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Fox series ‘Labor of Love’ was born in Las Vegas

Updated May 26, 2020 - 9:44 am

The Fox series “Labor of Love” should, um, pacify TV viewers’ continuing thirst for dating game shows.

Naturally, the concept was conceived in Las Vegas.

The father of this new series is Vegas producer (or, in this case, re-producer) Marklen Kennedy, who brought “Gigolos” to Showtime from 2011-2016. Kennedy hosted a small viewing party Thursday night for the launch of “Labor,” in which 15 gentlemen compete for the opportunity to start a family with a 41-year-old divorcee.

Her name is Kristy Katzmann. No relation, but she’s a catch. Kristin Davis of “Sex & the City” is the show’s host, narrator and sorta counselor.

For the premiere party, Kennedy invited his friend (and recent Kats! column bicycling partner) Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top. Kennedy introduced Gibbons to his friend and guest Mark Baker, saying, “This is my friend, John. He’s a lookalike for Billy Gibbons.”

Baker runs the graphics company Color Reflections. His wife, Desirae, is with Orange Realty Group and was the Realtor for Billy and his wife, Gilligan Stillwater Gibbons, as they bought their Rancho Circle home.

Baker looked at the person who is obviously Billy Gibbons and said, “You look just like Billy Gibbons.”

“I get that all the time,” said Gibbons, now playing the role of “John.”

This went on most of the night, with Baker referring to Gibbons as “John,” as in, “John, can I get you a drink?” By the end of the night he finally learned that John was actually Gibbons.

“I was super confused,” Baker said.

As for the show, Fox has described it as a “parody” in its YouTube trailer. Whatever the case, the show presented a scene in which all 15 contestants were required to produce semen samples in a fertility trailer. The guys all proved to be impressive specimens.

The total sperm count of each guy was measured and, yes, a sperm champ was announced. Kennedy’s group busted up at that scene.

An early pick from here to win Kristy’s heart is Jason, a flooring business owner from Charlotte, North Carolina. Jason has two dispositions: charming and drunk. But I’d bet he can pick Billy Gibbons out of a lineup, no problem.

Buckin’ out stock

The upcoming PBR Monster Energy Challenge at South Point Arena and Equestrian Center will return rodeo’s most popular event to Las Vegas.

More relevant, the series will also help return the city to the live-event TV format. The Professional Bull Riders competition airs Fridays and Saturdays, with highlight broadcasts Sundays, from June 5-28 on CBS Sports Network.

Every event features three “games,” each showcasing a head-to-head matchup of three riders from one team against three riders from another on the sport’s top bulls.

These are nonticketed events, with the Equestrian Center in effect serving as a large TV studio. The series caps at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, July 10-12. Those are ticketed events. The PBR promises it will adhere to all safety protocols.

PBR has already held three “closed”events — in Oklahoma. This includes the Unleash the Beast event in Guthrie on April 25. That one had initially been scheduled for the South Point.

Following the PBR’s activity in Oklahoma, South Point General Manager Ryan Growney worked for two months with resort owner and legend Michael Gaughan and arena director Steve Stallworth to land the TV segments in Las Vegas.

“This is a good start of a model that can work to get Las Vegas back on television,” Growney says. “Have you seen the Strip empty? We need to change that. This is going to lead to some action to take the town in the right direction, do it successfully, and show what an event will look like in this new world.”

The “closed” PBR concept should boost the UFC’s position to hold its no-fan fight cards in Las Vegas. The Nevada Athletic Commission is meeting Wednesday to review options to hold UFC events at its Apex Facility in southwest Las Vegas. The next event is approaching fast, on Saturday. All three of the UFC’s no-ticket events have been a marketing boon to Jacksonville, Florida.

But the stage for the Las Vegas-based UFC should rightfully be Las Vegas.

“I can’t speak directly to UFC, but I can say we’re going to be the guinea pig for a lot of these events,” Growney says. “I 100 percent know that if they can do it in Oklahoma, or Florida, we can do it here, with that Las Vegas sex appeal.”

Mob scene on hold

The Mob Museum is plotting a return for Sunday, though live music and grooving will have to wait. The downtown Las Vegas attraction won’t present live entertainment in its Underground tavern and music club when it reopens.

But the singers and players in Great Gatsby garb will be back, eventually.

Mob Museum President and CEO Jonathan Ullman said Saturday that performances in the downstairs speakeasy, and events in the adjacent Distillery, are in the attraction’s long-term forecast. The Museum itself is planning to reopen next week conditional on the state setting aside restrictions for gatherings in such nonessential public spaces.

“We want to bring back music and events, but we have to be aware that having three or four musicians performing requires a lot of thought and planning,” Ullman said. “It changes the setup significantly. But we know people like the entertainment, and they like the events we’ve had in the Distillery, too.”

The Mob Museum has been on point with jazz lineups rotating in the cozy speakeasy, and the Distillery has offered the Bootlegger Boogie, where guests have learned such period dances as the Charleston and Balboa. Those lessons have been staged monthly, on Mondays.

The Balboa swing dance, especially, is an aggressive violation of social distancing. Maybe that’s a measure of when we are fully clear of COVID-19: We can Balboa again in safety in the basement of The Mob Museum.

A new Eldo haunt

El Dorado Cantina at Tivoli Village has reopened its dining room and patio. The restaurant had just debuted in January and was open 24 hours before COVID-19 forced takeout and delivery only. But the place was doing impressive (if socially distant) business Sunday night. Try the flan, really.

Look for some expansion action at Tivoli, too. The Lounge at El Dorado is set to open in the two-story structure next to the restaurant that was formerly the Hamptons’ space. The Lounge and restaurant will share the courtyard.

The opening is planned for late summer or early fall, with the menu, cocktail program and entertainment concepts to be announced. Some key staffers from Clique Hospitality and Hakasaan Group leading the operations team. Count me intrigued.

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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