Manilow breathing life into Paris

Barry Manilow will jump-start the dormant theater at Paris Las Vegas, a prominent symbol of the recession for the city’s entertainment.

By the time Manilow opens March 5, it will have been two years and a month since "The Producers" closed. Michael Weaver, vice president of marketing for Harrah’s Entertainment, jokes about no longer having to burn herbs in the theater to ward off ghosts.

Manilow is signed for 78 shows per year for at least two years starting March 5. That’s about the same number he did at the Las Vegas Hilton for the last two of his five years there (he started out doing closer to 130).

As it did at the Hilton, Manilow’s schedule leaves the rest of the year open to bookings by musical acts and comedians. "We would clearly pick things that would be able to work around his show. A Broadway production show would not be on our Christmas list," Weaver says.

AEG Live steps in as the new producer for Manilow, who will create an all new show with director Jeffrey Hornaday. His credits include pop tours for Madonna and choreography for the "Footloose" movie musical. Manilow’s Hilton deal was the rare guarantee directly from the casino to the artist.

But AEG will not operate the room in a lease-type arrangement as it does the Colosseum at Caesars Palace and The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. However, "it’s not as if we won’t" do other events in the room with AEG, Weaver says. "They’re strong business partners when it comes to finding comedians and (musical) performers."

Manilow will dominate outdoor signage, so Paris will have the same challenge as the Hilton in marketing other acts when he isn’t there. But Weaver says the Colosseum schedule taught the company "a few things about communicating with consumers on when Barry will be here." …

Meanwhile, Gerry McCambridge, who performs as "The Mentalist," isn’t waiting around for Manilow to open at Paris. He’s going on the road for the singer, opening five December dates in Palm Springs, Calif., and three in Chicago.

The two entertainers met after Manilow’s musicians caught McCambridge at the Stardust. The mentalist ended up performing for a "fanilow" event at the Hilton and a party to mark the singer’s second anniversary there. …

This is odd, but a good deal for locals. "The Lion King" is taking a vacation Dec. 7 through 21. December is slow on the Strip, but it’s Broadway’s peak season in New York. Hence, you’d think it would be a strong month for the family-friendly Disney musical here, too.

By that logic, back-to-school January might be a better time for the vacation. Instead, "The Lion King" is running a half-price offer for Nevada residents to boost business Jan. 4 through Feb. 11. You have to buy tickets by Dec. 24 with the code "Local1." …

"American Superstars" co-producer Donny Moore says his show has been given a two-year extension at the Stratosphere starting this week.

There were rumors of a housecleaning to replace both "Superstars" and "Bite," but "Superstars" has a new advertising focus on Frederick Henry’s tribute to Michael Jackson. "We are planning a nice run for him," Moore says. …

A lot of acts might wish for a bigger venue than the Hilton’s Shimmer Cabaret, but it’s just right for close-up magician Steve Dacri.

Dacri is planning to open a weekly show tentatively called "In Your Face" starting Jan. 27. It will play on Wednesdays when Lani Misalucha’s "Voices" has the night off. …

Aspiring stand-up comedians can stand up in front of a webcam to win a chance to perform for a week at The Improv at Harrah’s Las Vegas. Tuesday is the deadline to upload a minute of material to ijoke.com.

It’s part of a promotion for the "Funny People" DVD release. Let’s hope the winner is funnier than the movie.

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

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