Paul Shaffer’s next Vegas guest needs no introduction

Updated September 4, 2018 - 6:48 pm

Paul Shaffer is on the line, and he has an important announcement.

Kind of.

It’s about the show he’s fronting at Caesars Palace’s Cleopatra’s Barge. “Paul Shaffer and the Shaf-Shifters” opens at 8 p.m. Thursday and runs through the weekend, with dates continuing Oct. 11 to 13 and Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 (tickets start at $49, available at the Caesars Palace website).

But that is not the announcement. Rather, Shaffer has been sending out feelers to his famous friends to spice up this Vegas lounge revival. For weeks, we’ve bantered about who would join the band on stage, and we talked of this possibility again last month.

Shaffer has hit the mark with one of these well-known individuals.

“You had asked me, did I make any calls to my celebrity friends?” Shaffer said Tuesday. “Well, one has come through, specifically, for Thursday night … and it’s one I’m particularly excited about.”

This is where it gets tricky, as Shaffer attempts a bit of misdirection befitting magician Mac King’s show.

“I wanted to tell you, but I don’t totally want to give away the surprise,” Shaffer says. “In this person’s case, it’s a person who is a little bit private, always. But it’s a former boss of mine, a person for whom I have worked, and I’m thrilled this is happening.”

So, better late than never, we have figured this out. Shaffer’s next guest needs no introduction.

We will remind, in keeping with the mystique of Shaffer’s residency, he did work for David Letterman for 33 years. When I asked Shaffer if this boss of his toggled two networks, he said, “To answer that — I’d have to plead the Fifth. Or, not testify. I’ll not testify at all.”

Shaffer’s coy approach is an attempt to generate buzz while keeping his guest’s identity a secret. Don’t count on it. Even Siegfried & Roy, billed as Masters of the Impossible, would find that impossible.

But certainly Shaffer has a history in Vegas with Letterman, when “Late Night” taped for week at Bally’s in May 1987. The cavalcade of Vegas performers-of-the-moment included Sammy Davis Jr., Robert Goulet, Jerry Vale, Rip Taylor, Lola Falana, the Sacca Brothers, crossbow artist Hans Pantar, Clint Carvalho and his Exotic Birds, and showgirls from “Jubilee.”

Shaffer was right at home, even if his boss was not.

“Dave came out to introduce Sammy and he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt,” Shaffer recalls. “He didn’t know exactly how to dress in Las Vegas.”

Actually, Letterman was dressed as a tourist in today’s Las Vegas.

“He was prescient, as it turns out,” Shaffer says. “Far ahead of his time by Vegas standards.”

Shaffer recalls Sammy wiping out the place with “For Once in My Life,” on Davis’ second spin through the song.

“Sammy was so, so great, but he really did not want to rehearse, because he’d flown all night from Boston,” Shaffer says. “But we needed him to do one run-through to set the lights. He performed the number on the show, which was the second number, and it was great. But it was not as great as the rehearsal. I learned my lesson. I should have listened to Sammy.”

Shaffer is passionate about re-creating the days when live entertainment ruled Las Vegas, especially in the lounges when Louis Prima & Keely Smith with Sam Butera and the Witnesses raged at Sahara’s Casbar lounge. He drew an assortment of entertainers in his run in December and January — with Bill Medley and Bucky Heard of the Righteous Brothers, Martin Short, Penn Jillette, Sonny Charles of the Checkmates, Mirage headliner Terry Fator, bass great Will Lee of The World’s Most Dangerous Band, and Martha Wash (of The Weather Girls, who performed “It’s Raining Men”) on the scene.

David Perrico, helmsman of Pop Evolution and producer of the newly formed Pop 40 at Cleopatra’s Barge, serves as Shaffer’s own bandleader. The musical lineup is stacked with Vegas vets, with Shaffer as the exalted master of ceremonies.

Gearing up for his opener, Shaffer says of Thursday’s guest, “He is certainly aware of my fixation with Las Vegas.”

Otherwise …

“My old boss who is coming is going to take the stage,” Shaffer says. “He’ll do what he does, what he’s famous for doing.” Expect a top-notch, and maybe top 10, experience.

Related

Paul Shaffer bringing some famed friends to Caesars Palace show

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

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like