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October 20, 2014

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Strip Scribbles: Vindication in long-ago lawsuit involving Johnny Carson, lawyer

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The Associated Press

Academy Awards host Johnny Carson receives word from Miss Piggy about her dissatisfaction at not being nominated during the 52nd Oscars in Los Angeles on Monday, April 14, 1980.

The new book about late legendary “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson by his lawyer Henry Bushkin has eye-popping revelations about the dark side of television’s one-time top comedian and NBC talk-show host and his run-in with the Mafia over his casino plans in Las Vegas. It’s a tale of NBC’s eventual decision to pay Johnny $25 million a year for three nights of work a week for 37 weeks a year that really caught my eye.

The only time I’ve ever been sued in this celebrity reporting business I’ve ploughed for 50 years involved “bombastic” Bushkin and Johnny. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. For them, it was neither. I was having lunch at the swank restaurant Eden Roc at the luxurious Hotel du Cap on the French Riviera one summer many years ago.

Lo and behold, there was Henry and Johnny — and top execs from rival ABC who had chartered Lord Lew Grade’s mega-yacht for a clandestine “international waters” meeting. It was the height of the drama about whether Johnny would renew with NBC or jump to ABC, but his lawyer and he couldn’t be seen in the same room, let alone the same restaurant.

I dutifully reported the rendezvous and managed to talk a restaurant dining captain into letting me have a copy of their lengthy lunch check charged to the Alphabet Network. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, who published my scoop, stood by me as we were bombarded with lawsuits from Henry and Johnny. It was a brutal and grueling yearlong fight as we stuck to our guns over accusations that the meeting was fiction.

Eventually on courtroom steps, we produced irrefutable evidence of the lunch check, along with subpoenaed hotel reservations and credit card payments — and their lawyers abandoned the fight and paid all our legal costs.

It was only days ago reading the just-released book that I came across the lawyer’s version of the NBC signing after the ABC overtures, and for the first time, Henry revealed the top-secret meetings with ABC’s top brass. Finally, a story hidden for 34 years is out in the open, and I am vindicated!

‘The Only Way Is Essex’ at Palms

Cast members of “The Only Way Is Essex” film at the Palms in Las Vegas.
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2013 Epicurean Affair and Daniel Boulud Announcement

The Daniel Boulud announcement and the 2013 Epicurean Affair at the Palazzo on Thursday, May 23, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Nick Jonas’ 21st Birthday at Wynn and Encore

Joe Jonas, Nick Jonas and Kevin Jonas celebrate Nick Jonas’s 21st birthday at XS in Encore Las Vegas on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2013.

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Flamingo Las Vegas Regional President Eileen Moore, Marie Osmond, Donny Osmond and and Caesars Entertainment Senior VP of Marketing and Entertainment Jason Gastwirth celebrate Marie's 54th birthday at the Flamingo on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. Marie turned 54 on Sunday.

U.K.’S ‘TOWIE’ STARS: Every move that the British cast of the hit “The Only Way Is Essex” made during their 10-day filming trip headquartered at the Palms was chronicled in London tabloids. “Vegas had all the glitz and glamour a girl could ever dream of,” Lauren Pope said on her return to England. She said it was the ultimate in fashion and for getting “all glammed up.”

Lauren said she bought fringed bikinis from Top Shop at the Fashion Show mall for visits with castmate Chloe Sims to Bare Pool Lounge at the Mirage and Palms Pool. The duo dressed in new London fashions for nightclub visits to 1OAK at the Mirage and the now-shuttered Act at the Palazzo. They also enjoyed cocktails at the Venetian and won $80 at the Palms before flying home.

CONGRATULATIONS: Star chef Daniel Boulud, who will be setting up a new restaurant at the Venetian early next year, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his original three-Michelin-star restaurant Daniel in New York.

The kitchen king has subsequently opened a string of other East Coast restaurants, plus one at the Wynn that closed after a two-year run. Daniel revealed some of the secrets in a story that we posted on his last visit to the Venetian and Palazzo in May.

NYET! I’ve had to turn down mogul Donald Trump’s invitation this morning to fly to Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant on Nov. 9. I’ll just have to catch it on NBC. Our 2012 Miss USA turned 2012 Miss Universe Olivia Culpo will crown her successor. Olivia, originally Miss Rhode Island, won USA and Universe at Planet Hollywood and was here recently celebrating the birthday of boyfriend Nick Jonas. There are rumblings that he’ll be on the show, too.

My invite included visits with some of the world’s most beautiful women at Red Square, Bolshoi Theater, Moscow Raceway and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week showcases, but it’s a no-go because of commitments on the Strip. No word yet on the final lineup of pageant hosts, judges and entertainment, although we do know that original host Andy Cohen from Bravo refused to travel to Russia in protest against the country’s anti-gay laws.

STAR SURVEILLANCE

Flamingo Las Vegas headliner Donny Osmond surprised sister and co-headliner Marie Osmond on Tuesday night with a cake in celebration of her 54th birthday, which was Sunday. Flamingo Las Vegas Regional President Eileen Moore and Caesars Entertainment Senior VP of Marketing and Entertainment Jason Gastwirth joined in the celebration.

Bush lead singer Gavin Rossdale dined at chef David Myers’ Comme Ca in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Tuesday night. Gavin and his band mates performed at nearby Marquee in an event for the IMEX America Convention. There was no sighting of wife Gwen Stefani of No Doubt.

TONIGHT’S TIPS

Ne-Yo celebrates his birthday at Andrea’s and Surrender in Steve Wynn’s Encore.

There’s a Louis Vuitton handbag giveaway to ladies at midnight in Ghostbar at the Palms.

Daredevil slackline athlete Andy Lewis will celebrate his new world record at the House of Blues Foundation Room after making the 360-foot-long, 480-foot-high walk today outside the 63rd floor of Mandalay Bay. Top pro slackliners Hayden Nickell, Gabriel Amaral and Mickey Wilson will join him after their stunts high in the sky with Cirque du Soleil acrobats from “Michael Jackson One.”

TOMORROW’S TEASE

The sports film classic “Rudy” celebrates 20 years with events at Brenden Theaters in the Palms, while Taste of the Nation is nearby at Rain.

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 Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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