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Las Vegas ‘Master Magician’ Lance Burton revives ‘Topit’

Updated April 17, 2020 - 1:13 pm

Billy Topit survived the mob. He’ll outlive COVID-19, too.

Topit is the central character played by Lance Burton in his 2015 indie film, “Billy Topit, Master Magician.” The pet project was so close to Burton, he spent two decades jotting notes for a script and developing the character, even giving Topit his own “Master Magician” nickname.

“Topit” was finally finished and released at Brenden Theatres at the Palms in 2015, about five years after Burton closed his hit show at the Monte Carlo.

At 2 p.m. Friday, Burton is screening the film on the International Brotherhood of Magicians Facebook page and his own FB page and YouTube channel. The movie will play in segments, halted for a live chat with with expert sidekick and co-writer Michael Goudeau, along with such cast members as Louie Anderson, Mac King, Fielding West, Michael Holly and Jeff McBride.

We might even enjoy a Frankie Scinta sighting; he made a cameo in the movie, too.

“Topit” was a classic example of an industry answering the call of a popular star. The film was a fundraiser for local charities, including Variety the Children’s Charity of Southern Nevada, the Las Vegas Shriners and Nevada SPCA. Because of the charity angle, all the entertainment stars donated their time.

The Topit character is a birthday party magician who unwittingly crosses the Mafia, a story built in Vegas by one of its established superstars. Burton had been taking notes after originally coming up with the “Topit” concept in the mid-1990s. He appeared as a villain on an episode of “Knight Rider.” One of Burton’s magic heroes, Mark Wilson, was a consultant on the show and liked Burton’s acting.

But Burton didn’t have time to develop “Topit” until stepping off the stage in September 2010, ending a 16-year run at his own theater at the Monte Carlo. Burton and his writing partner Goudeau spent the next six years polishing off the script.

The film is family friendly, and Burton says it should stream for at least a week — probably longer — on its various platforms.

“This was something that was gestating for a long, long time,” Burton says. “It think that’s why I’m so fond of it, because Billy Topit will be around a long time after I’m gone.”

Celine’s in

Groundbreaking Las Vegas Strip resident superstar Celine Dion is in the latest wave of stars appearing in the upcoming “One World: Together at Home” worldwide broadcast and livestream concert. The event is set for 5 p.m. Saturday, running across ABC, CBS, NBC and several major streaming services.

Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon host the two-hour show, and Lady Gaga has led the talent outreach. Money raised for the event on globalcitizen.org goes to the World Health Organization.

Tuesday, Global Citizen released a new list of participants either performing or speaking on the event’s behalf. The updated lineup includes Dion, Alicia Keys, Amy Poehler, Awkwafina, Camila Cabello, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Lopez, LL COOL J, Lupita Nyong’o, Matthew McConaughey, Oprah Winfrey, Pharrell Williams, Sam Smith, Shawn Mendes, Taylor Swift, Usher and Victoria Beckham.

‘Living’ on the web

The Smith Center has started “From Their Living Room,” a web series showcasing its Myron’s Cabaret Jazz headliners. Michael Grimm opened the run Tuesday. The Composers Showcase of Las Vegas co-founder and producer Keith Thompson and Philip Fortenberry are set for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Thompson and Fortenberry also reunite with Eric Jordan Young on Young’s performance at 5 p.m. Saturday on stageit.com in “The Vegas Room” virtual cabaret series. Thompson and Fortenberry both worked with Young on “The Cocktail Cabaret” at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace.

Blue Web Group

Cirque du Soleil has added Blue Man Group to its CirqueConnect series at CirqueduSoleil.com/CirqueConnect. Cirque, you might recall, owns Blue Man Group, so this is a natural move.

BMG is showcased on “Becoming Blue,” focusing on six would-be Blue Men taking the company’s acting workshop in New York City, along with clips from live shows at Astoria Park Theater in New York and taped comedy skits. It’s all on the site now.

Also, Cirque streams its latest hourlong highlight special at 5 p.m. Friday. “Zed,” the production in Tokyo, is center stage.

Virtual Cool Hang Alert

Column fave Deana Martin, the singing daughter of entertainment legend Dean Martin, performs a full-length show on her Facebook page at 4 p.m. Friday.

Martin debuted on the platform March 27; her shows have since grown into a series. Martin’s previous shows are still up, all recorded from her home studio, where the singer reminds us, “She gets too hungry, for dinner at 8.” No cover, and you might wind up with a martini recipe.

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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