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Vegas entertainers raise $60K for ‘AGT’ champ Grimm

Updated July 11, 2023 - 12:23 pm

An array real-life angels turned out Sunday for a Vegas favorite who, as his wife put it, “has been through hell and back.”

That was from Lucie Grimm at Veil Pavilion at Silverton, during a fundraising show for her husband, Michael Grimm. The Season 5 “America’s Got Talent” champion and veteran Vegas performer is recovering from an undisclosed illness that surfaced around Memorial Day weekend.

The Grimms have since accrued about $250,000 in medical costs. The paid crowd in the room was about 500. Counting tickets sold, the take for the show’s livestream feed, individual donations and merch sales, approximately $60,000 was raised.

Vegas performer Mark OToole, a friend of Michael’s, quickly secured Veil for a fundraising show as word of Grimm’s condition wound around the entertainment community. OToole knew the property well, as he opened the resort some 30 years ago when it was known as Boomtown.

OToole ably piloted what was either a rather long variety show or rather short telethon.

Those who contributed included members of Grimm’s backing band over the past 20 years, led by guitarist/vocalist Jim Tripi (who has changed his name from Jim Buck) and guest vocalists Michelle Johnson and Christine Shebeck; New York-New York ventriloquist Terry Fator; Harrah’s comic performer Tape Face; Tropicana’s Laugh Factory magician Murray Sawchuck; comic performer and vaunted Donald Trump impressionist John Di Domenico, and ex-“Jersey Boys” cast member Travis Cloer.

The classic-Vegas format inspired some classic routines.

The Grimm band powered through a kind of greatest-hits medley, usually sung by Michael himself, with “10th Avenue Freeze-Out,” “Walking In Memphis,” and “You Can Leave Your Hat On” in the set list.

Fator brought out his “AGT” championship companion Winston the Impersonating Turtle.

Tape Face presented his oven-mitt duet of “Endless Love,” familiar to those who saw his run Season 11 run on “AGT” in 2016.

Sawchuck, also an “AGT” alum (a semifinalist the year Grimm won), performed his newspaper tear-reconstruction, how he’s closed his show for 20 yeas.

The Trumpian Di Domenico bragged of the Trump hotel’s pool having “the wettest water, wetter than any water, extreme wetness” and the crowd size of “50,000, in this room today, but the fake news media won’t report it.”

Cloer, with his sky-high vocal range, performed, “Can’t Take My Eyes Of Off You.”

The livestream broadcast, produced by Aaron Elekes at Go Live Vegas, remains posted on Grimm’s official website, MichaelGrimmMusic.com. Watch it and donated, any time.

About all that was missing from this event was the man for whom this show was produced.

Grimm has been admitted to a recovery center out of state after experiencing tremors and difficulty speaking May 26. He declined further the morning of May 30, unable to walk without assistance and turning yellow. Lucie drove him to the ER at Southern Hills Hospital. He spent several days in ICU, where he was placed on a ventilator and under a battery of medications.

“This has been physically and emotionally exhausting,” Lucie Grimm said Monday afternoon, adding that Michael had not watched the event as he is in intensive physical rehab and counseling. “But he will watch it when he’s out. I sent him some clips of everyone who was there. He was very humbled at everyone who showed up.”

Grimm might be released as early as next week, Lucie said. His next steps depend on if his care can be maintained remotely.

For Sunday’s event, a host of headliners and those who have been close to Grimm submitted video messages. One was Jackie Evancho, the little girl who was runner-up to Grimm when he took the “AGT” title in 2010.

The now 23-year-old recording artist sang, “When A Man Loves a Woman” the song Grimm performed to win the show’s championship. It’s also the song Grimm dedicated to Lucie on the show that aired the night before he proposed to her live on “Ellen.”

Bill Medley and Bucky Heard of the Righteous Brothers cut a clip in support. Medley has been a friend and mentor of Grimm’s for at least 15 years. “I know I’m kind of your musical father, and I love you,” Medley said.

Barry Manilow also contributed, remembering how Grimm caught his attention during his “AGT” run. Manilow swiftly reached out to write with the talented songwriter.

“You were so beautiful as a singer and guitar player,” Manilow said. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to get in touch with this guy.’ I’ve never done that before.”

The two worked on a couple of songs, but nothing has been recorded. Lucie Grimm says she’s encouraged her hubby to return to collaboration with Manilow when he is recovered.

Wayne Newton, Howie Mandel, Tony Orlando and Carrot Top also were in the video mix.

OToole sent the crowd off with “You Know Me,” which Grimm performed in his “AGT” audition, a song OToole himself has been singing for at least 15 years.

“I could barely keep it together,” the showman said. “It was just such a special experience, for a very special guy.”

Cool Hang Alert

Burlesque star Buttercup hosts “Tease” at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.) Saturday at The Space. Our friends at Burlesque Hall of Fame are presenting the show, which features Raquel Reed, who most recently brought “The Jiggle Room” to Cheapshot on Fremont East. As is common in the genre, there are a lot of moving parts. Go to TheSpaceLV.com for intel.

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 Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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