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Honest opinion not always welcome

An entertainer was joking with me about what I’d do if newspapers go down the tubes. He suggested I become a consultant.

The joke went like this: Since it costs at least $100,000 to put up even the tiniest Las Vegas show, I would listen to the pitch and then say, “Here’s my advice: Don’t do the show. That’ll be 10 grand. I just saved you $90,000.”

It doesn’t seem so funny now, in light of the strange saga of Cheryl Terhune Honore versus an Italian magician named Antonio Casanova, and the producers, MK Events, who attempted to launch his show at the Greek Isles.

Terhune Honore — known to friends and business associates alike as Cheryl T — says she’s on the brink of losing her events production company because of a variation on that joke.

Cheryl T signed contracts on behalf of the Italians, using her business license to rent equipment and an Interstate 15 billboard.

But after a few rehearsals, she determined Casanova’s show needed a lot of work to be viable on the Strip.

“I know what I’m doing. I know what is good entertainment and what is not. They hired me for my expertise, and when I gave it to them … .” Well, that’s when the relationship quickly eroded into its current state of District Court litigation and a standoff over the magician’s props, now held hostage in a storage unit.

The story is unusual in part because of a cynical truth: If you pay to play in Las Vegas, no one stops you. Casinos, of course, want a hit. But they also have divested much of their show space to producers willing to rent the room and assume the headaches and risks.

The Strip is magic-saturated, but Cheryl T thought Casanova had distinguishing traits. The good-looking magician based a narrative on the fact that he is a relative of the real Giacomo Casanova. He also sings and plays piano.

But, she says, the narrative dragged, the translation to English suffered, and the show needed new choreography.

“My job, at least I thought my job, was to be their consultant,” she says. Instead, “They were very angry with me. It was very tense that weekend that I told them.”

The producers nonetheless agreed to changes, but bailed when Cheryl T failed to ink contracts with ticket venders. She tried to explain that brokers also need to determine a show is viable before agreeing to sell it.

Now Cheryl T awaits legal clearance to sell the props and pay some of her debt. She’s at risk of losing the company she started as a New Year’s resolution five years ago. But she’s not sorry she told the truth.

“When these shows come in, they need somebody that’s going to give them the straight story, not the butterflies-are-free version.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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