When he was a 12-year old kid, Chris Phillips attended a fancy Las Vegas production. The star of the show ventured into the audience that night in 1978, making it to the Phillips family booth. He shook the kid’s hand and said, “Welcome to Las Vegas, young man.”
“I saw this guy with great hair and white teeth and a lot of charisma,” Phillips recalls today. “That’s when I said, ‘I want to do that.’”
The star was Tony Orlando, the big room was the theater at Las Vegas Hilton, today’s International Theater at Westgate Las Vegas.
Arriving full circle so many years later, Phillips and his Zowie Bowie backing band are playing New Year’s Eve at that very showroom. The show runs from 11 p.m.-12:30 a.m. and is free, all general admission, seating on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The show is a component of the regional CBS “Countdown To New Year’s Eve 2022” special on KLAS. The broadcast runs 8:58 p.m. through 12:35 a.m. Pacific time, featuring live performances across the country and reaching 13 Nexstar Media Markets (specifically L.A.; San Diego; Sacramento, Calif.; San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; Denver; Salt Lake City; Albuquerque, N.M.; Honolulu; Fresno, Calif.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Grand Junction, Colo.; and Colorado Springs, Colo.).
Nexstar Media reports the show will reach 17 million households. A year ago, the cross-country coverage generated an additional 6 million streams online. The livestream link is 8NewsNow.com. The event is again a fundraiser for Souper Bowl of Caring, which raises money to address hunger crisis in each market.
Coverage will include an appearance by The Strat Theater headlining magician Xavier Mortimer, and cast members of “Absinthe,” “Ka” and Blue Man Group. The citywide fireworks show from the rooftops of Aria, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Resorts World, The Strat, Treasure Island and The Venetian is also set for broadcast. Nationally, pop star Scotty McCreery is the featured headliner.
The telecast is to be hosted by actor and comic Michael Yo and broadcast-news personality Nikki Novak, along with popular Vegas broadcaster JC Fernandez of KLAS’ “Las Vegas Now” and meteorologist Anthony Bailey of affiliate CBS47 in Fresno, Calif. The central broadcast position is Resorts World. Fernandez will report from Fremont Street Experience.
ZB’s performance is the band’s first ever in that venue, after arriving in Las Vegas in May 2006. Phillips’ regular band is backed by vocalist Jaime Lynch, a six-piece horn section and four ZB Showgirls enlisted by Chris’ wife, Jennifer Phillips, who runs that operation.
The NYE show is similar to the CBS-Nextel broadcast from the celebration ushering in 2020 at Circa, when Zowie Bowie played the Stadium Swim pool deck with just a camera crew, support staff and no live audience present. That broadcast went across the west, too, memorable in part for Lynch’s performance of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” when she was nearly blown off the stage.
This year, Fremont Street Experience is hosting an all-star NYE show starring Vanilla Ice, Village People, Bobby Brown, Tone Loc and Flock of Seagulls.
ZB, a weekly headliner at Fremont Street’s 3rd Street Stage will play entirely indoors this year, following its International Theater show with an open party at Westgate Cabaret from 12:45 a.m.-2:30 a.m.
“We will literally be running from the broadcast show in the main room, to do our after-party band show,” Phillips says. “It will be a party, I promise.”
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr. Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.
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.