Vegas hotel duplicates N.Y. style

GOOD MORNING in Hollywood after winding the holidays in New York — well, not New York, but the spectacular New York-New York in Las Vegas. The hotel and casino is the newest in a new look for the incredibly expanding city. This one will be tough to beat! But who knows what with plans for Paris and Bellagio to be duplicated in the Nevada desert? But there’s room for them all, apparently, or at least according to William Sherlock, president/CEO of the hotel and casino, who told me at the grand opening party, “We now all work together in this city,” adding, “We are all building for the 21st century!” Further evidence of the desire to create the family-goodwill aura of the new Las Vegas was an opening-night auction that Sherlock introduced to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation for critically ill children. The auction: Winners took seats alongside David Hasselhoff on the “Manhattan Express,” a Coney Island Cyclone-styled roller coaster boarded inside the casino area and swinging out (at 67 mph) and up (203 feet) around the skyscraper buildings of the hotel. Sherlock said the opening Make-a-Wish event (seats sold for $1,000 apiece) is only the beginning of tie-ins between the hotel and the children’s charity. “We are officially united together,” he said. The hotel is owned by both MGM Grand and Primadonna Resorts Inc. While Kirk Kerkorian was not visible at the opening, Frank Mancuso and his wife, Faye, were on hand. Nor was Kenneth Feld there his Feld Entertainment will be presenting the hotel showroom’s extravaganza “MADhattan,” bowing May 1 in a 1,000-seat theater. Feld was in Tampa/St. Petersburg for the start of the 127th edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth. Feld Entertainment is also represented in Vegas these many years by the enormously successful Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage. The “MADhattan” show is already auditioning talent in N.Y. from acts that “headline” in the city’s subway system. The showroom “will feel like a subway system, its sights and sounds but not the smells,” Feld VP Scott Smith assured me. For those unfamiliar with the street-subway talent, he said their caliber includes grads of Juilliard. The theater’s stage will be open and intimate with no curtain, and the show interactive with the audience. Danny Herman directs.

CELEBS ON HAND FOR the N.Y.-N.Y. opening were as impressed as the veteran Las Vegas hoteliers and gamblers who had seen the hotel grow from its start on the Strip. Among those who witnessed these changes was Wayne Newton, who continues to headline with SRO stands. The scaled-down replicas of N.Y.’s landmarks are carried through within the hotel walls, with favorite food hangouts of the city and street scenes circling the giant casino in the $450 million complex. It’s fun city. Celebs arrived in stretch limos that were elongated versions of N.Y.’s signature yellow Checker cabs. A yellow-cab stretch limo! The celebs mingled among the 2,500 guests sampling the varied menu while giving bon mots to the international press corps on hand. Among those thoroughly enjoying and enjoyed was Jenny McCarthy (there with manager-best friend Ray Manzella). Also Vanna White, who, although expecting in July, was also exuberant as she was greeted by happy TV followers. Also attracting mucho attention in a sparkling and exceedingly brief gown, Jennifer Tilly. Jim Belushi, whose Blues Brothers act will perform at halftime during the Super Bowl, was among the first to head for Hamilton’s Lounge George Hamilton’s, that is, where cigar lovers can relax in an atmosphere reminiscent of N.Y.’s golden-era places like the Copa. Hamilton was, of course, on hand, and on his arm a very pretty Kimberly Bickford. Hasselhoff and his wife, Pamela, were also there. He’s been helpful in other Make-a-Wish Foundation activities. Others included “Renegade’s” Branscombe Richmond, Ming Na Wen of “The Single Guy,” Matt LeBlanc of “Friends,” Joe Pantoliano of “EZ Streets,” and Pat Morita.

THE CELEBRATION WENT ON for Connie Stevens after she had given daughter Joely Fisher and her groom, Christopher Duddy, the most lavish wedding I’ve ever attended. The celebration started at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 and continued past midnight (well past!) on a transformed stage at the Raleigh Studios. The bride, co-star of “Ellen” (and back at work today!), was surrounded by family, including sister and maid of honor Tricia Leigh Fisher, father Eddie Fisher and half-sister Carrie Fisher. The music was by Les Brown’s band with Tricia and Eddie dueting (as on an upcoming record). The speeches were touching, the music moving, the details exquisite. Connie had gone all out to make this a memorable moment for her daughter and son-in-law. Despite the enormous event, Connie, along with daughter Tricia, showed for the New York-New York hotel-casino opening the next day! Among other wedding party members who also joined at the hotel bow were Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna. Duddy had proposed to Fisher the night the Bolognas renewed their vows in an elaborate ceremony last year where Connie was a bridesmaid! Taylor was wearing a veil at both the wedding and the hotel gala. Howcum? She’d just undergone some surgery but she will be un-veiled today as she returns to work as Fran Drescher’s mom in “The Nanny.” The Bolognas bring their play “Bermuda Avenue Triangle” (set in Vegas) to New York (B’way) when “The Nanny” is on hiatus. Herb Ross will direct.

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