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.

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