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Talent scouts on the prowl

Dec 7, 2004 4:43 AM

Terry Jenkins, Eric D’Richards and Ron Garrett, entertainment directors of the Stardust, Hilton and Sahara, respectively, are taking December shopping more seriously than most of us as they try to lock up headliners in their respective showrooms for 2005 and beyond.

Four-wall deals are the preference for all three, though a two-wall pact would be fine and D’Richards does have the bucks to actually hire costly headliners, so I’m told.

Jenkins has a number of holdovers from this and previous years, and is adding George Carlin to his stable starting in February. My sources tell me he’s still awaiting word from the Boyd Gaming hierarchy on the status of Wayne Newton, an area that’s out of his control. D’Richards has had continuous meetings with agents discussing weekend dates to possible long run engagements. The New York Post’s Page Six printed an item last week that Barry Manilow would begin a lengthy play date beginning Valentine’s Day.

The Las Vegas Hilton’s vice president of communications Ira David Sternberg shrugged off the notion. And, if the Post story is true, the numbers are — a $60 million one-year pact with tickets prices at $200 and $300 — absurd. First, he had trouble selling out his recent Mandalay Bay Events Center dates and, second, the current high-priced shows in town aren’t sold-out anymore!

Garrett has the undependable Connie Francis for New Year’s Eve weekend and then nothing except a rumored Jeff Kutsch T&A show entitled "Penthouse Pets," which makes sense at 10:30, but not at 8 p.m. The Sahara’s recent lack of success with shows doesn’t help Garrett, either. All three venues are being pitched the Fercos Brothers, local-based illusionists featuring white tigers and other exotic cats in their act that have been touring the world the past 20 years. If they sound familiar, they were featured in the Casino de Paris at the Dunes in the early 80s at the same time a similar act was starring in the Lido de Paris at the Stardust.

We all know that Las Vegas loves a sure bet, so when the LVCVA decided to enter a float in the 2005 Pasadena Rose Parade, they would do what ever necessary to virtually assure a trophy for our entrant. The Las Vegas Centennial float entitled "100 Years of Celebrating," will be 74 feet long while the standard float is only 55 feet in length. Tim Estes, president of Fiesta Parade Floats, the company building the float, said "the size virtually assures them a win in one of three categories" and that he "purposely encouraged" them to purchases the larger float because if he was a "betting man that it would win a trophy."

There’s a new alternative to fighting traffic going to Southern California staring Dec. 29. Scenic Airlines will begin daily scheduled service between North Las Vegas Airport and Palmdale Regional Airport. Scenic will initially operate 10 weekly roundtrip flights using a 19-passenger De Havilland Twin Otter Vistaliner aircraft with a special introductory fare of $49 one-way. Regular fares will start at $79 one-way. Flights can be booked online at www.scenic.com or by calling 800-634-6801.

Around Town: Impersonating Joan Rivers in "La Cage" at the Riviera, Frank Marino feels it’s necessary to keep up with the comedian, so he’ll be having some nip n’ tuck done during his holiday show break ”¦ Despite being two hours and 45 minutes long, the upcoming Howard Hughes biopic, "The Aviator," scheduled for release Dec. 25, doesn’t include any mention of his Las Vegas days ”¦ A Sunday matinee has been added for "We Will Rock You" at Paris Las Vegas with all tickets prices at $49 ”¦ Previews have begun at the MGM Grand for Cirque du Soleil’s newest production "Ká." The show is a "work in progress" and can run as long as two hours”¦" Forbidden Vegas" at the Westin is tweaking, refining and reworking all its numbers. The show should not be missed with the Celine Dion number and Michael West’s interpretation of Wayne Newton major highlights ”¦ Connie Ross, who appeared for years on the television show, Backstage at the Imperial Palace, is moving to South Carolina, but will still do her monthly senior cable show from here.