When the room went dark, the lightbulb flicked on for Suzanne Somers.
“I’d really love to go back to Las Vegas,” Somers said to her husband/manager, Alan Hamel, about three weeks ago as the couple dropped the lights to go to sleep. “I love life, and I love Vegas.”
Soon, this idea came to involve Roseanne Barr, and an expanded, co-headlining gig in our city.
“I thought about this for a couple of days, and remembered when Roseanne opening for Suzanne in Las Vegas,” Hamel said, recalling the days in the late-1980s when Barr opened for Somers at the Desert Inn (eventually replacing Don Novello’s “Saturday Night Live” character Father Guido Sarducci in that role). “She was hysterically funny. She killed me. She is still really funny.”
Hamel then called Barr with the random idea of a Suzanne & Roseanne double-billing in Vegas.
“She said, ‘I love it!’ ” Hamel said. The Somers and Barr camps are continuing to meet, plan and toss out ideas. This is an early and calculated effort, to put the word out and hope to lure the right alliances in Vegas.
The preliminary template is for two 45-minute sets, and a short show-closing dual appearance by the co-stars. A date, venue deal, even name of the show are not in place. Also left open is who would get top billing.
“Suzanne is far beyond who should open or close a show,” Hamel said. “She used to do a lot of private shows with George Burns, and one night he said, ‘I’ll open and you close. I’m tired and I want to go to bed early.’”
There is a far chasm, of course, between a late-night epiphany, conversational musings and a real “Salt ‘n Sugah” teaming of these two TV icons. Somers, who gained fame first as the mysterious blonde in the T-Bird in “American Graffiti” and also in the original cast of “Three’s Company,” has most recently performed in Las Vegas in 2015. Her spirited one-woman show, “Suzanne Sizzles,” never gained traction at Westgate Cabaret and ran for just five weeks in May-June 2015.
Somers also floated the idea of a return to Las Vegas in 2016, going public with her idea for a new show but never made a deal.
As for Barr, she’s not appeared at all in Las Vegas since ABC cancelled her self-titled sitcom last May after she posted disparaging remarks on Twitter about former President Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. Barr, who later said the sleep-inducing drug Ambien clouded her judgment as she posted about Jarrett, was in deep talks for an appearance in a “Laugh Factory Presents” series at Tropicana Las Vegas. The idea was ditched after Barr’s show was cancelled.
Somers defended Barr in the face of the show’s cancellation (the series has since returned as “The Conners,” with Roseanne’s character killed off). Hamel says he is not worried that Barr’s past conduct might imperil a potential deal, or that she might undercut an ongoing production in Las Vegas.
“Americans are are forgiving people, we don’t hold grudges, something negative happens and it goes away and people have a residual memory of it,” Hamel said. “Roseanne is just funny, and we are interested in the entertainment value of this combination, of Roseanne and Suzanne, and we’re going to see where that takes us.”
Kenny & The Jets
Don’t Tell Mama piano bar re-opens with a ribbon-cutting ceremony 11:30 a.m. March 19 at Neonopolis. Column fave Kenny Davidsen is playing that ceremony, and will continue as host of the club in its new haunt on the corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. Be sure to request “Piano Man” by Billy Joel …
Barry Manilow is back in town this weekend at Westgate Las Vegas, and is in talks for an extension of his residency at International Theater …. To use an election-night reference, psychic Thomas John’s residency at Sands Showroom seems to have moved from “projected winner” to “undecided.” John was expected to have announced before the holidays and been onstage by now, and is said to be looking for other venues … Spiegelworld is building an atomic-themed show for the road this fall, bringing it back to Las Vegas. That production will likely open before “We Are Here,” for which a new venue at Caesars Palace is planned … Spiegelworld founder Ross Mollison reports that the mind-bending “Opium” is now operating in the black at the Cosmopolitan; the production formally opened last March … “The Great Piano Men” production performing at Flamingo Las Vegas in March and April is emphasizing it is not an impressionist show. Rather, it’s a tribute, production. The distinction is important when you have a show filled with the music of Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel and others performing at the former “Legends In Concert” showroom … On the topic of “Legends,” the preview opening showed all the parts are in place for its next chapter, at Tropicana Theater. Ex-“Dancing With the Stars” pro Lacey Schwimmer choreographed much of the updated show … One longtime fan of “Legends” noted after the preview opener, “They finally have a hot, young Elvis,” referring to Cody Slaughter, who opens and closes the show in that legendary role … Expect some tire-kicking around the Tropicana’s Havana Room, long an underutilized venue (at least for ticketed shows) … A formerly underutilized venue, The Sayers Club at SLS Las Vegas, now offers comedy every night (with Eddie Griffin, Mo’nique and Luenell in rotation) and the inventive “Ester Goldberg’s Totally Outrageous Brunch” opening Feb. 23 … Blanc de Blanc, the edgy circus-tinged show reminiscent of “Absinthe,” is reportedly looking at a residency SLS Las Vegas. It had once been rumored to be headed for The Cabaret, which is now closed, at Planet Hollywood.
Great Moments in Social Media
Carrot Top broke his left leg snowboarding in Park City on Tuesday afternoon. He’s posted on Instagram about the mishap. Guess what color is his cast.
Cool Hang Alert
The Hot Club of Las Vegas is hot! Hot, I tell you! The city’s pre-eminent gypsy-jazz band is now serving up the groove at NoMad Jazz Brunch, which launched last week and runs 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sundays. The lineup for the NoMad shows are singer Noybel Gorygoy, lead guitarist Mundo Juillerat, rhythm guitarist Johnny Miles and bassist Chris Davis. Tyler Williams is subbing this Sunday, when you might well see the Kats! Bureau in action.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.