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October 24, 2017

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Wicked Whispers & Racy Rumors: NASCAR, Britney Spears, Jerry Lewis, Liberace and Criss Angel


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Mayor Carolyn Goodman attends the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 won by Matt Kenseth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 10, 2013.

2013: NASCAR Testing at LVMS

Jimmie Johnson attends NASCAR testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Launch slideshow »
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Justin Timberlake at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

A jam-packed Wicked Whispers & Racy Rumors on this torrid Tuesday:

BREAKING — A 2ND NASCAR RACE? Las Vegas Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith said Monday that there’s a 70-30 chance he’ll get NASCAR approval to relocate one of his two Charlotte, N.C., races to a fall date here next year. He told his hometown station WBTV that he really wants the second race in Las Vegas. Now WBTV is reporting this morning that it’s a done deal, and we’ll get a second race.

EXCLUSIVE: It’s the world’s largest music festival — seven days of stars on three stages — and it’s headed here next year. Rock in Rio is a series of music festivities held in Brazil, Portugal and Spain, and I’m reliably told that next year or in 2015, it will be expanded to Argentina and the Strip.

Those involved with preliminary Las Vegas planning say it would draw 350,000 fans, about the same number as each of the showcases since it began in 1985 and expanded in 2004. I’m hearing that this two-weekend event could kick off the new MGM Resorts arena behind Monte Carlo, with stages set up at Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand.

This year, the sold-out concerts start in Rio on Sept. 13, with Beyonce, David Guetta, Muse, Florence and the Machine and Thirty Seconds to Mars on Sept. 14, Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys on Sept. 15, Metallica and Alice in Chains on Sept. 19, Bon Jovi, Nickelback and Matchbox 20 on Sept. 20, Bruce Springsteen and John Mayer on Sept. 21 and Iron Maiden and Avenged Sevenfold on Sept 22.

Other stages will include Rob Zombie, Sebastian Bach, George Benson and some 20 Latin American stars. I’m told the turnout for Las Vegas would be even bigger. No dates have been set, but it’s definitely on the books for early planning.

EXCLUSIVE: As a top Strip hotel starts to expand its international restaurant offerings and overseas shopping boutiques, I’m told that it’s to eventually herald the overall transformation of the property and expand global appeal. We should get a taste of what’s to come this month.

Jerry Lewis' Lifetime Achievement Award

Jerry Lewis receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nevada Broadcasters Association at Red Rock Resort on Aug. 20, 2011. Launch slideshow »

EXCLUSIVE: Entertainment legend Jerry Lewis has walked into a financial firestorm that’s cost a 27-year friendship at the Cannes Film Festival underway on the French Riviera. The 86-year-old Las Vegas resident is there to promote his oft-delayed indie film “Max Rose,” about a jazz pianist who loses his wife after a 50-year marriage. Claire Bloom, Kevin Pollak and Mort Sahl are his co-stars.

A PR rep in France who worked with Jerry for nearly three decades says she was heartbroken after getting the film and his tribute recognized at the festival, only to be dumped by its producers after the deal was made. “Inexplicable and inexcusable,” she blasted. I’ve seen the emotional correspondence, and it’s heartbreaking. They’ve subsequently tried to unsuccessfully settle it for less money than promised without expenses.

BRITNEY UPDATE: Britney Spears has started her dance rehearsals at a Thousand Oaks, Calif., studio for her upcoming Planet Hollywood residency. The official Caesars Entertainment announcement confirming her show will be made next month, and ticket and show dates will come in a second press conference.

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Matt Damon at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

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Michael Douglas at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Behind the Candelabra

LIBERACE TEARS: Cannes distributors received a first look at “Behind the Candelebra,” the new Michael Douglas and Matt Damon HBO movie about the flamboyant lifestyle of Las Vegas legend Liberace. ‪Michael was in tears talking about his near-death experience from Stage 4 throat cancer before filming.

‘TOP CHEF MASTERS’: I got way ahead of myself last week in a “Top Chef Masters” report despite reliable sources. Turns out Rick Moonen of RM Seafood turned down the invitation to appear on the Bravo series and that Jean Paul Labadie of Todd English P.U.B. filmed test runs but declined to continue. It leaves Herb Wilson from Sushi Samba at the Palazzo as the only Las Vegas contestant.

TRACE GIFTS O.V.: Country star Trace Adkins generously donated thousands of dollars to rival Penn Jillette’s Las Vegas charity Opportunity Village after The Rio headliner magician was runner-up on Donald Trump’s “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” on Sunday. Ever-gracious Penn, who appeared with Trace on Monday on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” played guitar and sang Trace’s latest hit to show they’ve become “best friends.” Trace won the $250,000 top prize for American Red Cross, and Penn won $100,000 from Walgreens for his best-selling ice cream Swirtle.

Viewer donations during and after the show also poured in for Opportunity Village. With his $700,000 season winnings as MVP and various challenges , the viewer donations and Trace’s unexpected gift, Penn is hoping to make it all tally to $1 million for O.V. by the end of this week.

CRISS DEFIES DEATH: On Wednesday night, magician Criss Angel will cheat death yet again for his new Spike TV series. He gets a night off from his Cirque du Soleil “Believe” at the Luxor to film in front of a live audience. He will be buried alive in a cement grave outside The Mirage. Presumably, he will escape because he still has to walk blindfolded with duct tape on a 100-foot high broken steel beam, which heavy winds forced him to abandon last Friday.

More inside stories when we post Strip Scribbles later today.

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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