Tuesday, July 20, 2004 | 10:32 a.m.
Despite reports out of Havana that the Cuban government is prohibiting a dance troupe from traveling to Las Vegas for a Stardust gig scheduled to start next week, the hotel still says that all systems are go for "Havana Nights."
"We have made no alternate plans," hotel spokesman Jim Seagrave told us. "The producers have assured us that their performers will be here, and we are continuing to prepare the stage and showroom and installing the lights and props."
As was reported last week, 53 cast and crew members of the European-owned production have been denied exit visas by the Cuban government.
U.S. officials have said they will allow the troupe to enter the country because the entertainers are not employees of the Cuban government.
Since its inception in 1999, "Havana Nights" has played in 16 countries, but never the United States.
Billboards are up in Las Vegas for the show, which is scheduled to open July 30 and run through Sept. 6, and the Stardust Web site continues to post ticket prices.
Nicole Durr, the troupe's German-born founder, creator and artistic director, is in Las Vegas preparing for the opening, and insists the show will take place.
If and when the show opens, it would be the largest Cuba-based music and dance extravaganza to perform in the United States in more than a half century.
Other Cuban news
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had some interesting things to say to ESPN AM-920 host John Hanson when he and broadcast partner Dave Cokin were in Lake Tahoe for the American Century celebrity golf championship, which ended Sunday.
Cuban has been an advocate of Vegas getting its own NBA team, and obviously still feels strongly about the topic.
"I have no doubt in my mind there's going to be a franchise in Vegas. It's just too stupid not to do it," Cuban said. "It can't happen soon enough. I think it's just archaic. I think it's hypocritical. I think it's backwards that there isn't a team in Vegas right now.
"I mean, six, seven years ago before the Internet was prevalent, then I think you could make a good argument that what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas, gambling-wise. But gambling is internationally prevalent, and over the past seven years there's not a town anywhere near water that doesn't have a casino of some sort."
Also on the air with Hanson and Cokin from the tourney: former UNLV and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer receiver Keenan McCardell, celebrity Chef Gustav Mauler, Carson Daly, Kevin Nealon, Jesse Ventura and Donald Trump.
What do you get when you cross a political fund-raiser and the hottest form of participatory entertainment going?
Fund-raising events for John Kerry have been scheduled in New York and Los Angeles that feature karaoke machines.
"Yes, we are considering doing those here as well," Sean Smith, Kerry's communications director for Nevada, told us Monday. "It would be perfect for Las Vegas, wouldn't it?"
Miss any of the first season of the hit James Caan NBC casino surveillance drama "Las Vegas"?
Have no fear. Universal television says that it is now prepping the first season of the show for a fall DVD release.
In addition to all the episodes, there will be the usual DVD extras of behind-the-scenes footage, special interviews and the like.
The advertising for the discs will also highlight the show's impressive guest stars, including Paris Hilton, Alec Baldwin, Dennis Hopper, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sean Astin, Wayne Newton, Little Richard and Penn & Teller.
Hop to it
The offbeat TV program "Greg the Bunny" will film scenes at the Riviera this summer.
The show, which debuted as a series of short films six years ago on the Independent Film Channel and then moved to Fox, is similar in many regards to Broadway's "Avenue Q" and Jim Henson's shows, as it is an edgy puppet-based comedy.
The adult show portrays the behind-the-scenes action of a children's TV show called "Sweetknuckle Junction." It is voiced by Seth Green, Eugene Levy, Drew Massey, Dan Milano and Sarah Silverman.
KVBC Channel 3 entertainment reporter Alicia Jacobs will be a judge at "The World's Most Beautiful Transsexual Contest" this weekend at the Riviera.
"I thought I knew everything in the world about pageants -- until now," joked Jacobs, a former Mrs. Nevada and Mrs. United States (1992).
Other judges include Chyna Doll of World Wrestling Entertainment fame and comic Rip Taylor.
The winner will be crowned Miss America Transsexual and receive $5,000 and a cruise.
Munch: While she appears to weigh 95 pounds, actress Tara Reid ("Scrubs," "American Pie") does eat. We saw her at Simon Kitchen and Bar (Hard Rock Hotel) having dinner on Saturday night and ran into her again Sunday night at the VEGAS Magazine party at FIX (Bellagio), where she sat with friends and ate some of Chef Brian Massie's delicious Kobe Beef Sliders ...
Eats: TV Chef Bobby Flay had dinner Sunday night at Diego, MGM Grand's new Mexican eatery. Hair-care guru Paul Mitchell was in for Sunday lunch ...
Sun: Travis Barker from Blink 182, Vince Neil and Cleveland Browns QB Jeff Garcia spent Sunday afternoon at Rehab, the Hard Rock Hotel's weekly pool party ...
Knockout: Playboy's 2004 Model of the Year, Las Vegas resident Tasha Marzolla, and two Vegas correctional officers, Anthony Brown and Marvin Eastman, are on the bill for the "K-1: Battle at Bellagio III" kickboxing event on Aug. 7. Tickets are on sale ...
TV star: Sun entertainment writer Jerry Fink appears on "Extra" tonight (at 7 on KNTV Channel 13), where he discusses his Monday story about Linda Ronstadt being escorted out of the Aladdin over the weekend for her remarks supporting Michael Moore ...
Wishes: Talulah G boutique owner and Vegas socialite Meital Grantz is pregnant. Due date is right around Election Day ...
More wishes: Good thoughts go out to the self-proclaimed Queen of Las Vegas, "Saturday Night Fever" movie DJ Monti Rock III. The usually leopard-skin-clad character will be off the Vegas party beat for a few weeks as he recovers from double-hernia surgery.
From Sun wires
Sexy veggie: Andre 3000 of OutKast has been voted the "World's Sexiest Vegetarian" in the annual online poll by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He shares the honor with actress Alicia Silverstone.
Maloofs plan reality show: Maloof Television -- a venture of a billionaire family with Albuquerque roots -- this week will announce debut projects, including a reality show, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
The Maloof family, which began with a New Mexico beer distributorship and branched into the NBA and a Las Vegas casino, recently signed agreements with MGM Television Entertainment and Interscope Records, a division of Universal Music.