Las Vegas has bolstered its relationship with “America’s Got Talent” during COVID. The city’s entertainment community has furnished danger acts, aerial artistry, mind-reading, a ubiquitous costumed dragon and at least one legend during season 15.
Four Vegas acts are still in contention. Sword swallower Brett Loudermilk, daredevil Jonathan Goodwin and mentalist Max Major (3M, as I call him in my head) all compete in the second round of semifinals at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Aerialist Alan Silva, a superhero-in-waiting, has won the Dunkin’ Save vote across the country, which means he has vaulted to the season’s final round.
Last week, Piff the Magic Dragon returned to the show in video form. Piff is an enormously popular former “AGT” contestant. He’s not a former champion, a finalist of season 10 won ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, but the Piff always commits in his return to the series.
For last Tuesday’s show, the magic dragon convinced David Copperfield to join in a video re-creation of Copperfield’s famous stunt from 1983, when he made the Statue of Liberty disappear. The two had previously teamed on Piff’s attempt to make the Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower vanish during the PBS show “Tournament of Laughs,” which Piff won.
“The people at ‘AGT’ loved the Eiffel Tower video and asked about doing another version of that,” Piff said. “So I got to call David again and, as this was for ‘AGT’ and we had more time and budget, David was able to do this in person, and we were able to do the dream version I had in my head the whole time.”
Piff tried vanishing the Vegas Statue of Liberty, which wore its COVID mask but was recorded before its Raiders jersey was put in place. Showgirl Jade Simone was said to be inside. The trick unraveled when Copperfield pointed out Piff’s CGI trick photography, then made himself disappear under a black drape, and re-appear as Simone.
“We had to film everything socially distant and that was really, really tricky to make happen, said Piff, whose legal name is John van der Put. “David and his team were amazing, he created the trick with Jade, and they rehearsed it to perfection with me just standing there. I had no idea she had such magic skills.”
Copperfield said, “I love working with Piff. I love working with his crew better; they don’t breathe fire. I feel obliged to point out my Statue Of Liberty was bigger, but size doesn’t matter.” The Strip-side Lady Liberty is 150 feet tall, about half as tall as the New York original.
The Piff-Copperfield tandem proved effective on these video highlights from the Strip, with Piff playing the affable underdog (or under-dragon) and Copperfield a living legend with a trophy case full of Emmys.
“It was so great to get out there and do something fun,” Copperfield said. “I can’t wait until we are all up and running again.”
The Westgate figures
Checked in with Westgate SuperBook Vice President Jay Kornegay on Monday. His place had a strong opening weekend, attendance-wise and enthusiasm-wise. He said his crew capped the SuperBook attendance at 800, less than 50 percent of its fire-code capacity of 2,200.
There have been questions along the social-media platforms asking how the SuperBook, or any sportsbook annex, is allowed to host more than 50 people. Those areas are considered part of the general casino layout, so 50 percent capacity is in line with the state’s COVID reopening directives. But at Westgate, only 50 are allowed to watch games in the International Theater, Westgate Cabaret, International Bar and Sid’s Cafe.
Those are the straight-up rules. There should not be such a mass of bettors this weekend. Kornegay says he expects a 40 percent drop in business this Sunday.
Meantime, at the D
The second-floor BarCanada at the D Las Vegas held forth on Sunday for NFL viewing. I meandered in to say hello to hotel co-owner and Detroit Lions fan Derek Stevens, who managed to hold a slice of pizza more securely than Lions’ D’Andre Swift held what would have been a game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds. But Stevens’ Circa Sports operation did manage to have a profitable Sunday (the Chargers-Bengals final was of particular interest).
Stevens’ crew is eager for the opening of Circa Las Vegas, especially Stadium Swim, which will be the game-changing sports and entertainment amenity on Fremont Street.
They call him ‘Jonesy’
A real artist and a dang nice fella, Mike “Jonesy” Jones is is hosting a jazz-piano performance on his Facebook Live page, Mike Jones Jazz Piano, at 6 p.m. Friday. Jonesy typically teams with a tall, well-suited, stand-up bass player to entertain the audience walking into Penn & Teller’s show at the Rio. This has been genuine ambient music. Jonesy also plays the music interludes throughout the show.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.