Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009 | 5:03 p.m.
Hugh Hefner is back and he’s brought three new bunnies with him: The hit reality series set in and around the Playboy Mansion, “The Girls Next Door,” returns tonight with an all-new episode and a mostly-new cast.
It’s a particularly Vegas-y season premiere, too, as the Hef and his new girls come to Las Vegas to mix a little business with pleasure. The fun gets underway tonight on E!.
Scenes included in tonight’s show were shot at a few locations around town earlier this summer: At the Playboy Store at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace; at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum at the Venetian; at Planet Hollywood; and in and around the Palms.
Criss Angel also gets a nod or two – or rather, suffers a few jabs – in the episode. (Madison dated the “Mindfreak” magician after she and Hefner parted ways lat fall.)
And while she isn’t mentioned by name and the connection is a stretch at best, viewers might also be surprised to find a loose connection to Madison’s new co-star, former Playboy Playmate Aubrey O’Day, in tonight’s premiere. (Hint: it involves a furry four-legged friend and some food coloring.)
One thing is certain: It’s out with the old and in with the new as the fifth season gets underway. Gone are the old(er) girlfriends of seasons past, Madison, Kendra Wilkinson, and Bridget Marquardt. Unless you’re living in a hole out on North Jones Boulevard, there is no need to explain what Madison is up to these days. Wilkinson has also lived a high-profile post-Mansion life, and has a E! reality series of her own, along with football player hubby Hank Baskett. The two are expecting their first child in December. Marquardt, meanwhile, has kept a relatively low profile, hosting a show on the Travel Channel called “Bridget’s Beaches.”
Hefner’s former flames have moved on, while three newer, younger, but equally blonde ambitions have moved in.
Viewers will meet the Playboy mogul’s new main squeeze, 23-year-old Crystal Harris, tonight, along with his twin young women-in-waiting, 19-year-olds Karissa and Kristina Shannon.
While Wilkinson and Marquardt are hardly mentioned, Madison, still plays a significant part in the show – even though she moved out of the iconic Holmby Hills estate last year and now calls Planet Hollywood home.
After four years of Madison, Wilkinson and Marquardt, the three new girlfriends have considerable shoes to fill when it comes to winning over the show’s loyal viewers.
“I’m not the new Holly, Holly’s the old me,” Harris has mused.
We’ll see about that.
This season of “The Girls Next Door” also presents the challenge of learning to tell the twins apart – and that’s no simple task, since they look the same, talk the same, sound the same, dress the same, and act the same, too. Heck, they even finish each other’s sentences (which makes interviewing them and accurately quoting them in particularly difficult).
While they’re virtually inseparable, the Shannon sisters aren’t totally indistinguishable. The trick, they say, involves eyeing a few strategically-placed freckles.
As far as cast comparisons go, the twins seem most like sporty Wilkinson than any other former girlfriend. While they don’t seem to be especially athletic, the sisters share Wilkinson’s naïve, playfully immature air and come off appearing unpolished, slightly obnoxious and, at times, crude.
Perhaps it has something to do with their age: The Shannon girls are about the same age Wilkinson was when she first moved in with the now 83-year-old Hefner.
While Hef has welcomed the new girls into his home, it remains to be seen if audiences will do the same. Will viewers embrace the new trio and accept them into their living rooms, or will they sit on their couches, unimpressed, longing to have the old girls back? Only time will tell.
Coincidentally enough, Madison starts work on a new reality project of her own tomorrow.
Palms Casino Resort has come a long way since its "Real World" debut in 2002. The boutique property features three distinct towers and a diverse mix of bars and restaurants across a 95,000-square-foot casino.
Palms, which features more than 1,200 rooms and fantasy suites, is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar transformation that will encompass an Ivory Tower room and suite redesign, new culinary additions, re-imagined gaming spaces and new, distinctive nightlife experiences.
In addition to newly designed rooms, during the first phase of the renovation, Palms will welcome Heraea, a high-energy American restaurant and lounge, and XISHI, a pan-Asian restaurant and lounge.
Fantasy Suites include the Hardwood Suite, the only hotel room in the world with its own basketball court.
Other amenities include the all-new Cantor Gaming® race and sports book, one of the few sports books in Las Vegas to include a poker room; SOCIAL; Scarlet; Chocolat Bistro; tonic bar; ghostbar; Pearl Concert Theater; Moon Nightclub; N9NE Steakhouse; Nove Italiano; Simon Restaurant & Lounge; Palms Pool & Bungalows; Kim Vō Salon; Drift Spa & Hammam; Brenden Theatres, a 14-theatre cineplex and more than 60,000 square-feet of meeting space.