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Palms’ exec Kiser Murphey missed ‘01 opening — for good reason

Updated April 27, 2022 - 11:14 pm

The Kats! Bureau at this writing is the porte cochere at the Palms. The hotel-casino’s reopening is upon us. Members of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and Moapa Band of Paiute Bird Singers are performing a welcoming ceremony. The space is filled with maracas and rhythmic chants.

The tribe is effectively taking over and reopening a hotel we know so well, which opened under Maloof family ownership in November 2001. Last fall, the San Manuel leadership notified that Moapa Band of Paiute, and also the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, to let them know of their plans to buy the resort. This is part of the close tradition the tribes adhere to when moving into a new region.

San Manuel, of course, is the first tribe to own a hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

The spiritual ritual is a far leap from the night in ‘01, when Paris Hilton strode across the carpet in her famous dress laden with $1 million in casino chips. Current Palms GM Cynthia Kiser Murphey was not at that ‘01 event, though she had been invited as a top-level MGM Resorts International exec. Murphey had just given birth to a son, about two months before the opening, and had to tend to the baby as the Palms was launched.

And a few minutes ago, I met that kid. Justice Murphey is a VIP tour guide at the hotel (he met Gov. Steve Sisolak earlier in the day), but I’m told he does so much more. Justice joins about 1,400 staffers. Seventy-eight have been with the hotel since Day One, through multiple ownership changes, the great recession, the COVID shutdown, all of it.

Shake their hands when you make it back. The Palms’ revival has been a heck of a ride, and a return worth singing about.

Wayne checks in

The much-anticipated Wayne Newton-Michael Irvin interview session happens at about 3 p.m. Thursday at the Red Carpet Stage at Bellagio. Irvin is conducting the Q&A in his role as NFL Network personality. Newton on Friday is expected to call out the Raiders’ first pick, which at the moment is No. 86 overall, third round.

Newton is also jumping into the Cameo culture. He joined Wednesday. Newton had resisted joining the digital platform because, as he said, “I’m doing this already.” True. Newton has been recording audio and video clips for fans, free of charge, for years. His messages have ranged from support for those in health crisis to wedding proposals. He was convinced to give Cameo a ride because so he can donate proceeds to his chosen charity, the USO.

Jakob taps in

Jakob Johnson is slamming into Las Vegas in the same way he opens holes on the football field: Head first. The recently signed Raiders fullback moved to town two weeks ago, after three seasons with the New England Patriots. Johnson (first name pronounced YAH-cob) is hosting the an NFL draft party at Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Tuesday, we hung for a bit with Johnson and restaurant VP Klaus Gastager at the German-themed beer garden. Johnson fits the bill and fills the jersey at Hofbräuhaus. Johnson is a native of Stuttgart, Germany.

The 6-feet-3 inch, 255-pound Johnson has a personality as broad as his shoulders. His parents and instructors encouraged him to participate in all types of sports, including soccer, swimming and American football clubs.

They wanted to instill focus, and also simply burn off some of young Jakob’s energy. “When I came home, I was tired and happy,” he says.

Johnson excelled at football, earning a scholarship at the University of Tennessee, playing linebacker for a season before moving to tight end.

He played for the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League before signing with the Pats in 2019. In his short time in Vegas, Johnson has found some hikes he likes around Red Rock Canyon, saying, “I’m a nature guy, I like getting outdoors and I see a lot of opportunities here.” He’s also a natural to be an ambassador at Hofbräuhaus, which celebrates its 20th birthday next year. “This place is authentic, I could tell right away.”

Yost is host

LVCVA Chief Operating Officer Brian Yost spent nearly a decade as a top executive at the pace-setting entertainment company Live Nation. He became well-versed in amphitheaters and onsite products — those were two of his areas of expertise. He says of the current Vegas live-entertainment climate, “It’s very exciting. We have really put together an incredible list of headliners across this destination, and events like this only add to it. When you look at Allegiant Stadium, Resorts World coming in and joining all of the existing venues, we should be getting all of these top acts, just by nature of all the venues we have.

“This comes from a guy who went to concerts for a living for nine years, which didn’t suck.”

The zeal for Strip headliners and facilities is understood. But the NFL draft is not spanning the landscape the way the National Finals Rodeo has in years past, carrying the party downtown for concerts, watch parties and branded events. Yost explained this was the league’s vision. As the exec said, “The NFL drove a lot of the location decisions. they’ve got very specific thoughts around proximity, the ability to keep people in the same area so that they don’t dilute this incredible footprint and event.”

Purple reigns

The NFL opted for distinctive colors for its “red” carpet — purple and magenta. Some observers asked yours truly if this was some tie-in to T-Mobile. That company’s signature magenta is the highlight color at T-Mobile Arena. But this is not to indicate a formal draft partnership between the league and communications company.

“No, not at all, we just want it to be big and bold, and what’s better than magenta?” Kelsey Pietrangelo, NFL manager of live event operations, said Monday at the NFL draft’s not-red carpet stage. “The magenta and purple highlights, and LED lighting, is all Vegas-esque. I mean, you can’t miss it, right?” It’s also non-denominational. No NFL team dons the magenta.

Cool Hang Alert

The soulful singer Electra Heavenly has been popping in at Kenny Davidsen’s shows at Piazza lounge at Tuscany, and Kelly Clinton-Holmes “Sit In” variety productions at The Nevada Room. Heavenly has a remarkable story, having been homeless for a time while pursuing her dream to become the first transgender singer to headline a solo, ticketed show in Las Vegas. Heavenly is now hosting a cabaret performance at 6:30 p.m. (doors) and 8 p.m. (show) Saturday at The Vegas Room at Commercial center. The prix fix dinner-show pairing is $37.50, go to vegasnevadarooms.com/reservations to nab a spot, and see some history.

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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