weather icon Clear

The Amazing Johnathan death-cheating doc headed for Sundance

The Amazing Johnathan has been on a kind of life-support system for several years. Not much makes him nervous anymore, but he was uneasy about viewing his new documentary for the first time.

“I’m happy with it, a lot happier than I thought I would be,” says the Amazing one, whose legal name is Johnathan Szeles. “When this crew started following me around about three years ago, I wanted them to be brutally honest, no holds barred. But after a while I changed my tune a little bit.”

Director Ben Berman’s still-untitled Amazing Johnathan documentary has been entered in the best-documentary field at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Jan. 24-Feb. 3 in Park City, Utah. The project covers what was expected to be the end of Amazing Johnathan’s life.

“But I didn’t die int he timeframe he wanted,” Johnathan says.

Instead, Berman (who has worked on “Tim & Eric, Awesome Show!” on Adult Swim, “Jon Benjamin Has a Van” on Comedy Central, and “Comedy Bang! Bang!” on IFC) adapted A.J.’s story through a variety of angles. The filmmaker arrived at what is described as a subversively creative, and still-secret, culmination to the film.

“He ended up doing it tastefully and really, really clever,” Johnathan says. “The surprise ending is phenomenal. It’s the reason it got into Sundance.”

This more recent film is not related to a previous project, “Always Amazing: The True Story of the Life, Death and Return of the Amazing Johnathan,” which screened at the Los Angeles Lift-Off Film Festival in September.

Johnathan, a long-running Vegas headliner, has been cheating death since at least 2014, when he publicly disclosed at an “ENTSpeaks” event at Inspire Theater in November 2014 that he was suffering from the degenerative heart condition cardiomyopathy.

He has since revived his stage career, though less stringently than in his performing heyday, with help of his wife and fellow magic star, Anastasia Synn. She, too, is featured in the film. The couple plan to make the trip to Sundance, where the film is set to premiere Jan. 25.

“We’re making a trip out of it,” Synn says. “It’s going to be a blast.”

The grand naming

The D Las Vegas co-owner Derek Stevens plans to announce the name of his new resort on Fremont Street after Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s State of the City address on Jan. 10. The naming unveiling is set for Downtown Las Vegas Event Center. Given Stevens’ penchant for flair, I can’t wait for this one. Consider it a major moment in our civic history.

Lightfoot afoot

Gordon Lightfoot is performing his “80 Years Strong” tour to International Theater at Westgate Las Vegas on March 15-16. No formal news release about this from the hotel just yet, but the ticket announcement is on the Westgate website and are going onsale 10 a.m. Friday. This is the latest production at International Theater from veteran concert promoter Danny Zelisko.

A real adventure

Zak Bagans is trumpeting the success of “Ghost Adventures” on Travel Channel. The Vegas resident and proprietor of Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum posted on his social media channels that after 10 years and 15 seasons, “I’m SO happy, honored and thankful to learn that our current season is our highest-rated EVER in ‘G.A’ history!” He thanked the show’s viewers, fans, the network and — yes — “the spirits.”

Timberlake back at T-Mobile

Justin Timberlake will make up for the show he cancelled last Saturday at T-Mobile Arena on March 8.

Announced today, Timberlake’s Las Vegas “Man Of The Woods” tour stop will honor ticket-holders for Saturday’s called-off show. Timberlake said in a social-media post Thursday that bruised vocal chords forced him to cancel the show.

More Moreno

Add Jan. 10 and Jan. 24 to Frankie Moreno’s Thursday night schedule at South Point Showroom. Moreno also has five Tuesdays booked at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz next year — so far. Updates, as always, fill follow.

What Works in Vegas

Travis Cloer … well, anywhere. He performed his “Christmas at My Place” holiday show to a packed house at Italian American Club on Monday night. Cloer was joined in duet by Niki Scalera (of “The Cocktail Cabaret” at Caesars Palace) and Mark Shunock (of The Space and Mondays Dark) and also backing singers Sandra Huntsman and Anne Martinez. Cloer is also guesting in “The Cocktail Cabaret” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast is posted on the R-J website. Contact him atjkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Celine Dion’s lounge gig a boon to Las Vegas act

Celine Dion performed “Because You Loved Me,” “Ashes,” Beauty and the Beast” and “My Heart Will Go On.” Her arrival drew a roar from the 300 VIPs in attendance, who were not informed of the night’s entertainment.