A 3.5-day sprint, highlighted superflously at Flamingo with Las Vegas newcomers

Don Marrandino, left, and Rick Mazer pose during an interview at the Flamingo in August. Marrandino left his post as president of five Harrah’s hotels on the Strip and heading to an expanded role for Harrah’s in Atlantic City. Rick Mazer, formerly Indiana regional president and general manager of Horseshoe Hammond and Horseshoe Indiana, succeeded Marrandino as regional president of Harrah’s Las Vegas, Flamingo, Imperial Palace, Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and O’Sheas.
Photo: Steve Marcus

A Harrah's Shuffle

I can just imagine how Dad feels tonight. I'm still whipped, but he must feel worse. He's old enough to be my father. We kicked it up pretty aggressively here over the past 3.5 days, and when I heard from him earlier this evening he was back at his business, the fabulous Lava Hot Springs Inn, making sure the water was still a-bubble and distributing the dozen silver "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" key chains he bought Saturday at Bonanza Gifts.

The notes from the breakneck visit surface like so many bubbles in the Springs:

• We spent Super Bowl Sunday with new Flamingo-Harrah's-Bill's Gambling Hall & Saloon-O'Shea's and Imperial Palace president Rick Mazer and his wife, Aria. Yes, Aria. I actually had to ask if I misheard her name, and made the requisite joke that her maiden name must be Vdara. Aria says she says that, aside from the occasional opera comment or question, there was rarely any response to her first name until Aria at CityCenter was announced. At that point, she jokes that she called to complain. She hasn't visited her namesake yet, but should get some sort of mutual moniker discount. ... The Mazers will have been married 30 years in May, and are about to close on a house in Southern Highlands. She moves out in June, after their daughter graduates high school. ... It's a challenging economic climate, to say the least, as Mazer arrives from running the Horseshoe Hammond in northwest Indiana, about 15 minutes from downtown Chicago. The Horseshoe sits, barely, on Lake Michigan. Mazer says he's hoping his arrival in August, when he replaced ever-rocking Harrah's exec Don Marrandino, marked the low point in the Vegas economy. He's growing into his new role already. At Sunday's party, attended by about 1,100 fans in a third-floor Flamingo ballroom, he wore a suit jacket over a Randall Cunningham Eagles jersey. At halftime, Cunningham signed the back. He (Cunningham) says he's encouraged by new Rebels coach Bobby Hauck, who has instilled newfound discipline in the program, already. At least, that's what Cunningham's take is now. Check back in the fall. ... Aria wore a Colts T-shirt and rooted accordingly (and loudly); Mazer's team is the Eagles. ... Marrandino was in town this weekend. He attended the Donny & Marie show on Saturday and watched the "Big Game" from Cabo Wabo. Didn't quite catch up to him, but he reportedly feels at home in Atlantic City, which makes sense because that's where he's from.

A pensive Billy Johnson.

A pensive Billy Johnson.

• At the Wranglers-Steelheads game Friday at the Orleans, team president Billy Johnson said the team is still entertaining suitors, or more specifically, possible buyers. As he's said to me before, the team is like a vintage car or any small business — it's always for sale, even if a "For Sale" sign is not hanging from a window. Team attendance is still a concern, but Johnson continues to come up with inspired marketing ideas. The next is Girl Scouts uniform night, set for March 12. The uniforms are "inspired" by the famous outfits worn by cookie-hawking little girls across the country. Tickets are just $10, and some proceeds from their sale and from a jersey auction during the game go to the local Girl Scouts of Frontier Council.

• My cousin Howard, in Vegas for the first time in more than 30 years, saw Elvis at the LV Hilton in 1972. What he remembers most about that show was at the end, as Presley basked in a thunderous standing ovation, the King posed with his arms out, holding his bespectacled cape so fans could take pictures. He seemed determined to outlast the applause, and had his arms outstretched so long he started giggling. Howard also said Sammy Shore was great that night, directing any woman who wanted to meet Presley in person to his (Shore's) dressing room for a pre-interview.

A thunderous performance by the Andre Agassi Preparatory Academy Drum Line during Carlos Santana's show at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel.

A thunderous performance by the Andre Agassi Preparatory Academy Drum Line during Carlos Santana's show at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel.

• At the Santana concert Saturday night, during one of his stream-of-consciousness monologues, Carlos Santana said he tries to avoid the red carpet and usually enters venues through the kitchen, to see where the real work goes on. ... He says he's streamlined his show, compared to its earliest incarnation, and it is tighter, but still allows Santana's spiritual musical forays. One song he's covering is new: Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love," which is a chilling experience. The whole show is truly amazing, and it was about sold out Saturday — thanks in part to advance buzz that the Andre Agassi Preparatory Academy Drum Line was jamming with the band.

• Expect an announcement Wednesday from Celine Dion! On the Oprah show about her return to Caesars Palace. That should make my AEG Live/Concerts West execs, real and satirical, quite happy.

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