Caesars Entertainment has taken the Las Vegas experience — and brand — to new heights with the opening of the High Roller observatory wheel.
The tallest ride of its kind in the world, the High Roller, at 550 feet, has heads spinning over the publicity it will generate for a city on the rebound from a disastrous recession.
Two rides last week, once on opening day and again on Friday night, convinced this longtime Las Vegas observer that the High Roller might do as much or more for our city than the hottest headliners.
Consider the possibilities:
■ In the near future, the latest addition to our neon skyline will catch the attention of millions via national and international television.
■ You can bet Hollywood already has plans to include scenes on the giant attraction, as frequently as the Bellagio fountains.
■ “Think about the impact of social media,” said Jared Crawford, who manages The Linq valet for ABM Parking Services. “Every time somebody rides it, they’re going to post on Facebook or Twitter.” Add in the retweets and shares, and the multiplier effect takes the exposure to another level.
■ You’ll see the High Roller trending on Twitter after photos pour in during a lightning storm, or during Fourth of July and New Year’s fireworks.
■ It will be a magnet for tweet-happy celebrities, with many of them bringing their families. Photos of Celine Dion taking her kids for a ride will go around the world.
■ For many, it’s more affordable than a show, at $25 during the day and $35 at night.
MICHAEL JORDAN’S PREDICTION
Michael Jordan had a surprise pick in the Final Four.
During Thursday’s opening round of Jordan’s celebrity tournament at Shadow Creek, a fan called out, asking Jordan who he was taking in the Final Four.
“Wisconsin,” said Jordan, who was a freshman star for North Carolina in the 1982 Final Four. His jumper with 17 seconds left gave the Tar Heels a 63-62 title game win over Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas.
Wisconsin fell to Kentucky in the final seconds on Saturday.
SWEET VINDICATION DELAYED
It was one of those good news-bad news days.
The good news came Thursday from Shawn Tempesta, co-host of KTNV-TV, Channel 13’s “Morning Blend” show.
He was emphatic: “You are in the ‘South Park’ video game that just came out on XBox 360 and Playstation 3.”
Sure enough, there’s a semi-handsome, eye-patched character with silver hair in “South Park: The Stick of Truth” and he teams up with foul-mouthed Eric Cartman, one of my all-time favorite characters.
Sweet, as Cartman is fond of saying.
Some background: I met the “South Park” co-creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, at HBO’s U.S. Comedy Festival shortly after they hit it big in 1997.
In my man-about-town column for the Rocky Mountain News, I had noted how ridiculous it was that “South Park” wasn’t available in Denver, home territory of Parker and Stone.
So we meet in Aspen and Stone reminds Parker I was one of the sports columnists they followed while attending the University of Colorado.
As their fame soared, all the way to Broadway with their hit “Book of Mormon,” I often bragged to my girlfriend (now wife) that I had met them and they were fans of mine. A few years later, I ran into Stone at a Super Bowl and he gave me a contact number.
At first Cara was impressed but over time she began to voice doubts about the reality of the friendship.
Through the kidding, I remained supremely confident my day of sweet vindication would come.
That day arrived Thursday when Tempesta sent me an image of what appeared to be my likeness. I proudly tweeted it, with no explantion, and Cara proudly retweets it.
But then I research this character and find out he’s a villain known as Big Bad Government Guy. He turns against Cartman and friends, and, upon gaining control of the “Stick of Truth,” strips naked (yes, a full frontal) and proclaims he’s the master of the universe.
It wasn’t quite the heroic role the little missus had in mind.
The Killers, performing in front of an outdoor Final Four crowd on Saturday in Texas. Lead singer Brandon Flowers wore a UNLV jacket with the words “Never Forget” and the names of the five starters from the 1990 NCAA title team. ... Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, dining with singer Rob Thomas at N9ne Steakhouse (Palms) on Friday. ... Guy Fieri, host of the Food Channel’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” arriving at The Quad on Friday in a red Chevy Camaro to announce the opening of Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen &Bar on April 17. The UNLV graduate was greeted by Rebels cheerleaders and the team marching band, which played “Viva Las Vegas.” He helped cook up his signature Bacon Mac-N-Cheese Burger and gave away hundreds of them.
THE PUNCH LINE
“Willie Nelson’s stuffed armadillo has been returned after being stolen from a Las Vegas show. And I’m sure Willie was happy to get it back, considering what it’s probably stuffed with.” — Seth Meyers
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at 702-383-0244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more at normclarke.com. Follow @Norm_Clarke on Twitter.