The Kats! Bureau at this writing is the sports book at Wynn Las Vegas, where ESPN is broadcasting a high school all-star football game during a (brief) break in its Super Bowl coverage.
The big news from this athletic enclave is that the sports book will be shutting down in early April for an extensive overhaul. A temporary book is opening at Encore next door, with an August re-launch planned for the current space at the Wynn. Expect an expansion of the betting counter, a new bar, new screens, in this project.
But before all that, sports book director Johnny Avello will host his annual Academy Awards viewing party. This year the Feb. 26 event will benefit the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada. Avello is a film buff and releases his odds for the Oscar field a couple of weeks before the ceremony. He likes “La La Land,” at 1-to-4, to win Best Picture. “It’s a musical about Hollywood,” Avello says. “The Oscar voters love it.”
More from the scene:
WILLIE’S ON A ROLL
I’ve occasionally encountered a busker in downtown Las Vegas dressed as Willie Nelson, but this was the genuine article.
Seemingly recovered from the illness that caused him to cancel last weekend’s performances at Venetian Theater, the country music icon turned up in the Arts District on Tuesday night. The “Willie Nelson & Family” performances were to return to the stage Wednesday night, and again Friday and Saturday.
Generating buzz by his mere presence, Nelson stopped at Exile Boutique apparel and guitar shop on Main Street, just south of Charleston Boulevard. He was on hand to promote his new Willie Nelson Reserve line of cannabis products, grown and harvested in Las Vegas by Redwood Cultivation. Willie’s Reserve is being distributed at eight area medical marijuana dispensaries.
Nelson walked in amid a haze of smoke that reminded of a scene in “Refer Madness,” or the Titanic number in “Jubilee.” He was greeted by a sea of well-wishers that included Corey Harrison of “Pawn Stars” and Plaza Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Jossel.
Keeping in form, Nelson fired up a few samples and passed them around the room, which swiftly took on the fragrance of a Snoop Dogg concert.
I asked Nelson about his health, which was the reason for last weekend’s cancellation of his shows. “I’m good. I’m getting there.” He then nodded to the throng in the store and said, “Good crowd, huh?” I told him, “I’ve been to a lot of events in Las Vegas, but nothing quite like this.”
“Well, we have a lot of good people working hard and I want everybody to be happy and get along,” he said. “We have a good product, and I think they’re having fun.”
He then offered a sample, lighter at the ready. “Not tonight,” I said. “Not any night actually.” And so it goes …
REYNOLDS, CHANNING, BURTON HONORED
The late Debbie Reynolds heads up the list of honorees at the 14th annual UNLV Entertainer & Artists Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the university’s Student Union Ballroom March 7. Reynolds had already been selected for induction to the Hall of Fame this year before she passed away last December.
Also to be recognized: Venerable stage star Carol Channing, with the Koep Medal (a special recognition for cultural contributions in Las Vegas and internationally); master magician Lance Burton; stuntman Willie Harris; and actor Matthew Gray Gubler (Dr. Spencer Reid in the CBS series “Criminal Minds”). This year’s Alumnus of the Year is George Grove of the Kingston Trio.
Tickets to the dinner and ceremony are $100 and can be purchased at 702-895-4210.
SERIOUS SERIES ACTION
Marie Osmond and Brad Garrett recorded scenes for cable-TV shows over the past few days, and no they are not appearing together.
Osmond was at Gold & Silver Pawn on Monday for her first appearance on the “Pawn Stars.” “Pawn Stars” co-star Rick Harrison posted a photo of the two along with Osmond’s hair and makeup specialist Kim Goodman. Harrison’s message: “Stay tuned!” The guess (or maybe hope) here is Marie is pawning her brother Donny’s trophy for winning “Dancing With the Stars.” The air date and details are not yet public.
On Fremont Street over the weekend, Jay Leno filmed a segment with Garrett for the CNBC series “Jay Leno’s Garage.” The clip centered on Garrett’s 1948 Chrysler. No broadcast info is yet available for this episode, either, but Leno showed up Monday night at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club to introduce his buddy from the stage. “Very gracious,” is how Garrett described Leno’s disposition.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section, and Fridays in Neon. He also hosts “Kats! On The Radio” Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on KUNV 91.5-FM and appears Wednesdays at 11 a.m. with Dayna Roselli on KTNV Channel 13. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.