Ethan Miller / Getty Images
Monday, April 28, 2014 | 11:58 p.m.
Oscar-winning actor and heartthrob George Clooney may well have ended his eternal bachelor lifestyle with his weekend engagement to Arabic-born British barrister Amal Alamuddin.
The couple took off from his Malibu, Calif., home for a sunset motorcycle ride to celebrate — and as a result of that, he wasn’t able to call our 2014 Keep Memory Alive “Power of Love” Gala guests competing in the live auction portion of the star-studded Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Even without his phone call, the bidding on his invitation to have dinner at his Cabo San Lucas home with Casamigos tequila partners Cindy Crawford and nightlife czar husband Rande Gerber became frenzied and topped out at a staggering $250,000.
The backstage production team also hoped with his anticipated call that KMA founder Larry Ruvo could help mend the political row between George and hotel mogul Steve Wynn, but the superstar’s surprise engagement came first.
Steve wound up bidding $35,000 for a private home-cooked dinner by Oscar and Emmy winner Rita Moreno, who performed songs from “West Side Story” to open the night after Quincy Jones’ welcome speech (Quincy was the honoree last year alongside Oscar winner Sir Michael Caine). Steve also raised another $200,000 donating a week’s sailing trip on his 150-foot luxury yacht Allegro.
The annual “Power of Love” celebration that raises funds for the continuing work and medical research at the downtown Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health brought in more than $10 million from donations, dinner table sales and the live and silent auctions. Culinary king Wolfgang Puck and “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto teamed for the spectacular dinner that followed the Dom Perignon VIP reception.
The all-star turnout onstage and offstage honored Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio Estefan Jr. Highlights included an unforgettable duet from Gloria and Carole King on “Natural Woman,” with Gloria and Emilio’s daughter Emily guest performing on the bass guitar.
Show opener Rita stunned the well-heeled crowd in a lacy black corset reprising her Oscar-winning role as Anita from “West Side Story” in a classic performance of “Somewhere” with “Ocean’s 11” and “The Godfather” star Andy Garcia on bongo drums.
The music was so infectious from Ricky Martin, Jon Secada, Queen Latifah, Jordin Sparks and Emilio’s new discovery Fantine that dinner guests got out of their seats and left their tables to set up an impromptu dance floor in front of the stage. The Las Vegas Mass Choir joined the stars onstage for the “Coming Out of the Dark” finale. Editor at Large John Katsilometes was among the evening’s attendees.
Other celebrity supporters included Christopher Meloni, Dermot Mulroney, Kenny “Baby Face” Edmonds, Sandra Lee, master illusionists Siegfried & Roy and “Sopranos” star Steve Schirripa, who told me that his new series “Eating Large” is underway for the Food Network.
The auction, which was kicked off by our Foothill High School Marching Band in synchronized drumbeat steps, included one-of-a-kind items such as a trip to Steve Irwin’s Australian zoo, a recording session with Kenny, dinners at George and Sammy Hagar’s Mexican hideaways and Siegfried & Roy’s Jungle Palace home and an on-set visit to Kevin Spacey’s “House of Cards,” and all made for furious bids.
The 18th annual spectacular event also served to recognize Gloria’s amazing recovery from a nearly fatal tour bus accident in 1990 when she was bound to a wheelchair and told by doctors that she’d never walk again. Against all odds, she prevailed, and now her life story is to become a Broadway musical, “On Your Feet.”
She revealed that a reality TV show will become a talent search to find the best three actresses to play her life at various stages — from the early days in Miami and the accident to her return to stardom.
Next up for Keep Memory Alive will be a private Michael Buble concert at the clinic’s event center in November. Our thanks to Ethan Miller of Getty Images for his photo galleries of the gala fundraiser.
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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MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.