Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | 5:33 p.m.
Kevin Antunes Talks Michael Jackson
While music legend Cher caused a stir over her decision to wear fur at Paris Fashion Week this week, rumors grew here that Las Vegas is in her plans for her new -- and final, final -- world tour getting underway this year.
Cher has dubbed it the “Never Can Say Goodbye Tour” since she called her last solo tour “The Farewell Tour.” Since 1979 with the “Take Me Home Tour,” the now 67-year-old award-winning singer and actress has traveled the world with six concert runs.
Cher had 97 shows at Caesars Palace from August 1979 to August 1982 and played The Colosseum for 192 shows from May 2008 through February 2011.
MUSICAL RETURN: Keyboard player and music director Kevin Antunes is back here for four months as he works on Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson One” premiering this summer at Mandalay Bay. He performed similar duties for director Jamie King on Michael Jackson’s “Immortal” World Tour, which began its global trek after a month at Mandalay.
Kevin told me that every song for “One” will be different from those he worked on for “Immortal.” He remixed all of the original music from the Michael Jackson recordings and is credited as musical designer for both spectaculars. Rehearsals are in their third week at the transformed Mandalay Theater.
“I’m looking forward to calling Las Vegas home again after being on the road trip around the world since October 2011,” he added. “Immortal” has generated more than $400 million and was the highest-grossing U.S. tour in 2011 and the second highest last year.
NEW RESTAURANT: Expect to see a lot of 2012 Miss Nevada Teen USA Katie Eklund at the new Bonefish Grill in Town Square after its March 18 opening. That’s because her mom, Rachael Rankins, is running the popular Southern chain’s outpost here.
NOT SHUTTERED: Someone is spreading malicious and untrue rumors! Neither the newly opened Rockhouse at The Venetian or The Act’s at the adjoining Palazzo are closed or closing. PR reps for both asked me to tell readers that the news elsewhere is false.
FIRST ACM AWARDS NAMES: Luke Bryan, Kelly Clarkson, Hunter Hayes, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, George Strait and The Band Perry are the first names announced today to perform on the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS from MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7. Luke and Blake are co-hosts for the show; it’s Luke’s first time, replacing Reba McEntire.
FORTY YEARS: Congratulations to 23-year Las Vegas resident Bruce Merrin celebrating his 40th year as head honcho of Celebrity Speakers & Entertainment, which he started with Johnny Carson and Michael Landon as his first clients. Said Bruce: “We have booked every past president since President Ronald Reagan, most of the sports superstars, … top newsmakers and bestselling authors and motivational and inspirational speakers. The first sports star I booked was Jackie Robinson.”
Bruce books Hollywood stars for private Las Vegas conventions and parties: “My favorite booking in Nevada was for Mesquite. … I booked President Gerald Ford, Bruce Jenner, Cheryl Landon, F-16 pilot Scott O’Grady and Rich Little. I received a glowing letter stating that the extravaganza put Mesquite on the map. I was so impressed with President Ford. After he concluded his presentation, Secret Service staff rushed to the stage to whisk him away. Many people in the audience were asking President Ford questions, so he brushed his security off and stayed for a full hour answering all of the questions. What a class act.”
SHAVING FUN: There are many more baldheads in town thanks to the shaving spree to raise funds in the annual St. Baldrick’s events. At McMullan’s Irish Pub, I served as MC for a while during its 13-hour fundraiser and also “knighted” Judy Bryer a “dame” for her seven years of volunteer duties. Brian McMullan reported that they raised $297,000.
At its second shaving event for St. Baldrick’s, Ri Ra at Mandalay Place raised more than $12,500, with “Peepshow” stars Cheaza and Josh Strickland and my food critic pal Al Mancini as guest barbers.
Outdoors at New York-New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, our Editor at Large Johnny Katsilometes had his head shaved; at the $53,000 fundraiser, “Jersey Boys,” “Rock of Ages” and “Absinthe’s” Angel Porrino added to the fun.
It was a “Rock ’n’ Shave” benefit at Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel with 45 volunteers raising more than $35,000. Among the guest shavers: Jason Cook (Five Finger Death Punch,) Frank Dimino (Angel), Jeff Duncan (Armored Saint), Chris Kael (Five Finger Death Punch,” Danny “The Count” Koker (“Counting Cars,” “Pawn Stars”), Robert Mason (Warrant), Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot) and Jeff Young (Megadeth).
Actor Steve Buscemi, who stars with Steve Carell in the new film “The Incredible Burt Wunderstone,” enjoyed lobster and Kobe filet at Gordon Ramsay Steak in Paris Las Vegas.
Actress Olivia Wilde, who also is in “Wonderstone” out March 16, dined at Scarpetta in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
UFC fighter Frank Mir, boxing legend Leon Spinks and boxing referee Joe Cortez dined at Carla Pellegrino’s Meatball Spot in Town Square.
More than 30 hot dancers competed in the annual Tao a Go Go contest at The Venetian nightclub. By applause from the crowd, Natasha Bacallo won the $10,000 grand prize, with Denesha Johnson receiving $5,000 for 2nd. Also at Tao at separate tables, DeAngelo Hall of the Washington Redskins and Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans.
Regular “Chelsea Lately” comedian Jo Koy watched “Mystere” by Cirque in Treasure Island in advance of his March 22 show there.
The NASCAR Hauler Parade along Las Vegas Boulevard starts at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign at 6 p.m.
The second and final night of “The New York City Ballet Moves” is at The Smith Center.
The West Coast Conference basketball championships tips off at The Orleans Arena and runs through Monday.
Hip-hop star and Grammy-nominated Warren G is at LAX in Luxor.
The China National Symphony Orchestra is in concert at UNLV.
Young Guns, Lost Element, Ten Years and Systemic are at Vinyl.
Hello Kitty hosts a gift suite for ladies attending the launch of Ladies Night at GhostBar in the Palms.
Comedian Louie Anderson’s goes high diving in ABC’s “Splash,” plus, a Royal Robin Rundown of NASCAR Weekend events.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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