Pitbull basked in his surroundings on Sunday night, encircled by well-wishers on a warm night at Sugar Factory at Fashion Show mall, and said, “This is good place to be, right?”
Mr. Worldwide does love Las Vegas, and has extended his ongoing residency at Axis theater at Planet Hollywood with eight shows from July 21-Aug. 5. Pitbull dropped into town to help celebrate the opening of the new Strip outpost of Sugar Factory, and also announce the partnership between the confectionery and his Voli 305 vodka.
Pitbull’s octet of dates at Axis are a component of a long-term strategy to perform on the Strip.
“This is our third set (of shows) at Planet Hollywood, and to me, it’s short steps, but a long vision,” said the man whose legal name is Armando Christian Perez. “Little by little, I’ll be moving in. I would say within the next two or three years, we’re going to be talking about a very long residency in Las Vegas. But for now, you’ll be seeing a lot more of us in the next couple of years.”
Pitbull has committed to the Vegas area with his SLAM Academy, the Southern Nevada expansion of the Sports Leadership and Management school. The school opened in August at 1095 Fielders St. in Henderson, offering courses in entertainment media and sports business, management, marketing and medicine.
“I often say that if I were not performing, I don’t know what would have happened to me, and this is how I give back,” Pitbull said. “I’m just honored to be around so many iconic names in Las Vegas, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Wayne Newton … sharing the same stage (at Axis) with Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Lionel Richie, Backstreet Boys. “
Pitbull then borrowed a familiar phrase on the Strip, applying it to his ample entourage.
“We’re far from being a Sinatra,” he said, “but we always do it our way.”
GREAT PROM DATE
A healthy complement of Chuck Berry music was played at the 1969 Riverside High (N.J.) High School senior prom — by the actual Chuck Berry.
Longtime Vegas PR man Wayne Bernath attended Riverside High and reports that Berry did indeed play his school’s senior prom. Seems Trini Lopez was the original performer billed to play the event, but was a late scratch. School officials then turned to Plan B (as in, Berry), who rocked the event at the Riverside Cherry Hill Inn.
As Bernath recalls, top-flight entertainers were more willing to play such events in those days — Diana Ross & The Supremes played the school’s prom the previous year. These could be lucrative gigs, too, with tickets going for $35 per couple, and about 600 students attending.
THE FAME NAMES
Olivia Newton-John’s impact on Las Vegas and elsewhere is being recognized at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the inaugural Las Vegas Fame Awards at Hard Rock Live on the Strip. Newton-John is joined by Marty Allen, who turns 95 that day and hitting the event early before hustling to his 7:30 p.m. show at South Point Showroom.
The awards are an offshoot of similar awards presentations in Hollywood produced by Al Bowman, who also created the Los Angeles Music Awards. Newton-John, who has closed her three-year run at Flamingo Las Vegas, will be on hand to receive the event’s Icon Award. ONJ is being recognized for her five-decade recording and film career and her long history of philanthropic work. Allen, a Las Vegas headliner since the mid-1950s with his late partner, Steve Rossi, is receiving the Comedy Legends Award.
Also to be honored are “Fantasy” producer Anita Mann (Lifetime Achievement Award), Cirque du Soleil “Mystere” artist Jimmy Slonina (Career Achievement as a Live Stage Actor), and Planet Hollywood magician Murray Sawchuck (Career Achievement in Magical Arts award).
‘ONE’ FOR CELINE
Celine Dion checked into “MJ One” at Mandalay Bay, on Sunday night, celebrating the 90th birthday of her mother, Therese. Also at the show were Dion’s son, Rene-Charles, and her 10 (yep, all 10) brothers and sisters. Dion is connected to the Cirque show through artists Tammy To and Addie Yungmee, who have performed with her on tour.
WHO WAS WHERE
Former ‘NSYNC member Lance Bass and his husband, Michael Turchin, Saturday at the Backstreet Boys’ performance at Axis theater. Similar to the treatment the band gave to Joey Fatone of ‘NSYNC, the band sang “Shape of My Heart” onstage to the nonplussed Bass.
Note: This version of the column corrects the age of Therese Dion.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. He also hosts “Kats! On The Radio” Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on KUNV91.5-FM and appears Wednesdays at 11 a.m. with Dayna Roselli on KTNV Channel 13. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.