September 19, 2008

‘Mentalist’ Shares Name With TV Series

By Mike Weatherford

A network TV series carrying the same name as a Las Vegas show can be good publicity. Or it can be confusing. Or maybe both.

Tuesday brings "The Mentalist," a CBS crime drama with strong advance buzz about a reformed psychic medium (Simon Baker) now working as one of the good guys with the California Bureau of Investigation.

Gerry McCambridge performs at Hooters Hotel as "The Mentalist" and once had an NBC special by that name. In July, series creator Bruno Heller didn't seem familiar with McCambridge and joked to Review-Journal TV columnist Chris Lawrence that the Strip's mentalist would owe the producers some money.

McCambridge says it's the other way around. "They are very aware I do have the copyright and have made me very happy." McCambridge also says he is doing promotional interviews for the series about the techniques of mentalists.

A spokeswoman for Warner Bros., the series producer, said Wednesday she was not aware of McCambridge doing any sanctioned interviews for the series, and had no comment on the rights issue concerning the term "Mentalist."

McCambridge does a comedy-based act and doesn't claim psychic powers. But he altered his marketing campaign to say "Magic, Comedy and Mindreading" after two professed mediums, Sylvia Browne and Gary Spivey, started selling tickets on the Strip.

"It's such an odd form of magic because it borders on believability. People forget they're watching an act," McCambridge says. "I go into more in the show now because I don't want any confusion." ...

Magician Jeff McBride is staging a magic-themed club event called "Wonderground" at Palace Station after his regular show on weekends. The concept echoes The Magic Castle, a vintage Hollywood club dedicated to preserving the dignity of close-up magic.

Now Criss Angel says he will be involved in a magic nightclub venture once his Luxor production "Believe" is up and running. Given Angel's fashion sensibilities, it goes without saying that he would update the old-Hollywood sensibility. "You won't need a tuxedo to get in," he says, referring to the Magic Castle's jacket-required policy.

Ticketed previews for "Believe" still are set to begin Sept. 26, but the official opening bash has been pushed from Oct. 10 to Halloween night.

After a run-through last week, Cirque executives decided to go back to the original plan for five weeks of previews in front of paying customers; there had been earlier talk of whether this could be done without compromising the illusions.

The good news for consumers is that preview shows are discounted by 25 percent and now there are more of them. ...

In August, Gordie Brown figured only good things could come of opening arena concerts for Celine Dion. He just wasn't sure how, with no specific show to promote on the tour.

That might explain why it only took a few weeks for Brown's return to the Nugget next year to go from rumor to fact.

The Nugget and producer Bernie Yuman fast-tracked the announcement last week, and Brown is now telling arena crowds to come find him at the Nugget starting Feb. 3.

Dion's "Taking Chances" tour claimed four of the Top 10 spots in Billboard magazine's Boxscore of concert grosses, selling out arenas in Toronto, Boston and Philadelphia. (She also sold out eight shows in Montreal, but Brown was not on the bill.) ...

Veteran entertainer Nelson Sardelli called it "a miracle" to pick up the phone recently and hear the voice of Norman Kaye. Sardelli spearheaded a benefit concert for the last member of the Mary Kaye Trio in April, raising money to defray medical costs of Kaye's rehabilitation after a stroke.

Kaye has recovered to the point that he plans on attending today's gathering of Sardelli's social organization F.I.O.R.E., Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events. ...

No doubt many of Sardelli's lunch mates will see each other again this evening, at ceremonies for the Nevada Entertainer/Artist Hall of Fame. The 6:30 p.m. event is free and open to the public at Artemus Ham Hall on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway. The reception afterward is a ticketed event.

This year's honorees are singer Clint Holmes, architect Tony Marnell, choreographer Vassili Sulich, pop band The Killers and the late Robert Goulet. ...

Fans of "Fantasy" will want to check out the new "Fantasy" calendar celebrating the cast of the Luxor topless revue. The calendar debuted Tuesday along with a new opening dance number for the show. ...

Cast members from Cirque du Soleil and "Stomp" are among the performers taking part in "10Minutemax," a series of 10-minute performances in various disciplines at 9 p.m. Monday in the often- forgotten Celebrity Showroom downtown, 201 N. Third St. Admission is $15.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at [email protected] or 702-383-0288.

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