Celine keeps her title as No. Uno

Jan 4, 2005 3:16 AM

As we begin the city of Las Vegas’ "over the top" centennial celebration (the official date is May 15, 2005), I’d like to take one last look at the year that just flew by and offer you my top 10 entertainment choices:

Celine Dion, The Diva, retains her title with "A New Day." Although the day may no longer be new, with a voice from the Gods, she has brought world-wide attention to our city.

Sir Elton John’s "The Red Piano" just missed knocking off Celine. Maybe if he hadn’t got into a cat fight with George Michael. I really wasn’t a big fan, but this show really blew me away.

"Mama Mia!" at Mandalay Bay is our only real New York Broadway musical, so it’s a no-brainer that it falls into the number three spot. Even if you’re normal and despise Abba’s music, the show is a joy with a first class cast and staging.

Our two traditional showgirl shows — Bally’s "Jubilee" and the Tropicana’s "Folies Bergere" — continue to bring joy to their respective audiences as well as keep that tenuous link of what Vegas was like before the empty suits took over.

Number five is also shared by some ladies along the Strip, but from opposite ends of the spectrum — the pure elegance of La Femme at the MGM Grand to the risqué realism of Anita Mann’s Midnight Fantasy at the Luxor. Both shows remind us all that it’s great to be a broad.

Sensational concerts by Cher and Bette Midler grabbed my sixth spot. Cher, who keeps lying about retirement (let’s put her in front of a grand jury next time she says so), will be back at the MGM later this month, and Bette, who defines the word broad, are the best in the business at hanging on for dear show-business life.

Female impersonators personified share number seven: "La Cage" superstar Frank Marino and veteran Kenny Kerr, who established the art from along the Strip with his Boylesque review. I consider Kerr as Don Rickles in drag and that he might surface somewhere soon. Let’s hope so, we’re running out of eye make-up.

I love singers and we have two in town that come in number eight not only for their respective stage work, but for their humanitarian efforts — Clint Holmes at Harrah’s and Wayne Newton at the Stardust. Holmes is our city’s best unknown superstar, while Newton is the quintessential trouper, doing all he can for our troops and the USO. Both deserve a big round of applause for their extra efforts.

Number nine goes to the management of the Golden Nugget and the Las Vegas Hilton for reviving both properties and trying to restore the luster they lost. The Golden Nugget has always been the jewel of downtown and the new owners are determined to make the GN act like it. Meanwhile, the Hilton’s signing of Barry Manilow is a major step in attracting attention to the hotel where Elvis and Streisand wowed the crowds.

Rounding out the top ten is a gentleman who stands alone. His name is Steve Wynn and he is a visionary personified. We all watched throughout 2004 as his single property was built with all sorts of rumors what it will look like. We’ll all find out on April 28. I can’t wait.

Some additional great times for me last year was dining at Postrio at the Venetian, Bradley Ogden’s at Caesars Palace or checking a out the new Craving’s buffet at the Mirage. One thing about coming to Las Vegas, you never have to worry about going hungry as there are so many places to eat no matter how much money you have in your pocket.

I can’t start the New Year without a tasty tidbit of gossip so, let me ask this question: What major hotel public relations executive is also doing publicity for entertainers not appearing at his hotel? Is this not a conflict of interest? We’ll see.