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Pesci won’t be pleased with ‘Jersey Boys’


Oh what a night!

With Oscar-winning actor Joe Pesci in the house for a private “Jersey Boys” screening Thursday, many of the 300 guests left the Palms singing The Four Seasons’ 1975 No. 1 hit.

Pesci, a Las Vegas icon for his powerful portrayal of hitman Nicky Santoro in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film classic “Casino” and other mob roles, was there for more than a sneak-peek party of The Four Seasons film directed by Clint Eastwood.

Pesci, 71, flew in for the 86th birthday of childhood friend Tommy DeVito, founder of the Frankie Valli-led Four Seasons.

DeVito downplayed it, but watching the film had to be highly uncomfortable.

He takes quite a beating. Demonized wouldn’t be an exaggeration.

DeVito is an old-school New Jersey tough guy.

He could have said a lot of nasty stuff about how he’s portrayed, but he took the high road. Sort of.

“It was OK,” he said. “My opinion is they should have got it from the horse’s mouth. I’m not mad about it. It’s just not completely the truth.”

“No. 1, if they came to me they would get the real story, the ground floor,” he said by telephone. “They imagined things they think I did to them.”

For instance, he said, “that part where they said I peed in the sink. I’m 5-foot-6. I’d need a chair. Then they said I wouldn’t change underwear for three days. I don’t wear underwear.

“You can ask my doctor. He’s sitting right next to me,” said DeVito, in one of the more cringe-worthy moments over many years of interviews.

“I can verify that,” said a male voice.

DeVito’s character, played by Vincent Piazza, is cocky and crude.

“My life was kind of rough growing up,” said DeVito, who has lived in Las Vegas since his nasty split with the group.

Pesci’s reaction to the film will be, um, interesting. Somebody’s going to get an earful, and I speak from experience. Five years ago, Pesci was in town working on a pizza franchise deal. A telephone interview was arranged to promote Pesci’s Pizzas.

It went off the rails quickly, with Pesci f-bombing me within 30 seconds. I had written that he was partnering with strip club operator Rick Rizzolo, who had been in prison on racketeering charges.

Pesci demanded to know the source, and he was going all Tony Spilotro on me. It was one of my shortest interviews and the most incendiary.

I couldn’t attend the Thursday screening, but I would have paid to hear Pesci’s reaction to how his pal was portrayed.

“We’re like brothers,” DeVito said. “There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for me and nothing I wouldn’t do for him.

“I’ve known him since he was 7,” DeVito said. “He lived here with me in the 1970s. Commanche (Avenue) and Sandhill (Road), off Desert Inn Road.

“We hung out, played guitars together,” DeVito said. “He finally got a job at Sonny’s Bar. He borrowed my Fender and sold out every night.”

A year or two later, Pesci got into the movies, and his career took off after “Raging Bull,” in which he played boxer Jake LaMotta’s brother, Joey.

DeVito was on Pesci’s payroll for years as an assistant.

“People still call me to make appointments,” DeVito said.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Mike Tyson’s former mansion on Tomiyasu Lane is headquarters this weekend for what is being billed as one of the largest social media events. All three days of the Electric Daisy Carnival are being curated by “Entertainment Tonight.” For this weekend, it’s being called The Influential House. It’s invite-only, with a ton of celebrities on the list to take part. …

The Mob Museum recently named a conference room after former Mayor Oscar Goodman, the mob’s go-to guy when legal trouble came up. The honor was announced by Ellen Knowlton, current chair of the Mob Museum’s board of directors and — here’s the definition of delicious irony — former FBI special agent in charge, Las Vegas division. …

Rita Rudner lost her mother when she was 13 and moved to New York City, by herself, at the age of 15, to chase her dream of dancing on Broadway. We’ll pick up her fascinating story there when she joins me next Sunday on “Conversations with Norm” at Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. The 90-minute chat, which includes 30 minutes of Q&A with the audience, starts at 2 p.m. Net proceeds go to The Smith Center Education and Outreach Programming Fund. …

Speaking of The Smith Center, the company manager of “The Book of Mormon” is the perfectly named Shaun Moorman.

SIGHTINGS

Gov. Brian Sandoval, taking in Jeff Bridges’ concert Friday at Red Rock Resort’s Rocks Lounge. … Paris Hilton, hanging out with DJ Afrojack backstage at the opening night of the Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. She was at Beacher’s Madhouse (MGM Grand) early Friday when the Los Angeles Kings brought the Stanley Cup in, adding to the list of the cup’s more colorful stops. … DJ Steve Aoki, dining Friday at FAME, the food, art and entertainment venue at The Linq. … Erik Estrada, who played Ponch in the 1970s hit TV series “CHiPs,” having dinner Friday at Buddy Vs at The Venetian.

THE PUNCH LINE

“It’s hot outside. It’s 88 with no end in sight. Kind of like Barbara Walters.” — David Letterman

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.