Thursday, Dec. 18, 2003 | 10:42 a.m.
VegasBeat went to a hotel opening the other night and an art gallery broke out.
Perhaps Las Vegas' most impressive gallery opened Wednesday -- and it is disguised as a sleek new hotel.
No question that The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, a 43-story tower with 1,120 swank suites with amenities such as plasma TVs in the potty, is cutting-edge cool.
It is undeniably on a par with such mod, celeb-friendly properties as those owned by hoteliers Ian Schrager (New York's Royalton, Miami Beach's The Delano and Los Angeles' Morgan) and Andre Balazas (the Chateau Marmont in L.A. and The Mercer in New York's fashionable SoHo district).
But The Hotel has something that sets it apart from those jet-set destinations: There are millions of dollars of original art on the walls from such heavyweights as Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol to emerging geniuses such as Arturo Herrera.
A giant abstract mural by the Venezuela-born Herrera is splashed above the reception desk. Herrera was one of the stars of Whitney Biennial 02, the every-other-year showcase of the best of the new held at New York's Whitney Museum.
There are also pieces by Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Serra, Valerie Belin and Donald Judd in the hotel's public areas.
In the guest rooms are smartly framed print sets by a variety of lesser-known contemporary artists.
Hotel boss Glenn Schaefer is an avid art collector, explained the hotel's gifted curator, Michele Quinn.
"I didn't have many parameters other than to identify pieces that were a good fit for the hotel's look," she said, explaining that price was not an issue. "It is little things like the art that help make this unique property, and I am just happy to have had an opportunity to be part of this."
Quinn is a veteran of the New York art scene and runs the Godt-Cleary Gallery in the new Mandalay Place.
On "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" this evening, Howie Mandel does one of his periodic segments where he goes on location undercover and basically teases people.
A segment recently taped at the Fashion Show mall is being broadcast tonight.
In it, Mandel is dressed as a security guard. Among his victims are a handful of Las Vegas shoppers and ... Santa Claus.
Hope Mandel is not too mean -- after all, it's not too late to be on the big guy's Naughty List for this year.
Ken Baker, second-in-command at the celebrity glossy US Weekly, will be at Borders on West Charleston Avenue in Summerlin for a book signing at 2 p.m. Sunday.
"They Don't Play Hockey in Heaven" is a memoir about Baker's year playing with an ECHL minor-league hockey team.
In high school, Baker was an Olympic hockey prospect. In college, a brain tumor derailed his playing career. A decade after he became a journalist, Baker decided to launch a comeback.
"Baker's determination is inspirational," the Los Angeles Times said. "This is much more than a sports book, it's a book about life."
Baker will also do a signing before Monday night's 11:59 p.m. Las Vegas Wranglers game against his old team -- the Bakersfield Condors -- at The Orleans Arena.
The team says the late starting time is to allow fans to do some late holiday shopping.
Trust us on this one: Steph "The Morning Goddess," the a.m. DJ on KXPT 97.1-FM "The Point," does not have the classic radio face.
But doubters can see for themselves. She is part of a Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots holiday bachelor/bachelorette auction tonight at the Four Seasons. She has put together a package that includes, besides dinner with her at the Foundation Room, a Bali Hai golf date and a helicopter ride.
About two dozen other people are also on the menu. Tickets are $35 to $60 and include food and drink.
Day off: Los Angeles Lakers Shaquille O'Neal and Brian Russell were at the Stirling Club on Tuesday night, where they wandered into the Business Professionals, Up and Comers, Socialites and Entrepreneursnetworking event. Shaq owns a pad in the adjoining Turnberry Place condo tower ...
Decade: Tonight, TI prez Scott Sibella is hosting 400 of his nearest and dearest at a private bash marking 10 years of "Mystere." It debuted on Christmas Day 1993. Cast and crew from all the local Cirque du Soleil shows -- including "O" and "Zumanity" -- are also attending ...
Guest: I guess all his Christmas shopping is done -- because Santa Claus is working this week from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. as a guest DJ on LITE FM, KMZQ 100.5 FM ...
Outta here: Former KLAS Channel 8 reporter Casey Roebuck is leaving town. She told us that she is headed to the NBC affiliate in Tulsa, Okla., after the first of the year ...
Oops: It is the band Godsmack, not Godspeed, which opens for Metallica at the Thomas & Mack Center on March 13. We had it wrong in Tuesday's column. Godspeed is the name of Michael Fuller's Monday night Foundation Room fete, which seems to resonate a little deeper in the old cranium than we thought.
From Sun wires
"Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson is building a new movie production center in New Zealand to attract more big-budget Hollywood films to the country.
Jackson and two colleagues are financing much of a state-of-the-art $7.8 million sound stage and production complex in the capital, Wellington.
Buttafuoco arrested: Joey Buttafuoco, whose affair with a teenager led to his wife's shooting in New York, was arrested in Los Angeles Wednesday and charged with insurance fraud for allegedly making phony repair estimates at his auto body shop.
Buttafuoco, 47, co-owns California Collision of Chatsworth. He allegedly told undercover investigators how to file phony insurance claims for undamaged cars, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.
Burbank Airport renamed for Hope: Welcome to Bob Hope Airport -- Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport formally changed its name Wednesday to honor the legendary entertainer Bob Hope, who flew in and out of the airport during his decades of cheering American troops overseas.
Gates grant: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute a $10 million grant to continue its research on a vaccine to prevent malaria in pregnant women.