Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2003 | 10:34 a.m.
Sir Elton John may have been paid to be a member of the Pepsi Generation, but he apparently drinks Diet Coke.
At his announcement Tuesday about his upcoming series of concerts at the Diva Dome (aka The Colosseum at Caesars Palace), Sir Elton had four beverages placed on the table in front of him: one bottle of Evian, one Perrier and two cans of what appeared to be Diet Coke -- crudely wrapped in black duct tape.
Other than the soda gaffe, the announcement of "The Red Piano" concert dates was as smooth as John's voice.
John acknowledged our report last week that he had surgery, but refused to say if it was to have throat polyps removed.
"I did have a minor medical procedure, but my voice is fine," he said. Then he sang out, "It's fiiiiine" to the assembled world media, who loudly applauded his impromptu display.
John said the show would be unique to Vegas.
"There has never been anything like this before, and there won't be again," he said. "There will be no ostrich feathers, but there may be some of the old '70s sequins flying around. It will be an hour-and-a-half Magic Mountain ride."
"There is no point in coming in here and just going through the motions, and doing greatest hits."
John was flanked on the podium by world-class fashion photog and video director David LaChappelle, who will stage the show, and Caesars prez Mark Juliano.
"Excuse me if I can't wipe this grin off my face," said a clearly elated Juliano.
(For a full report on John's upcoming 75-concert gig, see Jerry Fink's story on page 1E.)
More celebs are confirming their attendance at the "NBC Radio Music Awards," telecast live from the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts on Monday, but they won't be getting that much attention.
According to an NBC spokeswoman, since the hotel has such a clumsy design in terms of getting from its circular, underground driveway to the theater, there will be no red-carpet area.
The hotel also is not providing a media interview room. So, for example, after Tom Petty gets his Legends Award, there will be no opportunity for him to talk at length about the honor.
Confirmed award presenters include Carson Daly, Mark McGrath, Dennis Rodman, Anna Nicole Smith, Uncle Kracker and Justin Timberlake. Ryan Seacrest hosts.
Tickets are still available for Sunday's luncheon and truffle auction at Piero Selvaggio's Valentino at The Venetian.
The event features a live satellite hookup to Larry Ruvo and Daniel Boulud at his Cafe Boulud in New York and Wolfgang Puck in Alba, Italy.
Bidders in all three cities can watch Robin Leach narrate as the truffles, propped up on gold pillows, cruise down the hotel's canal in a gondola en route to the auction, which Leach will host.
Organizers are expecting the biggest truffle to fetch a record $40,000. The money goes to Ruvo's Keep Memory Alive Alzheimer's charity and the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse Treatment and Research.
Henry Winkler -- "The Fonz" -- was the featured speaker at the National Funeral Directors Association luncheon at the Las Vegas Hilton on Tuesday.
No, he's not making a sequel to "Night Shift," the Ron Howard-directed movie in which he played a morgue attendant. Winkler was talking about his new children's book series about a character named Hank Zipzer, "The Mostly True Confessions of the World's Best Underachiever." It is inspired by Winkler's own experiences growing up with undiagnosed dyslexia.
Neil Sedaka performs tonight at the group's closing banquet.
In basketball news, the New York Knicks popped into town Thursday. They stopped in Las Vegas between exhibition games against the Utah Jazz in Boise and in San Antonio against the Spurs.
The team practiced at Cox Pavilion in the afternoon and hit a variety of hotspots that night.
UNLV assistant coach Deane Martin really enjoyed the Knicks stopover. He spent over an hour with Willis Reed, listening to him reminisce about May 8, 1970, when an injured Reed limped onto the Madison Square Garden hardcourt and inspired his team to a victory over the Lakers.
Crazy: Molly Simms, co-star of the NBC series "Las Vegas," caught "An Evening at La Cage" at the Riviera the other night ...
Loo: During dinner Saturday night at Nobu (Hard Rock), Ben Affleck took a potty break across the hall, using the men's room inside Simon Kitchen and Bar. Nobu doesn't have any dedicated facilities. Affleck didn't pull rank, patiently waiting on line behind two other patrons, who failed to recognize the goateed cover boy ...
Party this way: Kiss frontman Gene Simmons will host a party Thursday night at Risque (Paris Las Vegas) for the fall issue of his Tongue magazine. He hits the stage at MGM Grand over the weekend when his band plays with Aerosmith ...
Write stuff: One of our favorite columnists, syndicated Texas spitfire Molly Ivins, will be the guest on Doug Basham's KLAV-1230 AM radio show on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. She'll talk about her new book, "Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America."
From Sun wires
David Gest sued Liza Minnelli on Tuesday, claiming that while they lived together she went into numerous alcohol-induced rages and beat him so badly that he "suffers from virtually constant, unrelenting pain" in his head.
According to the lawsuit filed in New York, which asked for $10 million, Minnelli gained physical strength from drinking vodka, and would routinely hit him. The couple has been separated since July.
New Aida: Broadway has found its new "Aida" to replace Toni Braxton -- Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child.
Williams will join the cast of the long-running Disney musical Nov. 18.