Friday, July 30, 2004 | 11:12 a.m.
Things look pretty dark this morning for "Havana Nights."
Seems that the curtain might not rise anytime soon for the Cuban-themed stage show that was originally scheduled to open tonight at the Stardust.
An Associated Press report out of Havana today says that red tape and politics have bogged down the group's last-minute push for its travel documents.
The Stardust had already delayed the opening until Sunday as the delays became apparent over the last few weeks.
The show's producers, who were in Cuba trying to speed things up, were called in Thursday by immigration authorities for violating their tourist visas and ordered to leave by Monday, according to the AP.
"We are just so disillusioned," Nicole Durr, the German founder of the troupe, told the AP after immigration officials released her.
"We have nothing to say as of now because we don't yet know exactly what is going on with it," Stardust spokeswoman Lisa Sanders told VegasBeat this morning. "Meetings are going on as we speak."
The American visas for all 53 performers came through Tuesday, just three weeks after interviews at the U.S. Interests Section, the American mission here. The average approval period is eight weeks.
Even with the U.S. visas approved, the dancers still need the exit permits required of all Cubans traveling abroad -- a process that generally is time-consuming.
In the first official comment on the case, Havana's Culture Minister Abel Prieto told The AP that the key problem was a break in the previous working relationship between the group and the writers and artists union.
A Cuban officials told the AP that the performers could go to Las Vegas if they handled their remaining paperwork as individuals.
Since early July, promoters complained Cuban officials were not backing the group's first planned trip to the United States after 16 other trips abroad to countries over the last seven years.
At the opening Thursday morning of the new "The Pursuit of Pleasure" show at the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum at The Venetian, director Elizabeth Herridge was saying that an impressive 167,000 visitors saw the last show there, "From Renoir to Rothko."
But, she said, of those 167,000, only 4 percent were locals.
Shame on us. Big time.
If celluloid dreck such as "Catwoman" can garner tens of millions of dollars in one weekend, then we are baffled why more of us don't go to see the quality shows at the Guggenheim. The show that is now up can more than hold its own against any exhibition in any space in the nation.
It is divided into four categories: "Gaming & Sport," "Flirtation & Romance," "Music & Dance" and "Celebration & Cafe Society." Each area has several paintings depicting those four topics.
Every piece in the show is a standout. Some of the highlights are Picasso's "Mandolin and Guitar," "Paris Society" by Max Beckman and Henri Rosseau's "The Football Player," which is reminiscent of a Maurice Sendak drawing from "Where the Wild Things Are."
We try to stay away from recommending anything outright. We're not an art, film, music or restaurant critic. But in this case, we'll make an exception.
The local museum receives zero funding from its New York sibling. It supports itself solely through ticket and gift shop sales. That's it.
So let's support our local Guggenheim. Go see this show. You'll be glad you did.
Donald Trump officially announced Thursday that he plans to build the tallest building in Las Vegas.
The 64-story Trump International Hotel and Tower will be on the New Frontier property on Fashion Show Drive, just off the Strip, and be directly across from the main entrance to Nordstrom and across the street from the new Wynn Las Vegas (see Jennifer Shubinksi story on the project on page 1C).
Best part of the project will be the huge sign that says "Trump" that will be erected on the property, directly facing Wynn's new hotel.
A little ego booster for a man known for, well, his ego?
"I love Steve Wynn and without everything he has done for Las Vegas I'd never be building there," Trump told us in a phone conversation. "But my name is my brand and it is important to keep it out front."
In celebration of anticipated guest No. 10 million -- they figure it happens during its Aug. 9 performance -- the long-playing Bally's show "Jubilee" is working to raise "10 Million Words" worth of children's books for the Public Education Foundation's Clark County Reads initiative.
Chris Nelson, the Bally's/Paris director of entertainment, tells us that upon presenting two new children's books and a local ID at the Bally's box office, Las Vegas residents will receive 2-for-1 admission to the show.
In addition, all Barnes & Noble stores throughout Las Vegas will act as donation sites. Customers can purchase books, donate them to the Clark County Reads initiative and receive a 2-for-1 "Jubilee" voucher.
Also, a few dancers from the show will be conducting a children's reading at the Barnes & Noble at Charleston Boulevard and Fort Apache Road at 11 a.m. Saturday.
They will be in more modest costume than they usually perform in.
Act: Supermodel Rachel Hunter will perform in "Pieces of ..." at the Hard Rock Hotel Aug. 15. The off-Broadway show features a dozen women offering self-written monologues on the perils of life as a stunner ...
Celebrate: Vegas resident and occasional headliner Paul Anka is 63 today. And actress Jaime Pressly -- occasional date of Golden Nugget owner Tom Breitling -- turns 27.
From Sun wires
Royal pressure: Japanese Crown Princess Masako, who disappeared from public view seven months ago, is suffering from a psychological disorder brought on by the pressures of royal life, the palace said today.
It has long been common knowledge in Japan that Masako was unhappy, but the statement from the Imperial Household Agency was the first medical explanation for her long absence.
The agency said Masako, 40, has a stress-induced adjustment disorder and has experienced bouts of depression and anxiety. She is undergoing counseling and taking prescription drugs.
Brandy engaged: "Talk About Our Love" singer Brandy is engaged to pro basketball player Quentin Richardson, People magazine reported.
Richardson, 24, surprised the 25-year-old Brandy with an 11 1/2-carat diamond ring valued at $1 million at a reception Tuesday at Los Angeles' Century Club.