Friday, Feb. 25, 2011 | 12:36 p.m.
Robin Leach's Vegas DeLuxe
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There will be a star-studded VIP turnout for the most glittering gala of the year tomorrow as the 15th Annual Keep Memory Alive fundraiser at the Bellagio celebrates the important work of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health downtown. More than 1,100 well-heeled supporters have shelled out $1,500 a ticket for the extraordinary extravaganza.
Comedians Ray Romano and Brad Garrett will kick off the humorous part of the night and after a duo performance will auction off a celebrity night of poker at their Hollywood homes. Star chefs Jose Andres, Michael Mina and Francois Payard will serve the once-in-a-lifetime dinner with Wolfgang Puck, who is shuttling back and forth to Hollywood, where he’s also masterminding the menu for the Governors Ball with all the Oscar winners after the Academy Awards on Sunday.
During the gala affair, Desperate Housewives star Terri Hatcher, along with actors Danny DeVito, Steve Schirripa and Chaz Palmintieri, will help me with the live auction. This year, we have trips to Australia, Italy and an eating tour through Spain conducted by Jose, plus producer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds will turn you into a recording star overseeing your studio session from start to finish.
Imperial Palace headliners Human Nature and 18-year-old Erik Gomez from Bellagio housekeeping who was discovered during a talent search at the casino hotel close out the after-party. Erik’s extraordinary pop-operatic voice has won him a management contract with 19 Group, which owns American Idol, and a SONY/BMG record deal.
In between the dinner and the after-party, there will be two super-secret surprises that must remain that way until the video rolls. I’ve promised not to spoil them in advance, but I can tell you that one involves a big-name VIP who will make a very unusual and dramatic high-speed entrance onstage. The other will be an “absentee” major superstar who has made an amazing donation to Keep Memory Alive that guests will find in their goodie bags. It’s also rumored that one other mega-star will walk the red carpet.
The red carpet lineup includes The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills stars Adrienne Maloof, Lisa VanderPump and Kyle Richards, Holly Madison, Josh Strickland, Angel Porrino, Laura Croft, Siegfried & Roy, Matt Goss, Robin Antin, Mayor Oscar Goodman and his wife, mayor candidate Carolyn Goodman.
Hotel mogul Steve Wynn and Southern Wines head honcho Larry Ruvo will honor the first banker who started casino loans way back when in the early days of Las Vegas history: former Bank of Las Vegas CEO E. Parry Thomas, who got UNLV and the Thomas & Mack Center up and running. Not only was he Nevada’s leading financier for more than 25 years, but the American Academy of Achievement also honored him as the sole banker responsible for financing the gaming and resort industry here when no one else would. Parry, 90, made his first casino loan in 1955 to Milton Prell for the Sahara. His $750,000 enabled Prell to build the Congo Room, 120 rooms and make improvements. Parry also helped Howard Hughes with the acquisition of six casinos.
Last year’s gala raised more than $25 million in donations, auction bidding and ticket sales, and organizers are hoping to exceed that stunning number again this weekend. It all makes for an amazing night of music and an eternity of memories with exciting entertainment, exclusive auction items, celebrity guests and a once-in-a-lifetime vintage wine and Dom Perignon champagne dinner prepared by an incredible lineup of master chefs.
All proceeds from the Keep Memory Alive Power of Love gala night go to the Brain Center, which was built entirely from private charitable contributions.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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