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Strip Scribbles: Has NBC’s ‘Fear Factor’ gone too far with donkey challenge?


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Jamie Yager, Diego Sanchez, Joe Rogan and Melvin Guillard at the UFC 116 pre-party at Studio 54 in MGM Grand on July 2, 2010.

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A Las Vegas couple, Joe and Andrea, who met in one of our Strip nightclubs and are now dating steadily, find themselves in the middle of a major “Fear Factor” controversy. The duo reappeared unexpectedly Monday night as contestants in an unplanned, repeat episode of the Jan. 2 broadcast. Deja vu? No -- it was a last-minute decision by the highest corporate chairman in the network’s entertainment decision to pull the scheduled gross-out show.

Jokingly dubbed “Hee-Haw,” the episode had the contestants eating the unimaginable -- donkey semen and urine! “We should not air that ever,” NBC’s Bob Greenblatt said. Now that the gross-out challenge has become known, TV critics are saying that it’s time for the show to die before anything worse is attempted.

Last night, Joe and Andrea battled snakes and were catapulted off a rooftop onto nets hanging 150 feet in the air as two of the cleaner challenges. “Fear Factor” host Joe Rogan will be doing his standup comedy this Super Bowl XLVI weekend at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay, but that will be a laughing matter. Last night’s just-as-ugly and revolting episode wasn’t.

Two new episodes planned for the next two weeks are now being reviewed to see if they can be aired. The 2-hour Feb. 12 special opposite CBS’ Grammy Awards will run as planned, but that might be the last we see of the show.

Meantime, plans for a “Dancing With the Stars” revolving cast show at Tropicana have gone up in smoke because of production costs. “As much as the Tropicana wanted it, it just became too expensive for the resort to produce,” I was reliably told. Now the show will embark on a U.S. tour, with “DWTS” cast appearing as needed.

And changes are afoot at the Palms, with a major makeover agreed to by new bankers. Expect a new poolside restaurant at the site of the old fitness spa. Expect the original tower rooms and suites to get new furnishings and decor, from GhostBar all the way down to the lobby. Expect Rain to be shuttered and transformed into a major new nightspot. The design book has been completed and approved.

FOX NEWS LANDS: Fox News’ primetime anchors arrive Wednesday to cover the four days of fighting among GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul now that the smoke is clearing in Florida. Rick and Ron are already here, and Mitt and Newt arrive Wednesday morning. Expect to see Sean Hannity and the political personalities of Fox at various locations. The first Mitt event coverage of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses will be at Brady Industries on Wednesday night, while Ron and his wife Carol will be out celebrating their 55th anniversary Wednesday night.

MOTLEY SECRETS: Rocker and Las Vegas resident Vince Neil has confirmed that the Motley Crue residency shows starting Friday at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel will run 2 hours rather than 90 minutes, and some of the onstage songs will be classics dating back nearly 30 years. Expect aerial antics onstage and surprises all around the Joint -- above and around the audience. Meantime, a new commercial promoting the Crue's experience here has been released.

‘THE SEX DIARIES PROJECT’: Porn princess and Las Vegas resident Sunset Thomas is a contributing writer of “The Sex Diaries Project” by Arianne Cohen being released Wednesday. “I’m honored to be part of this project,” said the sex goddess. “I’ve contributed sex advice in Esquire magazine for years, but to have been asked to participate in this bestselling book takes my writing to a whole new level of credibility. … It’s a compilation of weekly sex sagas from a cross-section of society -- men, women, young and old, straight and gay.”

NHL L.V. PLANS: That new three-year partnership between the NHL and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is more than a move from the Palms to the Wynn for the annual televised awards. NHL’s biggest stars and hockey fans are joined by Hollywood celebrities in June to celebrate the season’s top performances for the fourth consecutive year, but this time around, it will be more of a week of fan-fest events with new programs and events for fans, visitors and locals.


Comedy impressionist Frank Caliendo, who headlined at the Monte Carlo but gave it up because of the commute to and from his Phoenix home, is returning to the Strip for two consecutive weekends at the end of March, this time at the Venetian Showroom. Movie bad guy Robert Davi, whose Frank Sinatra tribute shows at the Venetian are Feb. 23-25, plans to invite all of his fellow James Bond villains to his opening night to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 007 movie franchise. Robert starred as a hired gun in “Licence to Kill.”. “They will be my new Rat Pack,” he laughed.

Border Grill of Mandalay Bay chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger appear Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford sharing spicy recipes and hot drinks. A new UNLV Rebels store opens at Hooters Casino on Wednesday offering every piece of sports gear imaginable in scarlet and gray. Celebrity impressionist Bethany Owen, aka “The Woman of 1,001 Voices and Faces,” has opened her one-woman show “One Voice” in the King’s Room at the Rio. Bethany manages 50 dead-on characters in her 90-minute show. The new “2 Kings” show with Charlie Franks as Elvis Presley and Chris Gardner as Michael Jackson has opened at the new Rio Showroom.


For one night only before Studio 54 at MGM Grand closes its doors, Eden, the erotically delicious entertainers night, returns with a transformation into the Garden of Eden complete with the sultry snake babe and aerial acts by Adam and Eve. After 14 years on the Strip, Studio 54 says farewell Sunday. Expect horror, sickness and nastiness as Destruction of a Rose, Romantic Tragedy and Horror Project play House of Blues. Israeli singer-songwriter Liyah Lapidot is at Book & Stage in the Cosmopolitan through Thursday. And Anthony Griffith, Carrie Snow and David Gee headline at Harrah’s Improv through Sunday.


Changes at “Crazy Horse Paris”? The saucy, sassy MGM Grand adult cabaret says, “No more crazy! Just very crazy!” Plus, the ultimate food fantasy: 70 restaurants, 50 chefs and 30 sommeliers take part in the new-look Vegas Uncork’d in May.

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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