Strip Scribbles: Rescued Chilean miner’s royal treatment at Viva Elvis

Rescued Chilean miner and Elvis Presley fan Edison Pena at Viva Elvis at MGM CityCenter’s Aria on Jan. 11, 2011.
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

More than 30 miners trapped underground in a Chilean shaft for more than 2 months riveted the world as TV cameras reported every aspect of their rescue. Edison Pena became a global hero with the stories of how he worked out deep below the surface by running and singing Elvis Presley hits, which also kept up the spirits of the miners.

Incredibly, 30 days after his amazing rescue, he ran the New York Marathon, but it wasn’t until the past few days that his ultimate dream was realized. After visiting Graceland on Elvis’ birth date, he flew here as the guest of Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts International to see his hero’s spectacular Viva Elvis at MGM CityCenter’s Aria. Not only was he the guest of honor, but he also was fitted into an Elvis suit and rode his Pink Cadillac stage car. Edison also met American Idol contestant Carly Smithson, who now appears in the show.

Chilean Miner Edison Pena at Viva Elvis

*For the first time in his 40-year touring history, guitar great Carlos Santana has to cancel tonight’s Supernatural show at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. Carlos and his band have been hit with the flu, but all plan to be back to normal for the weekend shows beginning Friday.

2011 Chinese New Year at Palazzo

*The Palazzo is now on a final 24-hour countdown to the debut of its festive Chinese New Year decor tomorrow, and we have a last-minute, behind-the-scenes look at the horticultural team putting together the finishing touches celebrating the Year of the Rabbit. The signature 1,000-pound rabbit took nearly 4 months to complete with 35 team members working on it. The rabbit was wheeled into Palazzo this morning and will be ready tomorrow morning.

Chinese New Year at The Palazzo - from

*Congrats to country queen Reba McEntire, who will host this year’s 46th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena, her 13th consecutive time as host, but this year, Blake Shelton is joining her as host April 3. Nominations will be announced Tuesday, and fan voting begins Jan. 27.

Leach Blog Photo

Katy Perry and her grandmother, Ann Hudson.

Star surveillance

Pop princess Katy Perry brought new husband comedian Russell Brand home to Las Vegas and with 15 friends and family watched last night’s late performance of Viva Elvis. The couple brought her grandmother along to celebrate her 90th birthday. St. Louis RamsSam Bradford and Steven Jackson requested Katy’s No. 1 hit “Firework” while partying at a VIP table stocked with Grey Goose, Gran Platinum Patron and a magnum of Dom Perignon at Lavo at the Palazzo last night. The Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.Am and Apl.De.Ap played dueling DJs at The Bank at the Bellagio and welcomed DJ Afrojack to the party. Also there: System of a Down drummer John Dolmayan and Santana lead vocalist Andy Vargas. Far East Movement performed the next night at The Bank, with singer Ryan Cabrera and Clark Duke in the crowd. Partying at Haze: Flo Rida, Miami Dolphins’ Jake Long, Dallas Cowboys’ Terance Newman and Marion Barber, San Diego Chargers’ Patrick Clayton, Oakland Raiders’ Kalif Barnes and Buffalo Bills’ Marcus Stroud. At Jet at The Mirage: Dallas Cowboys’ Desard Choise, Roy Williams, Patrick Brayton and Marion Barber posed for pictures with porn star Lisa Ann and separately Wayne Morris of Boyz II Men. Apl.De.Ap dined with eights friends at Union at Aria, while Will.I.Am dined with six friends at Yellowtail in Bellagio.

Tonight’s tip

Sexy singer Eva Simons orders her Take Over Control Tour to stop at Surrender at Encore so she can perform the hit number. Grammy-nominated Stacy Mitchhart Band plays B.B. King’s Blues Club at The Mirage. As part of the UNLV Jazz series, The Liberace Jazz Quartet performs at Clark County Library.

Leach Blog Photo

Kaylani Lei, Jessica Drake, Kirsten Price and Alektra Blue of Wicked Pictures at Moon at the Palms.

Tomorrow’s tease

We’ll have a photo gallery and new Miss America scholarship winners from the second night of preliminary competition and the Q&A with the celebrity judges. Plus, we’ll wrap our AVN interviews with porn princesses Jessica Drake and Jenna Haze and also feature an extraordinary photo gallery of the Las Vegas Circus, so up close that it looks like we’re inside the cages.

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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