Gordie Brown beating the odds

When his show opened at The Venetian a year ago, Gordie Brown knew he had some name-building to do.

He didn’t anticipate a midyear boost from the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. But one of them is going to have to get on track with the “Gordon” versus “Gordie” thing.

“I’m the guy in jeans. If we can make him say he does some voices as well, this will be great,” says the Canadian impressionist, who was scheduled to toast a year’s anniversary at The Venetian Wednesday night. The Piper Heidsieck should have tasted especially savory, after Brown beat the long-shot odds of going into the same casino as the better-branded Blue Man Group and “Phantom — the Las Vegas Spectacular.”

If that wasn’t enough competition for foot traffic, Wayne Brady came along midway through the year to share Brown’s theater. For Year Two, Brown finds himself working across town from his mentor, Rich Little, who launches at the Golden Nugget today.

“I have four shows in my own hotel and I do not look at it in any way as a competition,” he says. “I learned very early on that I build my own star and that’s all that I keep focused on.”

His producers set the mark a bit high with a 10-show schedule in the early weeks, but since have settled on six as the magic number.

Brown also credits “a high-class marketing campaign” and patience in building his audience, instead of shortcut marketing techniques, such as discounts that would have devalued his ticket price.

“I would absolutely say I’m over the hump,” he says. “The way that they market has been that they truly do believe in me. They didn’t have to do anything they weren’t proud of to make Gordie Brown work. There’s no free buffet with my show.”

Now if The Venetian had a buffet. …

If it wasn’t for Las Vegas, how would basic cable survive? With all the top-chef sources for the Food Network on the Strip, it’s a bit surprising that “Dinner: Impossible” zoned in on a magician’s convention, of all places, for an episode airing Wednesday.

Stan Allen of Las Vegas-based Magic magazine explains how host Robert Irvine ended up at The Orleans for the Magic Live! convention in August: Both the show’s executive producer, Marc Summers, and the episode’s guest star, Neil Patrick Harris, are magicians. …

The Strip is likely to have one less magician when Hans Klok closes at Planet Hollywood on Dec. 8. “The Beauty of Magic” isn’t folding early, but opted not to continue past its original six-month commitment.

Usually an entertainer who comes to the Strip for any stretch of time ends up like the Eagles song: You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. And Klok’s multimillionaire Dutch producer Joop van den Ende probably would keep writing checks for the show if it could be moved to a smaller room, an associate of the production says.

But scouts haven’t had much luck finding a smaller venue with enough stage and wing space to handle a prop-heavy production. The big concert hall at Planet Hollywood is not only a challenge for selling tickets, but the 7,000-seat theater is simply too large for most patrons to be impressed by the illusions. …

Jennifer Lopez is set for a Friday concert at the MGM Grand Garden, just across the intersection from a show that features the work of her least-famous husband.

Cris Judd, briefly tabloid-worthy for his nine-month marriage to J-Lo that ended in 2002, is the principal choreographer of “Fantasy” at the Luxor. The producers of that show checked with him and, no, he did not help stage his ex’s current tour. …

Finally, a case of misdirected stunt casting? Or an out-of-town tryout?

I suppose I should be grateful that Clay Aiken is joining the Broadway cast of “Monty Python’s Spamalot” as Sir Robin in January instead of coming to Wynn Las Vegas. Still, it’s the Vegas version that seems in need of celebrity novelty after John O’Hurley’s departure.

And isn’t Las Vegas inevitable for Aiken? Look no further than his participation in “Holiday On Ice” Nov. 6 at the Orleans Arena. And remember, Tony Danza used a Broadway stint in “The Producers” to tune up for the real honor, performing the show at Paris Las Vegas.

Mike Weatherford’s entertainment column appears Thursdays and Sundays. Contact him at 383-0288 or e-mail him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com.

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