Thursday, June 5, 2014 | 6 p.m.
It was Celine Dion’s very own crazy idea for a stunt photograph, and it turned out to be a first.
All four of the superstars performing at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace — Shania Twain, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Celine — agreed to a unique photo shoot that will be published next week in People magazine. Some Las Vegas stores will have the issue as early Friday.
“I don’t like to do things that are easy. I like to do things that are hard,” 46-year-old Canadian songbird Celine told the weekly celebrity publication. It was a coup to have all four pose for the photos, and Celine OK’d the exclusive sneak-peek video of when she was hauled 18 feet into the air to pose in the arms of the hotel’s replica of the Michelangelo masterpiece of the statue of David.
The original ideas for the shoot didn’t get Celine excited, and she came up with her own “dream” of winding up in David’s arms. The magazine photographers loved her idea and said, “Let’s do it.”
Afterward, Celine told People’s Mark Gray: “I don’t know if anyone else went into David’s arms, but, if I am the first, I am very honored.” Turns out she was the first! Details of the stunts involving Shania, Elton and Rod remain secret until Monday’s publication of the magazine.
POST-WEDDING RETIREMENT: Following up on my Wicked Whisper & Racy Rumor report Wednesday, I can now confirm that The Amazing Johnathan will marry performance artist Anastasia Synn on Saturday. Longtime friend and “smashing entertainer” Gallagher became an ordained minister specifically to marry the couple in what they are describing as “one of the most off-the-wall weddings Las Vegas has ever hosted.”
A.J.’s office confirmed my report with official news this morning that the ceremony will take place at “A Special Memory Chapel,” which will be decorated in a circus theme. In addition to the couple’s family and close friends, David Copperfield, Carrot Top, Louie Anderson, Cirque Du Soleil cast members, zombies and wrestlers will join in the fun. The reception is at the Plaza, where entertainment will continue into the night.
Sadly, though, A.J. also confirmed today that, due to health issues, he will retire after 35 years of performing. Over three decades, he set house records at the Nugget, Riviera, Flamingo and Bally’s and became the longest-running comic magician in Las Vegas history. His final four shows will take place at the Magic Castle in L.A. from June 30- July 1 and will be recorded for a future documentary.
GOLD QUEST: For the third summer season, 11-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte returns to Azure Luxury Pool at Palazzo on Saturday to make a party splash. The 29-year-old heartthrob athlete is currently training for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Ryan will mix and mingle with revelers at Palazzo . No word yet if he will strip down to his signature Speedo.
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS LOSSES: Former Libertarian vice-presidential nominee and Las Vegas resident Wayne Root made headlines Wednesday on Jesse Ventura’s new show on Ora TV. Wayne, who has his new book “Murder of the Middle Class,” being published mid-July, slammed government economic policies and insisted that a Nevada brothel lost money while being run by the IRS.
“I try to make politics fun entertaining and colorful,” Wayne told me. “If the government can’t make money with a legal, profitable whorehouse it ran into the ground, it can get its hands off my healthcare,” he laughed.
Hot off the grill!
Las Vegas chef Shirley Chung dazzled TV viewers last season on Bravo’s “Top Chef” in New Orleans, and although she lost in the final moments, Bravo is bringing her back to do battle on its new TV series “Top Chef: Duels” this summer. Call this the gastronomic battle royale of 18 “Top Chef” favorite stars.
In each episode, two chefs will face off in three rounds testing their skill, speed and creativity. The chefs each pick one mini duel based on the other’s perceived weaknesses. The third mini-battle determines which one will go on to compete in the final 10 chefs to win a $100,000 grand prize. The first episode with Shirley battling Brooke Williamson, the “Top Chef” Seattle runner-up, is set to air a week after the Aug. 6 premiere.
Judges include Las Vegas celebrity chefs Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud, musicians Pink and Rob Zombie and cast members of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Brooklyn Nine Nine.” Curtis Stone is the host with Gail Simmons. Eater National reports that Shirley will open her restaurant 28-Modern Chinese Cuisine in Irvine, Calif., this month. Wolf will host the online follow-up show similar to “Last Chance Kitchen” titled “The Knockout.”
More than 80 of Wolf’s employees from his worldwide empire stretching from Singapore to London flew here this week for his annual company retreat. Actor Jon Favreau presented a private screening of his new movie “Chef” for the staff who pinned him down for a Q+A as to how he became a chef for the film. Jon joined Wolf to judge a chef’s challenge.
CONGRATULATIONS! Las Vegas restaurateur Sami Ladeki of Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza fame was named Restaurateur of the Year by the California Restaurant Association this week. It marked the 25th anniversary of the opening of the first Sammy’s in La Jolla in 1989. He now has 19 venues in Nevada and California, including at our McCarran Airport and feet away from where this column is posted daily at GMG headquarters in Green Valley.
His next branch opens in Sacramento next month. More than 1,000 people turned up to salute him when San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer also proclaimed it “Sami Ladeki Day.” Sami, who has 1,200 employees, moved to Las Vegas in 1968 and was the food and beverage director at Caesars Palace before opening the first of his still-growing restaurant chain with his $300,000 in life savings.
Comedians Jay Leno and Bob Saget host with entertainment provided by Ben Folds at the Scleroderma Foundation Hot Cuisine Cool Comedy fundraiser at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay. Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken and Rick Moonen are serve the taste treats for the inaugural gala here.
DJ Fergie is at Hakkasan in MGM Grand.
Artists Javier Sanchez and our photo coordinator extraordinaire Yasmina Chavez unveil their sound installation to determine human interaction in the digital age at UNLV’s Barrick Museum.
Beauty Bar continues its bottomless Thursday offerings downtown.
It’s a weekend of music merriment on and off the Strip with Lionel Richie and CeeLo Green going up against Kid Rock, Brown Sabbath, Billy Joel and Stain’d. But the music men might lose out as the spotlight turns to the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend holding court and tiny tassels at the Orleans for three days of frolicking festivities.
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.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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Transport yourself to the opulent and excessive Roman Empire at Caesars Palace. But the ever-changing Caesars Palace is far from ancient. The hotel and casino is constantly raising the bar for what visitors can expect in a Vegas resort experience.
Caesars Palace features 3,348 rooms and suites in five towers, including the new luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, which opened Feb. 4, 2013, in the totally remodeled Centurian Tower. Caesars features 129,000 square feet of gaming space, including the Strip’s largest poker room and a 250-seat sports book. Other amenities include about two dozen restaurants, a four-level shopping mall, four pools, a spa, Pure and Poetry nightclubs and Pussycat Dolls.
Dining options include restaurants from world-renown chefs Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay and, on Feb. 4, 2013, Nobu Matsuhisa.
You never know what characters you’ll run into at Caesars with regular performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Elton John and maybe even the emperor himself.