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July 25, 2016

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2016 CES celebrity preview: Mark Cuban, Michael Phelps, Shaq, Magic Johnson, Ryan Seacrest

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Mikayla Whitmore

Faraday Future’s concept vehicle FFZERO1 is unveiled at an event before the start of the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in a parking lot across the street from the Luxor.

Faraday Future Concept Vehicle

Faraday Future's concept vehicle FFZERO1 is unveiled at an event before the start of the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in a parking lot across the street from the Luxor. Launch slideshow »

Faraday Future Press Conference

Nick Sampson speaks during Faraday Future's concept vehicle FFZERO1 unveiling at an event before the start of the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in a parking lot across the street from the Luxor. Launch slideshow »

It used to be when the annual AVN /Adult Entertainment Expo was loosely linked to the yearly Consumer Electronics Show that adult filmmakers had already figured out the best way to make money out of the new inventions and gadgets. Now that they are no longer coupled, it seems CES is all about in-car communications, smart homes, drones, wearables and advertising to cover content.

I can’t imagine a porn princess or a topless beauty flying in on a drone delivered by Amazon or a XXX-rated flick being of any interest with the two-way PetChatz screen and camera that allows dogs and their owners a quick FaceTime rendezvous during the office day.

In fact, the purveyors of porn are even turning their noses up at virtual reality, which dominates this year’s media, health care and entertainment CES exhibits. “Nothing like the real thing,” say the courtesans at Sheri’s Ranch in Pahrump who normally experience a big bounce in customers during CES.

“We can provide human intimacy,” says Erin. “And no virtual technology will replace human touch and physical interaction.” Dena, the madam of the brothel, added: “We offer real intimacy and not the illusion.”

The consumer version of the Oculus Rift virtual headset will begin taking preorders at 8 a.m. Wednesday when its price is announced. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey said at CES on Monday: “Virtual reality will become something everyone wants before it becomes something everyone can afford.” The two-day, second-annual virtual-reality film festival is here Wednesday and Thursday.

The only thing I thought might be of interest to adult star Jessica Drake would be the product that could burn her provocative, scantily clad image into consoles hiding gaming or her collection of sex tapes.

CES this year will be its biggest ever with a mighty 2.4 million square feet of space ready to welcome 170,000 conventioneers looking into the world of our electronic future. It’s so big that it’s outgrown the Convention Center and uses space at the Venetian and its Sands Convention Center, Mandalay Bay, Wynn Las Vegas and Aria. It’s the largest convention of the calendar, and delegates from 4,000 companies and 150 countries will spend $140 million while here.

It’s the convergence of everything “electrical technology”: Driverless cars with automatic piloting, robotics and artificial intelligence. Yesterday’s science fiction has become real.

Early today, the biggest buzz at CES was that Twitter will soon increase its maximum 140-character limit to 10,000. Tweets would still show the first 140 characters, but a quick click on them would immediately open up to show the remaining 9,860 characters.

I’m just waiting on my 3D printing pen from CreoPop (Facebook.com/CreoPop) available this week at Best Buy. Celebrities are using it to create 3D designs in cool inks of different colors, magnetic inks, elastic inks, glow-in-the-dark inks and body-paint inks.

I could easily tweet 10,000 characters about this year’s CES overrun by tens of thousands of exhibitors battling with automatic automobile technology and drones. Connected homes and electric autos will be big business when CES officially opens Wednesday for three days of fascination, although exhibitors and corporate captains of industry have been here since the weekend with two days of preview speeches, top-level meetings and setting up their displays, which began in mid-December.

Watch for today’s expected announcement from Ford’s chief executive Mark Fields about expanded SYNC in-car communications and entertainment systems. Yes, you will be able to change radio stations with just a wave of the hand, but it is more about improving safety and avoiding collisions.

Can your future steering wheel avoid accidents? Can your car read traffic lights? That’s what the experts are planning. Ford’s head honcho says the goal is to develop autonomous cars by the end of the decade and this year will triple the size of its autonomous vehicle fleet from 10 to 30.

General Motors chief executive Mary Barra will unveil Wednesday the Chevrolet Bolt production version of its all-new electric model. Volkswagen execs from Germany are here to reveal their electric-vehicle prototypes. CES is not an auto show, but nine automakers and dozens of auto-parts suppliers are taking part with CES dedicating 25 percent more space this year to vehicles. It could spell a curtailed future for the Detroit Auto Show even though this is all part of Detroit’s fight against Silicon Valley giants Google and Apple leading the movement.

As our colleagues at the Las Vegas Sun reported, our hometown Faraday Future electric car company with its Chinese backing for construction of a $1 billion manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas unveils its vehicle to compete with Tesla. Downtown Las Vegas will shine with our own hometown tech community: Tech.Co hosts “Startup Night” at Gold Spike tonight, and drone racing gets underway Saturday at Xtreme Drone Circuit at Zappos.

Hollywood is here in force with nearly 30,000 entertainment and content professionals expected to attend, a big increase from the 6,000 that signed up just five years ago. Headline speakers include Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Wednesday and YouTube kingpin Robert Kyncl and NBC Universal CEO Stephen Burke on Thursday.

In fact, YouTube stars Joey Graceffa and iJustine (Justine Ezarik) will tour the convention center reporting as entertainment ambassadors to their more than 10 million subscribers. Also touring the CES floor: Our own Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Among the celebrities set to attend: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, TV and radio host and producer Ryan Seacrest, sports stars Michael Phelps, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and more. As we reported Monday, Magic Johnson will host Monster’s retailer awards with a tribute salute to Michael Jackson on Thursday at Axis at Planet Hollywood with Christina Milian, Ne-Yo, Aerosmith, George Benson and members of the Jackson family.

CEO Mike Hopkins, content chief Craig Erwich and ad sales head Peter Naylor represent Hulu. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich delivers his keynote address tonight in Palazzo Ballroom at the Venetian. A&E Network chief Nancy Dubuc, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg also are attending.

They aren’t in town for the gadgets but for new distribution of their content on new technology platforms. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch also is expected when his 20th Century Fox pulls back the curtain on its “The Martian” virtual-reality experience.

High definition is changing as we march boldly where no man has gone before. Forget 3D. We’re already onto 4K and expect new TV sets to streamline its arrival thanks to increased programming content coming from Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Prime and YouTube directly to your TV set.

4K is four times the resolution of regular HD screens, and that’s being expanded with Super UHD televisions with sets growing in size up to 96 inches for future 8K content. This is a new world because CES stats show 235 million normal sets sold last year, with just 30 million 4K sets expected to sell this year. But change is here and coming on strong to make it all look and feel as if you are in the front row of the 50-yard line.

In addition to the mammoth drone display area, the wearables displays prove they are no longer just wrist gadgets and fitness trackers. Now they’re in your shoes and clothes and even worn on your face. CES promises innovation and the power of technology and certainly delivers the visionaries and their products that will be in stores soon. I like the idea of my car opening my garage door as I get closer to home and shutting off the alarm system and turning on the coffee!

Meantime, those porn princesses are getting ready for their annual AVN convention at the Hard Rock Hotel starting Jan. 20, with their red carpet awards Jan. 23. Visual-reality porn actress Ela Darling has promised me an interview on just what V.R. from this week’s CES will bring to the adult world — but for now the madams at Sheri’s Ranch aren’t worried in the least.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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