Tuesday, June 3, 2008 | 10:18 a.m.
Who would ever have guessed that 16 of the richest 800 Brits all have strong connections to the Vegas strip? Every year the prestigious Times of London newspaper sifts through financial filings and statements to make its heavily scrutinized list. This year for the first time Light Group’s Andrew Sassoon, who co-owns the Bank and Jet nightclubs, Stack, Fix, Brand, Diablo’s Cantina and new Yellowtail restaurants and the upcoming Harmon Hotel at MGM’s City Center project, burst onto the list. He placed No. 784 with a whopping $196-million! That fortune follows his recent deal to sell 50 percent of his entertainment conglomerate to the Royal Family of Dubai for nearly $100-million.
Sir Richard Branson, who wants to build a Virgin hotel here for British flyers on his 11 weekly flights here, dropped from No. 11 to No. 20 with his more than $5-billion net worth! Poju Zabludowicz, who wants to build the Plaza Las Vegas hotel opposite Steve Wynn’s new Encore hotel, comes in at around $4 billion! Jeweler Laurence Graff, who has a store at the Wynn, moved up from No. 36 to No. 31 at over $3.5 billion. Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber who has his Phantom – Las Vegas Spectacular musical at The Venetian, placed No. 101, falling slightly from No. 95 but still retaining over $1.4 billion.
Big drop though for Sir Paul McCartney, who earns income from the Cirque du Soleil Beatles Love musical at the Mirage. He dropped from No. 102 to No. 158 with just under $1-billion –- probably because of the recent settlement payout to former-wife Heather Mills. Incidentally Ringo Starr ranks No. 564 at $275-million and Olivia Harrison and son Dhani are at No. 501 with just over $300 million. The report adds -- for the first time in print we know of - that the Love musical has already earned $5million for the Beatles partnership!
Music mogul and pop-star manager Simon Fuller who is partnered with Simon Cowell in American Idol and in properties at Lake Las Vegas and is a Vegas regular is in the No. 184 spot with about $900-million. He has met with Michael Jackson to discuss his showbiz comeback –- and congratulations are in order because he just got married at the weekend in the Napa Valley to American interior designer Natalie Swanston with the Spice Girls, Carrie Underwood and Daughtry attending the nuptials! Incidentally, Cowell, who is always in and out of Vegas and just oversaw his America’s Got TalentTV series at Planet Hollywood, is at No. 717 with a $200 million-plus fortune.
Planet Hollywood resort-casino owner Robert Earl is ranked No. 312 with $500-million and Sir Elton John who opens a new run of shows tonight at Caesars Palace comes in at No. 349 with a $450-million fortune. He has been a Vegas regular since the Red Piano show debuted here in 2004. Elton, who grew up as Reginald Dwight in my hometown of Harrow outside London, was knighted in 1991 for "services to music and charitable foundations." And has given away over$150-million through his Elton John AIDS Foundation for HIV/AIDS prevention.
Among Elton’s fellow pop stars: Mick Jagger is No. 362 with more than $400-million; Sting at No. 397 with almost $400 million and Madonna -– who will be at MGM this fall (see our Strip Scribbles story below) -topped them with over $500 million in the No. 270 spot. Even veteran singer Sir Tom Jones, who is a regular at MGM Grand, hit the No. 483 ranking with over $300 million.
Two interesting off-Strip comparisons for you to figure out on your calculator: The onetime richest woman in Britain was the Queen, but even now she’s been surpassed -- she fell from No. 229 to No. 264 with only a little more than $600 million. Posh Spice Victoria Beckham, who is married to L.A. Galaxy soccer sensation David Beckham, claims a $250 million fortune between them!
PARIS HILTON KICKS OFF NEW TV REALITY SERIES WITH VEGAS BEAUTY BRIGADE:
For the debut show of her new MTV reality series, Paris Hilton turned to two Vegas beauty experts -– with an ultimate makeover challenge. Paris has to whittle down 18 contestants to just one who will become her best new girlfriend -- in a sense replacing former TV partner, Nicole Ritchie. One of the candidates was an Asian American with jet-black hair -- and Paris convinced her to go platinum blonde with the appropriate makeup.
Then she called in her color king, Michael Boychuck, from his Vegas salons, Color at Caesars Palace and AMP at the Palms. Michael then turned to makeup princess Rain Andreani and her Vegas HQ’d line of Rain cosmetics. Neither of them knew they’d wind up in front of the cameras working their skills -– but Paris insisted they made their own simultaneous screen debuts.
They commuted back and forth to Hollywood twice for the MTV cameras and the first session of the miracle makeover ran 8-hours non-stop. Said Paris: “Michael is the best in the world- if anybody could do the impossible it was him. I knew he could do it –and he pulled it off successfully. ”
“It was the toughest challenge I’ve ever undertaken. I was on my feet for five hours straight. It was like a medical operation. The ultimate test for me -– very very hard to do. It could have set my career way back if I’d messed up but the greater the risk the greater the reward," said Michael. “That was more work than I ever imagined, “ said Rain, “but she turned out so beautiful. “
MTV’s cameras went into overdrive filming the entire amazing transformation -- and it will run in a high-speed montage to show it in full. Paris watched over the shoot and the transformation and complimented the two Vegas experts. She told them she’ll be back in Vegas herself on July 5 when her boyfriend Benji Madden’s band Good Charlotte band plays at the Hard Rock Hotel. “I am so excited, we have finally started taping my new show for MTV. The response was massive and incredible; we had more applicants than any show in history, so that felt really nice that so many people wanted to be apart of it. I met all the contestants at the club Les Deux in Hollywood. I was a little nervous at first cause I always get shy meeting new people. But everyone ended up being very sweet, cool and fun to be around. I'm really happy with the final contestants, although it was really hard to pick only 18 people from so many great choices. I love doing makeovers on my friend. I have to do elimination tomorrow, meaning telling one of the contestants that they have to leave. I am having anxiety and really dreading those moments of all the eliminations. But it's going to be a lot of fun and a these people will get to have a fun experience and I'm happy cause I feel like I've made friends with some of these people already,” Paris wrote on her blog.
She also took the opportunity to provide an update on her romance with rocker Benjim which began here in Vegas on Valentines Day weekend after both were solo here for the big heart-day: “I love how he's always there for me, he always knows how to make me smile. Life is amazing, couldn't be happier, excited for what the future holds”.
“You can tell they are so good together -- so much in love,” said Rain. “They simply are the perfect couple. They couldn’t have been nicer and sweeter to us. They remained quiet and calm in the midst of all the chaos of the cameras roaming around us working. It will make spectacular television.”
Incidentally, Michael has now opened his third new salon, Primp in the new Palms Place, where Yoav Tauber, former Jose Eber salon manager here will run the boutique operation. They’ve been friends for 15-years ever since Michael and Jose worked together in Beverly Hills where Yoav trained under his uncle Jose. He’s worked with such celebrities as Kelly Clarkson, Carmen Electra, Annie Lennox, Helen Mirren and even Sen. Hillary Clinton -- and has now moved to Vegas full-time.
THE MAYOR COMES TO MY RESCUE AS WE PLAY BARTENDERS FOR CHILDRENS CANCER CHARITY:
I have a whole new level of appreciation for bartenders in our town -- more so for the ladies who have to hike around in high heels to get the drinks. Our merry Mayor of Mirth, Oscar Goodman and I agreed to take part in a charity challenge at RA Sushi in the Fashion Show mall to see who could sell the most drinks in a fundraiser for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Every year all 18 locations of RA Sushi around the country raise funds during “Nicky’s Week” –- named in the memory of Nicholas Malliard, a nephew of one of RA’s founders who lost a long battle with brain cancer three years ago. For the past three years, RA has raised more than $250,000 for St. Jude’s and this year the goal was for an additional $100,000.
All proceeds from our cocktails poured and our tips went directly to St. Jude’s -- and our customers were wonderfully generous, except for the number of shots they made me do with them! Thank goodness I had three of the Fantasy beauties from the Luxor on hand to mop my brow and hold me up straight. Mayor Oscar had to sit down on a barstool for a halfway rest. It’s a tough job, etc. etc. etc. … but thankfully somebody else does it! Stephanie, Dar and Delilah obviously encouraged the male customers to tip us more generously than they ever would -– and it was all good fun for a great cause. Thanks to my bar-babes and our charming customers who all came to our rescue. Mayor Goodman would only serve his signature martini which made his gig pretty easy but I was running everywhere for everything. Can you believe afterward I had to leave for a wine tasting? Oh what a night!!
POKER CHAMPIONS KICK OFF ANNUAL WORLD SERIES:
Poker champions Jennifer Tilly, Phil “Unabomber” Laak and Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari hosted at TAO nightclub in the Venetian for Bluff Magazine’s World Series of Poker kick-off party. Antonio surprised the media by bringing out his playing cards and doing card tricks on the red carpet. Jennifer arrived -wearing a fitted animal print dress –with boyfriend Phil Laak. The three players all hit the nightclub dancing to the sounds of DJ Five. The WSOP is underway at the Rio, with 60 winning bracelets at stake. It will run through mid July when we’ll find out the final table of nine for the ultimate poker jackpot payoff and title of “ worlds best.” However, to build the excitement and anticipation that showdown won’t actually take place until November! Our pal Michael Craig, who writes the FullTilt poker blog, starts his play today and he’s promised in-between matches to write a Luxe Life column for us about this year’s WSOP from the inside -- and we’ll run that early next week. Meantime read his daily progress at FullTilt.
Incidentally for the third consecutive year, Harrah’s has designated Nevada Cancer Institute (NVCI) as the official charity for the World Series of Poker. “Nevada Cancer Institute is a wonderful community partner for the World Series of Poker,” said Jeffrey Pollack, WSOP commissioner. All participants will have the opportunity to relax in the VIP Lounge, dubbed the “Ace’s Club,” throughout the entire tournament for food, beverage, a masseuse and even a separated game room with all the latest games and gadgets. All the funds raised from the cost of admission will go directly towards cancer research, education and treatment at NVCI.
MIXED MARTIAL ART RATINGS THROUGH THE ROOF:
Eyebrows may have been raised by CBS TV network’s decision to broadcast prime-time violent mixed martial arts fighting that we reported here on Friday -- but what did go really sky-high were the ratings. For men age 18-34 it increased he networks demo average in the time period for the entire season by a whopping 271 percent! CBS averaged a 5 market share in the 18-49 demographic, its strongest performance since NCAA Tournament coverage in April. UFC president Dana White had feared the network competition and had tried to blunt it with a Chuck Liddell marathon on his Spike cable TV exposure- but that failed to dent the ratings. An industry insider told me: “It guarantees you will now get regular fights on the network from Vegas live -– as you predicted.”
-- So that rumor we ran with here yesterday about adult film actress Tera Patrick getting her own branded gaming area outside of the new Carey Hart Wasted Spaces rock lounge at the Hard Rock is totally true. The casino resort’s pr folks confirmed our exclusive less than an hour after it ran in Luxe Life. Watch for it to make sensational headlines when the official announcement is made. Tera promises her co-porn star favorites and go-go-dancers clad in her risqué almost there lingerie will help decorate the gaming pleasure pit.
-- The “Material Girl’ has added a 2nd concert for her “Sticky & Sweet Tour” stop here at the MGM Grand on Saturday Nov. 8. Madonna has decreed that the overwhelming fan demand for tickets warrants the additional performance on Sunday Nov. 9 . No wonder then that the multi-Grammy Award winner’s 11th and latest album, Hard Candy debuted at No. 1 in 37 countries.
Incidentally, after more than a decade apart, New Kids On The Block, featuring Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood , Jordan and Jonathan Knight, has reunited for a new album and world tour and will hit our Mandalay Bay Events Center Saturday, Oct. 11. Tickets go on sale this Saturday. (June 7) New Kids On The Block has sold more than 80 million albums worldwide and produced back-to-back international No. 1 songs, 1988’s “Hangin’ Tough” and 1990’s “Step By Step.” They split up in 1994, but recently reunited for a new album to be released this fall. Their first new single “Summertime,” was released last month when fans got a sneak peak at their first public performance together in 15 years performing live on NBC’s “Today” show.
-- Congratulations to Venetian headliner Wayne Brady on his birthday when he celebrated at the new Dos Caminos mod-Mex restaurant in the adjoining Palazzo resort casino. He was there twice over two days! First with 10 friends for late-night menu tacos in a VIP booth and then the next night as the clock struck midnight to celebrate his actual birthday. He stuck to cranberry juice while snacking on chips and salsa but at 1:30 a.m. the servers brought him a dessert tray complete with candles and everybody in the place sang him “Happy Birthday.”
-- The Box Office for the 2008 CineVegas Film Festival at Brenden Theaters in the Palms has opened for passes, ticket packages and individual tickets for films, panels and honoree tributes. It’s open daily from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. through June 11, and then from June 12 through June 21 daily from noon to the start time of the last movie for the day from June 12 to June 21. Festival passes, ticket packages and individual tickets are also still available for purchase here and by calling 888-8VEGAS8. Tickets for most films are $10 each. Tickets to the June 12th opening night film The Rocker the June 21 closing-night film The Great Buck Howard and all honoree tributes cost $15 each. Tickets to the June 15 premiere of Get Smart at Planet Hollywood range in price from $25 - $45, with proceeds going to the Rock Foundation’s Project Knapsack’ charity. Tickets to the special screening of Takashi Murakami’s animation piece “Planting the Seeds” on June 16 at the Lake of Dreams at Wynn Las Vegas cost $25 each, with special dining packages available priced at $160 per person at SW Steakhouse, and $145 per person at Daniel Boulud Brassiere, including tax and tip. To purchase either of these dining packages, please call (702) 770-DINE. Check back here on Friday for Part 1 of our exclusive interview with CineVegas artistic director Trevor Groth for all the surprises and secrets he has in store for this year’s 10th anniversary.
From the Surveillance File: former Miss USA Tara Conner stuck solely to Red Bull, Red Bull Cola and water when she partied at the Prive nightclub inside Planet Hollywood. She wasn’t tempted by the Sky vodka on her table but her friends did partake! … Also at Prive, Seattle Seahawk Nate Burleson gave his wife a birthday celebration party. … Hip-hop icon Dr. Dre surprised his sister, Shamika Miller, who was dining with friends at the Tao Asian Bistro in The Venetian. They polished off grilled Kobe ribeye, shrimp tempura and lobster wontons with Tanqueray and cranberry cocktails before continuing the celebration in the upstairs TAO nightclub … Actor Mekhi Pfeiffer who has the starring role of Greg Pratt on NBC's hit series ER, partied at CatHouse restaurant and ultra-lounge in the Luxor.
In our Brit-rich list above we reference Sir Elton John at Caesars Palace and we’ll just remind he returns there tonight for various concerts thru June 22. … And in another first for the Strip no less than 14 DJs will go head-to-head in their own undisputed heavyweight battle at the Blush boutique nightclub in the Wynn. No, it’s not inside the octagon -- its at the turntables when Crooked vs Scooter, Justin Hoffman goes up against Sid Vicious, Cobra challenges Sean Perry, Eleven strikes out on Three Mike B, Reflex faces Karma, Rush tackles Chris Cutz and Neva takes on Fresh One! … Comedian Wendy Liebman dishes up humor at the Harrah’s Improv comedy theater through Sunday with Mark Reedy and Gary Brightwell.