BOISE — You can never anticipate what sort of information you’ll uncover while traipsing across the Intermountain West.
This week, I learned of Steve Wynn’s fancy new jet. This is not actually his personal jet, but rather an aircraft obtained by Wynn Resorts for the express purpose of transporting high rollers to and from Wynn and Encore.
Wynn Resorts has made what I’ll term the Aeronautical Purchase of the Year, a twin-engine Gulfstream G650, said to be the gold standard of private business travel. This jet was purchased in Oregon (Nike also has snapped up one of the new planes) and is the company’s largest jet, ever, with an 18-passenger capacity and a full kitchen and a bar onboard.
Wynn has been a loyal Gulfstream customer for years, in part because he enjoys comfort and likes to travel fast. This craft cuts through the skies at nearly the speed of sound and is fairly economical, too, getting 7,000 miles from a single tank of gas (that’s a flight from New York to Tokyo). The G650 is being used even now to fly guests to Las Vegas from Asia for New Year's Eve. The new jet might be the one to replace the 11-seat Challenger aircraft Wynn gave to Garth Brooks so that Brooks and Trisha Yearwood could fly back and forth to Las Vegas for Brooks’ run at Encore Theater.
The Wynn jet is reported to be exceedingly rare, just the seventh G650 to come off the assembly line. Its base ticket price is $65 million, and it is believed Wynn Resorts is the first company in the world to own this particular aircraft. So these are high times, indeed, for Mr. Wynn, who turns 71 in January.
The high-orbiting note about our favorite resort magnate and his new aircraft is a good way to top 2012 in VegasVille. A rake of The Kats Report catches the highlights:
Still for sale — but not for a song: Despite a few rumors seeping out of the place that a buyer was lined up, Stirling Club at Turnberry Place is still listed for sale for $18 million on the Sotheby’s International Realty website. The 3.5-acre parcel known as the Mansion at Turnberry Place — the lounges, spa, pool, fitness center, tennis courts, two kitchens, 10 bedrooms, 20 baths and separate staff quarters — closed in May. Stephen Siegel of the Siegel Group made a late run at buying the property, but the fortress across from LVH on Paradise Road remains locked up.
Sand Artist of the Year: Vira Syvorotkina of “Zarkana” at Aria.
Someone you see at scenes ranging from San Gennaro Feast to Plaza Showroom to Smith Center for the Performing Arts: Pia Zadora
Quick — what does Andre Agassi weigh? As of mid-November, 178.
Anyone else had this idea? A ZZ Top mini-residency at House of Blues when Carlos Santana is off?
And a quote from Santana: “You are talking to a person who played at Woodstock, who played for 550,000 people who went ‘whoosh’ with us. But I think that, when I close my eyes, it doesn’t matter whether I’m at Woodstock or Caesars Palace or the House of Blues or a parking lot. I could be in Jerusalem or at Carnegie Hall, it doesn’t matter to me.”
A closing not to applaud: Ovation at Green Valley Ranch, one of the great Southern Nevada live-music venues, closed in favor of a customer resort experience option to be specified sometime next year.
After dropping 80 pounds, “The Price Is Right” host and occasional Mirage headliner Drew Carey hit what Vegas retail center to restock his wardrobe: Crystals at CityCenter.
Connect the dots with Holly: When Holly Madison returns to performing, she wants to be part of a “legitimate” musical. And she loves “Rock of Ages,” which just opened at the Venetian. This partnership seems not at all unlikely.
Rant of the Year: Billie Joe Armstrong trashed Justin Bieber and Reno while busting up his guitar at the iHeart Radio Music Festival at MGM Grand. Hopefully a spin through rehab, announced two days later, has settled him down.
Neon Museum senior tour guide Justin Favela was present the night the Dunes was imploded. What did he say of the experience? “I was traumatized.” Favela was 8 years old at the time, and his grandmother and mother had worked at the hotel, which was razed Oct. 27, 1993.
Musical Instrument of the Year: William Close’s Earth Harp, the many-cabled instrument that stretched high across Palazzo Theater during “America’s Got Talent Live.”
Near-miss on a pretty interesting double-header: “AGT Live” closed in mid-November just as Season 5 champ Michael Grimm was to open a series of shows at Zebra Lounge just outside Palazzo Theater.
Something unexpected from Jane’s Addiction founder Perry Farrell: He has seen Celine Dion’s show at the Colosseum and says, “I thought it was pretty damn great.”
Of what was Taylor Hicks referring when he said, “I knew it was going to be really entertaining.” Clint Eastwood’s conversation with an imaginary President Obama at the Republican National Convention, which Hicks directly preceded by singing, “Takin’ it to the Streets.”
Where was I nearly rammed by a girl riding a bike tricked out to look like a giant housefly? The Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
National Anthem Singer of the Year: “Fantasy” vocalist Lorena Peril, who performed the song before the 49ers’ home opener against the Lions and also before the Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Weirdest table-game sighting: A test run of the video panel at a Rio roulette wheel showed seven straight 19s, touching off a ripple of coverage about how this could possibly happen. Answer: It was a test run.
Where to find Liberace’s legacy in 2013: The HBO biopic “Behind the Candelabra,” tentatively scheduled to air in March and starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon; and in downtown Las Vegas, where pieces of the Liberace Museum collection will be displayed at an existing space to be announced.
Theater renovation to note: In preparing for the return of “Dancing With the Stars: Live,” the Trop is gutting and refurbishing the famed Tiffany Theatre. It’ll be a theater, no longer a traditional showroom.
What a real Jersey Boy says of the Four Seasons: From Tommy DeVito, at a fundraiser in June at Caesars Palace, ““We came from the wrong side of the tracks and brought up in really tough neighborhoods, and we were not like normal people who grew up and went to church every Sunday and stuff like that.”
Bidding War of the Year: At the Keep Memory Alive Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health gala, Stations Casinos executive and UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta outbid Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on a pair of Muhammad Ali boxing gloves. These were the same gloves Ali wore in his 1965 title fight against Floyd Patterson in Las Vegas. Fertitta’s winning bid was $1.1 million, topping Jones’ $1 million.
Name a former Vegas mayor who is not Oscar Goodman to have a restaurant named for him: Ron Lurie, whose Ron’s Steakhouse celebrates its second anniversary at Arizona Charlie’s in January. In September, Lurie hosted a lunch of former mayors — Goodman, Jan Laverty Jones and himself — at the restaurant.
Long-shot booking of 2013: After David Cassidy fell into a tailspin during a show at South Point Showroom, he offered to perform a show for free at the hotel to benefit a charity chosen by owner Michael Gaughan. During a performance on July 1, Cassidy lit into the audience as he was about to perform a medley of songs sung by Davey Jones, who died in February and was supposed to fill those July dates at South Point. Hotel officials say they could conceivably book Cassidy sometime in the coming year. But the energy behind, and interest in, bringing Cassidy back after his botched performance will doubtless wane as the months pass.
Keystroke of the Year: David Itkin hit “send” on a mass email to Las Vegas Philharmonic officials announcing that he would not be seeking a contract renewal after the 2012-13 season. Result? He was hastily bought out of his contract before the 2012-13 season.
Why is Jamie Hosmer deemed one of the city’s great pinch-hitters: The keyboardist/vocalist for Santa Fe & the Fat City Horns filled in for Donny Osmond at the Flamingo when Osmond was out with vocal problems.
Idiot of the Year: The guy who heckled Matt Goss during Goss’s appearance with Nevada Ballet Theater at Reynolds Hall in May.
During a show at Reynolds Hall with Steep Canyon Rangers, Steve Martin said there was one drawback to touring without a drummer. What was it? No pot.
Style points for an arrest: “Gigolos” co-star Steven Gantt was arrested after a routine traffic stop and booked into Clark County Detention Center on a gross lewdness charge. This was on the same night of the “Gigolos” premiere party at Vince Neil’s Girls, Girls, Girls Gentlemen’s Club inside Deja Vu Gentlemen’s Club.
Meteoric Performer of the Year: Ex-“Viva Elvis!” performer Sherry St. Germain, who tore through the Lounge at the Palms with her Lost Vanguards band — then high-tailed it back to Canada for health issues, so-so fan support or both.
Of what did BASE Entertainment co-CEO Scott Zeiger say, ““If we were on Broadway or (London’s) West End, we would be a monumental success,. Nothing in Chicago, San Francisco or Los Angeles runs for longer than three years.” “Phantom — the Las Vegas Spectacular,” which closed in September after a six-year run at the Venetian.
That reminds, a guy we really miss performing in VegasVille: Original “Phantom” co-lead Brent Barrett.
Funniest line of 2012 if you know the back story: “It’s just a little bean. What could possibly go wrong?”
Say something positive about “Surf The Musical,” please: That’s easy. The band was fantastic. Adrian Zmed was a class act throughout the show’s six-week run at Planet Hollywood. And kids liked it a lot.
Of what did Keith Evans once say, “It’s a $9 million home you don’t want to leave.” The Lion Habitat at MGM Grand, which opened in July 1999, closed in late 2011 and reopened late this year as Lion Habitat Ranch near St. Rose Parkway and Las Vegas Boulevard. Evans, who was the head trainer at the MGM attraction, is in that role at the new sanctuary.
What about white tigers? Anything newsworthy there? Other than there are no productions on the Strip co-starring the big cats, no. Magician Dirk Arthur is not performing after his show closed with O’Shea’s, and Rick Thomas has retired his big cats to a sanctuary in Arizona leading to his appearances at Suncoast Showroom.
Our Twinkie tributes: As Hostess announced that it was seeking bankruptcy protection, fans at Blue Man Group performances at Monte Carlo let out a huge cheer when the snack cakes were introduced into the act. Those involved in the show suspect the founding members have stockpiled thousands of boxes of Twinkies in a warehouse at a secret location so that the show never runs short. Meanwhile, Double Down Saloon (which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012) has for several years been offering a Twinkie with a shot of its famous Ass Juice for $7.
Legendary snub: During a songwriting vacation in Austria and Italy, Frankie Moreno was turned back from performing during an open-mic night at the Vienna jazz club Zwe.
How about a great quote from Mike Tyson? “People want to know, ‘What’s one of your biggest regrets?’ Wow, that ear-biting thing, that was a pretty big one! That’s high on the scale! I should have thought that one through! If I had thought it through, it would have helped me a great deal financially!”
Best Show of 2012: Stifler at the Lounge at the Palms. A singularly remarkable evening hosted by Moreno and members of his Stratosphere band featured performances by Paul Shortino, Joey Fatone, Grimm, Hicks, Melody Sweets, Murray Sawchuck, Gordie Brown, dancer Dori Bonilla and “Absinthe” balancing artist Michal Furmanczyk. The Lounge overflowed with Vegas entertainers — even Carrot Top had trouble finding a seat — but Stifler has been mysteriously silent since. Strat officials were less than thrilled to learn that their star headliner was performing at the Palms days after the show was staged. But, good lord, was that a time.
Big event that made little splash: Jerry Lewis’ appearance at Orleans Showroom in November for a PBS special to air in March may have been his last in Vegas.
Pressure on impressionists: Greg London (Riviera and Shimmer at LVH) and Jonathan Clarke (Riviera) couldn’t find a grip on Vegas despite being good at behaving like famous people. Meantime, Rich Little’s “Jimmy Stewart & Friends” is booked through April.
Crazy Horse, and a Crazier Horse: The beautiful, sophisticated "Crazy Horse Paris" closed at MGM Grand to make room for the uniformly ribald “Beacher’s Madhouse.”
Extremely cool CD just released: “Absinthe” co-star Sweets’ “Burlesque in Black.” Favorite song: “Shoot ’em Up.”
Teller says this man is “the most knowledgeable living magician on the face of the planet.” Who is he talking about? Johnny Thompson, for decades known as “The Great Tomsoni.” Thompson helped Teller develop his off-Broadway show “Play Dead” and is on retainer with Penn & Teller as they continue to update their stage show at the Rio. As Teller says, “He’s worked with everybody. Nobody has a better set of eyes or is a better catalyst for new ideas. … He’s had every job in show business, and almost every job outside of show business.”
Which feature film due for release in 2013 will remind of Criss Angel, Nathan Burton, Siegfried & Roy and the Great Tomsoni: Set in Vegas, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” stars Jim Carrey as a magician sharing many similarities with Angel and Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi as magicians mindful of S&R. The two perform a stunt where they are hoisted over the Strip in a glass box supported by a crane. Burton did that once, years ago, with a bunch of showgirls. And, Alan Arkin plays a throwback magician who reminds of Thompson — if you know of Thompson.
Perfect Vegas match: Clint Holmes at Cabaret Jazz.
A person who won’t pay to perform: Ex-“Jersey Boys” cast member Rick Faugno, who tried renting space for his headlining production at two off-Strip venues (Shimmer Cabaret and the Lounge at the Palms) before pitching that idea to focus on corporate gigs and his film career. Faugno was one of the busiest performers in town in early 2012 until he closed at the Lounge in April and dropped off the scene.
Three cool hangs on a Monday: Kelly Clinton-Holmes at Bootlegger Bistro, the crammed showcase at Tap House headed up by the terrific Mark Giovi and Santa Fe at the Lounge at the Palms.