OK, kids, this is the first transmission from the Keep Memory Alive "Power of Love" gala at the Bellagio. From what I am hearing, we can expect three segments of a performance from Siegfried & Roy lasting a total of eight minutes. Roy has been fighting a condition today that has caused some bleeding in his lungs but is expected to perform. And, yes, the big cats will be incorporated into the show, and the duo will be wearing masks until the very end of the performance. That happens about 10 p.m.
More notes, taken on the fly:
-- MGM Mirage chief Jim Murren, in a unique instance where he responds to "Hey! Jim-Bob" from a friend across the room, said of the recession. "When is this going to end? Nobody knows. I believe in the long-term viability of the market and the assets of this town. I see some firming up in convention business in the second half of this year. The best thing we can do is be empathetic right now and take care of each other. That's what I have been telling our people. But this is a town geared toward events, and we have a lot of great events coming up. Tonight is one of them."
-- Sen. John Ensign just announced that Steve and Elaine Wynn have donated $1 million to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. That announcement was followed by a whopping $5 million from Chuck Mathewson, the CEO emeritus (or, as he says, "retired,") head of IGT, whose fiance Stacie's mother has been suffering from Alzheimer's. They will be married Friday in Palm Desert, Calif.
-- Danny DeVito and wife Rhea Perlman are in the room. So are Steve Schirippa and Hilary Duff. Larry Ruvo is reading off the list from the podium. Teri Hatcher, in here somewhere. Muhammad Ali is expected, too. The show was opened by comic John Pinnette. John Paul Dejoria, who made the first-ever donation to Keep Memory Alive, was just introduced.
-- Name-check of the public servants in the room: Former Govs. Bob Miller and Kenny Guinn, Sen. John Ensign, Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus, Mayor Oscar Goodman, County Commissioner Rory Reid and City Councilman Rikki Barlow. There are more. I'll try to catch them later.
--Christian Kolberg and my man Robin Leach, sharing hosting-auctioning duties, are offering a dinner prepared by Nobu Matsuhisa. She goes off at $50,000!
-- Hatcher and Wolfgang Puck are offering dinner at her place in L.A. Wolfgang offered to mow the lawn because the landscaper always gets the woman in Desperate Housewives. Down, Wolfie! She goes off at $90,000. Sweet. All of the chefs who prepared the dinner -- Puck, David Robins, Todd English, Martin Heierling and Jean-Philippe Maury -- are onstage. It is a culinary jam session.
-- Quotable Miller: The former governor's advice on dealing with the tough economy? "By stock in Tums and Rolaids." He was joking, I believe, but he did remind of his own experience with a "mini-recession" in 1991. "It was nothing like this," he said. "We just have to make sure we don't allow our entire infrastructure to deteriorate, because we will come out of this, and when we do we need to make sure we have an educational system and a transportation system and everything else that makes our state livable."
-- Sen. Ensign, also a veterinarian, addressed the protesters from PETA out by the Bellagio water fountains before the show. "I do have a problem with people who own big cats and wild animals, I really do. But not Siegfried & Roy. They care for them; they are well-cared for, and they love them. PETA needs to get a clue."
-- Very odd sighting (and an assist to Kate Bennett for spotting him): Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction. He's a longtime fan of S&R for their "style onstage" and was asked by event organizers to take part. He performed at LAX last night and said this event is "very, very Vegas ..."
-- In a really animated conversation -- and it could be no other way -- are Siegfried & Roy manager Yuman and Goodman. They seem to be talking all at once over there ...
-- Women painted as white tigers were crawling all over the silent auction. They were quite lifelike but refused to growl.