Friday, Feb. 13, 2004 | 10:29 a.m.
Elton John skipped the party after his final dress rehearsal Thursday night to care for his throat.
"Elton John has laryngitis," OPM club partner John Padon told a packed club about 11:30 p.m. when he got the final word that Sir Elton was not coming down from his Caesars Palace penthouse.
However, show producer David LaChappelle, in his first interview about "The Red Piano" concerts, said that John was fine, and offered some thoughts about the show.
"Elton's voice is fine, he is just protecting his throat and doesn't want to be in a smoky club like this," LaChappelle, who attended the OPM party, told us shortly before it was announced that John would not be attending.
The Forum Shops at Caesars club had brought in a special $30,000 piano for John to play at the party if the mood struck him.
Tonight John begins his three-year, 75-concert run (see Jerry Fink's preview of the show on page 1E).
In October VegasBeat reported that John had canceled two charity concerts because of throat concerns, and he later said that he had an operation at the same time. But he refused to confirm or deny reports that he had polyps removed for the second time in his career.
VegasBeat was at The Colosseum for the dress rehearsal. As LaChappelle put it afterward, "It isn't a show for kids. It is a show for Las Vegas."
The 90-minute stage spectacular features massive inflatable breasts and phalli above the audience along with video imagery of Pamela Anderson slinking on a stripper pole.
"I listened to his songs and just created based on what the music made me feel," LaChappelle told us. "The show is about love, addiction and the red piano symbolizes that. The show really speaks for itself."
LaChappelle, one of the world's leading fashion photographers and video producers, called the experience of putting the show together "the most fun I've ever had in my life." When we told LaChappelle that the buzz on the show from the invited dress rehearsal audience was superlative, he smiled.
"I am glad to hear that. I hope everyone likes it," he said.
Everyone we spoke to was full of praise for the fast-moving, visually stimulating package of songs, videos and props.
"It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen," offered Larry Edwards, who portrays Tina Turner in "An Evening at La Cage" at the Riviera.
'Pride' of NBC
The syndicated entertainment television program "Extra" reported Thursday night that "Father of the Pride," the animated series based on Siegfried & Roy, is a leading contender to fill the time slot left by vacant by the end of "Friends."
"Extra" said that sources close to the situation say that the "inventive animated series ... is the network's top contender for (its) Thursday night lineup."
An NBC spokesperson told the show that network brass are "thrilled with 'Father of the Pride' but no formal decisions have been made for the fall schedule."
Produced by DreamWorks partner Jeffrey Katzenberg, the show is about a family of white lions who work as performers in Siegfried & Roy's Vegas show.
As Billy Joel would sing, "Heeeee's moving out."
Mike Tyson, that is.
As a result of his bankruptcy and staggering $50 million debt, officials have ordered Tyson to sell his Las Vegas mansion.
The listing for the six-bedroom, eight-bathroom estate at 6740 Tomiyasu Lane was posted Thursday.
Century 21's Dan Humeston, who specializes in repossession and bankruptcy sales in Clark County, has the exclusive listing.
The asking price for the two-story stucco home is $4.5 million. The listing describes the 1.84-acre plot as an "exclusive estate property with lush landscaping and huge rock pool, fountains, basketball court, guest quarters, security system. Indoor fountain, sauna and gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances and walk-in wine cooler."
The property is surrounded by an electric gate -- as if the threat of a beating if you are caught by Tyson isn't enough to keep you out.
The former heavyweight champ bought the house, near the intersection of Pecos and Sunset roads, in April 1995 for $3.7 million.
Casual observers are not allowed on the property. To take a peek at the mansion, where Tyson had a massive New Year's Eve party in 2002, interested parties must prove to Humeston and the Bankruptcy Court that they have the financial punch to make such a purchase.
The real excitement in Las Vegas this weekend comes from the heart.
Valentine's Day is the biggest wedding day of the year, and the town's resident marriage matriarch is ready.
"I already have 400 weddings booked for Saturday, and we expect hundreds more walk-ins," Charolette Richards, mistress of the famous Little White Wedding Chapel on Las Vegas Boulevard, told us Thursday. "I will have 10 ministers on duty 24 hours a day all weekend long.
"Not only will business be up because Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday -- which also makes it an easy-to-remember anniversary date for the guys -- but it is a holiday weekend with President's Day on Monday."
Richards said she can marry as many as seven couples at one time -- "and that's not including the drive-through part."
Over the years her chapel has been the site of numerous celebrity weddings. Among those who have gotten hitched there are Britney Spears, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rooney, Joan Collins and Michael Jordan.
"I feel that Valentine's Day 2004 will be the biggest day in Las Vegas wedding history. I feel a lot of love in the air and people these days seem to want be more secure in their commitments," Richards said.
Spectate: John and several of his "Red Piano" crew members attended the 10:30 p.m. Wednesday performance of "O" (Bellagio) ...
Return: Radio bad boy Howard Stern said on the air Thursday that he is going to be broadcasting for the third year in a row from the Hard Rock Hotel from April 27 to April 29. A hotel spokesman wasn't able to confirm the report ...
Sing: European dance sensation InGrid, one of 14 featured artists on the new music CD "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: What's That Sound," is slated to perform Saturday at the "Out in Vegas" party at Chameleon Studios on Hinson Street. It'll be hosted by noted New York City drag queen Lady Bunny ...
Raise: Prodding from Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman helped bidders raise more than $3,000 to benefit the Adoption Exchange at the opening celebrations of Caffe Giorgio at Mandalay Place, the Art of Shaving and the haberdashery Elton's on Wednesday night.
Clarify: While Jerry Lewis does indeed have back problems, he was in rehab to wean himself off steroids that were prescribed for a respiratory ailment, not for his back, as was reported here Thursday.
From Sun wires
Miss congeniality: Sandra Bullock had to show off her dating skills Thursday to earn a shiny, brass pudding pot and the title of Harvard's Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year.
Bullock sauntered across the stage, and playing with her golden brown hair, tried to woo a Harvard student wearing a costume with bulging padded biceps and leather pants.
"This is the one that always works, whether the man is inebriated, whether he's gay or straight, married or single. I walk up like this, and I do like a little hair thing, and I say this: 'Hi. I have a more than a million dollars in my bank account and I'm single,"' Bullock said to a cheering audience.
Before receiving the award, Bullock led a parade through Harvard Square.