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April 16, 2014

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Photos: Penn & Teller’s 20th-anniversary celebration includes six-year contract

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Vegas Magazine Publisher Josef Vann, Penn Jillette, Vegas Magazine Editor Abby Tegnelia and Teller at Penn & Teller’s 20th-anniversary performance and celebration at The Rio on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013.

Penn and Teller 20th Anniversary at The Rio

Penn & Teller's 20th-anniversary performance and celebration at The Rio on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. The magic duo is pictured here with Launch slideshow »

All-Star Celebrity Apprentice

Even though magicians Penn & Teller have won an unprecedented six-year contract extension at The Rio, they have no plans to retire when that ends in 2018. Vegas DeLuxe reported the news exclusively on Jan. 2.

“We’ve loved every minute of our 20 years in Las Vegas. We are wicked excited to spend another six at The Rio in what we think is the best theater in town,” Penn Jillette said. “I hate to hurt our next set of negotiations with Caesars Entertainment, but we have no plans to leave here. We intend to die in office!”

I chatted with both stars after their special 20th-anniversary performance Friday night at The Rio for family, friends and magic colleagues, including Mac King, Johnny Thompson and juggler Michael Goudeau, who has recovered from double-hip surgery.

Teller, the one who never speaks onstage, asked me: “Do you have any idea how old I will be when this new contract comes to an end?! But we’ll keep on going. We are very happy, and we’ve got a new Showtime TV series starting.”

Cameras started filming the pilot over the weekend. The edgy and eccentric dynamic duo is hoping that the series will start airing early summer.

Gary Selesner, president of The Rio and Caesars Palace, was onstage when the illusionists ended a truncated magic performance of tricks they did when they first arrived here at Bally’s in 1993. They performed a knife-through-hand card trick, fire eating and Teller’s threaded razor blades from his throat that they hadn’t re-created in 20 years.

Gary said: “It is always exciting when we are able to do something to make Las Vegas history. The announcement of Penn & Teller’s contract extension is no different. We are honored to be the property they call home. We look forward to many more successful years with these talented entertainers.”

The contract extension is one of the longest -- if not the longest -- renewals in Las Vegas show-business history. It also will make the twisted twosome the longest-running duo headliners at 26 years. (Female impersonator Frank Marino holds the distinction of playing Joan Rivers with an ensemble company in the now-closed “An Evening at La Cage” at Riviera for 25 years.)

Penn, who will be appearing for a second time on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” playing for our beloved charity Opportunity Village starting March 3, added: “When we first moved to Las Vegas, our hoity-toity New York art and theater friends all screamed in horror. Now they are all regular Las Vegas visitors and headliners.” Penn also has appeared on “Dancing With the Stars,” which announces its Season 16 cast Feb. 26.

The mind-blowing, mind-bending magicians first began their headline engagement at The Rio in January 2001. They also are big supporters of local charities, including Aid for AIDS of Nevada and United Blood Services.

Be sure to read Editor at Large John Katsilometes’ new cover story in our sister publication Vegas Magazine. Editor Abby Tegnelia and Publisher Josef Vann hosted the celebration, which featured Rio restaurants and chefs, including Cafe Martorano’s Steve Martorano, who appeared on Paula Deen’s “Paula’s Best Dishes” on Food Network on Monday.

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.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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