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‘Divas Las Vegas’ star, Make-A-Wish settle charity dispute

Frank Marino and Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada have made peace.

The iconic Las Vegas Strip headliner and host of the drag revue “Divas Las Vegas” at The Linq Hotel and the prominent children’s charity issued a joint statement Wednesday saying they had settled the dispute that closed the show last month.

In short, Marino has committed to an unspecified financial settlement to Make-A-Wish covering donations he’d promised the charity.

A provision of the agreement is the total amount would not be made public, but Marino has said the figure he has offered would exceed what was owed “many times over.”

Ever since “Divas” opened at the then-Imperial Palace in 2010, Marino had been announcing from the stage at the end of every show that funds from his merchandise sales would be delivered to Make-A-Wish. An internal investigation by Linq Hotel owner Caesars Entertainment revealed Make-A-Wish had not received those donations, as Marino himself said, “for quite some time.”

A 33-year star on the Strip, Marino made what would be his final performance June 26. He and Caesars confirmed the show’s closing June 30. Both Caesars Entertainment and Marino said the decision was mutual, with Caesars emphasizing that the Make-A-Wish dispute was the reason.

The full statement issued Wednesday, as approved by Marino’s representatives and the Make-A-Wish Board of Directors:

“Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada and Frank Marino and his company, Her-Larious Entertainment, LLC are pleased to report that they have entered into a mutually agreeable arrangement to resolve the issues surrounding the payments to Make-A-Wish from proceeds derived through the ‘Divas Las Vegas Show’ that ran at The Linq.”

From Marino: “We are thankful to the staff and board of directors of Make-A-Wish, and we appreciate all of their hard work and efforts to fulfill the wishes and dreams of children facing terrible illnesses. There is no greater gift than the gift of kindness and love.”

From Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada President and Chief Operating Officer Caroline Ciocca: “We’re thankful for the support that we receive from the Las Vegas community including from performers like Mr. Marino and so many others to strengthen our crucial mission of granting wishes to children with critical illnesses. Our ultimate goal is to transform lives, one wish at a time.”

In an statement issued July 3, Marino also offered to continue to work with Make-A-Wish as his chosen charity. When asked if that were still the case, Marino’s attorney, Mark Tratos of Las Vegas said only that such a partnership is to be determined.

Caesars Entertainment remains under investigation by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The resort company self-reported the incident to the Control Board, which is now determining if Caesars violated any gaming regulations.

Marino has said he plans to keep the “Divas” brand alive and return the show to a Strip showroom. The production opened as “Evening at La Cage” at the since-imploded Riviera in 1985. Marino, 54, has performed more than 25,000 shows on the Strip, always in the central role as host in his Joan Rivers persona.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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