Magician's next trick: Create hit on reality TV


Nathan Burton had reality show envy.

"Anytime I drive past the 'Pawn Stars,' I go, 'That's what I want,'  " the magician says.

Burton is no stranger to working the TV game himself, getting arguably more mileage out of his appearance on "America's Got Talent" than anyone except Terry Fator.

But the magician says a pending reality show for FremantleMedia , which also produces "Talent," is reason enough for him to jump ship from the Flamingo to the Saxe Theater inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort.

Burton closed his Flamingo show last week after nearly five years there, and reopened at the Saxe Theater on Tuesday. It replaces Michael Turco's "Magic and Mayhem," which also closed last week after receiving its notice.

The Saxe Theater is independently operated by producer David Saxe, while the Flamingo is part of Caesars Entertainment Corp., which has more layers of approval for TV filming. The Flamingo showroom also has a collective bargaining agreement with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which could drive up the costs of filming; reality TV has a high ratio of footage shot to footage used in the final product.

"Saxe and I have been friends for 20 years," Burton says. His afternoon magic show started at Saxe's V Theater in the same mall in 2006, just in time for the first season of "Talent."

The new reality series is tentatively called "Family Magic," and would focus on the family dynamic of Nathan, sister Emily and mother, Nancy, who was apparently the breakout star of the "sizzle reel" used to shop the concept. ...

How do you spot a New Yorker? If he's been asking about a new club called The Act, set to open Oct. 27 in retail space at the Palazzo.

Specifically, a New Yorker will ask, "How are they going to get away with that?" That's because The Act comes from the proprietor of The Box in New York, a club known for its provocative burlesque and sideshow performances involving sex toys and the like.

It will be a delicate dance for club promoters here. On one hand, they want to position The Act as "a uniquely decadent experience," as a press release puts it, while also communicating that, starting with the name, this one is a different product than The Box.

Seems as if it will have to be.

Liquor licensing's nuances make the club's physical location important. Clark County liquor regulations basically kick the task of determining what our tender eyes can witness onstage over to casinos and gaming regulators. Liquor laws state that nudity is "prohibited except in a production show in a resort hotel."

Beyond the showrooms, a business must be zoned and licensed as an adult entertainment cabaret. The Act is not actually inside the Palazzo casino, but in a retail area run by General Growth Properties.

An analogous situation at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort renders "iCandy Burlesque" the only nontopless burlesque show in the resort corridor, because the Saxe Theater is not covered by adult cabaret zoning. Theater operator David Saxe says he had an attorney investigate such zoning, but decided approval would be unlikely, because it would open the doors to strip clubs on or near casino property.

The county's searchable database shows no pending request from The Act for an adult cabaret license.

Ironically, a 2007 New York Times piece about The Box called it "a purveyor of kitschy, Las Vegas-style exotica and extremely pricey drinks. The one constant seems to be female nudity." ...

None of the above is to say the Rio's showroom can't host a show called "Spank!" spoofing the best-seller "Fifty Shades of Grey."

Comedy writer-director Jim Milan has created a musical spoof of the book, slated for a limited run in the Crown Theater Nov. 1-10. ...

Stratosphere headliner Frankie Moreno performed in front of a television viewership of 13.18 million people on "Dancing With the Stars" on Tuesday. The prime-time exposure could be quite a boost to both Moreno's show and the new album he recently released independently, after more than a year of waiting for Sony to exercise an option.

Moreno pounded the piano behind a turn by Lacey Schwimmer - who will choreograph the Stratosphere's upcoming burlesque show - and Kyle Massey, who performed in the Tropicana's live spinoff of "Stars." ...

What took her so long? Susan Boyle, the British singer who found accidental fame on "Britain's Got Talent," made no secret of her crush on Donny Osmond. Fans will finally get to see them together in Las Vegas when Boyle will be Osmond's guest star on Wednesday at the Flamingo. ...

It should surprise no one that Angel Porrino will headline "Peepshow" as an interim star from Oct. 22 through Dec. 2, filling the gap between the departure of Holly Madison and the arrival of Coco Austin. Porrino became nationally known as Madison's sidekick on the E! show "Holly's World," and has previously also subbed for Madison as "Peepshow" headliner during the star's vacations.

What is surprising is how Porrino's fame changes when she crosses Las Vegas Boulevard. She performs unbilled doing the burlesque "bubble act" in "Absinthe," which shares a producer with "Peepshow" in Base Entertainment.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.