Monday, April 14, 2014 | 6 p.m.
TV star chef and UNLV alumnus Guy Fieri says that if Rio headliner illusionist Penn Jillette wants to open a restaurant here, he would be its biggest supporter.
The unlikely partners in a Las Vegas eatery wound up competing against each other in the most recent Food Network season of “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.”
As a member of Rachael Ray’s team, Penn wound up in the finale with partner Florence Henderson opposite Guy’s lead chef, former NFL star and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker partnered with singer Tiffany.
Herschel was declared the winner with Penn runner-up with only one point separating them. Penn donated $10,000 in winnings to our beloved charity Opportunity Village. I asked Guy to give me an honest opinion of the magician’s cooking skills:
“He surprised you, he surprised everybody — no B.S. If Penn Jillette wanted to open a restaurant tomorrow, he could. He’s not just good; he’s great. There’s no reason for me to say that because he wasn’t even on my team. As wickedly smart as he is onstage, that dude thinks 10 times the average speed of a person. His flavor profiles, his balance, his ability to taste, eat was outstanding.
“Matter of fact, I even told him because he also just did that ice cream challenge for Donald Trump on ‘The Apprentice’, I told him if he ever wanted to open a restaurant, I would be more than happy to come in and give him all the support he’d need. He is a really, really talented guy.”
MARIE’S MOVIES: There are Wicked Whispers & Racy Rumors buzzing that Flamingo headliner Marie Osmond is getting involved with the movie business, and it’s possible that her own life story might just become the basis for one of the films for a new Utah filmmakers studio to be announced at the casino resort in May.
Nebulae Entertainment, which launched at the just-concluded 2014 CinemaCon theater owners meeting at Caesars Palace, will start filming its first thriller, “The Janus Project,” in our neighboring state June 1. It’s a story by Afghanistan veteran and Counter Intelligence Officer Nathan Nearman and will be the first of 16 pictures, one of them being whispered as Marie’s.
The studio partners have $30 million earmarked for production and will sell pre-release tickets to see films ahead of their theatrical release. Starting now through May 10, $4 tickets will be sold to see the film online before it hits theaters: TheJanusProjectFilm.com.
English actress Emily O’Brien, a three time Emmy Award winner, and former “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Bold and the Beautiful” actor Adam Gregory have been cast for the film, and that’s Marie’s connection. Adam was a source of comfort for Marie when her son, Michael, died in a fall from a Los Angeles apartment after a long battle with depression.
When Adam, Emily and Nebulae Entertainment partners were here two weeks ago for CinemaCon, they all sat in front-row seats at the Donny & Marie Show in the Flamingo, where Marie asked Adam to stand up. She introduced him to the audience and called him, in a caring gesture, “my son.”
UP, UP AND AWAY: Progress on the about-to-open Cromwell boutique hotel at center Strip is on schedule. Hotel execs will provide tours of the 40,000-square-foot casino floor and reception areas Thursday. Meantime, 10 35-foot-tall palm trees have been hoisted into the rooftop pool area of Victor Drai’s 35,000-square-foot dayclub on two levels at the 11th floor.
There will be two lower-level pools and nine VIP bungalows sharing five elevated pools. The 360-degree, unobstructed look north and south of the Strip provides never-before-seen views and is home to an endless day of sun — never disappearing behind rival hotel towers or buildings. I’m told that before the pools are filled, the entire staff will be tuxedo- and evening gown-clad for a champagne ceremony.
“It’s a 15-year dream finally coming true, and each day the wow factor keeps getting bigger right before my eyes,” said Victor. The Cromwell is the Strip’s first standalone boutique hotel after a $185 million renovation of Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon.
TV star chef Giada De Laurentiis will have her first menu tastings next week, and we’ll have her own words right here at Vegas DeLuxe on Tuesday about the food and venue.
MORE MOVIES? Filming is underway at Wynn for location sequences of the $46 million sequel to “Mall Cop” with Kevin James for Sony Pictures. Now comes word of another announcement within two months, giving more film and TV exposure to Wynn.
Owner Steve Wynn assembled a team to source and acquire film, TV and publishing opportunities as a branding initiative led by Sean Christie, managing partner of Andrea’s, Encore Beach Club and Surrender, the latter two about to celebrate its fourth anniversary over Memorial Day Weekend.
PARTY TIME: Actor heartthrob John Stamos treated his mom, Loretta Phillips, to a weekend-long 75th birthday celebration here. They had a champagne toast at the owner’s table of Fizz, the new champagne lounge at Caesars Palace fashioned by creative director David Furnish, Elton John’s husband.
Earlier, John took his mom to Sir Elton’s “Million Dollar Piano” at the nearby Colosseum. Also at Fizz and the show, actor Chris O’Donnell (“NCIS: Los Angeles”). Later, former “Baywatch” star Jeremy Jackson turned up at Fizz.
* Comedian George Wallace has confirmed that he’ll end his run at the Flamingo on April 26 after marking his 10th anniversary there last month. He says he will continue to reside in Las Vegas even though he has touring plans, an overseas Pentagon assignment for the troops.
“I will live here and forever call it home after these 10 years on the Strip,” George said. “It is a great city and one I have come to love and feel a real part of. I may do some radio and television and continue to make people laugh and enjoy my life.” George arrived for a 30-day run a decade ago and kept getting his show extended.
* Recovering from gall bladder and appendix surgery, DJ Avicii has postponed his U.S. dates for the month, including this weekend and April 26 sets at EBC. Diplo is slated for this Saturday and also spins at Surrender the same night, while Deadmau5 headlines April 26.
* The cast and musicians for the May 8 previews of “Mamma Mia!” before the May 16 red carpet premiere move into the Tropicana theater this week for final rehearsals.
* Snoop Dogg hosts a six-date DJ and performance run at Tao in the Venetian with his Snoopadelic Cabaret starting May 3 after the Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcus Maidana fight at MGM Grand. The venue will be transformed into a Roaring ’20s-themed speakeasy with acts and performances.
* First glimpses of the Showtime special I shot with Floyd at his three Las Vegas homes last week will be seen as teasers Easter weekend, with the program and interview kicking off April 26.
* Just asking if Nico Santucci, owner of Capo’s Italian restaurant and the Parisian Palace film location mansion, is working with Tilman Fertitta on the unused SHe nightclub space above Eva Longoria’s former Beso steakhouse at Crystals.
Jimmy Shubert and Kira Soltanovich headline Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand through Sunday.
Gerry Bednob and Penny Prince headline at Riviera Comedy Club through Sunday.
White Lies, The 1975 and The Naked and Famous are at Brooklyn Bowl at the Linq.
We’ll catch up on our $100,000 summer waitresses, wrap up the four days of UNLVino festivities, and check in with Giada. Incidentally, if you share the same first and last name as one of the Titanic’s 2,228 passengers or crew, you get free entry to the Luxor exhibit to mark the 102nd anniversary of its sinking. Which is probably the feeling you’ll get when you file by midnight your 2013 tax return with the IRS.
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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The D Las Vegas is the new revved-up name for a longtime downtown Las Vegas hotel, Fitzgeralds, which had been in operation since 1987.
Owner Derek Stevens rebranded and refurbished the hotel in fall 2012 to give it a motor city theme, using the nickname of his beloved city, Detroit, for the name of the new hotel. He also brought in two restaurant favorites from Detroit: American Coney Island and Joe Vicari's Andiamo Italian Steakhouse.
The property features 638 remodeled contemporary rooms and suites. The unique two-level casino included slots and table games. Dancing dealers are featured on the first floor. And the second floor transports guests back in time to old-school Vegas with its Vintage Casino.
The casino also features the LONGBAR, the longest bar in Nevada, where sports fans can watch games on big screen TVs. Outside on Fremont Street, D Bar invites guests and passerby alike to enjoy refreshing frozen libations and specialty cocktails as talented, trickster bartenders send bottles and glasses flying through the air.
The Showroom at the D features the interactive comedy show, "Marriage Can Be Murder," where guests can be part of the mystery.