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Boyd Gaming layoffs include entire entertainment staff

The owners of the hotel that inspired The Killers’ album “Sam’s Town” has dropped its entertainment division.

Boyd Gaming, which owns 10 locals-friendly casinos, has swept out its entertainment employees as part of company-wide layoffs this month.

Effective July 14, the Boyd entertainment division has been terminated. Company spokesman David Strow declined to specify how many staffers were let go in the company’s widespread layoffs. But sources familiar with the terminations indicate some 40 employees on the Boyd entertainment team were let go.

The company re-opened all of its Las Vegas properties on June 4, with no live entertainment on the books.

Boyd operates Sam’s Town & Gambling Hall on Boulder Highway, which enjoyed a shot of newfound fame as the title of the Killers’ 2006 release. The band also performed a 10th-anniversary concert at the hotel in September 2016.

Along with Sam’s Town, operates such off-Strip casinos as the Cannery on Boulder Highway; the Orleans on West Tropicana Avenue; Aliante and Cannery in North Las Vegas; Suncoast in Summerlin; Gold Coast on West Flamingo Road; and California, Fremont and Main Street Station in downtown Las Vegas.

Fremont is well-known as the hotel where Wayne Newton launched his Las Vegas career with his brother, Jerry, in May 1959.

Boyd’s signature venues include the Orleans Showroom (where such stars as Neil Sedaka, Air Supply and impressionist Frank Caliendo have headlined); Suncoast Showroom, which has presented such locals favorites as Earl Turner, Zowie Bowie, Frankie Moreno and a rotation of rock tribute bands; and Access at Aliante, which has headlined classic rockers Lindsey Buckingham, April Wine and Great White.

Osborne’s OK

Bellagio mainstay David Osborne is being inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame on Saturday. The artist dubbed “Pianist to the Presidents” is scheduled to play a socially distant concert at Coleman Hall in his original hometown of Miami, Oklahoma.

“Music has opened a lot of doors for me,” says Osborne, an ivory tickler at Bellagio since 2007. “It was the vehicle to achieve goals. I still strive to be the best at it.”

Before arriving on the Strip to play Caesars Palace, and later Petrossian Bar at Bellagio, Osborne earned his bachelor’s degree from from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla. He’s also a graduate of Miami High School in Oklahoma.

Osborne has performed a total of 67 events for Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He played his first show for Donald Trump last December.

Osborne is especially close to the Carters. He headlined Jimmy and Rosalynn’s dual birthday party (his 94th, her 92nd) last August at First Baptist Church in Americus, Georgia. Osborne continues to perform in rotation at the Petrossian Bar, his mix of classical and pop selections representing rare live entertainment on the Strip.

‘Invictus,’ Lewis and Faw

Tybre Faw, a 12-year-old devotee of civil rights legend John Lewis, recited the poem “Invictus” at Lewis’s funeral in Atlanta on Thursday. In 2018, after the young man read Lewis’s biography, his family drove seven hours from their home in Johnson City, Tennessee, to meet Lewis. They joined Lewis on a Selma, Alabama, march commemorating the 53rd anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” Faw brandished a sign reading, “Thank you, Rep. John Lewis. You have shown me how to have courage.”

The two most recently chatted over FaceTime on Lewis’s 80th birthday.

In a circuitous turn of events, Faw is connected to Las Vegas through the great vocal group and Mirage headliners Boyz II Men. On July 18, the day after Lewis’s death, Boyz II Men’s Nathan Morris watched CNN coverage of Faw’s pilgrimage. After learning Faw was an only child of a single mother, Morris set up a GoFundMe account to help fund Faw’s education.

“He wants to grow up and make a difference,” Morris wrote on the GoFundMe page, “He wants to be a congressman and follow in the footsteps of the late John Lewis. We can’t afford this light to burn out before it has a chance to shine.”

The original Education Fund for Tybre Faw goal was $75,000. To date, Morris’s site has raised more than $84,000.

Wallace-Cain ticket

George Wallace reminded of his time with the late Herman Cain, the former Republican presidential hopeful who died Thursday of COVID-19 age 74. Cain visited Wallace’s show at the Flamingo, halted his presidential bid in 2012. This was more than a casual visit. Cain was a participant.

“He loved to laugh. He came to Vegas, got up on my stage and sang, and he was good, too,” Wallace posted on his Twitter account. “We didn’t have to agree to agree to be agreeable. I was blessed to know him.”

Their conflicting opinions nearly led to a media partnership.

“We almost did a syndicated radio show together,” Wallace said in a text Thursday. “He was a very nice friend, just on the wrong side of right.”

Skye high

Column fave Skye Dee Miles debuts at The Vegas Room at 1 p.m. Sunday, with additional brunch shows Aug. 9 and Aug. 16. Miles, who still performs at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan, is presenting “A Tribute to the Legendary Ladies of Song” during the brunch showcase. Classics from Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Bessie Smith, Nina Simone and Etta James are on the set list.

At 8 p.m. Aug. 7-8, Ian Ward, late of “Baz” at Palazzo Theater and “Rock of Ages” in L.A., headlines the cabaret room. Janien Valentine (formerly with “The Scintas”) performs Aug. 14-15, and veteran Vegas vocalist and musician Jimmy Hopper is in the club Aug. 21-22.

Brent Barrett, the former lead of “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular” and Billy Flynn in “Chicago,” has sold out his performances Friday and Saturday night. Barrett also books the room, and is also hosting his show on Stageit.com. Info about all of these haps are on TheVegasRoom.com website.

Tease this

Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns, properly masked and armed with instruments, were in the Copa Room at Bootlegger Bistro last week. Something digital is happening. Check back for details. …

Entertainment down

The no-cover Midway at Circus Circus has been down for several weeks, after briefly opening along with the hotel on June 4. It’s on hold, at the moment, officially for safety precautions. And, the dueling pianos haunt the Bar at Times Square at New York-New York is also temporarily closed.

Idea time

Laugh Factory at Tropicana manager and veteran comic Harry Basil walked the hotel’s vast pool area recently and arrived at the idea it could host stand-up performances. Provide food. Social distancing easily in place. Stand-up performances and movie nights with such headliners as Andrew Dice Clay and Pauly Shore could happen. It’s a thought, anyway. The hotel is currently for sale, scheduled to reopen Sept. 1.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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