SNL stars perform at The Rio’s theater

Dec 5, 2000 6:30 AM

Like what the announcer says: "Live, from Las Vegas, it’s Saturday Night Live."

For the first time, stars of the popular late-night TV show will be in town with shows Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8 and 9, at the Rio Suite Hotel and Casino. Tickets for "An Evening with the Stars of Saturday Night Live," in the Samba Theatre, are $50. Call the box office at (702) 252-7776.

Featured in standup routines as well as skits will be Norm MacDonald, Jon Lovitz and Victoria Jackson.

MacDonald moved from the comedy club circuit to the anchor seat on SNL’s "Weekend Update," gaining new fans with his offbeat delivery of "the fake news." The performer and writer has also worked the big screen with appearances in "Dirty Work," which he co-wrote; "Billy Madison," "Milos Forman" and "The People Vs. Larry Flint."

Jon Lovitz is working in Woody Allen’s newest film and recently joined the cast of "Newsradio" on NBC. He has appeared in 17 films, including "The Wedding Singer" and "Happiness." He played Billy Crystal’s neurotic brother in "City Slickers II," then earned praise for his role as the sarcastic recruiter in "A League of Their Own," and in National Lampoon’s "Loaded Weapon One." He’s also been nominated for Emmy awards twice for his remarkable range of SNL characters.

Victoria Jackson, a former cheerleader and homecoming queen, worked at odd jobs until she moved onto the comedy circuit, giving new meaning to the term "standup." She stood on her head and recited poetry. That led to an appearance on "The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson," where she appeared another 21 times.

Jackson was once advised by doctors to have surgery to correct a palate defect, which produces her unusual voice. In a wise career move, she rejected the idea. She has appeared in many movies, including "I Love You to Death" with Kevin Kline; and co-starred in "Casual Sex" with Lea Thompson. She has appeared in comedy and dramatic roles on TV from "The Jeffersons" to "In the Heat of the Night" to "The X-Files."

World's Tallest Ferris Wheel Coming Soon to Vegas

In what could become a pair of bookends for the Las Vegas Strip, a ride at the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard -- a 518-foot Ferris wheel.

The attraction will counterbalance the 1,149-foot tall Stratosphere Tower on the north end of the gambling mecca’s main drag. group of designers and developers plans to erect the world’s tallest free-standing carnival

In typical Vegas style, the mammoth ride, dubbed the Voyager, will be anything but your typical Ferris wheel.

So step right up to the greatest Ferris wheel on Earth. It will feature:

-- 35 cars, each outfitted with a bar, rest room and plush seating for up to 16 riders;

-- An attendant in each car to tend bar, answer riders' questions and entertain them in general;

-- Internet access for each passenger; and,

-- Two-way video cameras in each car, letting riders communicate with their friends in other cars and on the ground.

The Big Spin

The wheel will spin at about 1 1/2 mph. One trip around will take about a half hour, said Richard Hannigan, a principal of Outland Development LLC, which is overseeing design and construction of the ride.

If it’s built, the wheel will be the tallest such ride in the world -- taller than the current record holder, the 443-foot-tall (135 meters) London Eye, built as part of Britain's millennium celebration. Formerly called the Millennium Wheel, its 32 French-made passenger-carrying capsules (each hosting up to 25 people) give tourists spectacular 26-mile views across the London skyline. It’s the fourth tallest structure in London.

Hannigan wouldn't reveal the exact location of the project, which will cost $40 million to $60 million, but said the developers' most preferred building site is expected to be south of Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

"We designed this particular module, the wheel itself, to be all things to all people," Hannigan said. "It moves very slowly, so you don't get a sensation like a roller coaster. You can have a very young child on this, all the way to a very elderly person."

Hannigan said the car-to-car video connections will allow larger parties to ride together and stay in touch during the trip.

"Say we have a wedding party that stretches over four cars, for example," he said. "There will be cameras on board so you can see other people in the cars."

Hannigan, president of the architecture design firm Synthetic Systems Inc., said the idea for a super-sized Ferris wheel first came up in the mid-1990s as part of a casino being built for another company. That element of the project never came to fruition, but its designers never forgot the concept.

"We liked the idea so much we decided to build it as a free-standing deal," Hannigan said. "If you're going to make a name for yourself, you have to be bigger and better than anything else. It'll be the next icon on the Strip."

Hannigan said construction of the Voyager could begin sometime next year, with completion set for the first quarter of 2002.