Big Slick announces George Wendt, another regular and a newbie, plus 3 cancellations

George Wendt joined The Star last fall at Kelly’s Westport Inn, where he used to put back a few when he was a student at Rockhurst University.
George Wendt joined The Star last fall at Kelly’s Westport Inn, where he used to put back a few when he was a student at Rockhurst University.

One of Rob Riggle’s co-stars, one of Jason Sudeikis’ uncles (and a big star in his own right) and a familiar face are the latest round of guests announced for Big Slick Celebrity Weekend June 23-24. But three of the guests who were announced earlier had to bow out.

Coming to Big Slick:

▪ George Wendt, 68, brother of Sudeikis’ mom Kathy, is, of course, best known for playing Norm on “Cheers.” He was just back in town over the winter, starring in the New Theatre Restaurant’s “The Fabulous Lipitones” and was gracious enough to join The Star in revisiting his favorite bars from back in his days as a student at Rockhurst University.

van der beek
James van der Beek celebrated an inside-the-park home run during a Big Slick celebrity softball game at Kauffman Stadium. Shane Keyser The Kansas City Star

▪ James van der Beek, 40, of “Dawson’s Creek” and “CSI: Cyber,” has become a Big Slick regular. In August, he’ll star in “What Would Diplo Do?” on Viceland, playing an egocentric record producer.

Laura Marano attended the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas last month. Richard Shotwell Invision/AP

▪ Laura Marano, 21, co-stars with Riggle in “The War With Grandpa,” due in theaters in October. Robert De Niro stars as the title character, fighting his grandson (Oakes Fegley) over sharing a bedroom. This will be her first Big Slick.

But in other Big Slick news, James Marsden, Aisha Tyler, and Jermaine Fowler, who were announced earlier as celebrity guests, have had to bow out, organizers said Thursday. Tyler’s cancellation came the same day that she announced she is too busy to continue co-hosting CBS’ “The Talk” and would leave at the end of the season. Big Slick intends to name some replacements on Friday.

Big Slick is announcing batches of celebrity guests every weekday through June 16. They’ll join hometown hosts Riggle, Sudeikis, Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet and David Koechner to raise money for the Cancer Center at Children’s Mercy hospital.

Things kicked off last week with the announcement of funny guys Weird Al Yankovic, Johnny Knoxville and CNN’s Jake Tapper. Day 2: actors Kevin Pollak (and Tyler and Fowler). Day 3: Fox sportscaster Curt Menefee and actors Will Forte and Joe Lo Truglio. Day 4: actor Samm Levine (and Marsden) and magician Blake Vogt. On Monday: actor and Shawnee Mission South grad David Dastmalchian, Blue Springs native and “American Idol” winner David Cook and actor/writer/director David Wain. On Tuesday: actors Martin Starr and Randy Flagler and “Today” show personality Jill Martin. On Wednesday: actors Sarah Chalke, Ian Gomez and Josh Hopkins.

This year’s celebrity softball game starts at 5 p.m. June 23 at Kauffman Stadium. On June 24: a red carpet event, block party and bowling tournament at 8:30 a.m. at Pinstripes in Prairiefire and a sold-out silent auction and party at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland that night.

Learn more at

Also, the deadline is June 15 to buy raffle tickets to win a chance to play in the softball game and be a VIP guest at the other events. Enter at

Meanwhile, Koechner talked up the fundraiser and visiting patients at Children’s Mercy on Thursday’s syndicated “The Rich Eisen Show.” Eisen himself is a Big Slick alum.

“It does make a difference,” Koechner said. “That’s the best part, when you do meet parents. … It feels good.”

Sharon Hoffmann: 816-234-4457, @Sharonakc