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October 25, 2014

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Strip Scribbles: Shania Twain’s cause, Mr. Chow in Las Vegas and Jon Taffer’s ‘Hungry Investors’

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Caesars Palace headliner Shania Twain attends Round 8 of the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, at the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV.

'Bar Rescue' Transforms Gipsy

An after shot of Gipsy on Paradise Road, now SBLV (South Beach Las Vegas), after a makeover courtesy of Spike TV's Launch slideshow »

“Bar Rescue” reality TV star Jon Taffer has landed another Spike TV series, and his new 10-part “Hungry Investors” will debut this Sunday.

The Las Vegas resident teams up with expert chefs John Besh and Tiffany Derry to take their search for diamond in the rough restaurants across the country. It’s a no-hold’s-barred, bare-knuckled, high-screamed search for extraordinary solutions.

Jon tells me that they will film here, in L.A. and Dallas at struggling restaurants that have “amazing potential to succeed.” They will make life-altering investments into restaurants that demonstrate the most promise for success.

In each one-hour episode, two local restaurants that serve the same type of cuisine are pitted as they make every effort to demonstrate to the “Hungry Investors” that their business is willing to make the necessary adjustments to maximize the return on an investment.

Jon says the team will use “invest tests” to see if the owner’s abilities win the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save their business.

Shania Twain: ‘Still the One’ Opening Night

Opening night of Shania Twain's Launch slideshow »

SHANIA’S CAUSE: Our Caesars Palace headliner country superstar Shania Twain will lead a new launched conservation initiative to protect leopards in the wild. Shania is partnering with the cat conservation organization Panthera as its global ambassador.

Leopards are threatened with destruction because of trophy hunting, poaching for their skins and body parts and livestock herd killing. Shania said Wednesday: “The image and spirit of the leopard is an inspiration to millions around the world, including myself. That it is also the most oppressed of the big cats is almost unknown.

“If we’re to save this animal in the wild, we have to get ahead of the curve before it suffers the same fate as so many other species that we once felt to be secure in their numbers. I feel privileged to give back to a creature that depends for its future on what we do now to save it.”

MR. CHOW ARRIVES: The legendary Mr. Chow celebrity restaurants from New York City, Beverly Hills and London will open its seventh location at Caesars Palace next year. The luxurious Beijing cuisine eatery will be located in the second-story space currently occupied by Empress Court, which will close this spring.

It was Valentine’s Day 1968 in Knightsbridge, London, when Michael Chow opened the first Mr. Chow and introduced a new concept in fine dining, serving authentic Beijing cuisine with elegant European-style service. In 1974, he expanded to the United States opening a location in the heart of Beverly Hills.

New York City welcomed the first Mr. Chow on 57th Street in 1979. In August 2009, Mr. Chow opened in the W Hotel South Beach, where the restaurant features indoor and outdoor private rooms, a dining patio and interior bar and lounge. In December 2012, Mr. Chow’s sixth location opened in Malibu.

Click to enlarge photo

Nathan Burton and Don Marrandino.

WICKED WHISPERS & RACY RUMORS

Looks like those rumblings we reported last summer about Las Vegas VIP Don Marrandino returning from Atlantic City to the presidential post at Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas are true. The gossip was all abuzz elsewhere Wednesday, but I asked Don about it on my six visits for Keep Memory Alive to New Jersey last June and September.

Don moved back there from stints here at the Flamingo and the Hard Rock to his original home to run the East Coast and European operations of Caesars Entertainment. But it was a grinding, corporate and constant commute, and Don told me that he was hoping to return here if the right terms and conditions worked out. Seems they have, and I’m as pleased as he must be. Welcome home!

GRANTS GIRLS: Dashing between the star chef events of Vegas Uncork’d events at Caesars Palace and the Venetian tonight will prevent me from seeing one show I’d put on my calendar as an “absolute must.” I’m afraid cocktails with Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay, sashimi with Nobu and more Asian delicacies at the Venetian’s East-West Night Market with Daniel Boulud, Buddy Valastro and Mario Batali will tie me up.

Thus, I won’t make it to see what promises to be a classic Las Vegas variety show with Grant Griffin and Mistinguett’s production of “Las Vegas Divas” at South Point. These are the most gorgeous showgirls and dynamic diva dancers from past hit Strip shows teamed up with 80-year-old Grant, singer Michael Delano and a pounding seven-piece band led by musical director Bill Fayne.

It’s the third year the brilliant director and choreographer Mistinguett has teamed with Grant for an evening of fiery jazz, pop, rock, Latin and Broadway at South Point. The divas include dancers from the super-sexy “Fashionistas,” Mistinguett’s “Showgirl Follies,” Naomi Mauro of “Superstars,” Elisa Furr of “Jubilee,” Gabriella Versace from “Showgirls” and “Erocktica” and Frank Sinatra opening act Jeneane Marie.

Grant, who should play the role of “the most interesting man in the world,” has a career spanning 40 years performing more than 300 shows worldwide and producing more than 80 musical revues. Mistinguett was the former co-producer and choreographer of Greg Thompson productions for 26 years here with more than 400 shows. I hope to see them the next time, and not a year from now, and that the show gets a regular run.

JDF GALA: Vegas Uncork’d with its Grand Tasting at Garden of the Gods Pool in Caesars also will prevent me from getting to this year’s JDRF Hope Gala on Friday at the Venetian with my friends Jeff and Rhonda Wyatt of Marche Bacchus as dinner co-chairs.

My pals Clint Holmes, Best Agency’s Ken Henderson, Spago’s Tom Kaplan and Joe Essa and Mandalay Bay’s Chuck Bowling also are supporting the work of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. This year’s gala honors Matt and Kami Smith of Matt Smith Physical Therapy.

STAR SURVEILLANCE

Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman, chairman of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Host Committee, joined with former Sheriff Ralph Lamb and former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller at the exhibition premiere of “Ralph Lamb: The Cowboy Sheriff” at the Mob Museum. The official opening preceded the LVCVA’s Travel Rally and industry celebration on Downtown 3rd, the dining and event space adjacent to Downtown Grand.

Lil Jon and Seedfrog CEO Danny Davis partied at a VIP table in 1 OAK at the Mirage, while nearby rapper Meek Mill celebrated his birthday with 25 friends.

“Pawn Stars” star Austin “Chumlee” Russell enjoyed drinks with B.o.B at 1 OAK.

Tamra Barney at Cougars and Cuervo

Tamra Barney hosts the Cougars and Cuervo event at Tacos & Tequila on April 8, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Tamra Barney of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” and girlfriends enjoyed sun and cocktails at Bare Pool Lounge at the Mirage, but no word as to whether they went topless.

TONIGHT’S TIPS

The ABBA musical “Mamma Mia!” opens in previews at Tropicana.

Jane’s Addiction is at Brooklyn Bowl through Saturday, followed by Fishbone at midnight.

Star chef Daniel Boulud officially opens his new DB Brasserie at the Venetian.

Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, Guy Savoy and Nobu are just four of the celebrity chefs hosting Vegas Uncork’d dinners at Caesars Palace.

Givenchy opens a boutique at the Wynn.

Deja Vu, Patty Janura and Whip Its perform at San Gennaro Feast.

“Las Vegas Divas” is at South Point.

Paul Scally and Derrick Stroman headline Bonkerz Comedy Club at Rampart.

TOMORROW’S TEASE

Even though many people are eating and drinking their way through Vegas Uncork’d, there is comedy and country on tap thanks to Lily Tomlin and LeAnn Rimes, respectively. We also will have reports and photos from Day 1 of Vegas Uncork’d.

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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