Vegas park backdrop for movie clambake

It's taken awhile, but "Yonkers Joe" finally has made it to Vegas.

Not that Vegas always plays Vegas in the movie, about a dice hustler looking for the perfect scam -- and trying to bond with his long-estranged son (Tom Guiry, most recently in NBC's "The Black Donnellys"), who has Down syndrome.

This week, for example, Sunset Park provides the backdrop -- for a Connecticut clambake.

About 60 percent of the movie takes place in Las Vegas, but about 90 percent of the locations are here, explains producer Trent Othick of Go Productions.

Othick met writer-director Robert Celestino at the Sundance Film Festival a few years ago and has been trying to get "Yonkers Joe" off the ground ever since.

"It didn't work out at the time," Othick explains, in part because "the cast didn't fall into place."

Earlier this year, however, after Othick launched Go Productions, the "passion project" became a priority.

Joining Palminteri and Guiry in the cast: Michael Lerner (an Oscar nominee for "Barton Fink"), Linus Roache (a Golden Globe nominee for "RFK") and "Sopranos" veterans Michael Rispoli (another "Black Donnellys" alumnus) and Arthur Nascarella.

School's in: At least it is for soon-to-be fifth-graders anxious to show off their erudition on Fox's quiz show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"

Open auditions will be held Friday at the Renaissance Hotel, 3400 Paradise Road (doors open at 8 a.m.) to find replacements for the five original kids, who are off to sixth grade.

The tryouts are for current fourth-graders registered to attend fifth grade during the 2007-08 school year. Interested pupils (and their parents) should visit for rules, guidelines and applications.

Endgame: Local cult auteur Ted Mikels' "Demon Haunt," which was expected to wrap last week, has one more week of shooting before post-production begins. Locations range from a construction site to a soccer park to a simulated highway crash near Searchlight.

The chiller focuses on a demon who menaces a teacher (Olivia Dunkley) and her handicapped sister (Amanda Hamblin, who replaced Stevie McKinley). Also featured in the cast: Sean Morelli (as the resident exorcist) and Beverly Washburn and Rusty Meyers (alias the teacher's nosy neighbors).

Quick hits: Other projects scheduled to shoot here this week include a Rat Pack documentary from the BBC, MTV's reality-based series "Parental Control" and "True Colors: Behind the Scenes," about the 15-city concert tour (sponsored by the Logo cable channel and featuring Cyndi Lauper) that kicks off Friday at the MGM Grand Garden.

Carol Cling's Shooting Stars column appears Mondays. Contact her at 383-0272 or e-mail her at