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Vegas Diary: Reading between the lines on the Raiders' latest move

Norm Clarke

By Norm Clarke

VSiN columnist

The Oakland Raiders scored some points with a public-relations play Saturday that raised eyebrows.

They took out a large ad in the Neon Museum’s Boneyard Ball program congratulating the evening’s honoree, former Las Vegas mayor Jan Blackhurst Jones, at the gala at Paris Las Vegas. She’s the executive vice president of government relations and corporate responsibility at Caesars Entertainment.

Was it a matter of the Raiders showing a commitment to the community or is there more behind the story?

Some background: For years, Harrah’s Entertainment, renamed Caesars Entertainment in 2010, was leading the charge to bring a major sports and entertainment arena to the Strip. In 2007, Harrah’s held a joint press conference with AEG Live to announce a 20,000-seat area would be built behind Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas.

The parties involved made it clear their intention was to lure an NBA team and NHL franchise to the site.

Construction was to begin in 2008 and be completed by 2010. But the Great Recession doomed the project. MGM Resorts International jumped in and moved quickly in building T-Mobile Arena, which opened in April 2016.

The Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board meets Thursday to review a restructured lease agreement from the Raiders after hotel-casino magnate Sheldon Adelson withdrew his $650 million pledge to the help build the $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium. When Adelson pulled out, so did his financial backer, Goldman Sachs.

The Raiders have insisted they have a new financial partner.

 

Wynn sells Bel-Air mansion

The Los Angeles Times is reporting Steve Wynn has sold his Bel-Air mansion that overlooks the Bel-Air Country Club golf course.

According to the report, Wynn purchased the modern Mediterranean home three years ago for $16.25 million.

He sold it for $16.55 million. Built in 1991, the five-bedroom, eight-bathroom home has 11,027 square feet of living space.

The buyers were identified as Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Sheila Nazarian and her husband, neurosurgeon Fardad Mobin.

 

Sarah Shahi update

Sarah Shahi showed up in Las Vegas on Friday and my first thought was: Where you have been?

The last time we saw the Spanish-Iranian stunner was during her torrid, drug-filled hookup with Tony Soprano in an episode near the end of “The Sopranos.”

The second thought: Has it really been 10 years since the landmark mob series ended?

Shahi’s guest role opposite one of Hollywood’s biggest names (James Gandolfini) figured to be the break starlets dream of. Her admirers, and there were many after her steamy performance in the episode, predicted a star was born.

Voted Miss Fort Worth in 1997 and later a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, Shahi was encouraged to pursue an acting career after director Robert Altman noticed her working as an extra on the set of “Dr. T & the Women” in 2000.

Before “The Sopranos” part came along, she was best-known for her role as the Mexican-American DJ Carmen de la Pica Morales in the Showtime series, “The L Word.”

Filming of Gandolfini and Shahi took place in April 2007. There were steamy bedroom scenes in a Caesars Palace suite, a hot streak at Caesars’ casino tables and a shoot at Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area.

Shahi played Sonya Aragon, a stripper who gets Tony high on pot and peyote, unaware he’s hit rock bottom after killing his protégé Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) in the previous episode.

The Las Vegas episode ended with Tony and Sonya watching a sunrise over Red Rock Canyon, with Tony having a moment of clarity and blurting “I get it!”

We were left to wonder what he exactly got.

Tony was whacked three episodes later. Gandolfini died six years later while vacationing in Rome. He was 51.

After the profile-enhancing role on “The Sopranos,” Shahi landed her first permanent leading role as the leading actress on the NBC series “Life,” which ran for two years.

From there she went to USA Network’s “Facing Kate,” playing a legal mediator who deals with the frustration of bureaucracy and injustice in the legal system. The show, later re-named “Fairly Legal,” lasted two seasons.

She appeared in “Chicago Fire” and “Persons of Interest” before taking time off for the birth of a son and then twins with husband Steve Howey of “Shameless.”

A year ago she was cast as grown-up version of iconic detective Nancy Drew, but CBS passed, saying feedback indicated it skewed “too female.”

Now 37, she plays a police captain opposite Al Pacino in “Hangman,” which started principal photography in November. Pacino has the role of a homicide detective.

She was partying Friday at Beauty & Essex in The Cosmopolitan before moving to Marquee nightclub for rounds of champagne.

 

The scene and heard

Flamingo headliner Olivia Newton-John is not returning, according to a Saturday tweet by Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes. He said he had just heard she was leaving to focus on charity, a new movie, U.S. tour and a CD. . . .

Tom Jones has told London’s Daily Star that rumors of his romance with Priscilla Presley are hogwash. “Priscilla is a friend of mine. I’ve known her for years. We are just friends. But good friends,” he was quoted. They have known each other since the 1960s when Jones and Elvis Presley were headlining in Las Vegas. Presley died in 1977. 

Sightings

At Marquee Dayclub Dome on Saturday at The Cosmopolitan: Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman, actress Mia Frampton and recording artist Redfoo, in separate cabanas. . . .

At Tao restaurant (Venetian) on Saturday: Scott Hoying of the group Pentatonix, with friends before heading to Marquee nightclub. . . .

At The Cosmopolitan on Friday: the Seahawks’ Sherman, with his brother and friends at Marquee. Also at Marquee: Dierks Bentley and members of his band, after performing at The Cosmopolitan. . . . Former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, with a group in the chairman’s suite at Topgolf (MGM Grand) on Thursday.

 

The punch line

“Chocolate maker Hershey is reportedly expecting to cut its global workforce by about 15 percent. That’s right, for the first time ever, chocolate is giving up people for Lent.” – Late-night host Seth Meyers.

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