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Mat Franco takes control of his Las Vegas Strip production

Updated December 5, 2019 - 8:13 am

Mat Franco has his name on his theater at The Linq Hotel. Now he owns his show.

The Las Vegas Strip headliner and his now-former production partner, Base Entertainment, have settled a 13-month legal dispute centering on ticket revenues for his magic production. The sides have agreed that Franco’s company, Blue Shorts Inc., will take ownership of the production beginning Dec. 30 at the Mat Franco Theater.

A joint statement issued by Base Entertainment said: “The parties were successful in amicably resolving a dispute informally, based upon their mutual respect for each other. After the collective good faith due diligence conducted by both parties, all issues between the parties have been clarified and resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, and both parties agree that their initial allegations turned out to be incorrect and no wrongdoing occurred.”

Said Franco: “I’m very grateful for Base Entertainment’s partnership in producing an amazing show. It has been a wonderful four years, and I’m thrilled for what the future holds.”

Franco, an “America’s Got Talent” champion, had initially sued Base for $1 million in federal court in October 2018, alleging the company concealed ticket profits from his performances. The lawsuit coincided with the end of Franco’s original contract with Base, which ran from December 2014 through June 2018. Base enacted an option to extend the deal for two years; Franco countered that the provision was void for breach of contract, leading to the negotiations and the out-of-court settlement.

Base’s partnership roster in Las Vegas is currently “Magic Mike Live,” moving into the Sahara Las Vegas next spring; “Criss Angel Mindfreak Live” at Planet Hollywood; and the incoming “Thomas John: Celebrity Psychic Medium,” opening Jan. 16 at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace.

The Las Vegas-based company has ended partnerships over the past 2½ years, including its original production agreement with Spiegelworld and “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace (which also centered on a ticket-revenue disagreement); “The Voice: Neon Dreams,” which never premiered at Hard Rock Hotel as that resort was sold as the show’s venue was being constructed; and “Nitro Circus,” announced to open last spring at Bally’s old Jubilee Theater but has been “on hold” for several months.

Base is growing its hologram-production division and plans to tour a Whitney Houston tribute show beginning in February. The show is licensed by the Houston estate, and, if nothing else, offers a different kind of magic.

Bronx & Martin

On the topic of Mat Franco Theater performers, Bronx Wanderers are still toggling show times with the magician in that venue. Franco, a good musician, has even clambered onstage to play guitar with the band.

But know this, too: Early in their career, BW backed up Deana Martin, daughter of entertainment legend Dean Martin, on tour across the country. They finally ended that partnership to strike out on their own, leading to their residency on the Strip.

Martin is in town this weekend, too, with her holiday-themed show at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center at 2 and 6 p.m. Sunday. I feel there is a legendary drop-in at the Mat Franco Theater in the offing.

A Sweets partnership

Ex-“Absinthe” Green Fairy and able songstress Melody Sweets continues to develop her burlesque revue, and has entered into partnership with a company with experience in adult entertainment: Stabile Productions. Sweets had been reviewing venues in Vegas with Adam Steck and SPI Entertainment, but the two sides have amicably parted ways, leaving Sweets to work with longtime Vegas entertainment execs Matt and Angela Stabile.

The Stabiles, of course, have a topless empire with the late-night shows “X Burlesque” at the Flamingo, “X Rocks” at Bally’s and “X Country” at Harrah’s. Sweets is working with the Stabiles on a new production in a Caesars Entertainment venue to open on or around Valentine’s Day.

You can rule out the aforementioned Caesars Entertainment hotels where the Stabiles already do business, leaving the flagship available for such a concept.

A statement from a Caesars spokeswoman: “We have a great relationship with the Stabiles and are proud of the shows they have promoted at our resorts. Anytime they are looking to produce a new show, we are always open to exploring whether it can be presented in one of our venues.” More to be revealed, of course …

Chet’s up!

At 6 a.m. Thursday morning, veteran Vegas broadcast personality, event emcee and generally congenial guy Chet Buchanan was to begin his 21st annual KLUC Toy Drive high above the Nevada Energy parking lot on West Sahara Avenue. This is a popular Kats! Bureau post, as his scaffold is home to radio equipment, a silver, heavily reinforced ShiftPod2 tent; and an octagonal port-a-potty unit.

Buchanan is collecting bikes, unwrapped toys, cash donations and gift cards through 10 a.m. Dec. 16. Last year’s totals were a record 37 trucks filled with toys, 8,757 bikes, and $505,448 in donations.

Buchanan draws from the spirit of Jerry Lewis when asked about this year’s goals: “One more toy, one more bike, one more dollar in cash and gift cards.” See you on the perch, Sir.

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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