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April 19, 2014

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The Expendables rocks Planet Hollywood; Peepshow’s pinch-hitter


Erik Kabik/Retna/

Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham at the premiere of The Expendables at Planet Hollywood on Aug. 11, 2010.

Fittingly, Wednesday night at Planet Hollywood, the stars of "The Expendables" walked across a carpet approximately the color of blood.

This is the bloodiest, most violent movie you ever will see. There simply can't be a film made with more end-to-end violence. The movie begins (SPOILER ALERT) with a hostage-taking bad guy being shot in half by some sort of shoulder-mounted missile launcher. That is the benchmark of violence, established right out of the shoot. Er, chute. It would be almost impossible to pack more gun, knife, missile and martial-arts violence into a single film.

Actually ... maybe you could produce a more violent movie. Maybe. There might one day be a film in which a single person, armed with a limitless supply of automatic weapons, sharpened implements and high-powered explosives, wipes out the entire population of planet Earth.

This person, of course, would be portrayed by Dolph Lundgren — but he has forgotten one man, and that man would by Sylvester Stallone, who crawls out of the rubble of the White House to beat Lundgren to death with a tire iron.

That's not to say this farcical level of action makes for a bad film. It's a lot of fun, in a comic-book sort of way, and about midway through I felt like Bart Simpson giggling his way through an "Itchy & Scratchy Show" marathon. There is one scene that is priceless: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's appearance with Stallone and Bruce Willis. The scene makes cinematic history as the only time a sitting U.S. governor is asked (by Willis) if he might indulge in some mutual gratification with a male action-movie hero (see the film to better understand that reference). And Stallone's line, as Schwarzenegger skulks away from this short meeting of mercenaries, "He wants to be president," is classic.

Some fun was had on the red carpet, too, where several hundred ebullient fans jammed the walkway leading to the Planet Hollywood mezzanine level. Most of the cast, save Willis (not at all on property) and Schwarzenegger (who swept past on his way to Koi) at least posed for photos: A few highlights:

Stallone, on the "arts" of MMA: (MMA) was an unheard-of thing when I started out, but the most refreshing thing to me is, it's the modern-day throwback to what was gladiator-type fighting styles at the (Roman) Colosseum. You had swords and tridents and wrestling and fists with spikes on them, and you put it all together you have modern-day MMA. Having Randy Couture, who is a true, legendary badass — no one can say we were pretending, because this is a guy who can jump off the screen and do it for real. I think that's what helps in 'The Expendables,' and if I get to do an 'Expendables II.' I plan on going into MMA and borrowing a few more people."

Couture, comparing the fulfillment he gets from acting to the adrenalin rush of fighting: "No question, I get more of a rush from fighting. I'm an actor for this film, but I'm a fighter at heart."

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin, on his future as an actor: "My end game is, I want to be as good a performer in front of a movie camera as I was in front of the wrestling cameras. I was really at home in that world. I'm starting to feel at home here, but not quite. I've got a lot of work and learning to do, but working with Sly and Eric Roberts, who is an actor's actor, I asked a million questions. I want to be as good as I can be. ... Physically, I feel better than I ever have, but I just needed to get out of the ring and stop taking those poundings. But I can do more stuff physically than most human beings. It helps to have a high pain tolerance in that sport. Blessed with that (laughs)."

Las Vegas native Charisma Carpenter (who plays Jason Statham's love interest in the movie's thread of a romantic plotline) on her favorite memories of Vegas. Her family moved to Mexico after her freshman year at Bishop Gorman: "The San Gennaro Feast, Wet N' Wild, the hot summer nights, the pool at Tropicana, Hard Rock Hotel. ... A lot of memories. I will say that, having grown up here, Planet Hollywood has blown my doors this week. It's amazing." Good recovery after mentioning two competing hotels.

Terry Crews, on his own musculature, his age and movie's rampant violence: "I'm trying to tell you, the gun show has come to Las Vegas (flexing his biceps)! It's exploding! Bam-bam! I'm 42 years old, and I'm the young guy in this film! We blew up literally everything you could see in a half-mile radius! Any thing that was standing was not standing when we finished the movie!"

That might be the most accurate review you will read about "The Expendables."

Angel pinch-hits for Holly

Amid the semi-orchestrated chaos of the carpet, "Peepshow" co-star Cheaza responded to a question about how the cast would adjust to the absence of Holly Madison, who is taking a week away from the production for a rare vacation. "We're bringing in a friend of hers," said Cheaza, who plays Peep Diva in the latest version of the show.

Hmmmm. The most likely friends would be Laura Croft or ... Angel Porrino. And it is Porrino, who will fill in for Madison from Sept. 13-19. It's the first time Madison won't appear in "Peepshow" since she began her headlining stint in the show in June 2009.

"I think it's going to be a great time," Cheaza said in comments that should surprise exactly no one. "Angel has a great personality, a bubbly little personality. It'll be a lot of fun." Oh yeah, Porrino exudes the fun. I hear she's a pretty fair dancer, too.

Libonati leaves the building

After spending nearly a decade in the confines of Thomas & Mack Center, Sam Boyd Stadium and Cox Pavilion, Daren Libonati announced today his resignation as the director of that triumvirate of UNLV facilities. In a news release issued today, Libonati announced he has signed a contract to become the president and chief operating officer of Justice Entertainment Group. If you have not heard of JEG, that is because it is a new production company focusing on sports and entertainment events for venues of all ilk.

Libonati, who returned to his alma mater in 2001 to run the university's stadium and arenas, is partnering with Susan Joseph, a well-established entertainment manager whose publishing company, Hidden Worlds Music, reportedly has sold more than 500 million records.

Libonati said that he and new UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood are discussing ways to continue a partnership that has made UNLV's venues among the busiest in the country — the National Finals Rodeo and such big-ticket events as U2 in concert have been booked by Libonati and his crew. Libonati also oversaw the establishment of UNLV Tickets, the university's own ticket agency, which has given the venues control of their own ticketing process.

A master of the metaphor, Libonati compared himself to a farmer in his new career path.

"There are many kinds of farmers, and events are like crops," he said during a phone interview this afternoon. "My job has been to produce and cultivate crops, and I've found a system that works. I'm very fortunate to have this opportunity to do more farming."

Radio noise

I, for one, eagerly was anticipating Brad Garrett's radio show. You might have heard of this show, announced as a live simulcast from his comedy club after shows on Monday nights. It was to air on KXNT 840-AM and 100.5-FM. Comics were to be guests. Other important people, too, were to be guests. Maybe one week the mayor would be a guest. Callers would be invited to join the ragtag conversation, played out on a poker table on the stage of the Brad Garrett Comedy Club at the Trop.

Not. Happening.

The show is off. Seemed like a good idea, maybe too far-flung an idea, at the time. But Garrett reports that he and the station couldn't come to a suitable business deal. In its place is a local's night promotion hosted by Spence from KLUC 98.5-FM each Tuesday, which is also 2-for-1 admission night for Nevada residents with valid IDs. In addition, Spence will do a few minutes onstage, too, and this should be fun if only because I used to play a lot of media league softball against Spence ...

Anyhow, that promotion begins Tuesday night. Lock it in.

Wigged out

My heart, and KatMobile II, stopped momentarily today at the Commercial Center on East Sahara as I pulled into the stoic strip mall and noticed — no Serge's Wig store! The space that once housed thousands of square feet of high-end wiggery sat empty.

Tragically, the signs had been yanked free, leaving only shadows of the store's classic script lettering.

For anyone interested in Vegas history, this is alarming. Serge's has been a veritable monument in the old strip mall for more than 40 years, but about a week ago and without warning, the business held a 75-percent-off-all-inventory sale and hastily pulled out. Longtime neighbors Dan and Judy Del Rossi at neighboring Tiffany Cleaners, among others, were stunned.

It's not as bad as it might seem. Serge's is finished at Commercial Center, yes, but manager Julie Masterson said the business has not folded. It is looking for a better location, an as-yet undisclosed location somewhat west of the Commercial Center.

The daughter of founder Steve Serge (who died May 8 at age 72), Masterson said today that a new location for Serge's should be determined in six weeks. Meanwhile, the business's outlet store across Sahara Avenue is still open, but the Commercial Center won't be the same without that steeped-in-history business.

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