It’s called “The Choice” because it’s going to look very similar to “The Voice,” but instead of choosing singers to soar, this new Fox show casts four celebrities in spinning chairs -- and they get to fight for a date with a real-world lovemate.
There are familiar Las Vegas faces appearing on the series starting June 7, including DJ Pauly D DelVecchio, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Rob Kardashian, Joe Jonas, Carmen Electra and my friends Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih, 2010 Playmate of the Year Hope Dworaczyk and actor-model Tyson Beckford, who was a campmate on “I’m a Celebrity -- Get Me Out of Here!”
Each “sexy singles” one-hour episode begins with four bachelors in rotating chairs with their backs turned on love. When the celebrity likes what he hears from the contestants, he pulls the “love handle,” and the dating begins as they face their secret admirers. One of those, I have learned, is a top Las Vegas model beauty. Each bachelor has to line up three romantic contenders and then enters a Speed Choice round followed by host Cat Deeley’s challenge questions to narrow down to the winners.
Five of the six episodes filmed to date feature males looking for love, and one has a glamour girl. Contestants were only told seconds before taping who they were pitching themselves to -- the celebs loved the romantic challenge, saying it’s not easy to date when you’re famous.
Fox programming chief Mike Darnell commented: “A couple of the set-ups wound up with real chemistry. What started as a goof ended up being a ridiculously good format that feels like a charming and funny beautiful hit. None of the celebrities bombed with the contestants.”
RECORDING STARS: Mariah Carey hit the Palms recording studio while in town last week, and Caesars Palace headliner Sir Elton John is set for a session next week. In between, Steve Lawrence wrapped the last of his 10 tracks for a CD release of swing and ballads produced by Ron Dante, who heads the Producers Circle on RockCityClub.com for Las Vegas entrepreneur Jack Wishna.
Ron told me that one of Steve’s tracks features Wynn headliner Garth Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood as backup singers. They heard one of Steve’s demo songs, fell in love with it and asked if they could record vocals in Nashville. Steve and Ron gave an immediate go-ahead! “It’s very much Michael Buble meets Barry Manilow,” Ron told me.
RICH OPENING: Legendary comedian and impressionist Rich Little premiered his one-man show “Jimmy Stewart & Friends” in advance of its Broadway run at the Las Vegas Hotel (formerly the Hilton) on Wednesday night. He uncannily re-creates the voices of more than 25 celebrities, including Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Reagan, George Burns, Cary Grant, John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn.
Contributing photographer Scott Harrison was on duty for this photo gallery, where he captured Rich’s facial impressions that were just as amazing as his voices. Rich said: “In addition to being my first celebrity impression, Jimmy Stewart was a dear friend and a life-long inspiration of mine. Jimmy had no idea how he affected my life, but I did, and you will, too.” Rich, who has more than 200 voices in his repertoire, performs Saturday through Wednesday.
NEW SHOW UNVEILED: An all-new outrageous show from the masterminds behind “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace will be unveiled Sunday, but hours later “Empire” will pack up and head to the Big Apple for its world premiere and summer run starting May 22 in a tent pitched at Times Square. Only “Absinthe” star the Gazillionaire could pull off a one-night Las Vegas preview of the circus, cabaret, variety and burlesque show.
He threatened in a chat with me that he might steal the best acts from “Empire” and keep them here in ‘Absinthe’ and send off others to New York. “Empire” auditions and rehearsals took place under the “Absinthe” tent. Sunday’s show proceeds will be donated to our Keep Memory Alive that supports the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, so please support the cause and catch a pre-Broadway look at more Gazillionaire madness and mayhem.
‘FASHION POLICE’: Imperial Palace headliner and self-crowned Queen of Las Vegas Frank Marino joins comedienne and fashion guru Joan Rivers on her E! show “Fashion Police” on Friday. It’s the “Divas Las Vegas” star’s first TV appearance who Joan in more than 20 years. “It will be nice to be in a room with someone that has had more plastic surgery than me,” he joked. “I’m so excited to be working alongside Joan again.” The duo had a longtime falling out over Frank’s female impersonation of her but has subsequently patched up.
HIGH-FLYERS: A Las Vegas tourist attraction will turn into an adventure-of-a-lifetime, as Sky Combat Ace offers wild aerobatic flights of nonstop spins, barrel rolls, hammerheads and loops high above the Strip and mountains. It’s an ultimate flight experience with an expert pilot guiding as you take the controls and live out “Top Gun” fantasies or the aptly named Adrenaline Rush combining world-class aerobatics with air-to-air dog fights.
If you want a quieter sightseeing adventure, hop onto an open-cockpit biplane for incomparable views of Hoover Dam and Red Rock Mountains. You’ll be flying like the Red Baron or a WWII airman in Sky Combat’s aerial fleet and five flying experiences. Full details and videos are at SkyCombatAce.com.
Burlesque beauty Dita Von Teese launches her much-anticipated show “Strip Strip Hooray” tour Friday at House of Blues in L.A. before a stop in San Diego on Monday and then flying here for three shows May 17-19 at Mandalay Bay. The 90-minute variety revue will feature MC Murray Hill, a cast of Dita’s favorite burlesque acts and four of her own routines. We posted an interview with Dita on April 11. And British TV cameras filmed “Iron Lady” actor Richard E. Grant getting a shave at sexy Lori Lee Samson’s barber spa at Qua in Caesars Palace.
Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit starts its four-day run with no less than five first-night Master Chefs dinners at Caesars Palace with Michel Richard, Guy Savoy, Bobby Flay, Rao’s Pellegrino family and Francois Payard. Opposite at the Bellagio will be Follow That Food Truck with 15 trucks and chefs. Check out the full rundown in our photo feature posted Wednesday. And Rob Riggle is the headliner at Empire Comedy in the Paris for three nights.
We’ll have our Weekend Celebrity Preview with the music battle between Drake and Snoop Dogg and the rivalry between Lily Tomlin and Liza Minnelli as bikini beauty Audrina Patridge sizzles on the Strip again, plus first-day coverage of Vegas Uncork’d.
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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