Debut finally here for 'Love Ranch'


The "Love Ranch" is about to open to paying customers.

The much-anticipated film, co-starring Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci, makes its U.S. debut next month.

Pesci fans are hoping his return to the big screen in a lead role and the litigation-delayed project are worth the wait. The set-in-Nevada story had its world premiere a week ago at the Cannes Film Festival, which wraps today after a 12-day run.

The U.S. premiere is June 23 in Los Angeles, with limited distribution on June 30 and more releases in July.

I caught up to "Love Ranch" producer Lou DiBella by phone Saturday . Well-known in Las Vegas as a boxing producer, DiBella said he is hoping to do a screening in Nevada.

"There's a great nexus with Nevada, and I'm going to talk to marketing and PR about doing something," said DiBella, the former head of sports programming for HBO.

The film is a fictionalized version of a deadly love triangle that played out at the infamous Mustang Ranch, near Sparks. Pesci plays a character loosely based on brothel owner Joe Conforte. Oscar-winning director Taylor Hackford directs his wife, Mirren , for the first time.

At the heart of "Love Ranch" is the love story involving Mirren's character, based on Sally Conforte, and a heavyweight boxing contender she manages, played by Sergio Peris-Mencheta.

Peris-Mencheta's character is based on Argentina's Oscar Bonavena, who fought Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Bonavena was killed at the Mustang Ranch in 1976, a suspected hit by Joe Conforte.

Pesci's last major role -- he had a cameo on "The Good Shepherd" in 2006 -- was in "Lethal Weapon 4" in 1998. We've missed his epic cursing, which turned the air blue in "Casino."

"Love Ranch" has been in a holding pattern because of the legal problems of producer David Bergstein, who has been described as the Bernie Madoff of the movie industry. Bergstein's film empire (Capitol and ThinkFilm) collapsed recently. His problems included $1 million in gambling debts in Las Vegas, according to published reports.

SIGHTINGS

Home run king Barry Bonds, ordering the "Tractor Driver Combo (waffle, eggs, potatoes and bacon) at Hash House A Go Go (Imperial Palace) on Saturday. He was with a lady friend and two other friends. Friday he was at N9NE Steakhouse (Palms). ... Paris Hilton, partying at XS nightclub (Encore) after spending part of the week at the Cannes festival . ... Linda Bollea, estranged wife of wrestling legend Hulk Hogan, with her 20-something beau Friday at Ferraro's . ... Former Jackson 5 member Jackie Jackson, oldest of the brothers, at "KA" (MGM Grand) on Thursday. ... Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin and new Oregon coach Dana Altman, in town to support the Mountain West Conference three-day Coaches vs. Cancer Las Vegas Golf Classic. They're shooting hoops with the public at tonight's sold-out event at the Palms Hardwood Suite. ... Eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Anton Ohno, celebrating his 28th birthday Friday at Tao (The Venetian) with a party presented by All In magazine. Attendees included poker player Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. ... Actress Jasmine Dustin, hosting Friday at Tao Beach celebrating her role in "Iron Man 2." ... Actress Rebecca Mader, in town to host a "Lost" series finale party Saturday at Lavo, dined at Tao on Friday. Also at Tao: actor Tom Felton, Draco Malfoy of the Harry Potter films, and his girlfriend. ... Grammy-winning R&B artist Ne-Yo, hanging out with Joe and Gavin Maloof on Thursday at N9NE Steakhouse (Palms).

THE PUNCH LINE

"The Suns played so badly the Arizona Legislature voted to deport them." -- Jay Leno

Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

 

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