Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2014

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John Katsilometes catches up with the founder of Keep Memory Alive Foundation on the eve of the ‘Power of Love’ fundraiser

Keep Memory Alive has bloomed into a foundation equipped to draw the nation's most famous newsmakers and raise millions of dollars in a single night.

But at its core is a simple premise.

"If my dad (the late Lou Ruvo) were here he would be proud we are helping people who are less fortunate, even indigent," Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada Managing Director Larry Ruvo said Thursday. "He told us that whenever we had the ability to help others, to do just that. He would be extremely proud."

Lou Ruvo died of Alzheimer's disease in 1994. Two years later the Keep Memory Alive Foundation for Alzheimer's disease research held its first fundraising gala and raised a little more than $200,000. In 2005 the take was a little more than $5 million - which organizers hope to double at Saturday's "Power of Love" fundraiser at the MGM Grand. The event will honor California first lady Maria Shriver and acclaimed architect Frank Gehry.

Gehry designed the $50 million Lou Ruvo Alzheimer's Institute, which will stand at Grand Central Parkway and Bonneville Avenue. Construction is set to begin in August. Renderings will be made public by Gehry during a news conference on Saturday.

Announced this week is that every living first lady has lent her name to the "Power of Love" event - Laura Bush, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson are all listed as honorary co-chairwomen, although none will be able to attend Saturday's event.

Vanessa Williams is scheduled to perform and the auction will be emceed by the ubiquitous Robin Leach. Famous people expected to attend include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Siegfried and Roy, Tony Curtis, Joanna Kerns and Angie Dickinson. The star-chef trifecta of Emeril Lagasse, Nobu Matsuhisa and Wolfgang Puck are catering the dinner.

Items up for bid include dinner with Robin Williams (catered by Lagasse), a day on the set with "24" star Kiefer Sutherland (who will also give away his Cartier watch), tennis lessons and a match with Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, and two front-tow tickets to the 2007 NBA all-star game at the Thomas & Mack Center from Palms owner George Maloof (who has thrown in a night in his hotel's Hardwood Suite - a slam dunk if there ever was one).

Mogul on moguls: A couple of FITFs (Friends in the Field) have asked about an item I wrote recently following the Nevada Ballet Theatre's Black and White Ball at Wynn Las Vegas, when Steve Wynn was spotted on crutches.

The explanation given was that he took a spill and injured his right knee while skiing in Sun Valley (a resort town in the great state of Idaho). I was asked if Wynn, who suffers from the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, is actually an avid skier. He is - Wynn spent 64 days on the slopes last ski season and is considered an expert skier ...

Hear the S.O.S.: As part of its third anniversary celebration, "Mamma Mia!" at Mandalay Bay is donating $1 for every ticket sold in February to the Nevada Cancer Institute. It's no small gesture: The Mandalay Bay Theatre seats about 1,700 and "Mamma Mia!" usually sells out seven shows per week. So ... you do the math ...

Conduct becoming: It's not often you have a chance to chat with a member of Frank Sinatra's entourage. But at 2 p.m. Sunday opportunity knocks at Barnes & Noble on North Stephanie Street as former Sinatra pianist and music conductor Vincent Falcone will be signing copies of "Frankly - Just Between Us: My Life Conducting Frank Sinatra's Music," which Falcone co-authored with Bob Popyk ...

High hopes: Wednesday night the media was invited to observe the dizzying experience that is Romance, the made-over Top of the World Lounge atop the Stratosphere.

The improvements (a more plush decor, additional booths where bar stools once stood) are nice but hardly necessary - you could sit on hay bales and still enjoy the view of the Strip and Las Vegas Valley. There is talk that the club will issue VIP cards, permitting the holder to jump the line and enjoy other VIP-type privileges ...

"Hair" in place: How are tickets moving for "Hairspray," which stars Harvey Fierstein and Dick Latessa, at the Luxor? The show opened for previews Monday and the Luxor Theater was full for each performance through Thursday. However, tickets are still available for all other performances of the quirky musical, which officially opens Wednesday.

Fabulous Las Vegas runs Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in the Las Vegas Sun. John Katsilometes can be reached at 259-2327 or 812-9812, or at [email protected]

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