on Jan. 31, do
the same here? She says she has no plans to retire. “I’d rather keel over
while doing my job,” she says.

News & Notes: A limited edition Chinese Year of the
Rooster commemorative casino chip is available at the Palms in $8, $25 and $100
denominations”¦The Great American Dessert Expo and CoffeeFest will hold a dual
tradeshow at the Las Vegas Convention Center June 3-5”¦Caesars 24/7, the
reality television series based on the everyday happenings at Caesars Palace,
airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on A&E”¦Forbes magazine has named MGM Mirage one of
the best managed companies in America, as part of its annual Forbes Platinum 400
list of top-performing big corporations. The company was cited along with 25
other firms and was first in the “hotels, restaurants and leisure”
category”¦Harrah’s Chairman, President and CEO Gary Loveman has been named
the gaming and lodging industry’s “best CEO” by Institutional
Investor magazine for the second consecutive year”¦ Mayor Oscar Goodman appears
on Las Vegas as himself on Monday, Feb. 7”¦PURE Tuesdays at PURE
Nightclub at Caesars Palace is an exclusive destination for locals only”¦Tabú
Ultra Lounge at the MGM Grand showcases the local fashion community every
Wednesday when its model hosts wears designs of local boutiques. Being featured
in February are Rage, Sissy, Adiqshun/Sacred Blue, Rosasen and Sughero.

The passing of my friend and mentor Johnny Carson sure brought some fond
memories. Johnny kept my career — yes, I’ve had a few along the way —
alive through the years. The first time was in 1968, when with no act I was
booked in Nero’s Nook at Caesars Palace. Lord knows, I tried. My co-stars, the
Checkmates and Woody Woodbury, didn’t know what to think but at least they
laughed. It all came down rather quickly. I was fired. I had to get out of town
in 24 hours. My savior”¦Shirley Wood from the Tonight show. Johnny
wanted me back on, though I couldn’t figure out why. Everything that happened
in my career came from appearances with Johnny. He will be missed. May he rest
in peace.

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