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Shaq kicks it up; Imagine Dragons throw it down in Strip events

Updated October 9, 2023 - 7:11 pm

Shaquille O’Neal kicked it up (for real) with DJ Pee .Wee, aka Anderson .Paak. Imagine Dragons raised more than $3 million, with one of their starters sidelined.

And Joel McHale emceed all of it. The “Community” co-star piloted “The Event” Saturday at MGM Grand. A night earlier, McHale was paired with fellow actor Aisha Tyler at Imagine Dragons’ TRF “Rise Up” gala at Resorts World on Friday.

Reaching back to Thursday, we give a nod to the great entrepreneur Robert Dolan at the off-Strip “Night en Blanc.”

In short, and tall, it has been a fancy, philanthropic stretch in VegasVille. The wrap:

Love Shaq

“The Event,” a benefit for The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation, returned to the Grand Garden. Anderson .Paak’s set opened, followed by John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, Dan + Shay and Ray Romano for a crowd of about 1,500.

The gala dinner was on the arena floor, a paid audience was seated the upper regions for the all-star performance. Though the amount raised has not been released, $2 million is an educated approximation.

In its third year, “The Event” raises funds for The Boys and Girls Club and Communities In Schools in Las Vegas and Atlanta, Shaq’s two hometowns.

O’Neal lumbered out for .Paak’ s performance of, “You Can Leave The Door Open.” The 7-foot-1-inch hoops legend accidentally kicked .Paak’s DJ booth with his size-23 shoe. Block or charge? No matter. The song went off the rails when it happened.

“Make some noise for the Big Aristotle himself, aka Bruno Mars!” .Paak shouted. He was evidently surprised that Shaq just did what he does at “The Event” — join the performance whenever he feels like it.

After knocking the power out of .Paak’s mixer, Shaq said, “My bad, dawg, that’s on me.”

McHale responded with the comment, “Is there anything Shaq can’t do? Sing. That’s what he can’t do.” with Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman,” and Legend summoned a legend with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” in his show-closing set.

Hudson was soaring in her four-song set, reaching the back of the room with Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman,” and Legend summoned a legend with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” in his show-closing set.

Shaq also put down a big of $20,000 for his mother, Lucille, to sit on stage in a best-seat-in-the-house giveaway during the live auction.

Shaq sat there, too, beaming through the performance. The big man wore a dazzling silver, black and gold tux jacket.

I asked him beforehand, “Who are you wearing?”

“JCPenny’s,” the Big Aristotle answered.

He should have put that jacket up for auction. Next year.

TRF-ic night

Imagine Dragons pulled in more than $3 million in the 10th “Rise Up” event, bringing the total to more than $18 million for TRF Foundation in the event’s history. More than 85 percent of the money raised goes to families in need (go to TRF.org for more intel).

The fundraising gala debuted in 2014, in a ballroom at the then-Hard Rock Hotel, today’s Virgin Hotel Las Vegas. This year, about 850 guests turned out at Resorts World’s Rose Terrace, overlooking the Strip. Shannon Sharpe, Katheryn Winnick, Grouplove, Chef Ming Tsai and Oliver Trevena made special appearances during the night.

As it has at every TRF event, the band played a show-closing set. Dan Reynolds, Wayne Sermon and Ben McKee took the stage, but drummer Dan Platzman did not. His absence has not been formally explained, and his future in the band is to be specified in an unspecified timeline.

Reports of Platzman’s absence from the band date at least a month, as he’s removed himself from all Imagine Dragons activities. He’s not listed with band mates on the band’s latest release in August, “Children Of The Sky,” created for upcoming sci-fi role-playing game “Starfield.”

Andrew Tolman, Imagine Dragons’ original drummer, filled in at TRF. The lineup played expertly, flying though “It’s Time,” “Follow You,” “Enemy,” “Radioactive,” backed by an orchestra filled with Vegas players.

The set streamed across Bandsintown on Amazon Music’s Twitch platform, and the band’s YouTube page. The show also played on the resort’s Strip-facing, 100,000-square-foot LED screen, and closed with fireworks fired from the roof.

Imagine Dragons are now taking some time off. The band’s only dates on the books are for SEMA Fest at Las Vegas Festival Grounds on Nov. 3. By then, status of Imagine Dragons should be in sharper focus.

Speaking of focus …

Cashman Photogarphy owner and CEO Dolan was honored by Collaboration Center Foundation at the third “Night en Blanc” on Thursday night. The event was held at the Center’s aptly titled, 5-acre Magnificent Las Vegas Ranch at at 8390 West Windmill Lane in Henderson. Everyone wore white, or was at least directed to.

Lynda Tache is Collaboration Center’s co-founder and CEO. Her son, Grant, is an ambassador and the Center’s first employee. Reliably well-suited Westgate PR exec Gordon Prouty emceed. Reliably persuasive auctioneer Christian Kolberg handled the live bidding.

Dolan is an inspiration to those fortunate enough to know him, and his story. His mother survived severe burns in her childhood. His sister overcame spina bifida to become an advocate for people with disabilities.

Dolan himself has been active in addiction and alcoholism recovery, through his own battles with those maladies.

The Vegas photography visionary might not be a 7-foot hoops icon, but in his own way, he is a towering figure.

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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